Dominique “SonicFox” McLean is arguably the greatest fighting game player this generation and undoubtedly the best Netherrealm Studios player ever. In addition to that he is considered the best skullgirls player and is currently dominating the scene in DragonBallFighterZ. However there is another fighting-game out there that he has yet to conquer and that’s because of one man: His brother Kristian McLean. While Fox is easily known in Las Vegas for his back to back EVO world championship in 2015 and 2016, Kwiggle has proved himself as a champion having won almost every major tournament on the east coast at least once.
In the early years Kristian became enthralled in video games, particularly fighting-games. Often playing Tekken 3 and Dead or Alive at his home in New Jersey with his brothers and cousins.
So what got you into gaming?
“So my very first video game experience was over my cousins house, they had an Xbox and the first games I ever saw them play on it was Halo, Dead or Alive 3, and Crazy Taxi. That’s what it was. For Christmas later that year, my parents got us[my brothers and I] a Playstation 2 and the first games I remember having were Crash Bandicoot and Final Fantasy X.”
At the age of 18 his fondness for gaming took to new heights as he began entering fighting-game tournaments and esports. His first tournaments were Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Dead or Alive 5 at Summer Jam 6. How did it go?
“For Tekken Tag Tournament 2, I was just getting into that and having to control two characters at once was really different. I don’t remember how I placed in that one. However, in Dead or Alive 5 I was turning a lot of heads, and one old school player in particular (Chosen1) thought I was going to be something big, and I ended up taking fifth place in my first tournament.”
After this experience he became hooked immediately wanting more and honing his skills in Team Ninja’s Dead or Alive. This would prove to be where he shined. When Dead or Alive 5 was officially released in September 2012 Mr.Kwiggle was already a major player continuing his rise up the leaderboards. After finding his footing in 2014 he began to dominant every competitor that he would come across, even toppling his brother in tournaments on all but one occasion. By 2015 Kwiggle was the most decorated player with one of the longest win streaks in the game’s history, having defeated everyone before he turned his sights towards the world title at the first Dead or Alive Festival held in Tokyo, Japan. In the Grand Finals he defeated Terurock’s Lei Fang to take home the title for the USA and be crowned the best DOA player in the world.
On a scale that big what was the competition like?
“Umm for me it was really exciting, but it was really hectic at the same time because I knew all of the players overseas played very different from us in the states. But apparently they had never heard any of us – like me, Xcaliburbladez, and Sweet Revenge – so they were very excited to have some players from overseas play them. They even kept us playing at the arcade for eight hours straight our first day there!”
That’s really good and truly a testament to your skills; which brings me to my next question: What make you so good at fighting games?
“For me. I think what makes me good is that I’ve grown up playing what is now the best fighting game player in years, and we were both very competitive growing up. It was brotherly fun, but we were also super competitive at the same time. We played so many different games; like almost every version of Mortal Kombat, Soul Calibur, Tekken, and DOA. What I noticed now, looking back, is that I’m very good at adapting, and my reactions are good. I still have a lot of room for improvement, but I would say those two things help me right now.”
While he is primarily known as a Dead or Alive player he has often helped his brother in learning tech with characters from other games such as Mortal Kombat X, Skullgirls, and Injustice 2. Kristian saw his rise to dominance and fame in the FGC in the only way he could, as a brother. Tom Lee-creative director of Team Ninja acknowledged the duo as “Quite possibly the most talented siblings in esports today.”.
You were there from the beginning; longer than anyone. What was it like seeing your brother [SonicFox] take over the FGC?
“It was 50/50. So on one hand, absolutely it was amazing watching. I was like Wow! He’s so good! It was crazy to think, ‘that’s my little brother’. It was so good seeing him do this event and win that event. We got to fly to a lot of places, especially me. Since he was under age, I got to be his chaperone. There was even one year where for about eight months straight we were in a new state every weekend, like back to back. It was a lot of fun and hectic to watch him grow and get better. Seeing him get better and adapt made me want to compete more as well. Now on the other hand, after achieving all of that fame since I’ve watched it happen and watched him grow up and helped him get better at home through my own eyes, it sometimes passes right over my head that “Oh yeah! My little brother is famous”. It always catches others off guard too when they find out I’m his older brother, and sometimes they don’t believe me until I show them a picture. It just doesn’t always register to me that my little brother is a celebrity.”
So I guess we can call you guys a family of fighters huh? When you’re watching your brother do so good at so many games, do you ever see yourself taking other games as serious as you do Dead or Alive?
“I absolutely would like to. For me DOA is probably the game that I’m most passionate about. I’ve grown up playing it and achieved so much that it’s probably my most played game. So I have a different type of attachment to it. Now when it comes to a lot of other games, most games are 2D fighting-games, which isn’t my background. My background is predominantly 3D fighting-games. I want to take other games as seriously as DOA. However, it would be a challenging process. I would have to learn all of the new mechanics, learn how to fight on a 2D field vs 3D, and it almost feels more limited as to what I can do in terms of my play-style. I love Injustice. I love DragonballFighterZ. I just know it would be a huge learning curve. Everybody grew up playing 2D fighters. Like a lot of the top players have years of experience where as I would just be starting now.”
After finishing college he transitioned to the West Coast ready to face a new set of fighting game players and give the FGC new meaning in Las Vegas. Already he competed in his first Injustice 2 and Tekken 7 tournaments at the Downtown Grand clearing his pool and only losing to Jackie Tran – a former Tekken Evo champion – and a formidable Paul player who placed second only behind Jackie Tran himself.
Is the FGC scene different here than what you’re use to on the East coast?
“Well, for starters, all the main tournaments were basically in my backyard. Like Summer Jam, ECT, NEC, Winterbrawl – they were all about 45 minutes away from me. So I could literally drive to every tournament. I didn’t have to worry about catching flights or where I’d be staying. I could just stay at a friends house that lived close by when I was there. Now on the West Coast there are tournaments, but they aren’t as close and they don’t happen as frequently as they do on the East. Plus they normally don’t have Dead or Alive.”
What would you say that the West Coast in particular Las Vegas needs for the FGC and Esports?
“For starters, more games included. When you think about Las Vegas, the only tournament here is EVO, and they hardly ever put up the games that people want to see. They may do three, four, maybe even five non-major fighting games, but all the other communities get shafted. There’s a lot of communities that don’t have interest in going to EVO when their games aren’t even there. You have to ask, ‘Why would I fly out to the most expensive venue if I’m not even going to get to play?” So I’d say another tournament, and I think having a likeable event would be a big thing. I’ve been to a lot of tournaments, and I hear a lot about what people do and don’t like, and if people don’t like maybe the host, or the venue itself, or some other factor pertaining to the tournament, other people wouldn’t want to go. We need another major tournament that everyone can come out to that’s not so high scale so everyone can feel as if they can come out and play.”
So here on the West Coast we are still growing-still learning. Luckily for you guys on the East you’ve had amazing and tenured tournament operators like Big E (Eric Small) and Shin Blanka (Larry Dixon).
“Well yeah. They are passionate about their events and put them on because they love them. They’ve been fighting for years to make the FGC grow. I think [here] no one is really passionate like that. It’s more so about money or business over love of the industry.”
I think we will get there in due time. It’s a process, one that requires a lot of effort from a lot of brilliant minds to get us to that point, but the players also have to contribute; to come out to the tournaments, play, and help Las Vegas tournaments grow. Here in Las Vegas how would you help us grow?
“I agree its going out to more weeklys and local tournaments, but you also have to help promote the events, tell friends, and just spread the word in general. Also bringing people that have never been to tournaments to check it out would be good.”
Another thing is a lot of new or online players don’t really come out to tournaments for fear of how they will place or if they can make it out of their pools.
“Going to tournaments isn’t always about winning. It’s also about playing for fun and the experience. Playing online doesn’t compare to the environment that you’re in at tournaments.”.
I think we will get better at that. As more places open like the new Esports Arena at the Luxor, gamers will see that Vegas is trying, but more importantly, see that while Esports is very competitive, it’s also very engaging and very different from anything else. It’s almost like a party. I guess for you when connecting back with friends on the East it’s more like a family reunion.
Are there any games that you are looking forward to?
“Soul Calibur 6. It’s another series that I grew up playing. With my brother, I’ve played them all since the second one. I think me and a lot of people stopped playing with what happened with Soul Calibur 5. At one point my brother and I played Soul Calibur more than anything else. Plus it’s a 3D fighting game and they’re bringing back the characters I like playing like Ivy, Talim, and Seong Mina.”
Well we hope to see you win tournaments for that game too. In closing is there anything we can expect from you in the near future and anything you’d like to say in general?
“Nope, just expect to see me doing a lot more in a couple of months, and expect to see me out more helping to promote and help the local scene.”
If you’d like to see more of Mr.Kwiggle the following link below will take you to his official Twitter
Xbox Gamertag: Mr Kwiggle
Playstation Gamertag: MC Kwiggle
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