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Killer Insight: Grant “Tswagg” Gibson

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Tell us about yourself.

My name is Grant “Tswagg” Gibson I also go by Kid Flash as Keits like to call me, and I am from New Jersey but currently going to school in Chicago.

Tswagg with Combo Breaker TO Rick Thiher

Tell us about your KI Tournament history.

My favorite character is Sadira or Baedira as I like to call her. My Killer Instinct tournament history is actually pretty packed. I have been playing this game since it came out, I played in one of the first tournaments at my local Microsoft store where I won with my main character at the time, Jago. After that I went to NEC where, if I recall correctly, I got top 16 losing to OMGItzAndre and Kinetic Orochi. After those events I had fallen into a deep love and kept competing at events until EVO 2014 where I had my big break beating Guttermagic to qualify for my first not only Killer Instinct top 8, but also my first top 8 as a member of the Fighting Game Community, and from there the rest is history.

Favorite KI Music Track?

This is a very funny question for me, at tournaments I play without game sound, and I choose to listen to my own music instead. But if I had to pick I would have to say Fulgore’s theme “Type-03”. This pick comes with a little story as well, as some people may know I am a film student and when the first KI OST came out I was uncoiling cables and setting up a live feed for my school’s auditorium. So while I was setting all this up I was blasting in my ear buds Fulgore’s theme, I felt that it gave me a boost in energy for those early mornings that I would have at school setting the equipment up. With that being said I can honestly say that I am super pumped to hear what Atlas Plug and Klaytron are going to put out, just hearing Rash’s theme got me super hyped. I cannot wait to see what they have in store for Kim Wu and Tusk.

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

I am only 18 years young so when the original Killer Instinct and KI 2 came out I was as some would say a just twinkle in my dad’s eye. When I heard that they were going to be rebooting the series I guess you could say at least for me “The crowd went Mild”.  I thought that it was cool a new fighting game was coming out, but I honestly could not have cared less. Heck I was one of the people who boo’d Filthy Rich and Markman off the stage at evo 2013 because I did not care to play let alone watch the game. But luckily that all changed one fateful day when I went to my local mall and saw a Killer Instinct setup. As soon as I started playing I was hooked. I loved the mechanics, the sound, and the look. I loved Killer Instinct. So ever since that fateful day I have been in love with the game.

What got you into KI and competing in stuff like 8 bit beat down?

Ever since I was a little… well littler Tswagg I had a competitive drive. Whether in sports or in the classroom I would always try to be the best, so when I started competing in KI I strived to be the best. So when I heard about the 8 Bit Beat Down I immediately started entering. It was everything that I wanted. I did not have to leave my house to play great players, AMAZING. Now that only worked because of the amazing KI net code, this is one of the only fighting games where I feel that you can improve significantly by playing online.

Did you compete in any other games before KI?

Before I started playing KI was really into Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. I played 2 teams Hulk/Doom/wesker and later on into the game I started to play Doom/Magneto/Wesker. My first EVO was in 2013 where I entered marvel and came close to making it out of my pool ultimately losing to YP.Filipinoman and another player whose name I don’t recall. But outside of fighting games I love the WWE 2k series! It’s a great shift for me where I can unwind from KI and just have some fun. I recently started watching New Japan Pro wrestling and I love their product. So in my “My Universe” mode I started the NJPW invasion, I find that it’s great for a film guy like me to write promos and storylines in my head for my own promotion/ storyline.

EVO 2015 Tournament pools

You represent the younger spectrum of the Fighting Game community. How do you feel about being an up and coming player competing against a field of older and more experienced players?

It is really fun actually. To be able to compete with people who are almost twice my age shows that its “skill” over age, I know my other youth KI member Swordsman can attest to that.  It’s also nice that I can go to someone who is older than me and can get advice from them because they may have lived through similar experiences. I know that Steveeee can attest to us having 4 or 5 hour skype conversations just talking about life and the game. As creepy as it sounds it’s nice to be surrounded by older men…

You finished in the Top 8 of Killer Instinct at EVO 2014 at the age of 17 which is an incredible accomplishment. What was that experience like?

It’s was definitely something different. I remember playing casuals that morning with knomad and I remember my hands were already shaking I was so nervous. At the time I didn’t have the tournament experience that other competitors did, my god placing top 8 in Mk9 the year before, and Rico and Mani as well having multiple years of experience under their respective belts. So when all of KI top 8 was brought into this little holding area mygod had asked me “you nervous kid?” I took my hands out of my pockets and showed him how bad they were shaking, “a little” I replied. I mean who wouldn’t be nervous, playing in front of all of those people, I’m a little surprised I didn’t faint. After all the semantics of the intro were done, Rico and I played our match and I got wrecked hard… But that was what I needed as soon as I lost my nerves went away and felt better. I have a lot of friends who play melee at a competitive level and, they always ask “Grant, how do I get rid of my nerves?” I always reply, ” get top 8 at evo, that’ll stop them”.

Ken Lobb awarding Tswagg for his EVO 2014 Top 8 Finish

Any particular reason you compete in KI more than other games?

I find that for me with school it is hard to balance multiple games. I’m incredibly lucky that I had the opportunity to travel as much as I did this past year going to amazing events like Combo Breaker, CEO, and EVO. But being in college now and working a job it’s hard to find the time to travel. As I said before I seems that the KI World Cup will be my first and last tournament of the year.

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

I play KI for at least an hour a day, if not more. I primarily play online due to the fact that I have almost no one around me to play with. I love to play sets with some of the greats like Rebelo, Bass, RicoSuave etc.

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

Always try to do your best. If you are going up against a big name do not immediately think that you’re going to lose, half of the game is mindset. But the other thing that I would recommend is playing the game when you can, and entering free tournaments like the amazing 8 Bit Beat Down as well as asking pro players for sets, like firsts to 5, 10, 15 etc. All of us are pretty nice… well most of us are and will almost always have no problem playing you and giving some tips on how to improve your game.

Excited for KI World Cup?

I don’t know, does a bear poop in the woods… OF COURSE!!!! The KI World Cup is going to be amazing, a tournament like no other you might say. I also just found out this Sunday that on my flight to the world cup I would be accompanied by the great, the amazing, the rolling… TJ Rebelo!!!

Any opponents you fear or have a hard time defeating in tournaments? How are you going to approach that at the KI Cup?

Well, of course I’m worrying about Rico just because of our history together, I have come close to beating him on a few occasions but always seemed to be edged out (apex and Combo Breaker) but I think that this tournament may be the first time that the W will be in my Column. As well as PaulB, he is super strong and seems to be practicing for the event, and because he has a multitude of different characters makes me worry about him specifically, but I think that I’ll be fine. There really aren’t a lot of players who scare me anymore, just because of the fact we all have played each other so much. But yeah Paul and Rico scare me the most, as well as belo. I’m not too scared of the Japanese players I feel that the talent is better over here in the US, but with that being said bastfree has been playing on point the last few events, I would look for him to make a big splash in this event.

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

Once again I ask does a bear poop in the woods… OF GOD DANG COURSE I AM!!!!! Season 3 is going to be incredible I just hope they do not nerf my character too hard ;). I can’t wait to see what new characters that they will have instore. I hope we get another character that has a strong air game that would be amazing… for me.

Best of luck at KI Cup in a few weeks, any shoutouts?

I just want to shout out a few people, my Mom and Dad for always believing in me. My brother Artist Omega for traveling to these events with me and getting me hooked on fighting games. My boys back in Jersey CuppaJoe, Emeril, The charismatic enigma Super Famous Dan Vickey, Eviler and Bass for being loyal training partners. Steveee or Sajam for always being there for me when I need someone to talk to. The Shin brothers for just being amazing! KDD for letting me steal his tech, and John Cena for teaching to live by 3 rules, Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect! Oh and Kenny Omega because he’s just too SWEEEEEETTTTTTT.

Photos courtesy of Robert Paul and Nokin.

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