Kombat Time: NVIDIAN Pro-Gamer is Battle-Ready for Evo Competition in Vegas

by Samantha Zee

Come mid-July, many people are kicking back at the beach. Not so Ryan Ramirez Pagkaliwangan, a senior QA engineer here.

Known to many by his gamer tag, FChamp, Ryan will be kicking it at the Evolution Championship Series, an annual eSports event in Las Vegas, with big bucks in prize money at stake. Ryan knows what it’s like to win. He was the Evolution 2012 world champion and a four-time finalist.

He’ll play Mortal Kombat X, Ultra Street Fighter 4 and Killer Instinct July 17-19 at the Paris casino on the Vegas Strip, vying for a chunk of a prize pool totaling $300,000.

Ryan, 29, took a break from gaming earlier this year to focus on his new role at NVIDIA. The five-year pro closed out 2014 with big wins at Westcoast Warzone 4 and Absolute Battle 5. He’s also placed first in three other major events, including Shadowloo Australia 2014.

Ryan at Shadowloo, Australia
Ryan (far right) at Shadowloo, Australia

Ryan eased back into competition at the recent Northwest Majors, placing in the top three in its Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 event. He also competed in the SoCal Regional Prelude, finishing third in the Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and fifth in Mortal Kombat X games.

Facing Off Against Thousands

At the Evo series, which focuses exclusively on fighting games, he’ll join more than 3,500 pro-gamers. The tournament’s evolved as much as the games. In the mid-90s, it used arcade cabinets before moving all games to console versions.

Formerly part of compLexity Gaming’s team, Ryan recently joined a new team, Panda Gaming. Team sponsors help gamers defray travel and hotel costs.

During his time as a free agent and full-time NVIDIAN, Ryan played about 20 hours a week to stay sharp — down two-thirds from his pro schedule.

Originally from Cavite City, in the Philippines, Ryan moved to northern California about 15 years ago. He began gaming at age eight, even then knowing “quitting was not an option.”

Real-Time Strategy

Ryan’s specialty is real-time strategy and skilled fighting games. He uses a NVIDIA GTX TITAN X graphics card on his home PC, honing his skills on Ultra Street Fighter 4 and the like.

He’ll occasionally partner for practice sessions with other pro-gamers such as fellow NVIDIAN Eduardo Perez-Frangie, known as PR Balrog, who plays for rival team Evil Geniuses.

Ryan sets his focus on a few key themes — building strong defensive moves, plotting strategy and keeping a game-ready mindset — ahead of the next big tournament.

That’s usually on a stage in front of thousands, and watched by tens of thousands more. And he likes to win.