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Video Games
Video Games

What It's like to Teach Street Fighter for a Living

Brolylegs takes pride in helping people learn.
Image via CapcomHave you ever wanted a fighting game coach, but weren’t sure where to turn? Don't worry – there are people paid to do just that! AbleGamers|Brolylegs is just one of a few teachers at Cross Counter TV who teach Street Fighter for a living, and it's not as easy as you might think.

“You’ve been working on your combos, I see. Nice moves!” Ryu’s win quote upon defeating Chun-Li in Street Fighter V reveals a popular parallel between fighting games and physical martial arts. Both frequently cite the trope of real improvement only being achievable with dedicated practice, and it is this core value that Ryu's quote references. If they want to be the best, Street Fighter players must – like martial artists – constantly train their minds and their bodies. Thanks to the prevalence of social media, finding a good group of fighters with whom to exchange virtual punches is almost as easy as locating a physical dojo. Times have changed since the golden arcade days of the nineties – no longer do fighting game fans have to await the release of officially licensed magazines with limited tech, or undergo endless weeks of trial and error to discover optimal strategies. “Back then, you could hide a tournament-winning strategy for months after the game came out, which is why tournaments were so much cooler,” commentator and competitor Aris mentioned in a video on the subject. “Technology hadn’t spread then the way it does now.” While the multitude of online tutorials now available at the touch of a button might appear to be the optimal solution for those looking to “get good,” it doesn’t cover every base. Watching videos or labbing against the training dummy can only help so much: sometimes, players need one-on-one sessions to see results. [caption id="attachment_100407" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Coaching Conundrum Ryu Even great warriors like Ryu need guidance.[/caption] Cross Counter Training is an organisation that aspires to do just that. “A tutorial won’t tell you when you’re jumping too much,” their mission statement holds. “A YouTube video won’t teach you when to go for a knockdown rather than a full punish. No frame data can tell you what side you should be blocking a cross-up from.” Founded by Gootecks, Fighting Game OG and host of Cross Counter TV, Cross Counter Training matches those looking to improve their skills with North America’s fighting game professionals. Those invested in the scene might recognize names such as Echo Fox|Justin Wong and Tempo Storm|Alex Meyers among their cast of coaches. Much like the rosters of fighting games, each coach has their own unique specialties. One of these mentors, Able Gamers|Brolylegs, specializes in charge characters and mastery of fundamentals, as well as mental toughness and dealing with the high pressure of tournaments. “Players demand a faster way to learn, to practice against an actual person, and guidance to improve upon their faults,” he explained. “That's where I come in. I provide these new competitors a solution to their demands.” Teaching someone to play fighting games isn’t an easy task. Like any teacher, Broly assesses his students’ strengths and works on their weaknesses. “[My goal is] to find improvements in their game, no matter how big or small they are, and to help them gain confidence in themselves,” he stated. “The biggest detriment to a player’s success in a fighting game is their confidence. It affects their approach, execution, endurance, and motivation to get better. It's my job to get these students to feel good when they learn and take it to their competitions.” To get new students, each coach advertises themselves via their social platforms, like Twitter or their Twitch channels. Their skills are likewise displayed on Cross Counter Training’s website, so prospective pupils have an easy way to gauge who might be best suited to meet their needs. [caption id="attachment_100408" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Coaching Conundrum Brolylegs Brolylegs (left) giving input during a tournament[/caption] Broly was introduced to the program during the debut of Ultra Street Fighter IV. “Gootecks wanted to form a team of highly skilled and informed players to help out the new players that looked to start fresh,” he stated. “I’m not sure why he thought of me, but I guess being the number one Chun Li on Xbox 360 helped a lot.” For Broly, training his students isn’t just about the clout – it provides him an opportunity to give back to the scene that helped him find success. “I honestly enjoy helping players that have no [local] scenes or friends to play with,” he said. “I know I would never be where I am today without having that local competition. Even if I got bodied for months, the experience helped me grow so much faster than I would have on my own.” Of course, Cross Counter Training isn’t the only organization to provide training services for the FGC. New Challenger is recently established group based in the UK that similarly hopes to level up their region. Echo Fox’s Momochi and Chocoblanka also started up a school called Shinobism in 2016, which aimed to reach the younger generation of fighting game players by helping them understand a genre that can be difficult for beginners to master. The duo found success early on in their efforts and continue to recruit fresh talent in the hopes that they will raise a strong group of professional players to carry on their legacy. The pair’s success provides an optimistic view for the future of fighting game coaching. “I can see it growing in correlation to the actual growth of the competitive gaming scene,” Broly thinks. “Just like there's instructors for sports, music or fitness, there definitely needs to be instructors for competitive gaming.” As more seasoned players step up to the plate and more esports organizations gain recognition, the implementation of coaches in the scene can only further build an already blossoming industry.