Zang talks Otakon, Pokken and Gaming
by The MC
Zang (with the checkered shirt) partying with friends
Rob Zheng aka Zang is a competitive gamer hailing from Langhorne, PA 30 minutes north of Philadelphia. His reason for participating in Philly’s growing fighting game competitions? For Zang there is a lot of depth to the scene, with clear signs of what he should and or should not be doing. Most of the time you’ll catch Zang mostly enjoying 1v1 competitions. Why? Because relying on a team can possibly be a letdown, so team games like League of Legends, Overwatch and others are more for fun than on a serious level.
I meet a lot of people at these events and the Fighting Game Community (FGC) - a great community of fun players. There are communities in other things I play such as Magic The Gathering, but I overall get along best and relate more to the FGC than any other. Competing in these events paints a true picture of where I stand. Bragging you're the best at your college or you do well online is not anything worth telling people about. I also love the excited yet nervous feeling I get when I play in tournaments. Sometimes, I don't have it and sometimes I cannot control my trembling. It's an addicting feeling.
How did you hear about Otakon and the Pokken Tournament? I started going to Otakon every year starting in 2010 after some friends told me about their experience. Since then, Otakon has been an annual thing my friends and I attend. Otakon always held gaming competitions where I'd enter for the Street Fighter 4 series, usually placing 5th and once placing 3rd. I wasn't that serious into gaming competitions until 2013 as I was more focused on BBoy (breakdancing) competitions from 2002-2013. I was sure pokken would have its own tournament this year and on the Friday of Otakon, I went to check the tournament boards to see there was a Pokken Tournament at 12pm. I was pretty excited and on Friday evening, I ended my night with a 9 game win streak.
Who did you choose to use in the Pokken Tournament? What was your strategy? I chose Machamp because he does massive damage. I honestly think his damage output for this game is a bit too much even though to balance him out, they made it hard for him to get close to zoning characters. I always loved the grappler archetype and big damage is the first thing I look for when I pick a character for a game. Easy to play is the 2nd factor l look for because I want to be at a competitive level quickly. Pokken Tournaments in general are truly Rock-Paper-Scissors. Sometimes if we both throw 'Rock' someone will win depending on speed. We could say Rock is Attack, Scissors is Throw, and Paper is Counter. Strategy wise, my character does big damage when he Attacks or Throws. It's like doing big damage if I throw Rock or Scissors. Most characters only do big damage throwing Rock (attack). Opponents are at a true 50/50 if I keep picking between Attack or Throw since the damage value between the two are pretty even.
What were your hardest matchups? Did any character give you a challenge? I only had one tough opponent who nearly eliminated me. He was using Weavile, a character none of my friends use at a local tournament spot I attend, The Laboratory in Hatboro PA. I wasn't too comfortable going into the match. I watched him play other people and could tell he was honestly better than me. The issue was that his character hits faster than Machamp. If we were to both attack at the same time, he would usually land his attack first and cause damage. By probability, if we were just to throw out rock, paper and scissors, he would win more since both of us throwing rock gives him an advantage. My opponent did exactly what I thought. He attacked a lot and when I would attack, I took damage and he demolished me the entire first game. Then he demolished me the start of the next game. I decided of course, to use Counter like crazy. My plan was to do it nearly nonstop until he had to make the choice to throw more. He actually didn't adjust and I won the next 2 rounds for Game 2. I was trembling, thinking 'hey this guy is beatable' but at the same time going into Game 3, I wasn't sure if he would adapt to me or just stick with his game plan. He didn't change anything and I won game 3 and was still trembling for a few minutes afterwards. In the Grand Finals, I was up against a Gengar player who I felt comfortable playing. I ran through him with no problem going 3-0, a great way to win the tournament.
What were your reflections after winning first place in Pokken? For a 32-man tournament, I felt good taking 1st place in the Pokken Tournament. I also took 2nd place in Street Fighter 5 later that day in a 64-man tournament, so in general I was feeling pretty arrogant. I honestly thought just by chance I would get like 3rd place in Pokken and 5th-9th place in Street Fighter 5.
What were your experiences like at Otakon and Summer Jam X? Otakon I did great in the Pokken Tournament, besides my 4th opponent, and was completely feeling myself the more the matches went on. My Grand Finals was 12 mins of pure happiness just knowing I was going to take 1st Place as long as I kept up what I was doing. Making that crazy comeback against my 4th opponent was a great feeling too because I thought I was going to be eliminated for sure at one point. Overall, the Grand Finals was the most fun. In Street Fighter 5, the best experience was playing my friend KDZ who is an EVO Champion, a pretty big deal in the Fighting Game Community. I was sure he was going to demolish me just being a high-level player. I actually beat him in the final game, final round, and final hit. The crowd went nuts and win or lose; it was an all-around great match. I still think he is better than me as a player and l just got lucky in some moments. In the Grand Finals, I got my ass beat 0-3 so that was anti climatic after winning such a close semifinals. Summer Jam X Of the 16 character's in the Pokken Tournament, 4 of them were hardcore zoners which are good against Machamp and because of Evo, Braixen (which is one of the zoners and in my opinion Machamp's hardest matchup) was a popular character choice along with Gardevoir. Going into my 5th match at Summer Jam X was going to be rough regardless because I had to face the winner of a Braixen vs Gardevoir match. I was eliminated during 5th match sadly and took 9th place. If I had won, I would've made it Day 2 in the Top 8 where I felt confident against 3 of the 7 remaining opponents based on their character choices and their reputation as a player. Even though I lost to the character Braixen that is best against my character, it is also my fault for not studying that matchup more because of the fact that it's an uphill battle. You can watch Zang’s matches here 1:48:30 vs Phil - Gardevoir 2:19:00 vs PKSparkx - Chandelure 2:53:00 vs Ikki - Pika libre 3:32:00 vs Supertiso - Garchomp 3:40:00 vs Shippo - Braixen For the Street Fighter 5 tournament, I used Necalli. In my 4th match, I was eliminated by a friend. My highlight of Summer Jam X was my second opponent in Street Fighter 5. He was so arrogant and I eliminated him in front of his girlfriend. He was so salty and it felt so good.
Shout outs to Midnight Fights, Team PIE, The Laboratory Squad, my old viewers on twitch.tv, the Philly FGC, Squadron and Scumbag Squad and Eric Small aka Big E. He does an amazing job hosting these events and everything runs right on time which is honestly rare in the FGC.