MK National Champion, Justin Wong. Photo: Kara Leung.With a list of accolades that would put any 'achievement hound' to shame; Justin Wong has been world champion of some of the genre's most competitive fighting games. Having claimed titles at the highest level in games like Marvel vs Capcom 2 and Street Fighter IV, the accomplished competitor set his sights on Mortal Kombat last month, when Performance Design Products staged their first US National Tournament, in Las Vegas, Nevada!

From a field of almost two hundred kombatants fighting for a winning prize purse of $10,000 -- "Jwonggg" emerged victorious in Sin City to add his first US National Mortal Kombat Championship to the list!

Keen to speak with one of Earthrealm's chosen fighters, Mortal Kombat Online probed the Supreme Kombat Champion [pictured in mortal form, right] for his thoughts on the burgeoning MK tournament scene, and what he has observed from the revamped gameplay engine.

[MKO]: What was your first introduction to MK as a series?
[Justin Wong]: I think my first MK introduction is probably on the SNES with Mortal Kombat 2. I definitely did not know what I was doing at all at the time, and I picked Sub-Zero because my favorite color was blue.

What are some of the high and low points you've observed as the series has evolved?
I didn't think much of it when I was young at all, but ever since MK9 came out, I took it as a new game and just had to figure out the mechanics and try to use my experience in fighting games to adapt.

What do you think about the Mortal Kombat tournament scene so far?
I think its still growing and it eventually will keep getting bigger and bigger due to the offline/online community, and player awareness.

In your list of achievements, how does winning the National Tournament rank?
It is definitely a big one just because it was labeled as a National Tournament. And it just feels good to win at new games because I feel like I am doing something right.

With the MK Arcade Kollection announced [full story], do you think the MK scene can branch out?
I will always believe that UMK3 will be in tournaments just because there is still a scene for it. Maybe I will get into it especially if the MK [Arcade] Kollection is coming out. I am a sucker for fighting games and especially ones with a scene in it.

Kung Lao featured heavily in the PDP National Tournament. What do you think makes him such a popular and effective character?
He definitely was a popular character choice. I think since top players were using him, everyone else realized that he is probably the best character in the game, and he could do a lot of things that characters cannot do that easily, like anti air, for example.

Which MK9 character(s) do you expect to really take it to Kung Lao over time? Will he remain a dominant favourite?
I do think Kung Lao will stay dominant as of now and for the future. But I think a good character that can [contend] with Kung Lao is probably Shang Tsung, just because I believe that Shang is a viable character and he can turn into Kung Lao and dish out more damage than the actual Kung Lao.

What's your personal Mortal Kombat [2011] tier list?
I really don't have one just because I am a "tier whore" in the game, but judging from my experience with the scene I can say that the best chars [in my opinion] are; Kung Lao, Raiden, Ermac, Cage, Cyrax, [and] Shang [Tsung] (in the future). [...] Everyone else I do not have a good rank.

"... I believe Shang Tsung is a viable character..."

There's been a lot of talk about Cyrax' bomb trap. Do you have any good tips to add depth to Cyrax' game, or on the flipside, to combat the trap?
Well the bomb trap is [definitely] super cheap, but that is what makes him really good. I believe that Cyrax players should not just focus on the bomb trap and focus more on his ex net which takes away the opponent's meter. The best way to fight against the trap is to either get lucky with breaking the throw, or save your meter to break out of the trap and also use super armor moves, or Raiden teleport to get out of the trap.

What do you think the key differences are between MK and games like Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs Capcom?
Obviously the main difference is the block functions but MK9 and SFIV are pretty similar [in my opinion]. It's just that MK is more offensive than SSIV. You can never compare Marvel to MK9, even with the tag combos. if you want to think about that, MK9 is pretty similar to the Tekken Tag series.

What can MK learn from other fighting games and what do you think they're doing right to stand apart from the crowd? Does MK2011 successfully carve a niche in the genre?
The only thing that MK players can learn from other games are footsies. The spacing of player's moves aren't as fluid as SF players. MK players are pretty offensive, but they don't have little tricks to trick the opponent for block strings or pressure strings. I do believe that MK9 is more exciting to watch than SF games and I would like MK9 to be successful in the competitive aspect.

How do you think MK can best improve, moving forward?
I think MK9 doesn't need to nerf characters but just buff up the lower tier, under used characters. Also, the game has only been out for a month, it's way too soon to say that 'this' char is unplayable, etc. In order [for] MK to move forward, it all depends on the community, and right now MK9 has to piggyback off the SFIV/MVC3 tournaments.

Do you think MK can hang with the competition in the longterm as a tournament fighter and have the longevity of titles like Street Fighter and MVC?
I believe that if MK9 keeps getting patches, it definitely will be longterm for fighting tournaments and I will always be supporting competitive fighting games.

MK is heading to Evo in July [learn more]. Do you think you'll get to play?
I am excited for EVO overall, and I believe that MK9 will have a strong turn out at EVO. I will be participating in it of course.

Is there anyone you'd like to thank, or send a shoutout?
I want to thank Intel, SteelSeries, Monster Energy, Kingston HyperX, Six Pool Gaming, Intel Extreme Boards, and Bigfoot Networks.

You can find Justin Wong on the web at, or on Twitter, @Jwonggg. Mortal Kombat Online would like to thank Justin for his time! We've got more Q&A sessions coming soon! Get updates wherever you are by following @MK_Online!