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Killer Insight: Evan “8BHZombie” Gengo, Founder of 8 Bit Beat Down

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Welcome back to Killer Insight. This week we have the pleasure of talking to the very dedicated man behind the awesome 8 Bit Beat Down online tournament series

Evan “8-Bit Zombie” Gengo has been hosting the amazing 8 Bit Beat Down weekly series for over 40 weeks now and enjoys doing so. He lets us know all about how he got started hosting the event and why he loves to put it on for the community.

8 Bit Zombie hanging out with Bass
8 Bit Zombie and Bass (He’s everywhere it seems)

Tell us a bit about yourself and your competitive KI history.

Evan “8- Bit Zombie” Gengo: My name is Evan Gengo and my GT is L 8BH Zombie L. I am from Vandergrift, PA. My tournament history is NEC 15:1-2 (wins and losses), Winter Brawl 9: 1-2, EVO2015: 5-2, and in three 8-Bit Beat Downs I went 4-2.

My favorite KI Character is Hisako!

Favorite KI Music Track?

Zombie: Its hard to say what my favorite track is, but for KI1 I’d have to say Riptor’s theme and for the new KI I would have to say Thunder’s theme.

What got you into playing Killer Instinct (Did you play the original arcade games/snes version etc.)?

Zombie: I was a huge fan of the old school Killer Instinct games. I have very fond memories of playing with my family, who also loved the game, and being very good at it. Sadly I didn’t get to play the actual arcade machines, but the SNES version was just as good to me. I remember when I heard that Microsoft had bought Rare I instantly started spamming emails to Microsoft/Xbox about them making a new KI. At E3 when KI was revealed it was very surreal to me due to the sentimental value I had for the game. Even after the game has been out for two years I still can’t believe it happened.

Is this your first Competitive fighting game? Do you remember your breakthrough moment competing in KI or when you simply just “Got it”

Zombie: Fighters have been a constant in my life. Sadly there were no arcades around here to play them with anyone and a lot of my friends in the area were more into other games than learning the ins and outs of any fighting game. As far as my competitive history goes I never went to any majors before KI, but there was a yearly local event I would compete at called Tekkoshocon in Pittsburgh, PA. That was my first taste of a competitive environment and I loved it. The first game I took seriously was Guilty Gear XX#Reload as a Faust/ Milia player. Next was Blazblue with Noel / Ragna, Garou: Mark of the Wolves with Rock Howard, and a very minimal amount of time in SF4 with Dudley / Juri. I also spent a bit of time in MK9 with Kabal and did pretty well online but never attempted to play in tournament. As for my breakthrough in KI, learning fight-stick and Hisako was my big change in my mindset. I felt way more comfortable / confident in my play with the accuracy I had gained with a fight-stick and Hisako just clicked. Her design and play style really hit home for how I wanted to play.

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

Zombie: As of late, I have taken a break from competitive KI. A lot of games have been coming out that I have wanted to play, as well as the time I spend working on the 8 Bit Beatdown. When I was training for EVO I played about 2-3 hours a day mainly playing sets against higher level players. Some of those players being Grief, UA Bass, GutterMagic, cR Cupcake, and Emperor Rebelo when they had time. All of these sets were played online. Western Pennsylvania doesn’t have much of an FGC, so I don’t have the option to play sets offline unless I am at an event.

What other games do you enjoy in your free time when you’re not streaming?

Zombie: Right now Rocket League has been eating up a lot of free time. It’s a very addicting competitive game unlike anything I have ever played. As far as single player games go I have been playing Mario Maker, Fatal Frame 5, and some I Wanna Be The Guy fan games.

Any advice for upcoming players in KI, What is your usual practice regimen like for a tournament. Excited for KI World Cup?

Zombie: My main advice for anyone looking to get into KI competitively is always play sets, keep a positive outlook, and make sure you are having fun. If you want to do well at an event you have to practice a lot to make sure your execution stays clean. In my honest opinion I feel you should play 2-4 hours a day in sets and leave one day to just relax. Sometimes practicing too much can burn you out and make your play very sluggish. You end up over thinking everything when you should have a clear head. The KI World Cup is easily going to be the highlight of 2016 for me. Being involved with the KI competitive scene and providing tournaments for people to qualify for the KIWC has been a rewarding experience. I cannot wait to see the culmination of the efforts of everyone involved with this event.

Zombie and Brandon Alexander during EVO

You host the awesome weekly series 8bitbeatdown. Tell us a bit about how you got started hosting them.

Zombie: Honestly the 8-Bit Beat Down was just a side project. I loved playing KI everyday and I had a decently sized group of friends I played with regularly. When OneSix and myself heard that lobbies were coming out we decided it would be a fun cool idea to host a weekly event. Seeing as we both had Sundays off that was just the day we went with. It’s pretty crazy thinking back to the first one we hosted, we had 14 entrants and the event took eight hours! Just this past February we ran an 8BBD with over 150 entrants in 8 hours! It was the biggest KI event since EVO2014 at the time. Now we are consistently running events with anywhere from 80-120 entrants in 5 hours and providing some amazing prizes for those who have supported the event.

I would also like to thank the community for killing the Shadow Jago fund to provide tournaments with funding and Microsoft for giving us the opportunity to be a part of it.

Players seem to really enjoy Killer Instinct’s netcode. Can you tell us about your experiences with it? Any reasons you host this game over others on a weekly basis? Did you host other online tournaments before KI?

Zombie: Every now and again servers will be under maintenance, but for the most part these events run very smooth. We chose KI due to the netcode being so well done. If KI didn’t have as great online as it does we probably never would have started running events. We would like to get into other games since our end goal is to eventually host offline majors and make the 8BBD a household name among the FGC. As of right now we can only run online events and KI is the only game with the netcode standard of quality we require to host these effectively. Depending on what games come out in the future you may see us trying to break into other communities. The only other events I have “hosted” were charity drives. In 2013 from OCT-DEC I did a donation drive for the Charity Water organization, in which we were able to raise $1500 to help fund clean water projects in third world countries.

Do you get more enjoyment hosting online tournaments or competing nowadays?

Zombie: As of right now, due to my limited time and funds, I’m hosting more events than competing. My last event was EVO2015 and the next possible event for me to go to is the Killer Instinct World Cup. Possibly closer to the date of the event I will get back into training mode to terrorize people with my Hisako. With that said, the 8BBD is always the highlight of my week!

Check out his EVO 2015 on stream match below (Zombie’s Note: please keep in mind it was my first match  and the first match of the day on stream).

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

Zombie: Even though I know this will never happen, I want Eyedol more than anything. Everyone hates Eyedol but I would sell my soul to see him in the game and run a train with him. As for guest characters I feel Joanna Dark (Perfect Dark) would fit very well within the roster/universe. What I’m personally excited to see is the new blood that may come with Season 3. If I had one wish it would be to add either a Gorgon/Medusa style character or a holy knight (picture Simon Belmont from Super Castlevania IV ).

I would also like to shout out my partner @1sixstudios for helping me operate 8BBD. With out him these events would not have ran as well as they have. Huge thanks to Brandon “Odinson” Alexander  for sanctioning my events and running the KIWC. Also I owe a lot to Adam “Keits” Heart for helping me optimize the way I run the Beat Down, he has played a big role in evolving the event to accommodate more players. Finally, if you are a night owl who likes to watch streams you can come by my twitch channel for playthroughs, KI practice, and Rocket League practice on!

Big thank you to the KI Community for supporting my events and changing my life. You guys keep me going. It has been a continuous pleasure running these weekly events for you!

You can follow Evan on Twitter: @8BH_Zombie Battle him online in Killer Instinct XBL GT: L 8BH Zombie L For all upcoming 8 Bit Beat Down events and information bookmark

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