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Killer Insight: Bastien ‘bastfree” Bernard

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Welcome back to Killer Insight, Ultra-Combo’s interview series that lets you meet key members of the Killer Instinct community!

This week we have a very passionate fan from France that loves everything Killer Instinct.  He is one of the game’s top scientists, and is commonly credited for finding all kinds of tech for the entire roster.  What drives his passion?  Read on to find out.

Bastfree hanging out with Bass
Bastfree hanging out with Bass

Tell us about about yourself and tournament history.

bastfree: My name is Bastien Bernard but you probably know me as “bastfree” in the KI community. I live in Bordeaux, France. Most of my tournament history is pretty much based on online experiences. I won a French online tournament in March, and got into 3 big US majors, but never in top 8. I did make it out of pools at EVO! I don’t consider myself a competitive player. I prefer to talk, meet and have fun with people when I am in tournament rather than compete.

Favorite Character?

bastfree: Such a hard question, I would say Orchid is the character I like to play the most as she is my main since Season 1, but I like Kan-Ra’s visual and back story a lot more than any other character. Kan-Ra has everything that I like in a villain. My favorite design would be Aganos. It’s a hard choice between those three for me.

Favorite KI Track?

bastfree: I love Orchid’s theme and Aganos the most. KI’s music is so awesome that it’s hard to pick a favorite one.

What was your first experience with the Killer Instinct franchise?

bastfree: I am only 24 so I never played Killer Instinct in the arcade. I remember the day when I borrowed that black cartridge from a friend, he told me there was fireballs and stuff. I was 11 when we first played Killer Instinct on Super Nintendo with my brother. We fell in love really fast with it even though we were just button mashing at the time. It was cool for our first fighting game.

Now I also remember that day (KI on XBOX One announcement) during E3. 2013 was a very hard year for me as my mother was diagnosed with cancer.  Hearing that one of my favorite fighting game was coming back was amazing. I remember watching the KI logo and not even waiting for the trailer to tell my brother KI is back, then missing the trailer and having to wait for it to be posted on YouTube! After that I was very skeptical because KI did not translate well over the years so I was curious about how it would live up to today’s standards. When I saw the announcement I couldn’t get KI out of my head. I was watching every bit of news and posting comments on the forum. I was talking about KI every day with my brother. It was also a way to avoid thinking about the bad turning of events with my mom’s condition. That is how important KI is to us. That is how I came to love KI as much as I do. Turns out Double Helix did an amazing job in creating a competitive fighting game.

Is this your first Competitive fighting game?

bastfree: KI is not my first fighting game competitively. I played a lot of Soul Calibur series, Marvel vs Capcom 3, Mortal Kombat 9 and Injustice but I was never into the versus fighting that much, because my childhood was filled with noncompetitive fighting games. To give you an idea my favorite fighting game of my childhood is Power stone 2, but it’s not really a fighting game for today’s standards. So in some way yes KI is my first competitive fighting game that I took seriously. It’s with KI that I learned and most importantly felt the need to learn the basics of competitive fighting game, the fundamentals, the frame data, the vocabulary etc.  KI is also the first fighting game that I played online, because until KI I had my brother to play with me all the time, and even at the beginning of KI I played mostly ranked without trying to knowing the people I was facing.

Do you remember your breakthrough moment competing in KI?

bastfree: It’s definitely when I started to invest my time into the community. From when I met my French KI friends to talking for the first time with top players such as Kdd, who was asking me about the Sadira demon cancel that my brother had discovered. In a time where my mother passed away from cancer, I took KI as a way to escape from my sad days. Getting to know people and be friends with people because of KI kept me happy. My favorite moment in KI is when I met Iron Galaxy at Combo Breaker and met some of the people that inspired me the most. Being able to just go to Japanese steak house at CEO with the developers was like the most amazing thing. It’s something you rarely see in gaming, and something that sometimes people forget to be glad for. That is what is the most important to me as a KI player.

How often do you practice, is it mostly online or offline with friends?

bastfree: I practice both online and offline. I spent thousands of hours in training and when I play online, because in France we don’t have a great connection to other areas, it’s mostly with my French KI friends who are my are Xbox Live friends and I have a lot of fun with them playing and discussing about everything. So my training is not very professional. I just try to have the most fun possible without trying to be the most efficient possible to progress. I also have the benefit to be able to play offline all the time with my brother. But in general my KI training is just motivated by fun. I really like to explore the hidden aspect of the game and find new stuff for the community. That is what motivates me the most me and my brother. Now saying that I don’t care to lose or win wouldn’t be right, I am still human, but it’s not my biggest motivating factor.

In life and in KI I don’t like to interact with someone without being able to communicate with him, so ranked mode is probably the thing I play the least in KI. I like to be able to talk and play at the same time, and just have fun together talking about our experience and vision of the game. I would say between my brother and I we at least turn on KI every day, so yeah I play a lot of KI and when I am not playing it I am talking about it, with my brother during lunch or dinner, or my other KI friends.

You came to Combo Breaker, CEO and EVO during the same trip from France for your first time to America. How was that whole experience?

bastfree: Asking me to talk about my USA trip and KI experience over there is something you might regret, because there is so much to talk about it’s going to be long to read. But yeah I came to the US because I was in a depression after my mother died, and a lot of other bad events for me resulted in me stopping my history studies and taking time to think and to have fun to get back on track with my life. I decided that going to the US was the best thing to do to cut myself from my routine and also to experience the KI community outside of France. And I was right, it changed my life. I remember that day where after I got stuck at immigration for 4 hours, I got welcomed to USA by my good friend Angel ‘gnarlyfeats” Gonzalez who I met online in august 2014 and instantly connected with him. So being in Orlando, Florida and preparing for the day after, which was the first day of Combo Breaker, was such an amazing experience for me. And it was only getting better when we landed in Chicago and met everyone. I’m not going to lie, I was a little uncomfortable at first but it quickly became so easy as soon as we start talking about KI. I remember sitting with Keits and Sajam and analyzing the players’ gameplay during tournament pools, it was amazing. It was at that moment I said to myself, I know why I came here.

Then CEO was just around the corner and we organized a big party at Angel’s house with everyone. Then CEO began where I knew I would meet again some people and meet some new ones. Like I said earlier CEO was amazing I got to talk with even more members of IG and we shared a lot of experience with developers it was so great and something I never experienced in my life. IG and the KI team in general are amazing people and they have a special place in my heart beyond the gaming aspect. I just love them and I am proud of them. I mean there is something behind me proposing to Keits at EVO, it’s a joke but it was also a way to express my respect to this guy and his team in front of everyone! So being able to talk with them, hang out with them was amazing. EVO was just over the top, met more people, more competition, more fun, more KI, more salty suite, more space in the room, more emotion, more of everything. It was the climax of my trip and probably one of the best moments  in my life. These 3 events and my overall US experience was what rebuilt me as a person after my mother’s sickness and grief. I could talk about it forever, but I am going to stop here just because it’s unrealistic to say everything!

What other games do you enjoy in your free time?

bastfree: I am not a really big gamer, I play fighting game the most at the moment and I am having trouble to get seriously into any other type of game. I played Guilty Gear XRD this year but only to realize that to get good in this game you have to be 100% dedicated to it and I simply was not in that mindset, I also played the Street fighter V beta. The only solo game that I finished this year was Batman Arkham Knight because I love this franchise. But yeah in general nothing really consistent outside of fighting games, which was not the case at all several years ago, but I guess I am just more excited about fighting games now. I have always been interested in life about things that few people might be interested in.

Any advice for upcoming players in KI? What is your usual practice regimen like for a tournament?

bastfree: My advice for new or old KI player is to be curious. Do not take something for granted and do not listen what other people might tell you unless they give you facts. Think with you own mind, check yourself when something seems weird. Take some time to know how the game works and how your character is designed, spend time in training mode when something is bothering you. And for people who find exploits and don’t report it and taking advantages of it, please remember KI needs to be balanced and stable to be seen as relevant by other communities and ours, so do your duty and think about the health of the game before thinking about yourself.

My advice for anyone that is interested in this game but doesn’t know if it’s worth it or not, well do some research and please for the love of God, only listen to knowledgeable people about the game. This game is suffering from a false and biased image mostly from other communities. This game might not please everyone, but it’s a very innovative game that is worth at least a look if you’re into fighting games.

I won’t give any advice on tournament practice because I am simply not qualified to talk about that. I hate to talk about something I don’t know much about or I haven’t experienced, so my advices will be take your advices from really good top players like  UA Bass for example who just went from unknown to winner of CEO in one year, that is the person you should refer to in that matter not me.

Excited for KI World Cup?

bastfree: I am super excited for the KI World Cup. I met Brandon Alexander from Ultra Arcade in the USA and I respect him a lot. He is very passionate about the game and him organizing such a big tournament is amazing. We need more people like him to forge a community and gather players in events like that. I am so excited that I might come just for the event if my exam schedule allows me to.  I am also very excited because Brandon is organizing a tournament in Europe which I am going to for sure. It’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait to be there and to introduce my brother and my friends to all of the KI players I’ve already met.

What is the KI scene in France like?

bastfree: Being French for KI sucks, clearly from the aspect of not being respected by tournament organizers here or simply because you miss most of the stream if you don’t stay until very late in the night. But the community here while being very small is evolving. I am part of the KI France staff. We have a website and a monthly online tournament. But with the influx of players with season 3 and a PC version we thought we had to do something. To offer more content and interaction with our community. So we created 3 main events and shows. One that I am leading is a two hour tutorial stream  about KI and fighting game in general. It happens every week. The second is our online tournament that keep getting more views and a higher level with each one. And our third show is a podcast called Breaker News, where we discuss KI. We also have a full restream of IG’s stream when a new character is introduced, and when a new character is released we did a stream explaining his moves and everything. We try to do this because we felt like there wasn’t enough content for KI players that can’t understand English, my friend Infil’s guide is very good but people might be demotivated by the English. So we thought about doing those in French, and we shall see what happens for us. Our twitch channel is

France is very dominated by Street Fighter so we try to do that also to show that the game is serious and to attract them eventually into playing the game. But it’s hard, very hard because KI here is not nearly as popular as it is in the US and most people have a false opinion about the game and don’t take time to realize it’s a good game. The journalists are so biased because it is on Xbox One and is a strange format, so it doesn’t do the game justice. It’s evolving though but at a very slow pace. I am hopeful for KI’s future in France, I have to be!

You create and share a lot of great KI tutorials such as a recent Cinder video. What inspired you to share that knowledge? Anything else people can expect to see from you in the future?

bastfree: The reason why I did this video is because I want to share with people what I found. And in this particular situation with Cinder, because I was simply a little tired to see people letting Cinder getting away with it all the time. It makes the character look stupid, I mean you do an unsafe trailblazer and just like that you can cancel into a shadow that is building potential damage on block and leaves you + 5 ? No the game is designed well enough to give you an option against that and I wanted everyone to know that so they can stop cinder player from getting away with that. Most people say Trailblazer is a dumb and scrubby move. Well if you’re aware of everything about it then it’s move that Cinder have to use with caution. You can’t spam it like some people might try to make you believe. It’s important to me to give the game and the developer true justice for their work, they are good designers and most of the time they thought about it and give you a chance to fight it. And when they haven’t they are patching it, so it’s important to me to make everyone notice that. And now that I can stream or capture easily I am going to continue doing content like this.

Are you excited about Season 3, any characters you’d like to see or features in the game?

bastfree: I am super excited for Season 3 I am dying for news every day, I can’t wait to see what is going to happen and to see the new players who are going to be able to play KI on PC.

As far as my wishes for season 3, it’s a tough question to answer. I would like some adjustment made to already existing stuff in the game, I would like breaker into instinct cancel to be gone, and that all breaker have the same benefit and frame data. I think the actual system benefit too much some characters, like breaking a combo with Kan-Ra doesn’t mean the same thing as breaking a combo with Sabrewulf, Kan-Ra can get away and install his game, while Sabrewulf just gets a meaty attack. It’s unbalanced and I think if combo breaker leaves everyone at 0 on hit it could make breaking much more of a risk and also balance a Combo breaker’s risk/reward for everyone. Some characters need adjustments. But I trust Iron Galaxy and Microsoft. They did an amazing job with Season 2 so they have all my support and trust for Season 3. I am so hype!

Be Sure to follow for more of his awesome Killer Instinct tips and more.

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