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.