Q&A: MarlinPie talks EVO, Marvel and Guilty Gear

If Christopher “NYChrisG” Gonzelez’s play style is personified as boring and safe, filling the screen with projectiles to turn Marvel into a bullet hell game, Kyohei “PG.MarlinPie” Lehr’s would be better described as electrifying. Known in Marvel for his flashy TAC combos and Doom infinites, there is never a dull moment in Lehr’s gameplay. Recently at EVO 2016, PG.MarlinPie was the only American to make it into the top eight of Guilty Gear Xrd – REVELATOR- another game at which he excels.

Slingshot’s Amanda “SageGnosis” Stevens had the chance of talking FGC with MarlinPie both at EVO and over the course of this week.

Amanda “SageGnosis” Stevens: How did you get into fighting games and what attracts you to play them at a competitive level?

Kyohei “PG MarlinPie” Lehr: I started when I was 4. My father brought home a Super Nintendo with Street Fighter 2. And I was one of the rare kids to actually go into practice mode to try to make all the special moves consistent. When you’re a kid you can barely do Hadokens right? Oh, I mean Fireballs. Or SRKs. I lapped them out at age 4. My combos and my inputs were consistent at age 4.

I kept on playing my father and my brother and they were too easy to beat; I kept raising the bar. And then….I guess I’m here now.

AS: You’re known for being a pretty flashy player, sometimes even to a fault. Do you think you would win more, especially in Marvel, if you didn’t try to style so much?

KL: Whenever I’m too flashy, usually my tournament life isn’t directly at stake. Although, I don’t miss my “flashy” combos, they’re not the flashiest combos I’m capable of. I’m choosing to execute the midpoint combo where there is some flash and some consistency. On a side note, the most flashy, unnecessary combo I ever performed in a tournament is probably the side TAC (Team Aerial Comb) combo was versus Peter “ComboFiend” Rosas at SCR2012, and that was something I normally wouldn’t do in tournament.

AS: Why Guilty Gear over other games?

KL: That’s a complicated story. I — actually it’s not that complicated. When I came to this country — when I was in Japan I didn’t even know about this [Guilty Gear series] game. When I came to this country 17 years ago, my friend from middle school just randomly bought this game and played it in front of us.

I had no idea what was going on. It was such a new scenery; its visuals are very different from the other fighting games. So, I was kind of afraid to try it out. But after watching him play for a good while I was like “hey, lemme give this a try.” The combo system was extremely fun. I always like to practice things since age four; I realized this game had some practice value in it. I was instantly lured into it.

AS: From what I’ve heard, you play a lot of different characters in Guilty Gear but for EVO you stuck mainly to Zato-1. Why is that?

KL: For my pride and fans. No one wants to go home thinking, “Why didn’t I stick to my guns?”

AS: What makes Zato so appealing to your play style?

KL: Zato was the character that challenged my execution at first look. I just had to play him until I explored everything he’s capable of. He’s also very flexible when it comes to creating new tech. I mean it’s just endless. Love it!

AS: You’re still playing Marvel (Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3) after all these years. What keeps you playing it?

KL: It’s the faith and it’s the future. I’m just hoping for the future.

AS: Something like getting a Marvel 4?

KL: Exactly.

AS: In a recent interview with Red Bull eSports, it was brought up that your contract with Panda Global is primarily focused on Guilty Gear with no mention of Marvel. Does that mean Marvel will be taking a back seat for you career wise?

KL: I’m just waiting for the future of Marvel. I’m pretty much done with UMVC3. I performed the easy Doom infinite after having “someone” say the TAC (Team Aerial Combo) infinites will be gone. But UMVC3 was taken off development. I still like the game but I am too scared to continue to play an off-development game.

AS: Speaking of Panda Global; what is it like working with them in comparison to Broken Tier?

KL: It’s the motivation, right? Broken Tier, I kind of don’t want to say this but, they were kind of slowing down towards the end. Towards the end as in in recent years. Panda Global is very, very active and new and a very motivated group. They are always promoting; they are always out there. They’re at every event. They have really good players for Smash Brothers and like every other game.

So, it’s a growing team that’s characterized with really powerful people. As soon as I got the offer I was I thought this was amazing. I can be a part of this and I can grow with them. It has motivated me a lot. It has motivated me to want to get to the next level and elevate my fighting game player status and fighting game player skills.

AS: You’ve been a threat in quite a few games over the years. What allows you to always be a killer in every game you play?

KL: Some people might be good at fighting games but some people are just strong in person-to-person competition. There are so many factors involved in coming in victorious in a fighting game. Someone can’t just have great execution and expect to win. Someone can’t just have great defense and not know what to do after blocking.

Knowledge, execution, learning speed, reaction time, solid self-control, etc. You need to possess a bit of everything to be successful in fighting games in general and I GOT IT.

AS: On a final note, Dizzy was announced as a new character for Guilty Gear Xrd – REVELATOR- after the top 8 for GG Xrd and was made available to play this past Monday. Have you gotten to play with Dizzy yet? What do you think of her?

KL: Haven’t been able to play Dizzy yet but i will very soon. I’ve got high hopes for what she can be capable of, but then that worries me a little at the same time. Added characters are notorious to be unbalanced in Guilty Gear.

AS: Do you have anything to say to your fans?

KL: I’m in there!

Cover photo: Stephanie Lindgren @Vexanie