Sunday, June 16, 2024

Metalqueersolid on Street Fighter, being out and proud, and hate raids

Benjamin “Metalqueersolid” Rogan is a professional Street Fighter V player for esports organization Reason Gaming, where he also serves as their FGC manager and does marketing. He’s one of the top players in the European scene. His main character, F.A.N.G., is very rare in the highest levels of Street Fighter, but he’s become one of the strongest players with the character in the world.

Most recently, he finished first in Celtic Throwdown 2021 and placed seventh at RedBull Kumite London 2021’s Last Chance Qualifier, building on an already solid career of tournament placings.

Despite describing himself as “gay as hell”, the Metalqueersolid handle wasn’t always what Rogan went by in the scene. His first handle in fighting games was “Moneybags”, on account of the pizzas he’d buy for people running tournaments out of their house as a way to fit in. Until one day, when this house was hosting a Street Fighter V tournament, Rogan decided he didn’t want the handle “Moneybags” anymore.

“I asked myself ‘what do I like?’” Rogan told Gayming Magazine. “Well, I like Metal Gear Solid and I like men, so I’ll be Metalqueersolid from now on.”

From then on, the moniker stuck. Over the course of his career, Metalqueersolid has been shortened to MQS, oftentimes without Rogan requesting it. He says while he doesn’t care too much for the censorship, he’s told commentators that, in this context, queer isn’t a slur. Reminding them that he signed up under that tag for a reason.

Rogan didn’t begin as a Street Fighter player though. Popular 3D fighter Tekken 3 was his first taste of the genre as a child. From there, he went on to play later Tekken titles and Virtua Fighter 4. He wasn’t originally interested in Street Fighter until the 5th game came out. 

A F.A.N.G. main since Street Fighter V’s launch, Rogan was intrigued by just how different F.A.N.G. was than the rest of the game’s roster.The character is known for his use of a poison status effect that causes damage over time. His design features a very lanky figure and long sleeves that hang over his hands for most of his animations.

F.A.N.G aka Metalqueersolid’s main in Street Fighter V

“Outside of the [Street Fighter] EX series, there haven’t been many characters with stationary projectiles or invincible escapes instead of dragon punches,” Rogan said. “When I first played him, I thought ‘this is a Guilty Gear character’. He was different enough that playing him was enjoyable.”

Rogan says F.A.N.G. is one of the few characters in the game that can be played multiple ways, depending on the player’s style. That said, the character is rarely seen winning major tournaments or highly ranked on tier lists. 

“Even if I’m the best F.A.N.G. in the world, which I don’t think I am, it doesn’t really matter if I still have to work really hard to beat your average diamond Juri,” Rogan said. “I want to beat top players and I want to do it my way. I feel like I can express myself playing him.”

This lack of popularity doesn’t give Rogan much hope his boy will return for the eventual Street Fighter VI.

“He’s one of the least popular characters Capcom has ever created,” Rogan said. “I do not think he’ll ever return. If you don’t play him, everyone hates him.”

A proud representative of the Newcastle fighting game scene, where he helps put on monthly events for all sorts of games, Rogan says his local scene feels less casual than most he’s encountered. From Street Fighter to Tekken to Sailor Moon S and plenty of other fighters along the way, the Newcastle scene gets some of the UK’s best to come out month after month.

Metalqueersolid (photo credit: Dean ben Arye)

“Our scene has everything. If there is something people want to play, we will make it happen,” Rogan said. “Our typical rule is ‘if we can get an eight-man bracket, we will try it again’. It’s led us to running quite a few different games.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has made playing the best players difficult consistently, while the UK Street Fighter scene is one of the strongest in the world, playing international competition, particularly those from Japan or the United States, is the best way for top-level players to see where they measure up. With so few offline events in 2021 and a similar trend looking likely for 2022, players are expecting another year of mostly online competition; something Rogan would rather avoid.

“I hate online tournaments,” Rogan said. “I cannot understate how much I despise playing in online tournaments. I’ll run them, but unless I owe you a favor or there’s a ton of money on the line, I’ll probably skip. Despite cancellations of various things, I have things lined up for 2022 that give me enough of a reason to keep practicing.”

Outside of competing and his sponsorship obligations, Rogan also streams on Twitch and does online coaching for Metafy. He’s the only European coach on the site for Street Fighter V at the moment. The company originally turned down his request to coach for them, but after winning Celtic Throwdown 2021, they got back in contact to work out a deal.

“I have played most of the best players in the world to know what they’re thinking in different situations,” Rogan said. “I do this because I feel like I have something to offer them and other people must think so too.”

Metalqueersolid vs Kimm Te

On the streaming side of things, Rogan has mixed feelings about where platforms like Twitch are when it comes to protecting creators from marginalized communities. Especially after the automated hate raids that mostly targeted POC and LGBTQ+ streamers in 2021.

“I’m thankful the platform is there, but they could do a lot more,” Rogan said. “The pitiful anti-harassment tools; it took someone making their own bot for them to realize they could do something about harassment.”

He had similar thoughts on the way the service showcases its creator diversity.

“You’ve got this massive platform. You could do well to spotlight marginalized creators,” Rogan said. “You’ve got all these sick LGBT, Black, Asian, Native creators, from all over the world, in various regions, but you want to promote a bunch of white GTA streamers? I feel like they could do way more to promote streamers of various identities and backgrounds.”

The pandemic has made it difficult to plan out specifics for the year, but Rogan says he’d like to make a top eight of a Capcom Pro Tour tournament, if possible, or be involved with Street Fighter League if the brand/team deals work out that way. In the meantime, he will continue to do his online coaching work, streaming, and his organizational work. He also plans on running and participating in more events for the Newcastle scene when it’s safe to do so. Rogan has other things lined up for the year too, but, much like his main F.A.N.G., he’ll keep that up his sleeve until it’s ready to debut.

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