Toi Bridges - simply known as “Toi” throughout the fighting game community - is a noted M. Bison main originally hailing from Louisiana. While Toi has been playing competitive Street Fighter for some time, his inclusion in the Street Fighter League: Pro-US 2019 tournament series placed a major spotlight on the player - which he rocked like a pro, thanks to his over-the-top reactions and incredible hype.
From humble beginnings
However, Toi didn’t get his start in the League, alone; in fact, Toi’s fighting game journey began thanks to a bit of misfortune, after he damaged his car during a night out. Afraid to go home and face the wrath of his father, Toi instead opted to spend the night in his car - a decision that would ultimately lead to a storied career in competitive gaming.
“I fell asleep in the parking lot of a Play-N-Trade, and I woke up and saw one of the workers walking in with this small white arcade stick with the Street Fighter IV logo on it,” Toi recalled. “I thought, ‘Man, this guy must be good if he has a mobile arcade stick,’ so I decided to approach him and ask him if he was good at SFIV.”
Toi’s challenge didn’t go unanswered; he ended up barely winning the set, a development that shocked him at the time due to his previous experience against his cousin in the game, who he was used to defeating with little effort.
“I barely beat him, and he proceeded to tell me that there were tournaments at the Play-N-Trade that had competitors who were even stronger than he was,” Toi continued.
The Gods of Louisiana
The rest is, as they say, history: but history isn’t always well-known, and Toi played a massive role in building such a history for his local scene.
Toi went on to found the “Gods of Louisiana,” a group of local players who were bent on what Toi refers to as his “conquest” - his goal of proving to the East and West Coast playerbases that smaller regions are just as worthy of recognition as they are.
“I started Gods of Louisiana (GoL) back in the day to put some life into a dying scene,” Toi explained. “...My goal at that point of time was to be strong enough to beat players from the East and West Coast. I wanted to prove to them that the South could hang with any of them, and that we deserved an opportunity to be in the spotlight just as much as they did.”
Despite eventually leaving Louisiana to represent Texas, Toi claims that the GoL fellowship is something that never dies, despite the distance between the players.
“...I asked every person that had been my rival at this point in Louisiana to join me in my conquest,” he continued. “Ever since then, GoL has become a brotherhood of prideful competitors. We rep GoL wherever we go, even if we are sponsored.”
A big passion joins the big state of Texas
Toi’s departure from Louisiana marked another major life event for the player, which was likewise brought about by tragic circumstances. The death of his brother prompted his move to Texas, where he hoped to “get away and build something from scratch, and away from the comfort of my friends and family.”
Toi has since become ingrained in the Texas fighting game community, a scene that he claims has become comparable to the West Coast’s competitive lifetime during the SFIV era.
“I have moved to a scene that has become what the West Coast was during the Street Fighter IV days,” he described the Texas scene. “There are so many weeklies and monthlies here that I can't keep up with [them all].”
Bow down before my Psycho Power!
If you keep up with Toi, you’ll see that he is a character specialist, maining the series’ mainstay villain, M. Bison. Toi feels a unique rapport with the Shadaloo boss, admiring his malicious personality and powerful moveset - as well as his own unique “conquest” in the series’ storyline, which lines up with Toi’s own goals for his competitive scene.
“I main Bison because I feel a weird connection with the character,” Toi said of the character. “I can sense the malice within every single move that he does. I love the sinister smile, I love having the slowest walk in the game and being able to dash through you in the blink of an eye. ...Bison is on a Conquest the same way that I am, and I believe that we are a great fit for each other in this version of Street Fighter.”
The struggles of a character specialist
However, Toi’s status as a character specialist introduced a unique challenge for him during the Street Fighter League: Pro-US 2019, which presents competitors with a character ban clause - a mechanic that allows a team to ban a single character of their choice for the duration of their team battle.
While Toi himself was forced to counter the ban with a secondary fighter, he feels that the mechanic forces teams to strategize their strengths and weaknesses, something unique to the fighting game community’s general 1v1 tournament format.
“It wasn't until we actually started going through the motions in [week] one that I began to realize that the strategy in this banning thing was really interesting, and that it could potentially make this a pleasant event for viewers,” Toi said of the clause. “This was an important thing to me, because I believe that the FGC could use something at this point to propel us into the esports [mainstream]. ...There is no guarantee that our kids will take a liking to the original grassroots rituals of the FGC. We need to keep things fresh so that fighting games are still a thing long after we are gone.”
From Street Fighter League to the CPT
Toi feels that his experience in the League is overwhelmingly “positive,” claiming that he and his fellow players have formed a special bond on set that will continue into the series’ upcoming episodes.
Of course, Toi’s competitive journey isn’t stopping with the Street Fighter League; he will make an appearance at this weekend’s CPT Ranking Event, Texas Showdown, which will throw down in Houston, Texas, just ahead of Chicago’s Premier Event later this month, Combo Breaker.
As the Capcom Pro Tour continues to move forward, players across the globe will fight for a spot at Capcom Cup later in the year - including Toi, whose unbeatable energy, growth, and passion are merely building blocks in his ultimate FGC “conquest.”