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From prison to gaming icon: How Sean Dench's love for Street Fighter turned his life around

Sean got caught up with the wrong kind of crowd when he was young and found himself looking down the barrel after a fight in front of a bar landed him in prison for two years

Santanu Basu 15 February 2018, 9:53 PM
Sean is one of the top Street Fighter gamers in UK

Sean is one of the top Street Fighter gamers in UK Image: Sean Dench

Every gamer, professional or amateur, takes up gaming for a fight — a fight for something better, a fight for something good, a fight for glory. But for Street Fighter eSports icon Sean Dench, gaming was a fight to reclaim his life and it was as much in the real world as it was in the virtual.

Sean, better known by his gamer handle imStilldadaddy, is one of the top Street Fighter players in UK and is highly regarded throughout the world. But even a few years ago, if anyone was to ask Sean if he could foresee this future for himself, the answer would be no. Why? Because he was in prison.

Sean got caught up with the wrong kind of crowd when he was young and found himself looking down the barrel after a fight in front of a bar landed him in prison for two years. In an old interview, Sean said, "I was young and stupid, I didn't know what I was doing. I had a scrap and got arrested and got put on remand for GBH (Grievous Bodily Harm) with intent. If I was found guilty, I could have got anything from five to ten years in prison."

"I promised myself when I got out I would never do anything like that again. I played a lot of computer games — and it actually changed my life around," he added.

In fact, it was a stint with Street Fighter on one of his friend's PC that planted the seeds of Sean's fightback to reclaim his life, and the turnaround started the day he was acquitted. “It was the day I was acquitted for a GBH (Grievous Bodily Harm) court charge. I went to see one of my old friends that I used to game with when I was younger. Street Fighter was remade again — with Street Fighter IV — and he was playing [it]. I was like ‘ah it’s out again!’  I used Guile and it was sort of the same as when I was a kid. I loved it straightaway,” he was quoted as saying by a website.

Sean started having a great time with his new friends because they would chill and play games and weren't the 'wild' bunch like his previous group. "So I started hanging around with them. I played online and met people online. I was always looking for someone who could beat me, the next warrior to fight,” he added.

And fight he did, not only the next warrior but also against his own demons. Sean soon found out he could play against other players in tournaments and started participating. His talent didn't take long to shine through, and he is currently the captain of Team Infused's Street Fighter V team, which is considered the UK's best.

Speaking to T2 Online, he said, "I owe it to gaming. It was a hard cause and I had to change my life. I needed to keep away from bad people, so gaming was a way out for me and it saved my life. Being around good people and gaming made that possible for me."

However, Sean's fight isn't over yet. He might have snatched away a perfect win from the jaws of a crushing defeat, but he's far from done. “I didn’t go into gaming to look to get paid, I did it as a passion. [It’s the same] even to this day. Whatever the prize money is … I play for the win. You can’t buy the win, that feeling of winning,” he was quoted as saying by another website.

Asked about his tips for up and coming gamers, Sean said, “Stay positive keep your head down and have devotion to practise.”

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