The other day I was browsing around when I came across an interesting Kayane interview on some French website I can’t remember the name of…unfortunately. The little big French woman was talking about how she had just won a Super Street Fighter IV tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada, playing Chun-Li.
A fighting games veteran from the Paris area, Kayane’s been going around like that for years to play her favorite titles: the Soul Caliburs, some DOA, and lately Super Street Fighter 4.
She’s won quite a lot, even against the boys, so much that Namco ended up creating an AI wearing her name and imitating her pitbullish style of play. What kind of achievement is that?
A few days after I read that interview, in French, I found the Team aAa member playing practice matches at the Festival du Jeu Vidéo in Paris. She agreed to do another interview, one for us, in English.
There it is!
Hello Kayane, where does the name come from?
My first tournaments were at Dead or Alive 2, they asked me for a nickname and I was surprised. Because I didn’t know that in this world we use a nickname! So I decided to mix the first names of my two favourite DOA2 characters: Kasumi and Ayane (my favourite). So the result is Kayane.
How old were you when you won your first gaming tournament?
I won my first tournament at 10 years old at Soul Calibur 1.
What got you into tournaments so early?
When Dead or Alive 2 came out, I was 9 years old. My brothers were more involved in Tekken Tag since there were top players at this game, but I asked them to play with me at DOA2 at least once. My brother Maxi (one of Ryan Hart’s rival at Tekken 3 at the time) said to me : “Oh, I don’t want to win too easily so train by yourself for the moment and I’ll see your level later, it would be a shame if I beat you without playing it!”. It made me upset and then I practiced alone and tried to understand by myself how to play since my brothers didn’t help. By analyzing the computer, I understood that in DOA2 we have to make damages by creating combos so it’s what I did especially in Tag mode by switching characters during combos to make big damage. So when I was ready I told Maxi to play with me. I beat him so easily that he said after “I have to bring you to a tournament in Paris!” I was very happy because I thought I would have many many friends! But I was a very naive child because I didn’t know that people could be machos.
In my first tournament at DOA2, I finished French Vice Champion while I was only 9 years old and nobody knew me. People were so machos and mean that I didn’t want to stop playing in tournaments, I realized there that I had something to prove in order to change mentality towards women and children capacity. Men usually don’t like losing to a woman, and also children…but I was both in same time so it made them more frustrated and mean to me.
My other brother Kero started to get involved in the Soul Calibur community, so did I. I was surprised at how kind and fun the SC community was. They welcomed me very well and I felt like I could make friends finally!
Then I kept on taking part in tournaments with Soul Calibur, for two reasons : to prove that even if I’m a little girl I can win, and to have a lot of fun time with my new friends.
Kayane playing with Daigo “The Beast” Umehara
How old are you now? Could you name your biggest achievements so far?
I’m 19 years old now. In ten years of tournaments, I have achieved many things and I still want to keep going this way. I won many tournaments even very young. I succeeded to rank top 5 during 9 years of Soul Calibur tournaments in France, and top 10 in each international tournament : 4th at World Game Cup 2004 when I was 12, 9th at Evolution 2009 and 9th at World Game Cup 2010. I also beat the American and Japanese Champion when I was 10-11 years old.
Namco Bandai made an AI with my name, Kayane, and using Xianghua (my character) in Soul Calibur IV Broken Destiny imitating my style of playing. A lot of players that played against this Kayane in game said to me : “I really had the impression to play against you ! That’s crazy!” haha it made me very happy! Having my name in my favourite game is one of the greatest successes that could happen to me. I’m very grateful to the developers.
Now I hope to achieve big things at SSFIV. I recently won the SSFIV Women Invitation Tournament at EVO2010, but I have to say that for me it’s not a big achievement. A big achievement would be to rank top 8 at EVO in the mixed tournament (where girls AND boys can compete). So I’m working hard to get to that level even though I’m still a beginner at this game. SSFIV is my first 2D game and 2D games are so different from 3D games, so it’s quite difficult to adapt especially with the way I play Chun Li, that is the contrary of the way I play Xianghua. (I play Xiang very aggressively, so much people called me “the pitbull” haha!)
Could you tell us a bit about your winning trip at EVO 2010?
Well, my trip at EVO was sooo impulsive. Even one month before EVO I didn’t know if I would go. I wasn’t very motivated because no Frenchy could go in the end. Knowing that, I lost a lot of my motivation because I’m so new to this community and this game, I would have needed advice out there from frenchies because of my lack of experience. And going to a tournament like that without knowing anybody could be very annoying.
And I have never been to a foreign country by myself, I don’t have a sense of directions at all!!! My family was so scared about this trip haha!
But 2 weeks before EVO, I finally decided to take it. I was hesitating so much that I said to myself : “BUY THE PLANE TICKET NOW!” so that I couldn’t go back on my decision. I was thinking that this trip would be like a mental test for me to see if I can win an international tournament even if I’m alone to represent my country.
Once I was there, I only focused my mind on winning. I couldn’t imagine myself going back to France without the cup proving I won. Being alone made me stronger out there, even when I lost one match in the final because of a stupid mistake of mine when Burn your Bra (the finalist) did a wake up ultra. I know that a lot of people would have lost after because it can totally destroy you, especially in a final. I was thinking that I wanted a mental test in this tournament, so there I was…I had to take reponsibility for my mistake and win.
In the mixed tournament, I won two matches and then I lost. In the loser bracket, I won again two matches before losing against a Bison player. We can notice that I only lost to Bison players during this mixed tournament! I knew that I wasn’t trained enough against him before coming, and since I’m unlucky I had to be eliminated by two bisons! :p
But really, this trip was the best I ever had. I had so much fun, I met many really cool people and I could improve my game a lot because people share a lot! I really want to go back at EVO next year, and I wish I could go to the US more often!
I’m very grateful to all the people that cheered me there, especially the Guyanese players, people I just met there and also the French community who watched the stream!
Kayane & Yoshinori Ono, Street Fighter 4′s producer
Street Fighter or Soul Calibur?
Oh…such a cruel question!
Those games are so different. I always preferred 3D games but I discovered 2D games with SF and I have to admit I’m surprised that it’s so fun. It’s so interesting to play another kind of games after playing Soul Calibur for ten years. (with a bit of experiences at DOA)
I would rather choose Soul Calibur because I’m nostalgic. It’s the first fighting game I loved when it came out on Dreamcast, I was 7 years old! Xianghua made me love it, but more than that, the atmosphere was so special and unique in this game. My best memories in tournaments were also at Soul Calibur, especially the first and the second opus. So many gooood memories at this game, that Soul Calibur will always has a special place in my heart. Even if I stopped playing it since March to focus on SSFIV, I’m looking forward for the Soul Calibur 5th to play it again a lot. I really can’t wait to see the new Xianghua!
But without being nostalgic, I don’t know which one I would choose because I love both of them in a different way.
How much do you practice? let’s say per week
Hm, it really depends on my mood and my free time. I would say 14 hours per week, with an average of two hours per day knowing that I train more in the weekend than during the week.
What would life be like without fighting games?
For me, my life would have been totally different and impossible to imagine really. I guess I would have had a standard life with my other passions like piano, going out with my friends as I do and always seeing the same people with a few chances to meet different people. I would certainly be a model because last year a photographer really wanted me to become one of his model so I even didn’t have to participate in castings! I accepted, but I couldn’t guess it would take so much time to be a model. It was impossible for me to be a model, a top gamer, working for my mother’s shop and studying at school all at the same time. I had to choose between gaming and modeling then, so you know what I chose. So if there wasn’t gaming, I would certainly be involved a lot in modeling. Sometimes I feel a bit sad because I liked that too, but less than gaming.
Fighting games are more than just games for me. I feel very lucky of the chance I have thanks to that. I meet so many people and I live sooo many experiences thanks to them! I’m able to travel thanks to sponsors, meeting and playing against people from different countries and be able to know other cultures! It’s very interesting!
I met most of my best friends thanks to fighting games, because we have something we like a lot in common and that we can play together and have fun. It’s also like work, when I have to make exhibitions for my sponsors. It means that I have to play against the public all day and I’m paid for that. I do that often, and it allows me to meet different people from the ones I’m used to because they usually don’t play in tournaments and see the game in a different way. So it’s nice to be able to share with the public.
And also, I’m a competitive person and I express it in fighting games tournaments, as if it was a sport. But here it’s not physical so women have the same place as men, it’s more of a mental sport.
Going at tournaments, winning or losing, meeting people and sharing the same passion with other players, all of that makes me feel alive. Without that, I don’t know what kind of person I would have been and if I would have enjoyed my life that much. Certainly, I would have been a total different person because the passion you have, people you meet and experiences you live make your personality.
Do you play other games than the one you’re practicing for?
Not really right now, I only play fighting games except when a very famous game like Final Fantasy XIII (that i didnt have the courage to finish…I’m at the final chapter) comes out.
But when I was younger, I used to play many games. I played Starcraft Broodwar a lot when I was 8 until 10 years old! I loved this game more than SC2! My favourite race is Zerg. Why? Because my oldest brother taught me how to play with them and his way to teach me the game was funny. I was 8 years old, so to make me like the Zerg he used funny nicknames, zerglings were “gling glings” with cute intonation, and to make me produce units he said me “create your little babies” haha! So in my mind, the Zerg were very cute and I was surprised that people mostly think they are horrible creatures! I tried Starcraft II during the beta but I didn’t want to be involved in it, a game can last so long and I already have to train for SSFIV so I avoid playing that kind of games.
I also played RPG’s a lot, my favourite were Valkyrie Profile, Final Fantasy VI and VII, and Star Ocean 2. I used to play a MMORPG called Ragnarok Online too. I played as a Gypsy called “Unmei” and I had such a bad reputation in the server, I was considered a bitch because I had no pity in killing people in the PvP room and my character’s aspect didn’t help lol, gypsys were too sexy and used wipes :p. I mostly spent my time at this game waiting for people to enter the PvP room and killing them, yeah lol.
How good are you at poker?
Wow, I never tried it…but I already know I would be so bad!!!!!! I know myself, I’m already so noob when I play simple card games with my family during new year. Just because of my face! When I have good cards, I make such a big happy smile, and it looks so sincere that everybody knows that I’m not hiding bad cards. And they are right! And when I have bad cards, I make such a sad face! So I don’t think I would be good at Poker haha! But I should try someday, who knows maybe I would be able to hide my facial expressions as ElkY does!
Do you have a boyfriend?
Nope I don’t, I’m too busy and also I’m very difficult to please!
But I always said that if I would have a boyfriend as a gamer, he has to always destroy me first at SC4 or SSF4! haha :p
So, it’s official, I don’t stand a chance… Thank you Kayane, crossing my fingers for you.
Kayane has a blog where she writes about fighting games events and tells her own stories. It’s pretty good and she sometimes writes in English like here, where you’ll learn about “money matches” with the God of Street Fighter.
Most pictures are taken from there, by the way.