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The Evo player who’s fighting with a piano

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Street Fighter meets Rock Band

Gono piano controller at Evo 2016

It’s normal to see competitors at Evo with custom arcade sticks built to their exact specifications, but one player, "Gono," appears to be the only one using a Rock Band 3 keyboard in his fights.

Gono, who competed in Street Fighter 5 and Pokkén Tournament at Evo 2016 (and has since been eliminated), was using his keyboard controller in a side tournament, AnimEvo, when we spoke. He was playing Sega’s Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax — and winning.

He said he’s been using his Evo current set up for about six months, though he’s had keyboard controllers for years. While the Rock Band 3 piano has a d-pad and four face buttons on it, Gono only uses the black and white keys when fighting.

Gono's Rock Band 3 keyboard controller isn’t stock; he modded it himself with a multi-console PCB, the Akishop PS360+. That hardware wound up working against him in one fight I watched. The connection with that PCB and a PlayStation 4 times out after eight minutes, and Gono had forgotten to reconnect the controller between fights. He had to give up a round, but still won in the end.

Gono says he’s not much of a piano player. He uses his keyboard set up because he was playing PC fighting games on a QWERTY keyboard before that, and just got used to it.

While the piano controller draws a lot of attention, it’s not that different from the all-button Hit Box controllers that some fighting game enthusiasts use. Those Hit Box controllers can offer faster response time, so playing with a all-button — or all-key — controller isn’t exactly a disadvantage.