Red Bull athlete Adel “Big Bird” is one of the Street Fighter 6 pro players taking part in a new competition to help improve the skills of other fighting game players. Ahead of the start of the Red Bull Raise Your Game competition, we spoke to the player about a variety of topics. Born in Algeria, he now calls the United Arab Emirates home and has a wide number of fighting game accolades to his name. He’s easily one of the best in the game, and we were glad to be able to speak with him again.
We initially spoke to Red Bull’s Big Bird near the beginning of Street Fighter 6, so we had to check back in with him about how certain characters Stand. Alongside the importance of the Red Bull Raise Your Game event, we also spoke about ways up-and-coming fighting game players could increase their skills.
Red Bull’s Big Bird discusses “Raise Your Game”, the importance of confidence, and more
Q. First, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. Could you introduce yourself to our audience?
Big Bird: My name is Big Bird, I’m from the United Arab Emirates, though I’m originally from Algeria, and I’ve been playing fighting games competitively since 2015. I am also a Red Bull player.
Q. You’re going to be taking part in the Red Bull Competition, “Red Bull Raise Your Game”, where you will be hosting an exclusive player workshop. How does it feel to be able to give back to the community in this way?
Big Bird: It feels great to be a mentor for Raise Your Game because workshops are an amazing way to connect with the community with professional players. It makes everybody improve, and each player can take something from it - including the pros. As Street Fighter 6 is only a few months old, you can learn something - whether intentionally or subconsciously from everyone.
Q. There are many fighting game players who just don’t know what they need to do to improve or even where to get started. Can you tell me what your coaching workshop will entail?
Big Bird: One of the things I think lots of people struggle with in Street Fighter 6 is meter management. In Street Fighter IV and V, the meter only optimizes your gameplay. However, in Street Fighter 6, if you don’t manage your meter properly, you could lose the round due to the burnout mechanic - burnout limits your access to special moves and leaves you as a sitting duck.
Having proper meter management and avoiding burnout allows you to avoid losing or exploding mid-round. Even top players like myself find it to be a bit of an obstacle sometimes, so it’s one of the most important things to talk about.
Q. While mechanics can always be taught and be improved upon, one issue new players have is with confidence. Is that something you think a pro player can teach, or does it simply need to come with improvement?
Big Bird: Confidence usually comes from expectations. If you know what to expect from yourself, you can manage your expectations. When I competed at Red Bull Kumite, I managed my own expectations for myself, which allowed me to play to the best of my abilities.
Whereas when I competed at EVO, I had high expectations, and when I didn’t play as well and lost to lesser-known players, I struggled with accepting my loss. I think it's important to accept that you can lose at any time and to know that embracing losing allows you to play to your strengths.
If you’re scared of losing, you won’t play comfortably or to the best of your abilities. Losing from nerves is not an easy fix - compared to choosing the wrong combinations.
Q. Though you did not come out on top at EVO 2023, your rival and fellow competitor Angry Bird took first place. What did that moment feel like to see someone you’re so close to succeed?
Big Bird: He saw me succeed at Red Bull Kumite - and I managed to beat him in the first match there. It was great to see him do well in EVO, and to see him get to the top eight and then win for the first time was really exciting.
It was amazing to see a player bring EVO to the Middle East for the first time as well - he broke the second-place curse that so many of us have experienced in the past.
We practice with each other a lot, and I think that me winning Kumite and him winning EVO is a testament to how hard we work and that he’s a player who definitely isn’t scared of losing in order to play to the highest level possible.
Q. Have you had a chance to look back at your matches and perhaps see where you can grow? How are you feeling about that performance?
Big Bird: At EVO, I lost to a Juri player on the winner’s side, and I had an issue where I was too scared of losing, which led to more reserved play and nerves from me. In that match-up of Marisa vs. Juri, you can’t play reserved. Otherwise, Juri can get into a flow, and you won’t be able to punish them effectively.
That was when I realized my mistake, but since then, I’ve been playing with Rashid, who has been a great character for me in a 2 of 3 setting. In a 3 out of 5 competition setting, I instead play with Marisa, as I’ve got more time to figure out how the other player is operating.
Q. You have had some remarkable victories this year as well. You took first place in two CPT Middle East events, first in the Red Bull Kumite South Africa and Slash N Dash Emirates Showdown. However, you’ve played an assortment of characters so far. Has anyone stood out for you yet as a main character?
Big Bird: No - I’ve played Ken in the betas, but ever since the game dropped, I’ve been playing Marisa mostly. Now I’m playing Rashid to get him up to speed with my Marisa - I’m really looking forward to testing this duo together in my next tournaments. I’m very optimistic and confident about these two selections.
Q. Where do you stand on the DLC characters released so far? Do you have a feel for where they’d stand on a tier list?
Big Bird: I think Rashid is right below the best of the best in the S-tier - which includes JP, Ken, Luke, and Guile. I think Rashid is right below them as he doesn't have a consistent anti-air. I think the only thing that differentiates between them and Rashid is the anti-air, except for JP who plays a bit differently, but for the majority of S-tier characters, it comes down to the consistent anti-air, leading to Rashid having to split his focus between the ground game and the air game.
For A.K.I., I’m not sure where she’ll stand as she’s not released yet. She looks strong and tricky to play against. I’m excited to see how the poison mechanic is implemented in this game - it’ll be tough to balance, and I think it will either be very strong or very weak.
Q. On that note, how do you feel about the upcoming DLC character, A.K.I.? Do you think she has an interesting kit, perhaps an improvement upon SF5’s F.A.N.G.? Or are you not impressed so far?
Big Bird: A.K.I. is a disciple of F.A.N.G. from Street Fighter V. Personally, I don’t find F.A.N.G. to be a very interesting character. He’s one of the only characters I didn’t give a shot at, but I do think A.K.I. could stand out. At this moment in time, though, I don’t have any plans to use her.
Q. Some players have said Street Fighter 6’s inputs have been in a weird state - where if your input isn’t 100% clean, it might misinterpret your motions. For example, a DP could become a double QCF. Is this something you have noticed occurring, and is there a solution other than to have sharper inputs?
Big Bird: I think the reason the inputs are messed up is because the buffer stores inputs for longer than in previous Street Fighter games. Personally, I’ve had a lot of issues with this with Marisa.
She has a DP move, and I try to walk forward and then DP, and sometimes I get a level one super. This has definitely cost me a lot of rounds, it’s unfortunate and frustrating. I’m not sure how they can fix it, but I think reducing the frame storage of inputs could help.
Q. Many players have said this is perhaps the most balanced Street Fighter they’ve seen so far - but there are some characters that certainly feel more powerful than the rest. Have your opinions changed since the last time we spoke around Red Bull Kumite?
Big Bird: I think JP stands out as the best character in the game, but I don’t think he’s a clear cut about Ken or Guile - but I think he’s better, which speaks volumes as those are both strong characters. I think the top 5 characters have almost no weaknesses alongside the tools needed to win, and I think that’s what separates them from the rest of the tier list.
I think the game is rather balanced, but if the top characters get tweaked, the game could be in a better spot. However, I’m really happy with the game as it is - there aren’t any characters that cannot be beaten, though sometimes it gets frustrating with characters like JP, Ken, and Guile. Sometimes you may want to think to yourself, maybe I’ll just pick these characters but I don’t think this is the way to go - play what you enjoy!
Red Bull’s Big Bird joins competitors like CoD’s Jukeyz and Fortnite’s Wolfiez in the Red Bull Raise Your Game competition. Interested parties can join via this link, where they can win some valuable mentorship from these professional gamers.