Adelheid Stark is an up and coming trailblazer in the FGC. She represents an important, new-school type of player; making a name for herself not with tournament results, but by discovering tech and making original and well-produced combo videos. Videos on her YouTube page get tens of thousands of views, and her technology is used by professional players around the world. Check out this exclusive interview with Toronto Gaymers for her thoughts on the Seattle fighting game scene, playing top tier and more.
Hi Adelheid! Could you please introduce yourself?
Sure. My name is Adelheid Stark. I’m a student of computer engineering, and I juggle a lot of hobbies, my most important one being fighting games. I live in northwestern Washington, so I’m part of the Seattle scene. I’ve been playing fighting games since I was very young, and periodically went to Smash Bros tournaments in the early 2000s, but my formal introduction to competitive fighting games was through Guilty Gear in 2007, and I met up with the Capcom scene with Marvel vs Capcom 3 in 2011.
What is the fighting game scene like where you’re from?
Right now, the Seattle Capcom scene isn’t really as big as NorCal, SoCal, or stuff further east, but everyone is very interested in getting as good as possible and a lot of us travel whenever we can to go to tournaments in other scenes. Our BlazBlue scene is actually very large for an anime scene, though, and has produced the past three Evo BlazBlue champions. There are a number of older, very strong players in various games, remnants from awhile ago when the Seattle scene was relatively bigger than it is now, but for most purposes probably I would say we are not one of the biggest. As well, there’s more intermingling between the people playing different games than I see when I travel, which is probably a consequence of not really being as big a scene as those I’ve visited. That is not to say that everything is sunshine and roses, of course, but I think in general smaller scenes can’t afford to have people alienating others meaninglessly, so everyone is, at the least, civil. I get the feeling that we are better off here than in many other places.
Not enough, haha! But, well, it really depends. Some weeks I’m so busy with other stuff that the answer is 0, while other weeks I’m really interested in grinding new stuff and play more than 10 hours. But that doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the process of inventing new stuff, for me. A lot of my lab work isn’t really done “in the lab” itself, but when I’m thinking about the game for other reasons and not near a setup. For instance, this previous Sunday while I was at a restaurant with a friend, I suddenly realized something I could do to make a combo more consistent and work from more distances, and when I got home I went to try it out and it worked.
So, I think, most of my strength comes not really from grinding, which I definitely do in order to have all my crazy combos no one else does match-consistent, but from my intimate knowledge of the game system allowing me to come up with such things.
You have a video on your YouTube page where you reluctantly remove Taskmaster and add Doom to your team. Do you feel picking a top tier is necessary at this point in the Marvel metagame?
Marvel is not a stagnant game. Even now, we are all finding new things in UMvC3, so it’s not totally about just taking what is “the best” and becoming the best with it. All the top players seem to approach the game a little differently, and things are always becoming more organized, but you also have stuff that breaks the mold and still does well. Because, the game is very synergy-based, and simply having “all of the best components” does not necessarily mean you are 100% the best. I do not feel that Taskmaster is necessarily a bad character to play, but I feel that my team was the wrong team for him. I felt I had no ability to catch people with that character, and fixing that required changing my team. But, Spencer is my favorite character, with Amaterasu a close second, so for me it was the correct move to stop playing Taskmaster and pick up Doom. So I don’t really think of it as “having to pick a top tier” so much as “needing to bring out all the strengths in the characters you like in order to make them competitive.”
The FGC is often quick to proclaim games such as Persona 4: Arena as ‘dead’. Do you agree with this attitude? Are there any other fighting games you still play consistently?
P4A is a fun game, to be certain, but it interests me less than other games do. When I watch videos of it, it seems people just aren’t interested in developing tech for that game. But, you know, I don’t really feel it’s dead– a decent amount of people still play it. The game is still evolving, just more slowly. Ultimately, it was something people were playing for awhile, but its main competitive fanbase drifted back to Guilty Gear and BlazBlue with the announcement of new games for those series. I’d love to play Melty Blood with people, but no one plays that game anymore, not around where I live– THAT is a dead game. As for other fighting games I play consistently, well, the game I play second-most is actually Guilty Gear. My stick art prominently features Venom, from Guilty Gear, who happens to be my favorite character in any fighting game. Honestly, if it had as big a fanbase as Marvel it’d be my main game for sure.
Speaking of which, you just competed in Guilty Gear at UFGT9. Are you excited about Guilty Gear Xrd SIGN?
Of course! Guilty Gear is my favorite fighter series and I have faith that they’ll do it justice. It’s not like I feel ArcSys can do no wrong, mind, and I actually quite dislike BlazBlue (though I’ll at least give ChronoPhantasma a fair shot when it comes out on console), but Guilty Gear is something they have on lock, I feel. AC+R was a good recent advancement for the series, so I feel it’s in good hands.
It seems both the Capcom and Mortal Kombat communities have embraced Injustice: Gods Among Us. Have you been playing it at all?
Can’t say I have. The game is very nice-looking and looks good, but I guess, it just doesn’t feel like it’s my style. I have enough on my plate, I don’t want to pick up a new game that is totally different from the other games I’m playing now. As well, I… I mean, I still feel like it has clunky animation that turns me off of the game, although it’s much better about that than Mortal Kombat. NetherRealm Studios is constantly improving in that department, which is nice, but I don’t know about that game!
What has been the best or proudest moment of your FG career to date?
I do not view myself as a particularly strong player, but I feel I am at least a particularly smart one. So I think, my proudest moment is being recognized by players stronger than I am. I am very happy when I see people use the tech that I have developed. When Combofiend gave me a shoutout, when I saw even Japanese players were starting to use the tech I developed, those are my proudest moments.
Recently you made a very personal and pointed statement to the FGC about avoiding the use of slurs. Was the response overly positive or negative?
Well… I got a lot of negative and positive comments both, but… A lot of people have approached me in private to express their support, to say they were very happy that I made it. I in no way regret my words.
What’s planned for you in the near future? Any projects or upcoming tournaments? Will you be attending Evo in Las Vegas this year?
I’ll go to whatever tournaments I have time and money for. For the next year at least, I’d like to travel more than I do. I always go to Evo, though… I’ve been to every Evo since 2008, of course I’m going this year as well. If I could somehow pick up a sponsor, I’d try to go to everything, but then, that’s true of everyone, haha.
Thanks Adelheid for chatting with TorontoGaymers!