Interview: GamerBee on U.S. players, streaming, and his upcoming plans
Bruce "GamerBee" Hsiang is a professional fighting game player from Taiwan, and is currently one of the top-ranked Street Fighter players in the entire world. GamerBee recently visited California for the NorCal Regionals tournament, in which he bounced back after being knocked into the Loser's bracket by Justin Wong to finish second overall.
During his time in California I spoke to GamerBee via Skype to talk about his pro career, his thoughts on the United States, his sponsor AVerMedia, and his plans for the future.
GameCrate: How did your latest tournament go?
GamerBee: My last tournament was NCR and I did pretty well. I dropped into the Loser's Top 16 but I came back to get 2nd place. So I was pretty happy with the results.
GC: Have you been to NCR before?
GB: No, that was my first time in Sacramento.
GC: What's your experience been like in the United States so far, on this trip and previous trips?
GB: I really like the United States because the food is good and every different city has a different feeling, so I really enjoy travelling in the United States. And the people here are really polite and nice.
GC: What's it been like playing professionally in the U.S.?
GB: I would say for e-sports there are more chances in the United States because it's much bigger and there are more sponsors. For me, I'm pretty sure that even in Street Fighter there is more prize money and more tournaments in the United States. So if I can I will try my best to come back to the United States to compete.
GC: Do you have any thoughts on the differences between U.S. players and players from different regions?
GB: Basically in Street Fighter right now the top-tier players almost all come from Asia, like Japan and Korea. But the United States actually has really talented players, but the problem is because they don't get a lot of chance to train with each other, because the Internet connection is not that good, compared to Asia. So I would say their play style is more aggressive in tournaments. That to me is really special, and sometimes they do really fancy stuff. Asian players just play passive defense, more like calculated, so it's not that hyped.
GC: How did you get into playing fighting games in the first place?
GB: When I was a kid I went to Taiwan's arcade center and I saw Street Fighter II. So I started playing Street Fighter II and I just became really into it. I played every day. I went to a lot of places to play different people, because I wanted to challenge more people. After that I was always playing fighting games, different fighting games. I've played for over 20 years. Fighting games have always been my habit.
GC: When you first started playing were you already better than most people, or is it just because you've practiced so much that you're better than most people?
GB: For me I think I've always been better than other people. Because I went to my first tournament for Street Fighter II and I won first place. I won first place in my first and second tournaments, so I guess I was pretty good at that time.
GC: A lot of people don't follow e-sports or know about video games. When those people ask you what you do, how do you explain that to them?
GB: This is a good question. If I really actually met someone who didn't know anything about it, I would say I work for my sponsors. I wouldn't say I'm a professional gamer. But if I start talking about how I'm a pro gamer and I travel and play in tournaments...sometimes I'll do that.
GC: Does your family understand what you do?
GB: Yes my family totally understands what I do, because I've done this job for over three years. I have a really stable life, a salary and a job, so they totally understand.
GC: What's your practice routine like?
GB: Before a tournament, for like a week I will start training a lot. Every day, more than six hours, and try to study my opponents, their characters, their videos, I'll keep watching them. For regular life I'll try to repeat the basic techniques of my own, try to practice that, and try to study and develop some new tech in training mode. That's like one or two hours a day. After that I will record it and try to memorize it, and write it down. But before a tournament I will try to watch it all over again.
GC: For people who want to get better at Street Fighter, if you can just tell them one thing, what's your best bit of advice?
GB: If it's a basic player I'd say just go watch the top players play, and try to copy their motions, what they do, their combos, the footsies they do. And for a really high-end player they should know a lot of data, like hitbox, hurtbox, everything. Knowledge of the game.
GC: Let's talk about streaming. How often do you stream your gameplay?
GB: I was streaming a lot, like five days a week. I figured out that when I'm streaming I don't get really good training done. I think streaming is more like fun with the fans. It's good, I like it, so I try to separate the two. When I'm training I'm just training. I do two or three streams a week, right now.
GC: How has your sponsor AVerMedia helped you with that?
GB: AVerMedia is really good about streaming and recording. For me, for streaming I use AVerMedia products, and it's really stable. I actually use the USB 2 and USB 3 versions, two kinds of devices. The LGP is portable, and I usually bring the LGP to my company and stream from the office. At home I use the other one, the CV710, that's USB 3.
Basically for training I will use the LGP to record everything, like my setup and my new tech, and I will upload it to YouTube but it's private so only I can see it.
GC: Is streaming a hard thing to do?
GB: It depends on what kind of quality you want. If you just want to stream your gameplay, then it's really easy. You don't have to fix anything, you just put it on.
GC: If somebody wants to start streaming, what are your tips for them?
GB: First of all just go to get a capture card, then go to Twitch and get an account and just start streaming. Then you will understand, you will watch your own streams and say "I want to improve this or that, I want to put on a microphone or a webcam, I want to know what my viewers want to see." You can talk to them, so you can put on everything they want.
Actually streaming is really fun when you try to improve the quality of the content. I've had a lot of fun with that.
GC: What do you have coming up in the next few months?
GB: The Capcom Pro Tour has many tournaments this year so it's really hard to say which tournament I'll go to next, but I will definitely come to Evolution 2015 in Vegas in July. It's the biggest fighting game tournament, so I'll be there for sure. I've been there every year since 2010.
GC: Do you have fun there or is it all business?
GB: I always have fun at Evo, because it's the biggest tournament. All the matches are really hyped. Even if I wasn't a pro gamer I would still try my best to travel there because that tournament is so hyped and so fun. I want to be part of it because I love fighting games a lot.
Thanks to GamerBee for taking the time to answer my questions, and to AVerMedia's Kelvin Jeon for helping to arrange our interview.