“For now my dream, I have to say, is to win EVO,” says Eduardo Perez-Frangie, also known in the fighting game community as PR Balrog or PR Rog. Perez-Frangie is one of the top fighting gamers in the world, but he has yet to reach the pinnacle of winning the Evolution championship. However, with a new team, a rigorous training plan, and a great start to the year, Perez-Frangie is on his way to realizing his dream.
“A typical day for me would be…playing for six to ten hours”
Earlier this year, at the Southern California Regionals, a stop on the road to EVO 2013, Perez-Frangie had a great weekend. He outright won the Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 tournament and placed third in Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition. Not only will these results get Perez-Frangie seeded at the EVO championship, they also show that his hard work and practice are keeping him near the top of the fighting game community.
Practice for a pro like Perez-Frangie means a lot of time spent gaming each day. “A typical day for me would be waking up, taking a shower, maybe doing some house chores, and then setting up the stream to start playing for six to ten hours,” he says. “Usually when I’m not streaming I just practice in training mode.”
Online play is a staple in Perez-Frangie’s training routine, but he has warned his followers to take online play with a grain of salt. “The thing about fighters online is that it will never be perfect because the timing online is completely different than playing offline. The fact that the internet in America is not that fast and we are all so spread out makes it really hard for a top player to take it seriously. Fighters are based on really fast reactions and combos that require strict timing and online makes most of that impossible.”
Perez-Frangie does see plenty of value in online training, however. “I play a lot of online just to stay sharp on match ups,” he says. “I use online to see what people are doing against my character and practice against it so when I go to a tournament I can react properly. Basically you can say that online makes you learn the basics of match ups.”
Online play isn’t the only thing Perez-Frangie does during his full days of training. “I watch a lot of videos of different players to study how would I react if I was in their position, which helps with my decision-making in a match.” He also spends a lot of time in plain training mode.
Training mode may not be popular with casual gamers, but Perez-Frangie views it as a vital part of getting better. “I go to training mode to find new things and to improve my execution. I usually do reps of combos, for instance, doing a combo 100 times in a row or just doing a repetition of a combo ten times, and if I drop it I go back to one. Some people find it really boring, but to me, improving is all that matters.”
Improving may be the most important thing during training for him, but Perez-Frangie is still a gamer who that values the fun of the experience just as much as winning. “I’ve always said that if you don’t have fun in what you are doing then why would you even do it,” he says. “Having fun is the most important thing to me, actually, because I feel that if I don’t have fun I won’t have the will to learn more about why I lost or what could I have done better, even when I lose I get a little mad but its mad at myself usually not at my opponent. But I’m not going to lie, when I get mad, I make fun of myself for getting mad so basically everything comes back as being fun.”
“I love the EG shirts that I wear at tournaments. I feel that it looks cool and makes me want to perform my best when I wear it.”
Life as a pro gamer has been a lot more fun for Perez-Frangie since he became a member of team Evil Geniuses six months ago. “My whole life changed because before I was sponsored, I moved out of my home in Puerto Rico to California at the FGTV house. Moving to another location and living in a completely different environment made me realize how much money I would be spending, and I was actually really scared that my career as a pro player would end.”
Now a sponsored pro, Perez-Frangie is able to focus completely on training to win big tournaments. “I don’t think I would’ve have been traveling as much as I am now if it wasn’t for EG, so I have to say that they have been an extremely important change in my life. I also feel that since they helped me so much, I have to perform better than ever at every tournament that I go to,” he says. Also, “I love the EG shirts that I wear at tournaments. I feel that it looks cool and makes me want to perform my best when I wear it.”
Right now, the big tournament Perez-Frangie has his eyes set on is EVO 2013. “ I think every fighting game player’s goal is to win an EVO championship, and I gotta say, that’s my priority this year again since I’ve been so close but I’ve fallen short a couple of times.”
“I wish people would call me by my name… Especially now that I don’t even play Balrog anymore.”
Those close calls may seem like falling short to Perez-Frangie, but they make up an impressive list of accomplishments for a professional fighting gamer. At the EVO championships last year he took third in Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition and, along with Evil Genius member Ricky Ortiz, placed second in the Street Fighter X Tekken pairs tournament. In 2011, he lost the final match of the Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 tournament to take second place. In 2009, playing under his old handle “Scrub,” he placed fifth in Street Fighter IV.
In addition to being the biggest accomplishment of his career, a win at the EVO championships might give Perez-Frangie the chance to change his current handle. “I wish people would call me by my name, or at least by Eduardo Perez, instead of PR Balrog since I actually didn’t give myself that name—Especially now that I don’t even play Balrog anymore.”
That handle was given to him when he became the first player to win a major Street Fighter tournament using the Balrog character. Players, fans, and spectators knew little about Perez-Frangie except that he was Puerto Rican and played using Balrog. The PR Balrog name has stuck since.
Perez-Frangie is grateful to all of his supporters, especially those who were standing by him when he was still just making a name for himself in the fighting game community. Now, as he prepares himself for another run at the coveted world championship title, Perez-Frangie still wants to show his appreciation. “I would like to give some shout outs to my family, my girlfriend, Team EG, FGTV, friends, and the fgc from Puerto Rico because they have all supported me throughout my career and I don’t think I would be here if it wasn’t for them.”
photos courtesy of Eduardo Perez-Frangie and Evil Geniuses