O.G.: The big question that everyone wants to know is…where the hell did the name “gootecks” come from?
Gootecks: I know you’re expecting a really good story behind it, but that’s simply what some childhood friend called me because my name is Gutierrez. There no awesome epic story behind it.
O.G.: Cause a part of me thought that I missed some Dragonball Z reference or something.
Gootecks: Yeah it does sound like something pretty crazy, but unfortunately, no awesome stories behind it.
O.G.: Where did you start off gaming? What was your first game?
Gootecks: Super Mario Bros. on the NES. I really didn’t have consoles when I grew up which is why I started playing Street Fighter. I started playing Street Fighter 2 when I was 9 or 10. I then started to play all the Street Fighter games when I was growing up.
O.G.: Was it with Street Fighter 2 that you realized you were way better than everyone else?
Gootecks: No. I didn’t start getting good until three years ago. I’ve been playing in Street Fighter 3: Third Strike tournaments since 2003, but I didn’t get pretty good until 2006. I then qualified for Super Battle Opera which kind of like the most prestigious fighting game tournament in the world that takes place in Japan, and I qualified in 2008. It took me awhile to get really good.
O.G.: So what’s your secret? You said it yourself, it took you awhile to get good, what convinced you to become better?
Gootecks: When I was a kid I would always buy Gamepro magazines and read stories about the players that were winning tournaments. I’d read about guys like Alex Valle, Tomo Ohira, and Mike Watson, and I would be like “Wow, that’s so cool” to win a Street Fighter tournament. Because of that, I read as much about the game as I could. It really all comes down to practice. Now that I’ve come this far, the way I’m to stay competitive is by playing as much as possible. When I decided I wanted to get good, I would play at Family Fun Arcade on Friday and Saturday nights from 9 at night to 3-4am every week. I was playing the best players because Family Fun Arcade was the epicenter for SF3: Third Strike in the U.S.
O.G.: When Street Fighter 3: Third Strike came out, it wasn’t the most popular arcade game. What was the feeling back when Third Strike was the game to play competitively?
Gootecks: The catalyst for us back then was when the Japanese players came over to the earlier Evolution tournaments when they were back in L.A., and they just beasted on every great player in America. That's when people in America started to get into Third Strike because previously America wasn’t really playing Third Strike since no one really liked it. It took them (Japanese) beating us to get everyone into it.
O.G.: When Street Fighter 4 was announced, what did the competitive players think of it?
Gootecks: Everyone was really excited about it. When SF4 was announced, there was a trailer that got everyone excited. Once people saw the game, a lot of people hated it because it looked weird. We didn’t quite understand the look of it. A lot of hardcore players didn’t like it, and some of them are still not excited about it and not playing it. It wasn’t automatic, but once it came out, everyone started playing because this is SF4. We had been playing the same game for a decade prior to this.
O.G.: What were you thinking the first time you actually got to play SF4 in the arcade?
Gootecks: I was thinking “I can’t believe I’m looking at SF4 and I’m actually going to play it. This is ridiculous.”
O.G.: Around what date was that because the game launched in Japanese arcades around July 2008.
Gootecks: I was in Japan for Super Battle Opera around that time, and played it in an arcade there where I got owned. I came back to the states and Family Fun Arcade had it. As the weeks went on, different arcades in L.A. started getting it, and really sparked the scene here.
O.G.: Now I remember with the Gamestop national tournament for SF4, people around the country just started playing it on the PS3 and Xbox 360. Then I saw the video of these players playing it doing these moves I’ve never seen, and I couldn’t believe that they learned that in just a month of playing.
Gootecks: Yeah we thought the Gamestop tournament was going to be stupid. A lot of great players didn’t even show up to the tournaments because they thought it was going to be a waste of time. I showed up and I started winning and that sparked this wild year of Street Fighter craziness. After that I went out to Virginia, Atlanta, New York, New Jersey, and Vegas, and that tournament was the start of it.
O.G.: You mentioned that the Gamestop tournament was the start of it. What did you think was key? The game itself, the ability for people at home to watch tournaments that are streamed over the internet, or was it the fascination with pro gamers that gamers have now?
Gootecks: That’s a really good question. I would have to say it’s a combination of all three. Also, I’d really have to say that the video are the cause of it. Whether it’s on Youtube or my site, the video have made everything grow. The hardcore player base is growing like no other time before. The scene right now also have players who were only playing Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Third Strike, or Capcom vs. SNK, but now they’re just playing one game that everyone is playing. Everything has gotten larger, and it’s generating more fans. People living in the middle of nowhere can now see the best players play in high stakes tournaments live on the internet for free.
O.G.: I want to get into your game. Your main character is Barlrog. What drew you to use him?
Gootecks: To be perfectly honest, it’s one of the mentalities that I’ve carried over from Third Strike. In Japanese tournaments, you can switch players. That was one of things I brought with me in SF4 which, to be honest, is not the best thing because SF4 rewards players that are able to play as multiple character. There was times where I fell behind as a competitive player because I was not putting in the time to learn a secondary or third character. I did that recently, and it’s helped so now I played Barlrog and Guile sometimes. Part of the reason for sticking with one character is that if you spend time with a character that you really like, you have the opportunity to learn all kinds of things, techniques, tricks, and new setups that you can use against other players.
O.G.: When you’re in a tournament, what is your mindset when playing? Is it purely reaction and muscle memory, or are you thinking and planning while playing?
Gootecks: For me, it’s a lot of thinking. I think my reactions, compared to other, players is not on the same level as Justin Wong or Ricky Ortiz who have some of the best reactions. It’s more about learning what the other guy tends to do, and figure out what I do to counter. For example, if I know that he is going to be really aggressive when I knock him down because after I throw him, he uppercuts me on wake-up, then I know that this guy is more aggressive and prone to take more chance. Then I think of what Balorg has and what I can do against this guy. If he’s more aggressive, it maybe better for me to just stay calm and counter what he does rather than me getting aggressive with him.
O.G.: Let’s go over the two big things you’re doing: L.A. Riots and Bar Fights. Give us a rundown of how these two events work.
Gootecks: Bar Fights was a series of events in bars & restaurants. We did several of them last year. Everyone came out, lots of people had fun, and they were great successes. Now what I’m focused on is L.A. Riots. What we’re doing now is an 8 man invitational tournament where you can only get an invite if you qualify for it at the qualifiers. What I’ve done is create a system where anyone can get into a high level tournament.
O.G.: Of course, that person has to beat the best players out there.
Gootecks: Yes. We have a “Gatekeeper” system where you have to beat a pro who didn’t quality yet to be even in the qualifying brackets. Win against one, you get put in the Loser’s bracket. Beat both, and you’re in the Winner’s bracket. It’s a little complicated at first and takes a some time to understand it.
O.G.: It’s still a good setup because the guy who says he can beat the pros online, he can show up and see if he can beat the pros.
Gootecks: Yes exactly. The beauty of it is that if you’re watching at home and you say “Man, these guys suck. I could totally beat these guys!” then you can come to L.A. and take a shot at a “Gatekeeper.” Come to L.A. and prove it.
You can listen to the full interview on The Original Gamer podcast here.
I have to note that this interview took place prior to March 5th, 2010 when TheStream.tv lost it's sponsorship and would be unable to continue showing L.A. Riots. Gootecks still has other events planned and you can check them out at Gootecks.com.