For those who are not aware, Tommy Wafflez (pictured left) was once an integral part of the NetherRealm Community. As a part of the once dominant GGA team, Tommy traveled regularly with teammates Dizzy, 16Bit, Pimpimjim, and Jeremiah to a multitude of tournaments around the nation. In Mortal Kombat 9, he played quite convincingly the best Smoke that the community has ever seen. In 2013, he accomplished an illustrious win at Final Round, and went on to moderate success in Injustice: Gods Among Us. The newly released Injustice 2 marks the return of Tommy to the scene that he helped grow, still representing the Galloping Ghost Arcade brand. We caught up with him to ask him a few questions prior to the action this weekend;
MPNE – Tell us about your brief experiences with MKX seeing as we did not see much of you in major tournaments.
Wafflez – MKX (Mortal Kombat X) was an interesting game for me. It was the successor of the game that I had made a name for myself in. Going into the game, I felt pressured to do well, considering my previous performances in Mortal Kombat, but the time and my setting just weren’t right. I was still in school, and though the game had an improved online system, it wasn’t the way I was trained to practice fighting games. I was lucky to have such an amazing group of players to play with during my time as a Mortal Kombat 9/Injustice player. My local scene, who were some of my closest friends, were my motivation behind grinding the game on a daily basis. I didn’t know how to use practice mode on my own in a way that would prepare me for a tournament setting. When the game first came out, I made sure to travel and play as much as I could, regardless of my situation. I attended Toryuken and Combo Breaker, and fell short of top 16 in both. Unfortunately, a part of why I play these games is to win/do well. It helps stir my competitive side, and plays a part in whether or not I stick to a game. During the summer, I made trips to the arcade to play with my friends, but the game just didn’t click. This was the first game where our scene had lost some of our greatest training assets (16-bit, Dizzy, Saucy Jack, PPJ), and without their guidance and training, I felt lost and unmotivated, and gave up my competitive drive towards this game, concentrating on school and work.
MPNE – What are your thoughts on Injustice 2 just one week after its release?
Wafflez – Man, this game is fun. What’s cool about a new game being released is that it gives new life to players/scenes all over. I say this especially towards my local scene, and myself. Everyone is grinding hard, and everyone wants to learn as much as they can. Even more so because of how close the first major the game will be premiered at is.
MPNE – What character(s) have you been playing and why?
Wafflez – I played Green Lantern in the first Injustice. This being a legacy game, he has returned, but in different fashion. He has his main tools, which are Back 1 (9 frame low combo starter), lift, and F3 (quick overhead that allows for mixups). His combos are basically the same, which helps in picking up the game quickly and focusing more on the macro (game mechanics) rather than the micro (character mechanics). His specials have drastically changed though, which called for some necessary lab time and understanding of how the game wants the character to be played now. I personally think this Lantern is a worse version, but still viable (for now). I am also playing Deadshot. He’s fun, very powerful, and really suits my playstyle, which I would consider to be control based. I am looking to explore more characters post Combo Breaker, like Scarecrow and Joker.
MPNE – Do you plan on travelling to tournaments for Injustice 2 considering the announcement of the Injustice Championship Series?
Wafflez – I would love to travel for tournaments. I really miss the scene, and being an active member in it. I miss my friends that I’ve made from all over the states, and the good times that are always made at these events. The quality of tournaments have skyrocketed since I was last actively going to them too, so that’s something I always look forward to. Honestly though, it depends a lot on how I do at Combo Breaker. Top 8? 100% yes, you can expect me to be at EVO and more during the fall. My weekends always involve work though, so it’s hard to take off so many days. With online tournaments like ESL taking over, I think that it’s much more friendly towards those with busier schedules, and I hope to participate in as many of those as I can.
MPNE – What are your thoughts on the evolution of Netherrealm games from Mortal Kombat 9 to now i.e. new players, emphasis on online play etc.?
Wafflez – I love how much our scene has grown. We are at least twice as big in terms of top players since MK9, and that just creates such a diverse (in terms of characters) and overall more competitive scene. There are so many hungry players. Fighting games as a whole are up and coming in terms of esports, and our growing scene is DEFINITELY a source behind it’s relatively quick growth, as well as support from companies like NetherRealm. Good net play almost defines the life of a game now a days, especially with the amount of online tournaments (which came first the chicken or the egg?). It draws in players and allows them to learn more quickly and efficiently.
MPNE – With players like Star Charger, Smarrgasm, Playing 2 Win, and Rip in your pool, what kind of expectations do you have going into Combo Breaker?
Wafflez – Considering the character I play, I’d say I have a good chance of getting out of my pool, at least in losers. They are all players who have accomplishments in fighting games, so none are to be taken lightly. I’d say I’m most worried about Black Adam (Smarr). He seems very strong right now, despite how powerful Deadshot is. Fortunately, I can play two characters at a relatively high level (I think LOL), and think they work well together and help each other’s bad matchups. I’m aiming for top 48. I will be tackling the tournament match by match, concentrating on my current opponent. The game is so new, anything is possible, anyone can be good.
MPNE – It seems as if the GGA fighting game brand has withered since 16Bit and Dizzy retired, what can you tell us about the current state of GGA?
Wafflez – GGA has definitely lost it’s touch since the days of MK9 and Injustice. Bit and Dizzy were amazing players, both bringing a ton of knowledge to our scene. They have both molded me into the player I am today. Without a huge personality like Bit, our scene has fallen as a focal point in the NRS FGC. We have no voice right now (Jeremiah if anyone), and I’d love to see us back on the map, but the only way that’s going to happen is through tournament results. We are training still, very under the radar, and I hope one of us breaks out this tournament, defending our home turf.
MPNE – Looking back, what will you remember as your favorite moment as a competitive fighting game player?
Wafflez – My years as a fully sponsored player flying the Galloping Ghost flag were definitely my favorite (2011-2015). I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to travel with great friends, and meet so many more. Hotel shenanigans, cheering teammates on, the salt, the blowups, post tournament Denny’s trips blowing up Tom Brady with all my friends, nothing beats it. BUT…. Winning Final Round 2013 was the absolute highlight of my career. Coming back from losers in the second round of the tournament and having a good chunk of my friends/teammates there to support me was such an amazing feeling that’s been unmatched since. I worked insanely hard in that game, and it all finally paid off. It happened a bit too late in the game’s life for me personally, but I will take it.
MPNE – What would be your dream Injustice character if you could choose to add one to the roster and why?
Wafflez – Beast Boy is my favorite D.C. character. I like his personality and kind of relate it to my own. His power is badass, and I think if NRS somehow implemented it into the game, it would be insanely cool.
MPNE – Feel free to use this area for shout outs and whatever else you please.
Wafflez – Shout outs to pretty much everyone at my local scene who I train with. They are literally the reason why I play these games. I am a gamer, and as much as I love sitting at home playing League of Legends with a bunch of strangers, the social aspect that fighting games bring is amazing. It brings people from all different backgrounds together who obsess over a common hobby, and I love that. Fill Pops, Jeremiah, Soonk, Max, Regular Marcus, Shady, Letsgetacid, Limbo, McCutty, Hruza, and last but not least Doc Mack, the man behind the arcade, and the reason why I’m here (in the fighting game scene).
I would like to thank Tommy for taking the time to catch up with us on what he has been up to. You can follow Tommy on Twitter @tomwafflez. We also would like to wish him the best of luck this weekend at one of the most anticipated competitions of recent memory. If you like this content and want to see more, feel free to contact me on Twitter and share this post. You can also follow my YouTube and Twitch pages in the side-bar to the right.
You can catch all of the action this weekend at https://www.twitch.tv/netherrealm.
Pool assignments and schedules can be found at https://combobreaker.org/
Twitter – @TheMattPryor