At least one American player tends to make it to the Guilty Gear Xrd finals at the Evolution Championship Series, but that’s typically where their journeys end. Joshua “Zidane” Rodriguez and Kyohei “MarlinPie” Lehr achieved this feat in 2015 and 2017 respectively, only to both get knocked out after a single match. But at Evo 2018, Eli “LostSoul” Rabadad bucked this trend, carrying the hope of his entire country to an incredible third-place finish.

Speaking with Kotaku shortly after the Guilty Gear Xrd finals concluded, LostSoul was ecstatic about his placement. “I’m feeling fantastic to be the only American in top eight and reaching as far as top three—surprising everyone, I’m sure,” he said, smiling wide. “I always wanted to make finals but then go further than the ones that got there before. I wanted more than that. It’s not first place, but there’s always next year.”

LostSoul uses Evo as an annual benchmark to test his skill against international competition and track his personal growth. Last year, he finished just outside of top 16, and the year before that failed to make it out of pools at all. LostSoul’s finish at Evo 2018 is the culmination of a year-long competitive itinerary that saw him finish first at Northeast Championships and Final Round, as well as qualify as New York City’s Guilty Gear representative for Red Bull Conquest later this year.

All of that tournament experience has clearly helped him prepare for high-pressure moments like this weekend. Making it to Evo 2018’s arena for the finals with the entire country’s hopes on his shoulders “wasn’t nerve-wracking,” LostSoul said. “That’s a common occurrence for me. It’s not the first time, it’s definitely not the second time. I’ve been there before. It surprised me because I thought I would be nervous having everyone on my back, but I was pretty relaxed.”

LostSoul’s impressive performance in-game was complemented by his larger-than-life performance on the Evo 2018 stage, where he shouted and laughed at the Mandalay Bay Events Center crowd before and after matches. When asked if he could repeat some of the things he said, LostSoul laughed off the question, insisting that he was just caught up in the moment.

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“I was saying so many things,” he said. “There are jokes out there saying that my talk is longer than most [attack’s] active frames, Dragon Ball FighterZ matches, and Dragon Ball combos.”