Vineeth Meka is a character specialist in the fighting game community, and for the longest time, that was his immediate claim to fame. His personality and creativity through the lenses of Firebrand in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Piccolo in Dragon Ball FighterZ and now Faust in Guilty Gear Strive has made him a fan favorite in tournaments.
But notoriety through character specialty is a double-edged sword. You can garner praise and affection through your dedication and hard work yet also be considered a gimmick or have your wins cheapened. For Meka, who plays under the name ApologyMan, he just wants to play the characters he likes free of tier-list pressures.
Now, with the aid of new sponsorship via Red Bull and a team rich in esports history in Counter Logic Gaming, he’ll have new pressures of being a bigger fish in the tournament pool. With sponsorship, he’ll finally be given the chance to play in more competitions to prove he is more than just a good character specialist. People won’t be able to chalk up a loss against him as a lack of matchup knowledge because ApologyMan is going to be around a lot more often.
“The team at Red Bull isn’t pressuring me, but naturally there’s more pressure created within me,” ApologyMan said. “There’s some self-destructive habits and it’ll get better as time goes. But there was a point where I stopped caring what people viewed me and how I did -- the only pressure is my own expectation and because I wanted to do well.”
Photo credit: Stephanie Lindgren / Red Bull content pool
Despite being a veteran of more than 10 years in the fighting game community, the combined sponsorship of Red Bull and CLG represents the biggest and best opportunity for professional status for ApologyMan. Although many know his talents through his characters, his name and tournament history would suggest his contender status as a dark horse for most of the events he enters, but that might quickly change. Through his own admission, one of the biggest hurdles for tournament victory is his own mental blocks. Whether it was studying up on matchups or his own mental fortitude in matches or the tournament crowd, there was always something that could potentially hijack a victory.
His support system stands to improve going forward. In addition to the mental assistance, the potential for physical training and nutritional support will only create a better and more consistent ApologyMan. Better physical health will help his reaction time and overall endurance for long tournament days, and having professionals guide you is a great start to building up a powerful foundation. A healthier mental and physical game could lead to the beginning of ApologyMan as a tournament favorite.
“[Red Bull] very much like my personality as it is, and they’re not trying to change me to something serious,” ApologyMan said. “They’re going to support me and that’s all I want from any sponsor or team. I want them to elevate what I’m already doing and what I am. It’s a great support system.”
Photo credit: Marv Watson / Red Bull content pool
Anime games, especially Guilty Gear Strive, are on the upswing. Whether it’s sponsorships for players or more events due to the need for online tournaments, it’s a great time to be invested and competing in the anime fighting game genre. As ApologyMan says, Guilty Gear Strive is his main game and the competition is at an all-time high. But according to him, this trend of signing more players and the popularity of anime games didn’t just start recently, it started with Dragon Ball FighterZ.
“Anime fighting game stocks are on the rise. For the longest time, Street Fighter was the most sponsored game and player base,” ApologyMan said. “With anime games, we were always a bit of a sideshow, and it’s cool that the genre is getting bigger and growing to be a part of more sponsorship opportunities. The fighting game community is more open to just playing more games, and there’s so many great titles out there that you never know what else you’ll like.”
The competitor side of ApologyMan will exist for the foreseeable future, but his brand is only starting to grow roots. Whether it’s appearing in more content and videos with Red Bull or creating his own events to expand the reach of his favorite games, he will evolve from just being a competitor. It’s not only natural, but somewhat of a responsibility and ApologyMan is embracing all the change. The fighting game community can look forward to more ApologyMan in more mediums than ever before.
“They saw my passion for the fighting game community, and it feels like a privilege. They’ve supported competitive gaming for a very long time, and I have a lot of great ideas for future events,” ApologyMan said. “Fighting games were always a hobby of mine and kept me sane. I thought about taking a break and just focus on software engineering and get my coding skills up, but I couldn’t get away from fighting games even though I told myself to leave. I’m just very passionate about it, and even if there wasn’t a game for a year or two, I would probably find something to play.”
Lead photo credit: Marv Watson / Red Bull content pool