Kensou, better known as “ShinKensou”, is a gamer I found when browsing on Twitch 5 or so years ago. To this day I tend to find myself within his stream whenever I go on Twitch and he’s become one of my favorite people to watch. While that initially stemmed from the fact he was mellow and chill without things like destructive rage, overdramatic reactions, or troll-like behavior, it evolved into a respect for the grind and what he was trying to do.
If you’ve ever popped into a stream of Kensou’s, you often can hear him on his soapbox about one thing or another. This is mostly his thoughts surrounding any particular topic and what lead him to those conclusions, often using logic and examples to prove that point. This is doubly as important when it comes to his love of fighting games, which most of his community stems from.
Kensou’s stream is very entertaining, but he’s more so of a teacher than anything else. You will find his streams lean more on educating in the way of a game series’ history, analyzing the thought processes that go into why someone may have made the split-second decisions they did (when reviewing competitive play), and ultimately how he becomes solid within any game he plays. Whether it’s Apex Legends or Guilty Gear, Ninja Gaiden to Streets of Rage, you will learn that the main focus is to better yourself as the and that a natural part of becoming better is to worry more about what you did wrong and how to correct it than worrying about if you won or not.
With Guilty Gear -Strive- on the horizon and Kensou being an advocate of the series since its early inception, I wanted to conduct this interview to expose more people to him. Anyone looking to get better with this game going forward, acquiring a mental for improvement, or wants a chill community to participate in, may find themselves right at home.
- First things first, how did you come to be called by “ShinKensou”? Does it have anything to do with Sie Kensou from The King of Fighters series?
It’s exactly from there, actually. I played a ton of KoF back in the day with Kensou always on my team, so my buddies nicknamed me “Kensou”; it became my pen name when I’d do art and it just it kinda just stuck. Originally, back in the days of old at SRK.com, I had the Kensou handle but somehow lost my password. At the time their reset password system was poop, so I put “Shin” infront and here we are today (Not to mention I remembered my password at that time lol).
- With The King of Fighters XV on the horizon, is there any chance that you may once again explore this series? Or are you solely focused on the Guilty Gear community and do not have plans to put another fighting game into the mix?
I have full intentions to play KoF15! My name sake is from that series so its only natural I come back to it! In terms of community, I’m not sure what I’ll do in that regard but I do intend to make content for The King of Fighters, so be on the look out for that when the time comes!
- While those of us who watch you stream know that you play a variety of games, you seem to specialize in fighters. Mind telling me what got you into this highly competitive genre?
By nature I’m a really competitive person, but…I honestly was a show off and always liked to find cool things in games to do in the arcades back then. I didn’t care about competing in tournaments until a friend, “Ranma”, basically pushed me into playing in them because I showed some semblance of skill when we first met. Ranma’s been one of the many pillars that pushed me to compete and here we are today.
- You are mainly associated with the Guilty Gear franchise and within that, as a prominent player of the character “Chipp”. What inspired you to become a force in Guilty Gear and why is Chipp your character of choice amongst all the other options?
Well Guilty Gear is the first game that let me really play how I wanted, to be upfront. The first game where my creativity was made into reality. I’d never played a fighting game with so much personality; I simply became hooked and never really let go.
As for Chipp…well, I guess you can say that he’s the brush that let me “paint the canvas”, if you will. I’ve always wanted to push the boundaries of the game and what people’s perception of Guilty Gear was back then as well, especially with Chipp.
Chipp was never seen as a good character by any means and I wanted to figure out why that was; I saw a really good character I believed in all the way up to this day. He is by far, leaps and bounds my favorite character to play in any fighting game. Chipp not only has all the options, but he also has a means of rolling back to the basics if need be. It makes him such a well-rounded character in so many ways. In addition, his mobility is like no other and I believe that’s what made me appreciate his play style. Movement options are my favorite thing in any game and I kinda owe that to playing Chipp all these years.
- Chipp is radically different in Strive compared to previous iterations of Guilty Gear, right? While you gave specific post beta gameplay impressions for both Ky and Sol, I do not see a video for your tried-and-true main. Mind telling me if a video is in the works and how you feel about him from the current beta? Still going to main him?
Chipp being my main I intend to go in full detail so people can understand my thought process on him which is why the video for him is not present at the moment. I’m still working on other characters as well as Chipp too so that would be why. I’ll also be maining him 100% as always, so there’s no worries there.
Since this interview was conducted, Kensou has made a video detailing his thoughts and feelings on Chipp in Guilty Gear -Strive- from the first open beta.
- In Evolution 2004, you were the highest placed American player for Guilty Gear X2 using Chipp and Zato, coming in at 4th place. Mind telling us what that was like for you?
I honestly feel like that was a time where I validated my skill even further and felt like I could go higher. I only lost to Kindevu and RF; those were the guys that placed better than me, which really made me feel good. Only losing to players from Japan was no shame, especially being from Texas, you know?
Back then, and even to some degree now, Texas was/is a very very slept on region when it comes to fighting games. You normally hear things about the West and East Coast, so it felt good to shake up that train of thought and get people to recognize that there are some really awesome players everywhere, not just those two regions.
- I know during the Dragon Ball FighterZ Nationals you commented about how they had West and East Coast regions, but nothing regarding the South or “Midwest” as far as Texas goes. Do you believe that a lack of well known tournament organizers like Bum for The House of Chaos or Team Spooky for Next Level Battle Circuit contributes to the lack of notoriety? Any plans to fill this role?
Oh absolutely! The lack of one of those pillars in the south and midwest is a big big big issue as to why the players from those regions get no shine. It’s honestly kind of wack that those players are forced to play under either of those regions to gain anything in terms of notoriety. There SHOULD be a Nationals PERIOD for those regions as there’s players all over the US that DON’T live in the East or West. So they deserve some love too.
As for taking on a similar role as Spooky or Bum, it’s honestly crossed my mind. While I think I could do, it I’m unsure if that’s within my immediate future; Maybe down the line I will end up filling that role but for now I have other plans before I intend to REALLY fill that role.
- You are also a speedrunner, and as I can tell, currently hold the world records for categories in Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, Icey, and Shinobi (Playstation 2). You also place highly in several other games like Streets of Rage 4, Guilty Gear 2: Overture, and Strider 2. What got you into this?
I got into speedrunning from watching GDQ (Games Done Quick), right? Especially watching people like CalebHart42 doing “MegaMan X2” and FuriousPaul playing “Super Castlevania 4”, (two of my childhood favorites). I tried to run those games and even repurchased the original carts (lol).
However, I made a different goal after trying those games, “What if I learned to run Overture? It’s a Guilty Gear game that isn’t talked about, right?”. After these thoughts I found the ultimate idea! I want to spread the awareness of the GG series and while my viewership is good, GDQ has a way larger viewer base than I could achieve at the time, so why not learn it and get it into GDQ? With that large of an audience I could let people in on learning the speedrun AND get them interested in the community that plays the competitive game (which was Guilty Gear Xrd at the time). It was essentially killing two birds with one stone, right? Sadly, I didn’t get Overture in during that time frame but it’s still a fun speedrun nevertheless.
Eventually I got into Ninja Gaiden 2 (NES) and developed the Chapter Challenge category for Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. It started out as a meme for the stream to show off how broken Kasumi was but it eventually turned into my favorite run for a long time. I began moving into Shinobi, Icey, Strider 2, and Streets of Rage 4 as well; I love action games and ninjas so it only makes sense. They’re all fantastic games, even on casual playthroughs, so I figured “let’s learn these games too”. The discipline it takes to speedrun is that of fighting games; lots of labbing and execution. I felt, at the end of the day, speedrunning would be a good retirement home if I were to ever completely drop fighting games.
- Both speedrunning and fighting games require a level of dedication to perfect those aspects of your game by hammering out the same things over-and-over again. What do you feel is necessary to build enough discipline to repeatedly analyze your mistakes and willingly fail forward to achieve your goals?
My mindset is that you have to “fail to succeed”. It’s a life lesson I learned early and took with me in every aspect of what I do. I strive for perfection no matter what, but most important is the knowledge learned. Knowing more will allow us to make better decisions and rationalize what we can do better.
The only way to improve is to train right? So in training we must put ourselves back into the position that compromised our game plan. Finding ways out of those compromising situations is honestly one of my favorite parts of training. Combo training, of course, is important but I lean more on the strategy side of things; which again, to reiterate, better decision making leads to creating better strategies to use mid-match. The strategies created can lead to limiting your opponents options and maximizing yours, leading to the desired outcome (Winning).
I’ll also add that win/loss ratios mean literally NOTHING to me. Each game is a chance to test and maximize yourself. These opportunities to improve should always be treated as such and is probably a big catalyst to allowing me to achieve my goals every time.
- As of late you have stopped streaming as much to focus on YouTube content from what I understand. You have started series like Guilty Gear Generations (Gx3) and Guilty Gear 1301. Mind telling us what these are about and your goals with them?
I decided to slow down a bit on Twitch to focus on YouTube as I believe that my future really lies between the two. I’ve neglected my YouTube far too long to be honest. I wanted to put more emphasis on well thought out and fully edited content versus just simply grabbing stuff from my stream and editing it down, ya know? I do know there’s room for that, but still.
As for Gx3, I just wanted to have an archive of old Guilty Gear history from a competitive standpoint; nobody is really covering this, so I wanted to fill that void. “Guilty Gear 1301” is basically my “college course”, if you will, for teaching the game. I intend to take both as far as I can go, especially 1301 and spin offs from 1301.
- With Guilty Gear -Strive- on the horizon, you seem quite invested. You’ve already been busy during the beta labbing, breaking down various things on your streams, and even have YouTube videos on your post beta thoughts. What is the focus regarding the next iteration of Guilty Gear?
Right now I’m focused on three major things; the first being community building which I feel is the absolute most important. I want to spearhead the movement for Strive the best I can while fostering an exceptional learning environment and community to do great things. The Super Smash Bros. Melee community is one that I actually admire because they literally keep their game afloat no matter what. I’d like to do the same with Strive. No matter what, the community should be able to hold strong and keep bringing in newer players into the fray whether it be casual or competitive. The aim is to show that everyone is welcome to enjoy Guilty Gear together in any capacity.
Second is to create content to help the community learn quickly. Learning a new game should be fun and engaging to explore, so I have some things in the works to help push this idea. I guess you can say this falls as a subsection of the first point.
The third is strengthening my skills to become the strongest player I can be. There’s no way I’ll let a new GG go by and “just be a content creator”. I still aspire to be a strong competitor even if I’m in the content creator role.
- As a player and content creator, what is your goal moving forward? What are the next steps for ShinKensou?
Playing both roles is something I intend to continue to do and the skies are looking like there’s no limits to growth and opportunities.
If anyone wants to keep up with Kensou and his progress, you can follow and support him by subscribing, liking, and following at the links provided.Social Media