I got the chance to sit down with Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez and Mike Ross of theStream.tv’s Cross Counter, and talk with them about their show, video games, and the shenenigans of their community. The two fighting game vets are well-known competitors of the scene, and I was given a behind-the-scenes look at how their show operates, and what keeps the fiery chemistry in their relationship alive. From finishing each other’s sentences to covering all things relevant to fighting games, the two cohosts talk about their backgrounds and what got them where they are today.
Tell me a little about yourself.
Mike Ross: My name is Mike Ross, I’m 28 years old and from the Los Angeles area. I am one of the hosts for Cross Counter, but mainly I play games like Street Fighter professionally. Been doin’ it for a number of years.
Gootecks: My name is Ryan; I’m a Pisces, I like long walks on the beach and I play Street Fighter. We do shows, you know, trying to build an empire.
How did you two meet?
MR: Well, I was lonely one night and went on eHarmony.
G: You mean Chat Roulette?
MR: I went on Chat Roulette, and sure enough, this handsome gentleman popped up and we just started talking about Street Fighter IV for no apparent reason (laughs). No, we met from playing Street Fighter, and after we would play, everybody would get hungry once the arcade was like, ‘Get outta here, we’re closed.’ The only thing open would be Yoshinoya, so we would go there and we would just be chopping it up. We shared a lot of the same visions, for where we think Street Fighter should be.
G: Yeah, it was late 2008- we would play all night and then go eat at Yoshinoya at 3 AM. We both saw a lot of potential in fighting games and Street Fighter IV specifically, because we realized that there was a lot of things that could be done that weren’t currently being done, such as videos and podcasts and putting together events that weren’t tournaments.
MR: Stuff that focused not so much on the actual gameplay but more on the people.
G: And Mike was the only one that didn’t think I was crazy.
MR: Yeah, pretty much- that’s what it came down to. I didn’t think he was crazy. And we determined from that moment on: If we can agree on the same things, it must be right.
Where did you come up with the name Gootecks?
G: I am not the first Gootecks. There was another one; now there is only one.
MR: We don’t know what happened to the other one, but we do know there’s only one left now.
And your handle?
MR: I don’t have a handle. They call me Mike “Mike Ross” Ross.
I’ve seen people online make handles for you, like “Mike ‘Gems’ Ross” and others.
MR: My old name, back when I was a little lad- 17 years old- I made the name ‘The Greater Force,’ because I was super good at a game called Jedi Knight 2, and I would tear everybody up (laughs). But then I graduated high school and I was like, “Aw, man, I shouldn’t have picked this name.” So, then I stopped going by the nickname and just going by Mike Ross. I stopped that real quick.
What is your greatest achievement tournament-wise?
MR: My greatest achievement for me, personally, would be getting Top 8 at EVO 2010. I got 4th place. And the reason why that meant so much to me was because I had made a personal goal to do well that year specifically for EVO. One of the other reasons was that, I felt like I’ve been playing fighting games for a long time and I never really made a mark in it, and if I could make Top 8 at EVO, I would finally have done all of this for a good purpose. Once I did that, I was like, OK, I’m happy.
G: For me, it would be qualifying for SBO at Japan because my team made it past the first round. It doesn’t sound like a big deal but it is at SBO, because almost all American teams that go lose in the first round to one guy. It’s 3-on-3 and they’ll lose to one guy. So, my team made it past the first round and I beat two of the guys, so that was a huge thing for me.
Do you have inspirations or other tournament champions you would someday like to defeat?
MR: Actually, yes, I do. I always said that my one inspiration was Viscant- Jay Snider. I used to watch him play Marvel vs Capcom 2, and he always picked characters that most people wouldn’t. And he would pick them because he would actually just sit at home and think about all the potential and possibilities with these characters, and he would make them work. And I was like, ‘man, I wish I was that smart playing this game! I’m not trying to look for who the best are, I want to pick who I like, and make it work.’ And that’s what this cat would always do, so that’s the guy who I always looked up to.
G: In terms of inspiration, one of my heroes is Dr. Sub-Zero, recently on Capcom’s Cross Assault show; if it wasn’t for him and the videos that he made in an era before YouTube, I wouldn’t be here today. He would make combo videos and inspired me to want to play his character and be really good. So without that, there’s no way I would be here today.
A lot of your fans regard you as two of the best Street Fighter players in the US. How do you feel about that?
MR: I’m not the best, although I tell myself I am the best every day I wake up (laughs). Maybe… yeah, I can’t accept that because there’s a bunch of players out there that are better than me.
G: We’re flattered, but it [isn’t] accurate. We’re good, as you saw tonight on the show (laughs), but we’re not the best. Although, maybe [Street Fighter X Tekken] will change things. It really just comes down to how good or how inspired you are to play, because I haven’t been inspired to play for [over] 2 years now. But this game makes it feel like it’s 2008 again. There’s plenty of players that are way better than us. BUT, there’s not very many players that could be as good as we are and still do all the extracurricular activities we do. Have the shows, do the videos, travel and all that other stuff. So in that sense, we’re the best.
How did the concept for Cross Counter come about?
MR: It came about almost on a freak accident. We were auditioning for a show called WCG Ultimate Gamer, Season 2. And, fortunately, we were not on the show; however, during one of the audition processes, we actually ran into someone that recognized Ryan from somewhere and they were like, ‘We got an early copy of Super Street Fighter IV, and nobody here can really play the game- would you like to play?’ And Ryan was like, ‘Yeah; and I got my buddy Mike Ross here with me- we can play!’ So we went down and we played and they had it captured on tape and they uploaded it to YouTube. It got a lot of good responses and they were like, ‘Wow, you guys have great chemistry; can we work on something together?’
G: From the beginning, we wanted to do a show on Machinima because we saw the potential. We’d been doing this stuff on our own, with podcast videos of our own stuff as well as tournaments for a while, and the missing piece of the puzzle was how to monetize YouTube videos. And Machinima, that’s all they do is monetize YouTube videos, so they were down to give us a shot and do the show and we started… almost 2 years ago, right?
MR: Yeah, we started in 2010, in May or April.
G: I think we got started setting it up in April, and we used to do it in a conference room, sitting on a box of paper. Literally stacks of paper.
MR: That’s what our studio was.
G: We’ve done it like that; we used to shoot in my room, in my bedroom—
MR: On a broken couch (laughs).
G: We’ve definitely shot everywhere, and now…
Look how far you’ve come.
MR: And I’m about to tear it all down!
What type of topics do you cover on Cross Counter?
MR: We cover everything going on in the fighting game community, such as tournament results—
MR: Controversy (laughs). Yeah, definitely.
G: We’ll have live gameplay, whether it’s in our studio, or whether its online.We’re supposed to start branching out into other slightly Street Fighter-related fields, but we haven’t really done that yet. It’s basically whatever’s hot in fighting games that week.
What kind of guests do you have on your show?
MR: We get big figureheads, we like to think, in the community; we get our homies, our personal homies. Who else do we get?
G: We get the homies, we get players that have done well recently, we get guys that we’re doing business with, we get guys that we would like to be doing business with, and anybody who’s doing something notable in the fighting game [community], or the eSports scene. A couple weeks ago, we had Sundance, who is the CEO of Major League Gaming- that was cool; that was definitely a step up for us, because this is a multi-million dollar company. Basically anybody who’s doing anything big.
On last week’s episode of Cross Counter, you mentioned that Capcom’s $500,000 tournament prize could be used to teach unknown fighting gamers who want to enter tournaments how to actually play. Would you guys consider doing strictly tutorial videos on top of Cross Counter and Excellent Adventures?
MR: We kind of already do. Not with ourselves personally because we know that there’s better people out there to get for that stuff and we actively seek them out and say, ‘Hey, we want to put a video together with all your knowledge and wisdom; do you mind doing that?’ And they’re usually like, ‘Yeah, we’ll do it.’
G: Tutorial stuff is a touchy subject because it seems like there is a very vocal part of the community that really wants everything to be free. And no one understands that these things cost time, resources and money in order to produce. We could give it away for free if it was just us. But there’s still the cost of production. It’s not just me and Mike. It’s me and Mike and an entire team of guys that make everything work, so charging for tutorials is something that we’ve been doing, but it’s also something that we’ve experimented with putting them up for free and basically asking people to buy it on DVD or donate or whatever… It’s a good idea in theory but it would be even better if Capcom would just pay us to do it; if they would foot the bill and we could just make it free for everybody. That would be-
MR: The ideal situation.
What are your top 3 fighting games?
MR: My personal top 3 is Marvel vs Capcom 2, [which] is what really got me into the scene; Street Fighter IV is what got me-
G: Where you are.
MR: Yeah, it got me REALLY into the scene, knee deep into the scene. Those two are definitely my favorites, obviously because I like the games; and I can already tell you that my favorite game would be Street Fighter X Tekken, which comes out soon.
G: That’ll be what takes you where you need to go. For me it would be Third Strike, Street Fighter IV, and Street Fighter X Tekken. Surprise!
How can your fans get in touch with you?
MR: Twitter and Facebook for me is the best way. My Twitter and Facebook are the same, which is ThatMikeRossGuy.
G: And the Cross Counter Facebook page would be best- Facebook.com/CrossCounter.
Check out Cross Counter Live on Tuesday nights at 9 at thestream.tv/cross-counter-live/.
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