Tell us about yourself.
My name is Stephen Lyon, but most people know me as Steve or Sajam (www.twitter.com/sajam). I’m from Southern California, Anaheim to be more specific. I’ve never lived anywhere outside of SoCal, at least not yet!
KI tournament history.
I’ve played in and won lots of locals for Killer Instinct in Southern California. In terms of majors, I got 5th at SCR 2014, 5th NCR 2014, 5th at UFGT, 1st at NCR 2015, 5th Combo Breaker 2015. Assume that if I’ve ever been to a tournament that I probably got 5th at it.
My favorite character in terms of personality/looks is definitely my original main, Sabrewulf. There is something super great about a rabid werewolf character who is absolutely vicious. When it comes to playstyle and tools, I think Aria is definitely my pick.
Favorite Music Track?
My favorite track is Thunder’s. It fits his stage/character so well, and is just fun to listen to. Thunder’s stage is also by far my favorite stage in the game, the rain effects are just too good! Besides his, Orchid’s is definitely my jam. I love awful pop music, so it’s hard not to love.
What got you started into KI?
I got into Killer Instinct through just being a fan of fighting games, since at 21 I’m a bit young to have played the old games. I happened to see some gameplay and thought it looked new and different from any other fighting game that was out. I still think Killer Instinct has some of the best designed characters in any game, and is just super fun to play. Something about the design of the game really lends to player vs player matchups feeling just as important as character match ups. Also, landing a combo breaker will never get any less satisfying. It’s just pure understanding of your opponent, and that’s what I love about fighting games.
Tell us about your commentary history.
I really got my start in commentary on Injustice, and then Killer Instinct. The majority of my commentary practice actually comes from my YouTube channel (youtube.com/supermansajam), Wednesday Night Fights, and doing community organized online events. I also have to thank Rynge for really getting me started and vouching for my ability to commentate. Without him, I’m not sure if I would have ever been able to commentate Wednesday Night Fights/The Runback, which both lead to me getting tons of opportunities to commentate lots of different games. When I first started commentating, I was super awful. I had a good understanding of the games I was commentating, but I had really bad mic skills, and just bad commentary habits in general. It takes tons of time to get better at commentary, and I’m still not anywhere close to being as good as I’d like. That being said, the first major I ever did commentary at was SCR 2014, and the first major I really was scheduled to do commentary at was actually EVO 2015. I’m really pleased to say that I’ll be one of the official commentators for Killer Instinct World Cup this year as well!
Tell us about the importance of commentary. Has it been hard juggling being a player and a commentator?
Well I had done some commentary before Killer Instinct for Injustice, Marvel, and a bit of Street Fighter 4. The reason I originally started commentating was because I felt like the games that I enjoyed didn’t have solid representation on commentary. To me commentators are the voice of fighting games, and are crucial parts of making tournaments a joy to watch. Instead of sitting around and complaining about commentators, I decided that I should try and be that voice that I felt was missing. I’m nowhere near as good at commentary as I’d like to be, but I’m always working to be better. I feel a deep responsibility to try and represent the games I enjoy, and fighting games in general, to the best of my ability. For a while I kind of balanced being a competitor and commentator, but now I enjoy commentary much more. Honestly I’m just a big nerd when it comes to fighting games, and I spend a ridiculous amount of time talking about them anyway. If I wasn’t on commentary, I’d be sitting in the front row of every event screaming my head off and talking about what’s happening to anybody who would listen.
What advice would you give for upcoming players: My advice for competitors is to figure out what you excel at in fighting games, and find the best way to use that to win. Also, pick strong characters that you personally enjoy if you’re playing to win. For instance, I love playing defensive characters, so I end up picking a character who is super boring but super strong. Find what you think is fun fighting games and pick whatever character does that best.
Any advice for those interested in commentating? I think the biggest advice for any commentator is the same for a competitor, practice! For reference the easiest way to get practice is to just take matches from any tournament/online/your own games/whatever and do some commentary over it and stick it on YouTube or anywhere people can give it a listen. Using YouTube as a platform to spread your commentary and practice is honestly invaluable to someone starting out. If you have any local events near you, be brave and ask the streamer/tournament organizer if you can hop on the mic and do some commentary! Besides that, listen to other commentators and try to figure out what they are doing right and wrong. For instance, to commentate Killer Instinct and Mortal Kombat better I actually studied lots of Melee commentary, specifically Toph and Bobby Scar. I felt like Killer Instinct and Mortal Kombat were both super fast paced games with tons of actions happening, so there’s no way to mention everything occurring on the screen. Melee is super similar, so I looked at what their best commentators were doing to commentate a game with that kind of action, and implemented stuff that I thought they did well. Commentary in general is super brutal to get better at, and people are going to be ruthless in their criticism. Do your best to filter out the terrible things people say about you and find the actual constructive feedback you’re getting.
Are you Excited for the KI World Cup? I’m seriously counting down the minutes, I can’t wait! Myself and Infilament have been working on some content that I think you guys will enjoy at the cup, and I’ll do my best to do well on commentary. Lots of people are putting in crazy hours to make sure this event is great for spectators and attendees. It’s gonna be an amazing event, and I hope every body who wants to come out can make it!
Are you excited about Season 3? Any characters or features you’d like to see? I’m ridiculously happy season 3 is happening in general! For a while there I was worried we wouldn’t get anymore characters/content, but I’m absolutely ecstatic that we get another season. As for characters, I’m just curious to see who the guest additions are, and the new characters that Iron Galaxy makes. Season 2 has some whacky but wonderful characters and I have faith season 3 will be even better!
Discuss the interview here: http://forums.killerinstinct.prod.web.msgamestudios.com/t/killer-insight-stephen-sajam-lyon/4158