Tell us about yourself.
My name is Jamill, but most of you call me SeaDragon. I’m a 16 year old Killer Instinct player, known to be one of the best ARIA players in the community. I love playing fighting games more than anything, and I enjoy KI and SFV a lot right now. My favorite characters to play in KI right now are ARIA, Hisako, and Eyedol, and in SFV I enjoy Ken, Chun, and Alex, among others. I’m also looking forward to Injustice 2 and KOF XIV, fighting games are my passion!
What got you into playing Killer Instinct? Were you a fan of the original before getting into the new Killer Instinct?
I had never played the old KI’s before KI (2013) came out, as they were obviously before my time. I have however played a bit of KI1 post the 2013 release but not much of KI2. I mostly got into KI just from being a fighting game fan. I saw it get announced at E3 2013, and continued to follow the news about the game up until its release. I decided it was enough for me to buy an Xbox One, so on day 1 I picked up an Xbox One along with Forza 5, and installed KI digitally when I got home.
Since my account isn’t 18, I had to setup a “Family” system, something new to Xbox One. Funny enough come day 1, it didn’t really work correctly, and thus I couldn’t actually purchase the S1 Combo Breaker pack digitally when the game came out. I was very young (13) at the time of the release, so I wanted to play Sabrewulf (particularly the yellow color) because he reminded me of my dog, a yellow lab. That didn’t happen, and I was forced to play the free character at the time, which was Jago. So from that point forward, I was a Jago player for the rest of S1. By the time I actually bought the S1 pack I didn’t feel like switching characters, and I already played a shoto (Ken) in SF4 before that so I just stuck with it. My Jago was horrible haha.
Was there a “breakthrough” moment for you where you gained the confidence to compete at a higher level? When did that happen for you in KI?
I most definitely wasn’t a competitor until ARIA had come out late S2, the last character to do so. I had playing Jago still, and some Glacius at the time, and had absolutely zero interest in playing ARIA. I was not hype for her at all even up until her release trailer, but I decided to mess around with her a bit like I did every new character, and also partake in your Aganos challenge, and she turned out to be really fun. I didn’t do well at all in it (I actually did my best in the Hisako one, who I now play a bit in S3!) but I saw something interesting in the character, so I kept playing her. Something definitely clicked with her to me, and I still enjoy playing her to this day, I think she has some shoto qualities but with a lot of other things thrown in, and that is why she’s so fun to me.
Since I continued to win with her, I decided to enter a sub tournament held by LCD that was held near ARIA’s release. It was very small, I think only 7 or 8 people, but there were increased incentives to playing ARIA in the tourney, so I decided to give it a shot and I ended up winning (Along with all the prizes because I played ARIA, which added up to something like $30 haha, my first tournament winnings!). That was my first step into competition, and I looked towards the 8BitBeatDown held by Zombie next. It was at this point in which I was the most competitive, I played in the Beatdown every single Sunday, actually committing to waking up early (Which I hate) to play. I remember that one week I was one game from making top 8, and Keits congratulated me telling me it would be soon. Soon afterwards, I made top 8, the first to do so with Aria in any tourney at the time, and with more effort and practice I continued to place Top 8 in the Beatdown throughout S2, eventually leading up to my first tournament win, taking first in one of the last couple of Beatdowns in S2.
Looking back I definitely still had a lot to learn, and my play was a bit sloppy, nowhere near where I have it now, but I had the foundations in place. I played as well and as strong as I could, and that gave me the victory, it was the start of something good. Moving on to S3, I continued this effort of practicing and learning, placing top 16 in every Beatdown I played in, my highest placing being 2nd. I took a short break for a while to mostly practice for EVO and to chill a little bit. The change from twice a month instead of weekly was a nice refresher in S3.
Coming from playing mostly online in either sets or competing in the 8 Bit Beatdown to placing 3rd in the largest offline Major of Killer Instinct to date, EVO 2016, is quite an accomplishment. Tell us what that whole experience has been like.
I wanted to do well at EVO, but I didn’t expect myself to do as well as I did, I for sure did not think I would make Top 8. It was fun meeting all the people I’d talked to for so long online, and I went there with mostly expectations to chill and hang out with friends, and not wanting to play too much. I kind of just wanted to get it over with so I could watch the other players play, I was super nervous, and didn’t think I would do well with so many people around me watching me, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be at all. It was actually really fun, and I played better than I expected myself to do. Part of me didn’t want to make Top 8 because I really didn’t want to play on stage but I also knew that I couldn’t hold back, that wouldn’t be fair to myself. I played the best I could and as I progressed through the tournament I kept inching closer to Top 8. My sponsor at the time Jeremy (Jmart) told me that I kept getting closer to where I didn’t want to be, and he wasn’t wrong. It was then that I won my last match to make Top 8, I accomplished what I wanted to inside but was also somewhat afraid of, I felt a lot of feelings that were all over the place.
I was excited, but I knew what came next, and having to play on a stage in front of thousands of people can be a bit frightening. I started to revert back to feelings of me doing horrible and losing my first match immediately, but I was also at the same time so excited out of my mind, more than anything. I made Top 8, I would be an EVO finalist, and it was my first offline tournament. That’s crazy and insane in its own right, and on top of that, I would get to play on an EVO stage. That’s something not a lot of players can say, especially for their first tournament, and it really put it in perspective for me once I was finally sitting on that stage that I was one of only eight KI players that would get to be up there on that stage for that year, that many other’s wanted to be there, and that I was blessed to have made it to that position, rather than just sitting in the crowd like I had envisioned myself during Top 8 before the tournament. It wasn’t until that moment that I had realized how important, and how amazing it was for me to be able to be up there.
After the tournament was great as well, and I had an amazing time at the Saucy Suite, watching the matches, hanging out with friends, and talking to KI players. I don’t think I left until maybe 5:30 in the morning, I might’ve have stayed too long haha. Anyway it was mind-blowing the amount of people that congratulated me on my performance after the tournament and on Twitter, and I thank you all for that. It was a really odd, but awe inspiring feeling, as you’d think that going to your first offline tournament you would be excited to go up to and meet all your favorite people or friends in the FGC, which I was, but at the same time I also got to experience a small piece of that from the opposite side because of all of you friendly people that came up to me to congratulate me and speak to me at my first offline tournament, and I can’t explain that feeling. There were many of you, and I thank you all again, it was all of you that gave me feelings of happiness and wonder that Saturday night.
EVO 2016 Killer Instinct Top 8 Losers Semi Finals BH Seadragon vs Circa Nicky
Have any advice for upcoming players in KI or for upcoming players that want to make the transition from Online to Offline? How do you usually prepare for a tournament?
When training for any environment in KI, playing sets with friends, top players, character specialists, etc. is key. Playing for a long while with the same person can help you learn match ups, learn about yourself as a player, and teach you to adapt to your opponent over a long course. Ranked can also help in ways by being a platform for trying out new characters, testing strategies, and practicing in and familiarizing yourself with a 2/3 format. I think these are strong ways to practice for any tournament and they are how I do so.
You’re considered one of the best players with Aria. What drew you to the character originally out of all the different characters in the cast?
I enjoy mostly shoto style characters, and I feel ARIA is similar to that with a huge twist. I think her ability to control the mid-range with really strong buttons are what makes her fun to me, along with her setups that come afterwards as a reward. She has really fun set play and her set of medium kick and heavy kick buttons are some of the more fun set of tools I’ve used with a character in a fighting game. She’s also a really cool character design wise. Soundwave projectiles, grenade kicks, and shotgun knees? I think she’s a very well thought out and super interestingly designed character, and I don’t think I’ve seen that many characters as projectile based as ARIA.
Do you plan on traveling and competing in anymore Offline Majors in the future?
Right now being so young, traveling to offline tournaments is quite the struggle, and I don’t plan on doing it anytime soon, I am going to EVO next year for sure however. Right now, all of my KI time is dedicated to helping other KI players learn, and I’m happy to help anyone that wants to play me! My Gamertag right now is SeaDragonKI.
What are your thought on the Community Survey that was sent out a few weeks ago? What would you like to see out of it?
I think what we saw in that survey was very interesting. The character portion of it was definitely the most intriguing section. The number one voted character to return was Eyedol, which we received, and I’m having a ton of fun with him. Now that the full original roster is completed, I can’t say there is anything specific I want to see, I have no guest characters in mind and didn’t care much for those in the survey, whatever works for me. What did interest me the most though was the sort of alternate Glacius, that seems like a really interesting concept/idea and I do still enjoy a bit of Glacius! I think that would be a fun addition to see.
Anything else you’d like to tell your fans or give thanks to anyone?
Thank you to everyone that supported me, talked to me, and hung out with me at EVO, as well as all those that continue to support me, talk to me, and play with me as a KI player anywhere, and make this community a fun thing to be a part of. I would also like to thank my former sponsor Jeremy (BlueHurricane) for supporting me for a long time as a competitive KI player and boosting me through EVO with an amazing team of people to fall back on and speak with at my first offline tournament, you guys are all amazing. Lastly, thank you all for reading!