For Whom the Fight Bell Trolls

How the fighting game community's most notorious villain barely lifts a finger.

As internet trolling goes, there's a wide spectrum of behavior that ranges from lousy to repugnant; for every laugh after a well-placed headshot, there's a racial slur and a rape threat in the middle of a match to throw you off your game.

Sadly, it's all too common when playing online with a random stranger to be insulted in a way that would invite (what we can only call) a fairly uncivil physical response if it took place in-person. There are definitely players out there that enjoy the commotion, too. After all, in-game trolling is fundamentally there to mess with the opponent, either to elicit a reaction that botches their concentration or just to get people angry for no other reason than for the troll's own perverse pleasure.

Other trolls, though, go so far in the opposite direction that it becomes a master class in screwing people over. Without a word or even a single action, there are some trolls out there that poison entire communities.

Internet, meet ufcgym. Or rather, don't. He's not in front of his Xbox right now. He never is.

I use the pronoun "he" for shorthand in this case, because nobody knows if ufcgym is a man, woman, alien, or minor demon of some middle level of the underworld. Simply, he is a Street Fighter III 3rd Strike Online Edition player with his black belt in passive aggressiveness, and he's known –and hated—in the 3rd Strike community for trolling the masses without playing at all, which is precisely the point.

3rd Strike Online Edition was released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in August of 2011, a re-release of the final numbered game in the venerable fighting game franchise before Street Fighter IV hit Japanese arcades close to a decade later. Highly precision-based when compared to its brethren, 3rd Strike's main draw is in its parrying system, essentially letting players swat away attacks with a well-timed joystick movement toward the opponent. A high risk/ high reward scenario, players have to almost willingly place themselves in danger of taking a hit for the opportunity to quickly counterattack. Unsurprisingly, this makes playing the game online without a very stable connection very tricky. Attempts to bring the game online via consoles were first attempted during the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox era with underwhelming results.

As a perennial fixture in the fighting game tournament scene (obviously de facto in the drought between its original release and the console versions of Street Fighter IV) and bearing a long legacy of spectacular internet videos, the old-timey Street Fighter players were happy to have a game that could live up to the arcade original while pounding on each other across internet connections, and developer Iron Galaxy delivered. While the number of active multiplayer opponents has certainly thinned over the nearly four years since its release, 3rd Strike Online still enjoys a stable and reliable set of ranked players, most easily found on the Shoryuken forums and various Facebook groups. In them, the name ufcgym has turned into less of a name and more of an insult.

3rd Strike's re-release via developer Iron Galaxy.

Here's why: to compete in ranked matches online in 3rd Strike, players wait for the next available challenger to sync up with their console. When a match is found, both players have to agree to begin the fight. If both do not, they are locked in a silent staring match until both agreements are met or one of them bails out to look for another fight. Since the player base has been dwindling, it's not uncommon to see the same bunch of potential opponents online in any given sitting. Ufcgym counts on it.

Simply, he just keeps his Xbox 360 on, online, and fishing for opponents for what seems like days at a time. Players will see him online and be enticed by his high rank and impressive ping, but challenge agreements go unrequited. Eventually, the player will move on to find other opponents, but it's highly likely that they'll run into ufcgym again immediately, and will begin a tedious cycle of matching, leaving, and repeating until the player either finds an actual opponent or decides that they have better things to do than get angry at not playing 3rd Strike.

In more practical terms, it's like having a rep for something as trivial as never turning on your turn signal, or leaving your stereo blasted as you lock the door and go to work. A minor annoyance, sure, but it is a constant one, and it looms over online matches of 3rd Strike like a fart in an elevator. As a way to mess with your peers, it's impressively, deviously elegant.

Worse, it's been going on for years. Forum posts on Shoryuken have complaints about this person as far back as 2012, but it's logical that he's been participating in his own brand of nothing since 3rd Strike Online's launch. A passive player may think that this person does the same routine with every game he plays, but with some minor snooping into his XBL gamer profile you'll find that this isn't the case. Be assured that he knows what he's doing and isn't simply an absent minded XBL gamer, his gamer card profile clearly states that he's "trolled" while his personal profile simply reads "lol u mad scrub?" It is the long con of internet jerkery that this person is playing. Occasionally, they also dabble in some Street Fighter. He's played other games on his Xbox, perhaps even online, but with such a low Gamerscore (1239) coupled with the fact that he hasn't played anything other than 3rd Strike since mid-2014 means one thing: This is targeted behavior done with intent. And it sure does work.

ufcgym uses one of these guys. Probably. Maybe.

As you would expect, this has vilified ufcgym in the 3rd Strike community which, like many groups of players for older fighting games, tries to be as welcoming as possible, even within a larger fighting game community that tends to get a bad rap for insular behavior. Think of it akin to a language like Latin: if the population of competitive players continues to shrink, the game will eventually die and be nothing more than a footnote or curio in the competitive fighting game sphere (see most early Capcom Versus games, much of SNK's back catalog, pre-tag Tekken games, etc.). Certain games like 3rd Strike and Super Street Fighter II Turbo have retained a sort of "gentlemen's game" stature for their long running inclusions in major tournaments like EVO or Capcom's Street Fighter 25th Anniversary league; but without enticing in new players, what could be a healthy amount of competition today will flicker away into nothing sooner than later.

Bringing up his name in the community will cause either instant ire or further trolling. A recent post on the 3rd Strike Junkies Facebook group about another night waiting by the arcade stick drew dozens of comments, and nearly all of them unkind. The first simply reads "I hate this guy so much," while others include "I would love to see someone hack his Xbox and wreck it for good." Funny enough, certain members of the Shoryuken forums have actually plotted this, where whole threads have been closed regarding his online practices. YouTube videos have been made in his (dis)honor. GameFAQs forums want to burn him at the stake. For God's sake, he has his own subreddit. In fact, when I even tried to track this person down in Shoryuken forum threads, the moderators shut it down within hours. My account was even flagged for spam.

Having your name force a vice grip on the largest community forum in fighting games is one thing, but from here, it gets especially insidious. Attempts to find the person behind the name to either have their say or, at the very least, explain their actions have met with either further trolling from forum members or personal messages and emails in almost hushed tones that I should "contact this person about that person so you can ask about another person. Be persistent." Others that have messaged me read along the lines of, "Sorry I don't know anything. I also suspect no one knows anything. If we knew who he was someone would've likely tracked him down by now." Ufcgym, wherever they may be, has turned themselves into the fighting game equivalent to Keyser Soze. It's almost mythic.

From a distance, it would be beautiful if it all weren't so infuriating. For all of the odd reclusiveness, there are the occasional reports that people have played this online yeti in ranked matches. Many agree that whoever this is isn't a great player, but it's easiest to chalk that up to exceedingly high expectations after all of that waiting. At the time of this writing, ufcgym's 3rd Strike rank is at a cool 35, which plants him at the high end of the intermediate scale. Not bad for a guy that never seems to actually play.

But proving whom could pull off Super Art parries better than anyone else doesn't seem to be ufcgym's MO. For now, and possibly until the 3rd Strike Online's community finally succumbs to the entropy that all older fighting games having creeping up on them, we'll just have to be content to know that he's out there. And that someday, on a clear bright day, his Xbox will eventually die.

Someday.

Tagged with 3rd strike, Articles, fgc, shoryuken, third strike, trolls, USgamer.

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