Seeing Street Fighter V competitor Bryant 'Smug' Huggins in action often gives the impression that he's a man without fear. Smug quickly became a fan favorite based on his ability to establish momentum and dominate a match with relative ease.
Recently Smug had the opportunity to take on tournament legends Justin Wong and K-Brad at ESL's King of the Hill exhibition, where he walked away as the weekly champion. We caught up with Smug to learn more about his experience at ESL, character preferences, and his evolution as a competitor.
What did you think of the outcome against Justin Wong? And how did you prepare for the exhibition?
When I played Justin Wong, I was prepared to play him because of his tweet on how he played PR Balrog in a FT100 Games with Karin-Balrog. That was intimidating. And it motivated me to study the matchup really hard so I wouldn't lose to Justin in the set.
I mostly practiced the Karin matchup with CM Punk online in several long sets. I also give credit for Shine for helping me the Karin matchup as well since we often compete at the Next Level Battle Circuit local events.
You also made quite an impression from your set against K-Brad’s Cammy. Were you expecting the result to end in your favor?
When I played K-Brad, I wasn't expecting the result to end in my favor by having a huge lead. If I won, I would have expected a "last game, last round" set. K-Brad's playstyle would have us going back to back. I was shocked that I came back nine games in a row, after losing the first four games back-to-back.
I was actually mentally defeated and a little exhausted after playing Justin Wong in a long set. It affected me a lot. So I went to the character select screen to re-think the match with K-Brad, which worked a lot in my favor. If I didn't go back to character select and continued playing, I would have lost 10-0.
Where do you feel Balrog ranks in Street Fighter V overall? Why?
In the tier list for Street Fighter V Season Two, I would place Balrog in Top 10. He doesn't fall in the Top 5 because you still have characters like Urien, Laura, Cammy, Guile, and Karin who are all extremely strong. From there, I'd list Balrog, Zangief, Bison, Akuma and Necalli in that order.
If Dudley were introduced in Street Fighter V, would you drop Balrog for good? How has your expertise with your original character helped you to make adjustments?
If Dudley were introduced in Street Fighter V, I would pick up Dudley for sure, but I won't drop Balrog because most of my winning results in Street Fighter came from using him. Picking up Balrog helped me make further adjustments because it made me more aware, and having another pocket character is very important in Street Fighter V.
King of New York
You faced some tough competition at last year’s King of the New York tournament. What are your thoughts about this year’s challengers?
I have faced a lot of tough competition at last year's King of New York Tournament. This year will be just as hard, or maybe harder because there are people I usually have a hard time winning against who are extremely solid in Street Fighter.
Which competitor are you looking forward to playing the most? Why?
The player I am looking forward to playing against the most is Mena. He has a wild Birdie with some crazy reads. I hope he doesnt get in my head too easily during our sets.
Last year, you had the opportunity to get a taste of Japan’s tournament culture. What did you learn from the experience?
Last year, I had the opportunity to play many international players in tournaments. Which I feel like Japanese don't have a huge advantage over the United States. The players I lost to were all close rounds. The only international player that beat me convincingly was Xiao Hai. I am not too worried about the international competitors. I always play at my full potential against any player in a tournament.
What do you think of the round robin format?
To be honest, I really like the idea of a round robin tournament. It allows me to play against every opponent in a long set instead of [traditional] two out of three format. Many players do extremely well in the first three games, they get exhausted and lose in a longer sets. Usually it's because they run out of tools to use against their opponent.
A longer set helps you can gather information to understand a player's tactics and abilities. I compare it to having a conversation. You don't get to know a person that well from a two-minute discussion. You'll get to understand the person better from talking for 20 minutes.
There's a huge difference.
Looking back over your tournament career, how have you evolved as a player?
I evolved as a player from the past few years due to being more mature and approachable in contrast to when I was 17. Now at 22, I am a completely different person now.
Since I started playing games competitively, I began traveling around the world, meeting many different people, and learning their cultures such as Japan, Puerto Rico and Canada. As I got older, I decided to go back to college to get my life together and educate myself for the better. Overall, my experiences has increased my awareness about the world and showed me how much opportunity there is to explore.
It's helped my life a lot.
Everyone handles defeats differently. How do you overcome losses in a tournament?
Everyone handles defeats differently. I used to be a sore loser until one guy told me that it's a video game. I shouldn't destroy myself because I lost a ranked match. You won't learn from your mistakes by being stubborn or frustrated with how the person beat you.
It's also useful to talk to a friend to get input about your losses. You'd be surprised how someone else can point out your mistakes that [get overlooked]. It's really helpful. Then you both can find a strategy to avoid repeating the same mistakes, and your results will change drastically.
What are your goals for Capcom Pro Tour this year?
My goals for Capcom Cup this year is to try to get sponsored so I can travel more. I want to travel more this year because last year Street Fighter V came out, but I wasn't ready because I didn't have a huge understanding of the game. It took a long time to adjust from Street Fighter 4 to Street Fighter V. [Now] I feel more comfortable in 2017.