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This is an interview way past due. One of my closest friends (in my opinion my best friend) Michael Martinez, to the world known as LLL Taco, is reaching new heights in his fighting game career. Taco participates in almost every local Mortal Kombat X tournament and even did well at some foreign tournaments.

Taco was placed 1st at the Dutch Mortal Kombat X Cup, at which he earned himself a spot in the European Mortal Kombat X Cup finals in Paris. At the same time Taco participated in the Xbox One ESL tournament where he was in the top 16 every week. At the MKX Cup in Paris Taco earned himself a 3rd place, and went to the States where he competed with Sonic Fox, Perfect Legend and others for the bragging rights to be called MKX world champion.

Tell us a little something a150709Taco0001bout yourself?

My name is Michael Martinez, I grew up in the U.S. and moved to the Netherlands when I was 8 years old. I’ve been a gamer my entire life, starting on Sega Genisis with games like Sonic the hedgehog, Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter 2. I’ve been playing fighting games competitively since 2011, when Mortal Kombat 9 was released. I have a marketing/communications background, but my currently I work at Bechtle Direct as a solution advisor.

When did you start playing Fighting Games?

>I’ve always been interested in fighting games and I started playing them when I was about 6 years old. The very first fighting game I played was Mortal Kombat on the Sega Genesis, followed quickly by Street Fighter 2. When I was 8, my dad would take me to the local arcade on Friday afternoons, where he’d give me a couple of dollars to spend on the cabinets. My favorite games back then were Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Killer Instinct 2. I have very fond memories of those days.

Where did your passion for Mortal Kombat start?

My passion for MK started the second I found out about the fatalities in the original game and all the hidden secrets. As a kid, the fatalities were obviously really cool and I would spend hours trying to figure out the button combinations to perform them. Back then we didn’t have the internet to look up the fatalities, but I vividly remember being super excited when my parents bought me an MK3 guide from Walmart. Finally I knew all there was to know in the game! Because I grew up with MK as a kid, the franchise has always had a special place in my heart.

Why Mortal Kombat, since there are a lot of other popular fighters, what makes Mortal Kombat different in your opinion?

What makes Mortal Kombat different is obviously the fatalities and brutal moves. That’s what always grabbed my attention, but when MK9 was released, I started delving into the actuals mechanics of the game and fell in love with the poking and footsies system. Nonetheless, brutally beating up your opponent is always satisfying, but the main lure for me now is the gameplay.

You are considered to have one of the best Sub-Zero’s in Europe but, I see you’re using Kung Loa a lot the past few weeks, did you switch mains?

In the past I considered myself a character loyalist, but I’ve realized that character loyalty will only get you so far in a competitive environment. Every character has good and bad match ups, and I think Sub Zero has quite a few that are extremely difficult. That’s why I decided to pick up a secondary character who could help me with those bad Sub Zero match ups. He’s obviously top tier, but I love playing him because he’s the polar opposite of Sub Zero. Sub is more of a patient character and Kung Lao wants to be in your face the entire time and overwhelm you with pressure. Sub Zero will always be my favorite character, but I thoroughly enjoy beating people up with Lao as well.

mortal-kombat-x-subzero_big2You have earned yourself a rightful place in LowLandLions, how did that happen?

The whole experience of becoming part of the LowLandLions team just goes to show that it’s a small world and knowing the right people is really important. LLL approached me right before the Dutch Mortal Kombat Cup finals. Back then, the only tournament I had actually won was the qualifier at Media Markt Roermond. LLL was looking to expand their fighting game team with MKX players and because I was one of the most well known players in the community, they asked me if I wanted to join. If it weren’t for friends in the community who knew people within LLL, I probably wouldn’t have been picked up. Looking back, bringing me on the team was probably a bit of a gamble for LLL, but I think it worked out great for us in the end.

You have played some great tournaments in LowLandLions name, how happy are you with the sponsorship?

Of course! Sponsorhip is something most gamers can only dream of and I’m more than happy wearing the LowLandLions jersey at events. Things are looking good for us now, and if the future of MKX is a bright as I think it will be, it’s gonna be one hell of a ride.

How is the Dutch competition?

We have some really good players in the Dutch MKX community, but what I really enjoy is that just about every player in the Benelux is so nice and dedicated to this game. I think we have a really solid community with awesome people who all share love for MK.

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Besides being a Tournament regular you’re also a member of the Dutch Fighting Game Community, what’s in your opinion the best part of the Dutch Community?

The best part of the Dutch Community is the different types of people. We have guys, girls, people of all ethnicities and we all share the same passion. It’s so much fun to just hang out with everyone and talk about fighting games and other unrelated things. Of course there’s also rivalries and trash talking, but that’s what makes fighting games what they are.

The most recent tournament you participated in was the AT Gaming Fightclub, you won this tournament and I can’t help but wonder how it felt destroying the guys from AT Gaming?

It felt pretty darn good! Although we’re obviously ‘rivals’, I really like the AT Gaming players and we get along well. They’re doing some really cool things to keep our community alive and I’m very grateful for that. But to answer your question: it always feels great to beat other good players quite convincingly. I think I’ve showed them that they still have a way to go if they want to beat me next time. We’ll see what happens at Red Fight District.

What’s Next for MKX?

MKX’s future is looking really bright. We’re seeing more and more tournaments pop up, and with Kombat Pack 2 coming out next year, we’re guaranteed to see more support from Netherrealm until then. I just hope people keep playing and stay motivated to get better, but I think it’s our job as a community to help each other out in that regard.

In the past you have picked up several other fighting games like; Killer Instinct, Marvel Vs Capcom, Street Fighter IV, Tekken etc.. Are you picking up any other fighting game in the future on a competitive level?

Right now I want to focus on MKX, but I’m definitely looking into Street Fighter 5. The game looks beautiful and the systems seem slightly more accessible for new players. I have my eye on that game and unless something strange happens, I’m going to give it a try.

What are your future goals Fighting game and/or personal?

To be the best, obviously! I would like to travel even more for these tournaments. Every time I go to one, I’m reminded of how much fun they are. My main goal is obviously to go to EVO 2016, but we’ll have to see how that works out. Personal goals are always happiness. I just want to get to a point in my life where I can feel good about where I am and live comfortably with my wife and family.

How do you like your Tacos?

Spicey.

Anything or anyone in special you want to mention?

Honestly, there’s too many people who I should mention for helping me achieve this. However, the people who I absolutely have to mention are my mom and dad for letting me play mature fighting games at a much too young age, my fiancé for letting me spend too much time with video games without ever complaining, and LowLandLions for giving me the opportunity to compete abroad and grow as a player.

I wish Taco all the things you can wish upon someone and hope that he’s going to reach even greater heights in his Professional Fighting Game carreer.

About author

Kevin "Method" van Dongen

Ain't no thing like me, except me. I am the biggest half behind this website and love to write about my deep love for fighting games, (J)RPG's and Destiny. Really do not like Call of Duty and absolutely love pizza.