Tales of the Perfectly Imperfect Legend

People are not perfect. We are, as human beings, looking to become better and changing ourselves.


Since we're not perfect, it just gives us a chance to prioritize the important things and pick our battles.


As a fighting game champion, Carl White knows a thing or two about picking battles.


As PerfectLegend, he's spent the past 16 years cultivating a career in the fighting game circuit in two ways. He has seen a lot, competed often, won world and national championships, and lost to some of the best.


His gaming roots, like other legends Black eSports Network has spoken to, take ground within the first five years of his life. The first game he remembers playing is Tetris on the Nintendo Game Boy, the device belonging to a friend of his sister's.


"I was like, two or three years old," White told BESN.TV in an interview. "It was in my living room, I remember--'cause I only got to play for maybe 30 minutes or an hour. It wasn't too long."


Tetris is not a fighting game, but it paved the way for his introduction to them. The first fighting game he played was Street Fighter 2 on the Super Nintendo at four years old.


He remembers "reading" the move list because it was just arrows at a time when he was learning to read words too. Video gaming taught him that too, an experience shared by many Generation X and Millenial gamers.


"At first, it was just arrows, so it kind of made sense," he said. "I taught myself how to read because I would play games, and they'd have text."


PerfectLegend (before he was PerfectLegend) entered his first tournament in 2001 at a GameStop to win Soul Caliber 2, but not for competition reasons.


"I entered to win a copy of the game. I lost to the guy who won, but my friend got second."


"I started gaming competitively with Dead or Alive."


The online capabilities of Xbox for Dead or Alive Ultimate allowed him to meet different people from the fighting game community who gave him resources and sites they were using to communicate with each other.


Dead or Alive Ultimate becoming one of the first games to use online multiplayer online jumpstarted White's career in the tournament sphere. He started hosting tournaments and became a tournament organizer.


"I didn't understand what high-level play was yet," he explained. "Once I got exposed to tournament play, then I was...researching EVO... I started hosting tournaments."

White loves watching "good matches" and loves spectating fighting games.


"But then, people would treat me like I was wack because I wasn't winning anything. So then, I started practicing and learning the game."


The more he traveled for tournament organizing and later tournament playing, the more people he saw he loved attending events, and the more the culture and community drew him in.


"I just kept going to tournaments," he said about pursuing a career as a professional tournament player. "There wasn't acceptance of people being seen as professional gamers--I've never thought about it like that."


"It was more so, 'Okay. I'm good at this game. These people are talking s---. There's some money on the line. I'm going to go play and win.'


"I never thought, 'I have to do this to make a living.' It was just: I have a point that I wanted to prove."


Winning was not something he aspired to do every single time he played in a tournament.


As was with hosting, the main goal is getting people who liked a video game together and introducing the game to people who hadn't played it before.


As a former member of Empire Arcadia, PerfectLegend is a part of the team that contributed to the Guinness World Record for the most wins of an esports team.


"It was dope to experience another part of the culture that I'm not sure I would have been able to see if I was around with Empire."


His advice for the budding fighting game tournament player is to practice, practice, practice.


"Focus on the game," he said. "Everything else is a distraction. Enter tournaments, play if you want to compete, or just post videos of you playing. Build a community around values you like.


"Nothing happens overnight. People be wanting to win as soon as they start playing; that happens when for people who...have been playing for a while. Take it day by day, you'll start winning.


"Don't get caught up in anything. Just focus on the game."


This story is part of a series in which Black eSports Network interviews video game industry movers and shakers of color from over the last 40 years. To be a part of this series, please contact our Marketing Manager Erika Heck at erika@besn.tv.

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