INTERVIEW: Reepal Parbhoo aka Rip - Esports Commentating at Its Best

September 14, 2019
INTERVIEW: Reepal Parbhoo aka Rip - Esports Commentating at Its Best
Reepal Parbhoo, aka Rip

Reepal Parbhoo, aka Rip, is a monumental example of how to impact the world of gaming in almost every way imaginable. From commentating on the world's biggest stages to placing Top 3 in the world's biggest fighting game tournament, to creating and contributing a tremendous amount of strategy guides for the games we all know and love.

Parbhoo is an iconic pillar in the Tekken community: player, commentator, and strategist. I can without-a-doubt say that Rip has influenced me as well. He showed many of us how much there was to learn about Tekken, and that dedicating countless hours to something can be totally worth the investment. Check out the conversation Rip and I had that briefly covers his legacy and plans for the future - definitely a historical moment.

Him - Hey man, how's it going?

Rip - Busy! Between Tekken, Street Fighter, and Mortal Kombat, a lot is going on right now in all the pro scenes.

Him - Can you tell our readers, who may not be super familiar with the Esports Tekken scene, a bit more about yourself?

Rip - My name is Reepal Parbhoo, but I go by Rip. I started competing in Tekken in 2005, placed Top 3 at Evolution 3 for years in a row between 2009 and 2011 and have now transitioned to being a full-time commentator. Along the way, I've written various strategy guides for Prima Games and been a part of multiple Esport organizations, including Tempo Storm and UYU.

Him - Can you tell us the meaning of your name?

Rip - Rip is actually just a real-life nickname given to me in high school by one of my teachers who couldn't pronounce my first name. Everyone in school started calling me Rip and I've gone by it ever since.

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Rip and Ryan Hart

Him - Can you tell us about how you got started in Esports? I remember watching LevelUpYourGame on Youtube back in the day during the Tekken Tag 2 days, but I'm sure your beginnings started much earlier.

Rip - Although I started competing in 2005, I had been around the competitive scene for years since the local arcade I went to was Southern Hills Golfland. So I had been playing with pro players without knowing they were pro players at the time. My first taste of Esports was with MLG in 2010. I was invited to compete as a Top 16 USA player, but after the first event, I had bad wrist issues from practicing too much.

Luckily, I was asked to try myself at commentating the end of the event. They liked me and asked me to give up playing to commentate the rest of the 2010 season. This was about a year after I started my Youtube channel LevelUpYourGame to help new players get into Tekken. From there, I transitioned into strategy guides and have basically kept up, or been involved with, all of the Tekken, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and even Killer Instinct games that have come out since then.

Him - What are your favorite or Top accomplishments in gaming? Competitive or otherwise.

Rip - Competitively, it was winning the SBO Qualifier to represent Team USA alongside Aris and Suiken in 2010. SBO was a 3v3 team tournament held in Japan, so to have that opportunity was huge for me at the time. Being invited to Korea to participate in Tekken Crash, a Korean TV show centered around Tekken 6, ranks high on my list as it was the only time I've visited Korea, and I got to spend all my time at the legendary Green Arcade which unfortunately closed down last year. Aside from that, just getting to travel the world commentating for the Tekken World Tour has been a surreal experience.

Him - What is it like to be involved with Tekken for so many years and to have shaped so much of the culture and conversation?

Rip - The best thing about it is getting to meet the new players now in Tekken 7 around the world when I travel. It's not uncommon for them to come up and tell me how the tutorials we put out for Tekken 6 and TTT2 helped bring them into the competitive scene and learn the game. We put so many unpaid hours into making those tutorials just to help grow the scene back then with no guarantee that it would lead to anything. So seeing the scene grow and hearing from those fans always lets me know that all the time we put in was worth it.

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BloodHawk and Rip

Him - Is there anything in Esports you haven't done yet that you're still hoping to accomplish?

Rip - Competitively I'm basically done. I still enter tournaments for fun, to stay active and up to date for my commentary, but I don't have the drive to want to win anymore. With commentary, I've been fortunate enough to be on ELEAGUE and commentate on live television, so there isn't much more to strive for beyond that. I've also branched outside of the FGC commentating PUBG's NPL and Arena of Valor which were fun challenges to push myself. I guess if ESPN ever has a Sportscenter for Esports, I'd love to be a part of that broadcast team one day.

Him - In your journey of being one of the most recognized personalities in Tekken, what's been the most challenging, and what the most rewarding?

Rip - The most challenging thing for me has always been managing the work/life balance between video games and having a life outside of video games. I've definitely sacrificed many areas of my life for Tekken, and the FGC in general, without even having a real goal I was aiming for. I just knew I wanted to play fighting games and help others enjoy them the way I do.

Every time I felt like it was time to stop, I would find some new little success to keep me going forward. Everything I get to do now is the most rewarding part of it, though. Getting to travel the world with my friends to play and compete with the new generation of players is incredibly satisfying.

Him - It seems like you're really into travel and food, can we expect a Reepal travel and food network anytime soon?

Rip - LOL, sounds like you've seen my Instagram stories! I travel a ton for tournaments now, and whenever I go somewhere new, I love to try out whatever we get recommended in the area. We had a sort of a pilot IRL streamed show called Stage Select that we did in January this year. We went around San Francisco and got tours of the hot spots and food areas. Hopefully, we get to do more of those in the future. Hit up @tenomedia on Twitter if you want to see more of it!

Him - What does the future of Esports look like for you?

Rip - I honestly have no idea. I've seen things grow and disappear in the past, so I'm hesitant to be overly optimistic. That being said, I do think that the FGC specifically is on a good upswing. However, we still have a lot of challenges in getting more players paid enough to want to stay on this path.

The publishers and developers need to embrace new business models to support this, so there is a lot of work to be done. In the immediate future, I'm very interested in the new Riot fighting game to see how it may disrupt the scene. If everything continues on its current path, though, the sky is the limit. Traditional sports is very slowly fading out and Esports is gaining traction.

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Rip (right) at Strongstyle 2019

Him - What games are you currently most excited about?

Rip - Easily the Riot fighting game is the one I'm most excited about. I've been playing League of Legends on and off for about 8 years now. This past month I've been insanely addicted to LoL Teamfight Tactics, so I've been a fan of the game and its characters before they ever announced their fighting game variation of it.

So many times with current fighting games, I've said that developers need to embrace Riot's League of Legends business models, etc. Now we will actually get to see it happen from Riot directly. We also know how passionate their team is about good netcode for fighting games and so many fighting games' netcodes have been subpar lately. It's easily the game I'm most excited about in the next year.

Him - When you think of Law, what's the first thing that comes to mind?

Rip - FUN. When Tekken 7.0 came out, I had some complaints about the character. Mainly that Law was too similar to past iterations and that they had nerfed away the things that made the character fun. I'm happy to say now that this is probably the most fun version of the character they have ever released. The faster legend kick returning to combos, the flips, the challenging DSS combos – he's just an insanely fun character.

Him - Anything else you want our readers to know?

Rip - I've been bouncing around the idea of starting my own Esports team for the past year with some of my friends. Traveling to tournaments and competing is cool, but it's way more fun when you have your friends there with you. If anyone out there wants to help me make this a reality, my DM's are open! Other than that, I just want to thank everyone for supporting Tekken and helping it grow year after year. Right here, right now, is the best time to be a Tekken fan, so if you aren't yet part of the scene, now is the time to join in for some Good Ass Tekken.

You can follow Rip on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.