What a week it’s been for the NRS scene!
With Final Round having just ended, we saw a lot of upsets and fantastic victories during the pools and top 8 for Injustice 2. A few of my favorite moments ranged from Oakiess being able to overcome 2EZ’s Doctor Fate, Burrito Voorhees’ Swamp Thing wrecking people, and Brianiac, Brainiac, Brainiac. Even the final go between SonicFox and ForeverKing was crazy to watch. King almost had him at moments but Fox’s Firestorm ultimately put the burn on King to snatch the win. It’s clear the game is still alive and just as hype as ever with the selection of character we see everyone playing. To be honest, I think it is extremely fun watching from the audience people play all varieties of characters up there. The truth is I could go on all day about this but we have a First to Ten to do.
One of the first people I was told legendary tales (from IGAU days) about from Decay when we met was of Ryan Kablik, aka Mr. Aquaman. Ryan is known for his aviators and mustache as far as appearance goes, but this guy was also known for his Aries in Injustice: Gods Among Us and his Rain in MK9. Mr. Aquaman has been no stranger to this scene and a long time supporter and veteran. Currently he has gone from player to commentator and also has been involved in organizing tournaments like TCW (The Common Wealth). This man is a force to be reckoned with, so let’s take a dive into the life of Mr. Aquaman:
1. Thank you for joining us Ryan. Please be so kind to tell everyone a bit about yourself and where you came from to discover the FGC.
Hello everyone and welcome to War of th.. nevermind! I am Mr Aquaman and I do stuff in the live streaming and competitive gaming space. I work for a streaming platform StreamMe. I help create and put on tournaments for the site in many of the popular games of today. What got me into the FGC and what most people know me for is competing. I started off by finding a local member of the FGC randomly online and by meeting him, led to something that changed my life from the ground up. I started as a 0-2er in the brackets, very humble beginnings, I wasn’t blessed with talent but what I was blessed with is passion. I kept learning, I kept traveling, and I kept making friends along the way. I encourage everyone that may not get the results to never give up, this community doesn’t revolve around winning, it revolves around exactly that, the community. Whether it is TYM when I got into the scene or what seems to be Twitter now, always be engaging and never be afraid to reach out or challenge yourself to try something new. The more I traveled the more I got into the organization aspects of events, bracket running, casting, sponsors, venues, and the technology behind it all. From there I started getting involved with all of those aspects of events and took matter into my own hands to try and give it my own personal twist. Now I have the honor of taking that experience and applying it to StreamMe to put on great shows for viewers at home.
2. What do you think was a defining moment for you in the FGC on establishing who you were? Was it MK9 or Injustice 1 that you think got you hooked the most on this scene?
My most defining moment was causing a few upsets early in Injustice 1 with my low tier hero Ares. Getting 4th at Civil War with a ton of viewers on sp00ky caught people’s attention and then following it up double eliminating CDjr for top 16 at the next event really started to push me forward, he was still in that god tier status of the scene as MK9 was still fresh. That really captured some name recognition for me and that isn’t a feeling I think I can describe, it definitely helped me get even more active in the scene. Also after those wins I got on camera then the birth of the mustache began, article was up that night on TYM about a Tom Selleck mustache that upset CDjr. MK9 got me in but Injustice 1 really got me hooked.
3. What was your local scene like back in Injustice 1? What are some of your fondest memories from there?
Southern Virginia, also known as SOVA. Some of my fondest memories were kind of solidifying myself with the vets of the area, the weekly tournaments, and the rivalries. Blackula and Tom Brady were constant training partners that helped provide the veteran experience and what I needed to do to get better and the showdowns at our regional were great. My fondest memories were also the friendships made, in Injustice 1 the online realm was all about clans and clan battles. I miss the groups formed between friends since sponsorship wasn’t a driving force. PTH(Pallet Town Heroes) were some great days with a lot of the guys I was closest with and eventually lead to RM(Ruthless Mayhem) with even more guys. Constantly trying to be better than other clans and level up together was a great experience.
4. Why commentary? What was the key moment when you decided this was for you and what you wanted to do?
This is an interesting story, I never really saw myself as one. I always got on the mic at Big E events when the seat was empty to help out Shock and the KN guys and it was fun but something I never saw myself doing. Over time the mic time grew and doing my first top 8 with Arma on sp00ky was one of the first times I thought, hey, that was awesome. How I truly got into it is going to segue into the next question, so let’s go!
5. How did the relationship with Stream.Me start and what do you do for them? Do you have any big plans for the future? Any you can share?
After my second TCW I was reached out to pretty much the night of if I would be interested in an online mortal kombat series. Immediately I was interested and after long talks with the head organizer Maze and we slowly put together Kombat Cup from the ground up. Interestingly enough this was a moment in my life where I was ready to focus on life outside of esports and step away from the FGC. But this dragged me right back in haha, and I accepted a side job with streamme doing kombat cup and killer instinct’s kross up series with them sometimes going 4 nights week on StreamMe. Now I am full time with them doing competitive programs and more! Plans in the future are just growing the platform and trying to get as many streamers as possible, the site has amazing programs for small streamers and for bigger streamers to make great money. We are getting ready to launch Cell Games for Dragonball Fighterz and we have an amazing PUBG series that just kicked off that is going really well. You never know what games we will get into next!
6. How did The Common Wealth come about? What are things you think you have done well and things that you want to see improve on the tournament? Are you still mainly involved with it now living in Texas?
The Common Wealth was the brainchild of myself and my partner in Virginia Ray who ran a local mom n pops game store called That Games Store. We did so much at a local and regional level that we wanted to bring that to a larger scale, give our own spin on things, and with my background having an emphasis on NRS games we did something pretty special. We were one of the first to put Mortal Kombat FIRST, not just prime time, but first. The community backed it and the support was amazing. Production we set our own standard with the Digital Pro Sports team that I went back a long time with. After year two I moved and TCW for now will not be happening. But one day may come back, never know!
7. Going back to commentary, how important is synergy between commentators? Are there any specific commentators you feel you work best with? Why so?
Synergy is key, and it’s the easiest thing to notice when guys do not have it. It’s having the ability to go back and forth seamlessly and keeping the audience entertained. I feel like I work best with a few guys in the scene, Echo I have been with forever and we entertain very well. I think breaking it down more Chef is someone I feel the most comfortable with on the mic, he picks up so well on pauses and makes it so easy to bounce off of.
8. How did the sunglasses and mustache become a signature look?
My mustache got some pretty good recognition from my Injustice 1 days of competing and so many people thought I looked like a cop and that all I was missing were the shades. So as a meme I wore aviators to a few events, and one thing led to another!
9. What has been your favorite tournament memory to date and why?
Top of the Food Chain regional in Virginia, grand finals vs Tom Brady, first event for MKX in our area. I was down 0-5 after a reset and won 3 straight games to take the tournament, and it was the first time the scene rushed the stage and it was a big victory for SOVA and our crew, one of the best feelings ever.
10. What tournaments do you plan to travel this year? Any specific one you really want to do commentary for?
Combo Breaker is really the only one on the schedule for me at this time. But for the first time ever I am submitting a reel for EVO, one of the only events for the scene that I have not gotten a chance to cast at! So I am hopeful for being selected, would love to represent the scene there.
Thank you again everyone.
Seeing the amount of you that read these warms my heart and makes me happy to be a part of this scene. Our community stories are important and we will keep putting them out there one at a time.