Shanks becomes the first esports athlete to sign for RedBull, as has happened with other fighting game players such as Daigo or Bonchan.
It is difficult not to know Shanks, even in passing. This Barcelona player has broken into the world of fighting games internationally with the arrival of Dragon Ball FighterZ and his already known team around the planet: A18 / Gohan / Goku. Top 4 in the EVO 2019, present in the finals of the recent World Tour of the Bandai Namco game and with many other milestones, such as the Masters League, behind him, he has become the first player to be a RedBull athlete, something that they are fighting game legends like Daigo or Bonchan. “I was very interested when they tested me, because they offer you a collaborative relationship to try to maximize your potential at a competitive level; this closeness, wanting you to grow and not be a sponsorship to use, caught my attention,” Shanks explains.
And so begins this relationship that has been announced virtually, without major events or boasting about the coronavirus, but that will be positive for the Vodafone Giants player. In fact, the global pandemic has left most fighting games tournaments on standby, all of them face-to-face, something that has been a hard hit for the genre. We interviewed Shanks to learn more about how he sees his future and that of fighting games.
How does a pandemic like this affect a competitive circuit based on attendance?
It is a very hard blow, because we have an online game that does not work very well in most games, and that affects negatively. Luckily we have both content creation and streams to keep us training, practicing and digging deeper into the new FighterZ patch.
Does it affect more than in other games?
Definitely. Other titles such as LOL or Counter-Strike are sure that if the finals and world championships end up being played online, the result will be validated and the winner will not be detracted from. In fighting games, as the netcode is, it is very difficult.
EVO 2020 will be online …
We lack information to know how it will be done, it is normal that they want to keep it because they are a company, and they are also not to blame for companies not releasing games with good online. Of the main line of games, many have problems to make online work well among players from nearby countries, not to mention from other continents. I don’t know what idea they have, because we can see unplayable games literally. Maybe they do it by region and try to make a final with the Top 8 in person following the safety rules … I don’t know, a totally online tournament will be a joke.
Can it be a wake-up call for companies?
I am sure that the great developers have already realized that netcode matters more than ever, and with the EVO it will be impossible to avoid this being the last generation of games with an online bad. It is time for them to take the plunge, because 90% of people play online and it is absurd that in the most important tournament, we end up seeing games between Americans and Japanese 20 frames late.
There is a lot of talk about Rollback, a system that improves the connection wherever it is implemented …
Without going into technicalities, let’s say that it is a system that allows the online to work better, handling regular connections -not bad- so that they are more stable. It will not save you if you play with the neighbor’s wifi, but the improvement is noticeable compared to what we currently have. Basically it allows you to play well with more people, and only with that and that it is easily applicable, it is wonderful. Unfortunately, companies do not see fighting games as a service: they launch the game, they have DLC packs but they do not see it as a service to improve except for some like NetherRealm, who worked to improve the online of their Mortal Kombat. The others, once the game was released and sold, it’s over.
How has confinement affected you competitively shortly after the FighterZ changes?
Everyone has affected, but Dragon Ball I think more, because with the update and changes there was a rebound in players and the desire to experience new things. We have missed tournaments with many changes, incredible variety and the search for the new goal. Anyway, seeing the ability to change the game they have, I am clear that it can last a couple of years more if the developer wants and supports it.
And on a competitive level, how do you feel about the game?
Right now it’s a bit of a lime and a sand. I have taken advantage of the confinement to test new characters and changes; I have been very surprised by the amount of work and changes in mechanics that have been applied. If the question is whether I will continue with 18 / Gohan / Goku, I don’t know. The truth is that the patch has left Goku quite touched, and he is nominated to leave the team.
Despite the fall of tournaments, you have signed as a RedBull athlete and you are still a reference for Vodafone Giants …
It has been a great year! Since the beginning of last season I can fully dedicate myself to the world of fighting games and that is thanks to Giants. Now the Redbull thing is one more impulse to consolidate myself. We had been talking to them for a while, they were interested in my profile and me what it meant to be a RedBull athlete. It is a great opportunity because it is not a ‘you have gone far, now it carries my brand as sponsorship’, but something more ambitious.