Panda’s Punk on iDom rivalry: “I think people make it more than what it is, just bored in their basements.”
Folks have made much of Punk’s rivalry with iDom, but the man himself thinks people just need to move on and get a life.
Victor "Punk" Woodley is a name that almost anyone who even has a passing interest in Street Fighter has surely heard before. He's railed against online play for ages in SFV due to its issues with its poor netcode, and he's a fierce competitor to boot. While many have made much of his rivalry with iDom over the past couple of years, Punk took the time to address the issue at Red Bull Kumite, where he finished 5-8th.
We also had the chance to speak with Punk regarding his thoughts on Red Bull Kumite Las Vegas, his intense dislike of Group Stages, as well as the future of Street Fighter - where he doesn't even want his current main character to come back.
What did the man himself have to say?
Dustin Steiner, Americas Editor, Esports.gg: What does being at an invitational event like Red Bull Kumite mean to you versus a traditional FGC event?
Punk: It’s very nice to get invited to events, it doesn’t matter if it’s Kumite or just any event that’s invited you, it’s just nice, I feel like it’s kind of shows the hard work you’ve been putting in and people notice and they want you at their event because you bring the numbers in, so it’s always a nice feeling when you get invited to an event because it’s either they like my skill or think that you’ve got the ability to bring in viewers so you feel more important. (laughs)
Steiner: Speaking of things that are probably going to draw viewership, people have been talking about your rivalry with iDom a lot. What are your thoughts on your rivalry with him? He’s told me in the past that it’s more friendly banter between you guys, is there beef between you guys?
Punk: I don’t really have any beef with iDom. I think people online make it more than what it is, because they’re just bored in their basements and stuff and they just wanna say stupid stuff online, honestly there’s no beef between me and iDom at all, we’re just players playing the game and we just happen to both be good in America and people just want to make something out of that, pretty much, but there’s nothing there.
Steiner: That’s good. What are your thoughts about the format of Red Bull Kumite, do you like the way they do brackets and everything like that?
Punk: No. I hate it. I actually do not like group stages, I like how they did it before COVID, where it was just a bracket, and you just draw who you play and stuff, that was a lot cooler, I don’t like group stages for the simple fact that after people’s performances if you lose one match, everyone else’s performance affects you and I think that’s kind of dumb. So for me, I don’t really like the group stages much, I’d rather it was just a bracket, with winners and losers, and that’s it.
Victor 'Punk' Woodley plays with his boxing gloves at Red Bull Kumite, held in the Octavius Ballroom at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, NV, USA on 14 November, 2021. // Marv Watson for Red Bull Content Pool
Steiner: If you could improve the Group Stage setup, how would you do it?
Punk: I just don’t like groups, honestly. I feel like the bracket is just so much more superior than group stages because I don’t like that other people can affect me if I lose, I’d rather just go to losers’ bracket and have it all on me. I don’t have to think that I’m 2-1, but this person won more games, or they’ve got to beat this person for me, I don’t really like that. So I’d rather that everything just be on me and that’s it.
Steiner: This isn’t your first time at an invitational like this. What goes into your preparation for an invitational versus a more traditional open bracket event?
Punk: When I come into a tournament, I don’t actually like to play the game as much as possible because I like to go in fresh, and I feel like practicing, I don’t really need it much anymore for me because I’ve played the game so long and everything is just muscle memory so when I pick up the controller, I’ve just got to play at the event for a while and then everything just kind of flows back naturally for me. So I just try to take a rest before tournaments and try not to play as much as possible because I know, when I come to the tournament I might be playing a lot, so I don’t wanna fry my brain out, pretty much.
Steiner: You play Karin, that’s someone who’s in the base roster of Street Fighter V. You’ve had to play seasons of DLC now. Has there been a DLC character that you just hated playing against?
Punk: Yeah, Abigail in season 3 is the dumbest character ever, bro. I dunno what Capcom was thinking.
I mean, he was literally just killing you with one combo, if I got command grabbed, I was literally dead. I got command grabbed or I got meaty’d, and I died, and when he activated V-Trigger on Karin, I had to just take the unblockable, unless I had a super, and that was the only way I could get out of it, so I think that his whole design is just dumb for that, just stupid.
Steiner: Looking ahead, we’re right at the end of Street Fighter V’s life cycle now. What do you want to see in the next Street Fighter game to change things up?
Punk: For me, it doesn’t really matter, I think every game changes tremendously, so I just went with whatever they put in the game, whatever new mechanic. I just like Street Fighter, as long as they add Ken in the game, I don’t care.
Steiner: Are there any characters you wanna see come back? Would you like Karin to come back, for instance?
Yeah, the character, I really have no interest in her, only really like Ken and Yun, so if they add those two characters, good. For Karin, they could keep her out of the game, I don’t really care for her.
Punk on Karin's potential return in Street Fighter 6Ste
Steiner: Talk to me about the tournament - where do you feel things went wrong here at Red Bull Kumite?
Punk: I didn't feel wrong. My ego doesn't allow me to not play Karin all the time. I definitely went into the match with Problem X thinking I was going to play Kolin, but then when I sat on the stage, I feel like it's just a thing where everyone wants me to use Karin. Especially now, because I have the Alpha Academy and stuff, I feel like I want to win with Karin for them, because they love it so much.
I think the content creator side of me kind of got to me. It was still fun overall and Problem X played good no matter what, I can't take anything away from him. It's not like I don't know the Alex matchup with Karin. He just played really well.
Steiner: What were your thoughts on the single-elimination after groups format for Kumite?
It makes sense to me, so I don't really care too much. It makes a lot of sense to have single elim after groups, because it was already a long day. Scheduling and stuff, you can't really have the loser's bracket and the winner's bracket here. For me, it's cool because Red Bull makes the matches increase after each round. It goes from FT3, to FT4, to FT5 in the Grand Finals, so it's okay.
Steiner: You're well known as a multicharacter specialist, is there any other character aside from Karin or Kolin you might have used today?
Punk: If I had had the Ryu in my group, I definitely would have played Vega on him, and I think that's probably it. No one got to see the Vega today [Laughs].
Victor 'Punk' Woodley, Amjad 'AngryBird' Al-Shalabi, Li Wei 'Oil King' Lin and Chris 'Chriscch' Hancock line up on stage following the completion of thei group the Street Fighter V competition at Red Bull Kumite, held in the Octavius Ballroom at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, NV, USA on 14 November, 2021. // Marv Watson for Red Bull Content Pool
Steiner: What were your thoughts on the experience overall at Red Bull?
Punk: Red Bull treats you like a king. They give you an awesome goodie bag, they give you presents, they run this nice tournament. I think this event, no matter where it is in the world, is always amazing production, and great quality for the players. They literally let us play on PC, we don't really get that much, so I think that makes the event that much better.
Steiner: We lost a few years to the pandemic of offline majors. Do you think we lost a lot of potentially great SFV?
Punk: I definitely think there have been a lot of good matches that could have happened offline during this time. But on the other hand, I think online has made a lot more players confident so they can play at their full ability in tournaments now and not play as nervous. Online gave us a ton of new players that we might not have known before. It's a bit of a double-edged sword. I kind of hate it, but there are some good things that came out of it. It's unfortunate COVID happened and we had to stick online.
Steiner: This is one of the biggest events that came back after COVID. What does it mean to be back in person playing and not have to deal with online?
Punk: It feels good, especially since Red Bull is so nice and they put it on PC for us, even the experience of playing offline on PS4 is kinda worse than playing online on PC. The fact that Red Bull lets us play on PC and they give us a PC to play the tournament on is really good, and it feels really good to be back and you don’t have to deal with the external factors of lag and rollback when it’s actually a real offline, none of the fake wins that people can get online and that’s just the main thing that I like about the offline, like when you lose you can only really blame yourself.
Steiner: Is there anyone that, in the online era of Street Fighter V, with this COVID and everything, anybody that’s really impressed you?
Punk: I definitely think there’s a lot of players online that come up and they’re really good, like you have a lot of young Japanese players now that are so good, and even in America there’s been a few players that play in NLBC and stuff and I think they’ve actually improved quite a lot, playing online, even though it’s online I can kinda see their movements from where they were before to now, and there are quite a few players that I think improved from playing online, or just in the online era.
Victor 'Punk' Woodley, Li Wei 'Oil King' Lin and others line up in their pool for the Street Fighter V competition at Red Bull Kumite, held in the Octavius Ballroom at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, NV, USA on 14 November, 2021. // Marv Watson for Red Bull Content Pool
Steiner: Any particular highlights from that list or shoutouts?
Punk: Yeah, out of Japan, I think Higuchi is probably the most improved ones that you see play and he wins a lot of events over there now. If I had to say one in America it would be NoNeedToTalk, who is an E. Honda player and I think when I watch him play he’s actually really good and before I feel like he improved so much, so I think that those two players are the ones that I’ve seen and it’s not just online, they’re actually pretty good.
Steiner: Any personal shoutouts you wanna make before we wrap up?
Punk: Shout out to all the fans, Alpha Academy, shoutouts to Panda, of course, shoutouts to Nephew, hopefully he can get in from the LCQ and he gets a shoutout anyway, because he is my Panda teammate, so pretty much just shoutouts to the fans of Alpha Academy and thanks to everyone for watching and supporting me, and hopefully I can put on a good show at Red Bull Kumite for everyone.
For more on the FGC, the rest of our coverage on Red Bull Kumite, and everything else esports, keep it locked here to Esports.gg.
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Americas Editor for Esports.gg, Dustin Steiner brings a decade of esports newsroom experience to bring fans what they need to know, helping them keep their finger on the pulse of esports as it happens. When he's not helping run the newsroom, you can find him grinding it out on Smash Ultimate, Final Fantasy 14, or probably binge watching Gundam.