If you’ve been active in the competitive Injustice scene, there’s a good chance you’ve crossed paths with Emmanuel 'CDJr' Brito in a previous tournament. He was a dominant force throughout the Killer Instinct’s opening season where he earned multiple first place finishes, including an EVO championship.
Following his tournament debut in 2011 with Mortal Kombat 9, CDJr has competed in other popular fighting games like Street Fighter V, Mortal Kombat X, and Injustice: Gods Among Us. Plus, he’s already been training with the Injustice 2 beta in preparation for the retail debut. Given his multi-game interests in the FGC, we wanted to catch up and get his insights on how his tournament career has been developing.
What are some factors that help you to play a character?
Some factors that help me pick a main character in fighting games are looks, personality, and playstyle. I prefer characters that can play a really good mid-range game, offer good buttons, and tools that make the opponent come to you. But if I really like a character, then I'll adapt to whatever playstyle the character has.
However, with how unbalanced games are nowadays, and with so much on the line now, I just [focus on] playing top tiers.
How often do you practice, and how do you manage your time to stay sharp?
Right now, it's random how much I play and practice, since my main game this year is Street Fighter V. With a new patch coming out, I'm holding off on hardcore training since I don't know how much the game will change.
Once the patch [releases], I'm planning on playing Street Fighter V at least eight to ten hours a day, Monday thru Friday, until Injustice 2 drops. Then I'll have to split my time between both games or just play even more than 10 hours, which will most likely be the case.
Which fighting game would you say was the easiest to build your experience?
It would have to be Mortal Kombat 9, for the simple fact that I had consistent high-level practice in my house against my brothers.
Based on your experience, do you consider online to be a good method to learn matchups?
I consider online a good method to learn matchups and how to deal with certain playstyles against different characters. With some situations where you react offline, netplay might be a frame or two late, then you get punished for it. So if the netcode is bad, that makes it even harder to learn and level up online.
But for the most part, online is fine to learn matchups.
Now that you’ve had an opportunity to play the beta, what are your impressions?
I love it. I freaking love it.
NRS has improved MANY things that people didn't like in Injustice. This includes WAY better anti-airs, more defensive options like the new meter burn dash, air combo flip outs, and push block seem better overall since you are at least +1 after a push blocking your opponent. Plus, walkspeed and ground movement still feels limited like in Injustice, so I would love to see some improvements there.
In what ways do you feel the sequel has improved over Injustice: Gods Among Us?
Well, so far we only got a beta with a few characters, so I can only speak on playstyle changes, which will change in the final version. So far, [in terms of] gameplay and graphics, Injustice 2 is a huge improvement from the first one.
Out of the characters who’ve been confirmed so far, which ones have piqued your interest?
So far, I'm interested in Blue Beetle and Robin the most. While I play Blue Beetle in the beta, and I love his keep away style [his design] overall, he feels really weak and kind of unfinished. So I am hoping he'll get some buffs in the future
What concerns do you have about the game leading up the release?
Honestly, my only concern is ground movement and walk speed. It's like I mentioned earlier: if they can speed that up and make it smoother, that would make a lot of players happy — not just me.
Street Fighter V
What’s your opinion on the present direction of Street Fighter V Season 2?
I really don't like the direction Street Fighter V is going. It's focusing heavily on rushdown and leaving behind defensive options and neutral play. Even at the highest of levels, a lot of matches are coming down to who guesses better in scrambles. To me, that's not Street Fighter, it's a different game.
If there was one thing you could change, what would that be?
I would completely change the wake up system. I think SFV's wake up system is flawed and is one of the main reasons the game looks sloppy and random in neutral. I would love to see a wake up system similar to what Street Fighter x Tekken offered.
We recently talked about the timetable for Street Fighter V’s next patch. Would you prefer it released before or after Final Round 20?
I really hope the patch comes out before Final Round 20 for several reasons. We've been playing this version for two months already. Players have adjusted and are scared of things changing too much. But the fact is there's a patch coming, do we really want to start the first Capcom Pro Tour tournament with a version of the game we'll never see again? And then play another version at the next CPT event? Not me.
Also, characters like Urien, Balrog, Laura are way too powerful in Street Fighter V, while like F.A.N.G., Alex, Juri, Nash, and Ryu need buffs.
Akuma has attracted a lot of interest since his debut. What’s your take on the character?
I will be completely honest. At first I thought he was top tier and really good, but as I kept playing more, his weaknesses started to show. I think Akuma is mid-tier because his health is too low in a game that is heavily focused on rushdown and burst damage.
They removed his defensive and runaway tools when they took way jump back and neutral jump fireball. So he's forced to play the Street Fighter V meta — which he really can't due to his health. Plus, his rushdown is also nerfed from previous versions because the Demon Flip move is slower and his normals are stubby.
Although I said earlier that I play top tier [characters] now, I feel comfortable and happy with Street Fighter V Akuma. There's a connection with the character that I can't quite explain, so I'll be maining him for 2017. But I'll definitely have a back-up character to help the old man.
Community reactions seem shocked to see Kolin’s stamina and stun being so high. Do you feel this ‘buff’ will make her a high-tier character?
I want to wait until I get my hands on her to see how strong she could be. But so far, Kolin is looking very strong. Laura is the only female character who currently has high vitality and stun with a two bar V-Trigger, and Kolin will be the next one. So who knows — Kolin may end up being [a contender] this season.
What would the game need to draw you back into playing it competitively?
Season 3 is actually super fun now and I love playing the game with Kilgore. I have some new goals in the FGC and playing Killer Instinct competitively will get in the way of that. So for now, I'm just playing the game for fun and supporting the community as much as I can.
How much has the meta changed from the previous seasons?
The meta of the game hasn't really changed that much since Season 2. It's still very rushdown heavy and characters have crazier tools now. In a way, it feels like Marvel.
What are some important factors you’d consider before signing with a new team?
I do plan on getting sponsored this year, but first I've gotta start making some noise in Street Fighter V. [laughs] Right now, I'm nobody in terms of results and the really good sponsors are now looking for players that are placing and winning.
You’ve been known to juggle multiple titles at any given time. Which ones are you looking to focus on in 2017?
The only games I'll be playing competitively this year are Street Fighter V and Injustice 2. I wanted to compete in Street Fighter V last year. But after my team disbanded last year after Winter Brawl which I took fifth place is when everything started falling apart. I was going trough a rough part of my life too at the time, so it was hard to even focus on games.
But 2017 [will be] my year.