Greetings loyal and new F2T fans!
Put your hands together, if you want to clap
As we take you through this… First to Ten.
A few weeks back I was sitting on my couch watching the E-League: Last Chance Qualifier on my television. I saw that Perfect Legend was about to play a man who picked Gorilla Grodd. This was interesting to me for a few reasons. First, PL has a pretty intense Brainiac that is interesting to watch. Secondly, I can probably count the amount of tournament Grodd players I’ve seen on one hand. The man playing this Gorilla Grodd was none other than Oakiess.
Oakiess ended up beating PL 3-0. It was insane. Seeing a hype Grodd match is always fun. There was a time at CEO this year where Coach Steve used Grodd to win a match and everyone was beating their chests like a Gorilla. I’m pretty sure I remember doing that at home in honor of the Grodd use.
This was when Oakiess first caught my attention because I had not known him prior. Sometimes it is hard when you’re passionate about the community to admit you didn’t know about a talented player. Maybe it was because MKX was my time when I became a part of the FGC. I say that because getting to know a lot of people in the community when you’re new makes it harder to learn details on those who aren’t at every major you’re attending. Also, if they’re not people who are loud online, unfortunately you may not get to hear their voice as soon as you’d like.
I knew Oakiess had to be on First to Ten after his performance at LCQ. Regardless of the reach of this blog, I believe he should have a platform of any kind to get his name out there. I may have missed him doing work in MKX, but I want others to know his name now if they already didn’t. Players like Oakiess who master these less played characters are important to our community. They show us just how much time they put into the game by demonstrating live.
I won’t waste any more time, I hope you all enjoy.
1. Oakiess! Thank you so much for joining us today. Could you give us a little bit of introduction to yourself for everyone tuning in. Who are you? Where are you from? Etc. Any little bit to get an idea of yourself.
Hey Amanda! Thanks for the kind words and thanks for having me! My real name is Brandon Pham. Although, people just call me Oaks or Oakiess. Originally, I was born in Los Angeles, CA. Somehow I ended up in Nashville, TN. But I’m currently living in Knoxville right now because college. I lived half my life in Cali and the other half in Tennessee. So I rep the best of both worlds, West coast and East coast. I really miss Cali and I plan on moving back after college.
2. What is your local scene like in Tennessee? Do you go to any locals?
There is no local scene. RIP. At least, none that I know of. I’ve been looking around for some lately. One time, I remember going to a local for MKX in Knoxville ran by STB. That’s where I met Echo and Emp Murk actually. I haven’t seen them since and it’s been a couple years now. The local place got overran by a Magic, the Gathering scene. Long live FGC!
3. I recall you talking to Joshua Gray about being in College. What are you hoping to do with your degree and how is it balancing college with competitive gaming?
I’m currently majoring in electronic engineering and I’m like in my super senior year right now. Hopefully, when I get my degree I can start working immediately. Honestly, engineering is not my passion and I still don’t know exactly what to do. I just know I want to make money to support my love for gaming, streaming, and my dog. I guess my real passion is anything to do with gaming. I would love to work for NRS, Twitch or etc. I just want to be around it 24/7. How do I balance college with competitive gaming? It’s pretty much hell. I go to class in the morning until noon. Then at night, I’m either streaming or working. I have so much respect for people who can balance these things and still go to tourneys. The time, hard work, dedication and money it takes to follow through a competitive gaming lifestyle takes a lot of strength.
4. Let’s go back to talking about gaming – When did you first get into NRS titles? How did you get into the competitive scene?
Oh man, where do I start? I feel like I remember playing MK2 back in the arcades and being scared shitless from the pixelated blood when I was little. It’s vague and a blur but I remember that’s when I first played an NRS game. I guess when I first invested my time into NRS games was when I played Midway Arcade Treasures 2 on PS2. It had MKII and MK3 on there. Alongside, with MANY other gems like Primal Rage, Rampage World Tour and NARC. Anyways, from then on, I became an MK fanatic. I collected the movies and every game MK game you can think of. I played casually though. I first got serious about fighting games when I continuously got my ass kicked by my older bro in MK9. I couldn’t take it anymore so I hit the lab with Sub-Zero and did work on him the next day! I played serious in MK9 but it wasn’t until MKX when I played competitively. I got into the competitive scene from streaming on Twitch. From there, I met many friends and supporters who pushed me to go to tourneys and it all started from there. Shout outs to all of them and shout outs to DevilMaySpy. He was the first to help me and is always making me feel welcome at every tourney I see him at. Final Round was my first tourney for MKX. My first tourney for Inj2 was Combo Breaker. Last Chance Qualifiers was my recent one.
5. I have seen videos of you playing Sub Zero in MKX. Did you have any notable tournament memories in MKX for yourself? What was one of your favorite moments during that game?
Nah, not really. I drowned in pools against my buddy, StD 2ez, at Final Round. Given, it was my only tournament for MKX. I gotta get my run-back with him at a tourney so I can give him dat fat L ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Ya hear me, I’m coming for that booty. My favorite moments during that game? I’d say every moment from when I started streaming it, to every moment I played it offline or online. I made so many friends and built a whole community on Twitch with MKX. I was brought into the FGC because of it. I can’t thank NRS and the community enough for such an amazing experience.
6. Now in Injustice 2 you play Gorilla Grodd currently, but did you always play him? What made you end up at Grodd?
Ah yes my baby Grodd. I didn’t always play him when I first picked up Injustice 2. Since I was a Sub-Zero main in MKX, I figured I might as well main an ice character in Inj2. So, I decided to pick up Captain Cold. In my opinion, Cap Cold is a character that I feel is very strong in counter picking for certain match-ups. But as a main? I’m good. A secondary main? Yeah, sure. Most importantly, his play-style didn’t really match mine. It is very important for you to feel comfortable with the play-style of your main character. I sound hypocritical right now because a lot of people say Grodd’s not strong enough to be carried alone as a main but I don’t know why, I feel like I can do it. That’s why I say it’s important for you to feel comfortable with the character you love.
Hell, your character might lose 17+ match-ups but your own dedication and unique play-style can bring that character to life. I think it’s very significant to have character loyalists in games. It brings the hype. Winning with top tier characters is cool. I know it’s important to win. It is to me also. BUT winning with mid/low tier characters that barely anyone ever sees? RESPEK.
What made me end up with Grodd? The reason I wanted to try Grodd was because the character looked funny jumping around and putting people into re-stands. It literally didn’t even look like combos. I first saw this when I was watching Coach Steve on Pig’s Red Hot Sundays. So it’s funny that you mention Coach because he inspired me to try Grodd. So I went into the lab with Grodd. Somehow, I was doing well and his play-style matched mine. Now Grodd and I have an everlasting relationship.
7. If I recall correctly, you said in your interview with Josh that you don’t want people to just think you’re some online player. What makes you think people would feel that way? How do you think you are perceived by players now after LCQ?
I guess some people feel that way because I stream and I don’t go to tournaments often. Also, I hear things from people. A lot of people think that there’s no competition online and sometimes it can be true. But it’s not 100%. There’s hidden killers out there that can’t find the money or time to make it to tournaments. I play a lot of friends online that are crazy good but they just don’t end up going to tournaments. Although, I understand where people are coming from when they call online players casuals. I believe it is very important to go to tournaments to truly test your skills against some of the best players out there. Placings are absolutely important. They are your credentials. Basically, like requiring a degree to get a job. If you want your name out there and to be recognized as a pro player, you got to put in the work and show it. I want people to see me as more than a streamer. I want them to see me as both, a streamer and a professional player. That’s why I went out there, to prove myself. Although, it’s perfectly fine to play this game casual! As long as you’re having fun, you’re winning. How do I think I’m perceived after LCQ? I’m very happy with all the support and love from everyone. It makes me really happy to hear that I’ve inspired people to pick up Grodd. After LCQ, I just hope I made an impact and proved my worth that I can be a challenge to some of the best player out there.
8. Do you have any other video games you’re playing right now besides IJ2?
Not really. I usually play horror games if I’m not playing Inj2. I love me a good horror. I want to pick up CoD WWII though. Just because of zombies though. Well, actually I just downloaded Fortnite the other day so I might play some of that.
9. Are there any people in your life that inspire you or that you look up to? (In gaming or outside of gaming) How do those people affect you when in competition?
My parents. They work so hard to raise my siblings and I. And I just always want to do something to make them proud. My parents aren’t actually fond of my gaming at all tbh lmao. As stereotypical as it sounds, they always tell me to stop gaming so much and study. “Brandon, game don’t get you degree or job” That’s usually how it goes.. As a matter of act, they don’t know anything of what I’m doing with gaming like traveling to tourneys, streaming, etc. I don’t inform them much since they’re not fond of it. It’s okay though. It doesn’t bother me much. That’s why I think it’s so dope to see other player’s parents being supportive of it.
10. Thank you so much for your time. I’m glad myself and the community will hopefully know even more about you after this. Will we see more of you in 2018? What tournaments do you plan on attending?
Noooo, thank you for having me on this! It’s an honor really. You will DEFINITELY see more of me in 2018. Season 2 for Injustice 2 will be stacked but I’ll be ready. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make it to NEC this year 2017. I’ll for sure be at KIT in January cause I literally live like 40 min from the event. I’m gonna try to make it to all of them: Combo Breaker, EVO, CEO, Frosty Faustings, etc. I hope to see you there at the next event Amanda! Thank you all for your time.
I’m so thankful for another interesting interview with someone in our scene.
I didn’t know much about Oakiess and from doing this I feel like I actually know the guy. It’s refreshing to see somebody come to offline tournaments that has grown their own online fan-base such as him with his twitch. I hope we see more of Oakiess in the future.
Next weekend we will not have a F2T since I will be attending Red Bull Battlegrounds as a guest cosplayer. BUT, I will have a mid-week mini feature for First to Ten creative. I wanted to start showing off fan art or cosplayers who love our community games and the first will be Thursday, stay tuned!
Article written and published by Romanova.