Philippine “Tekken 7” tournament Rage Art celebrated the launch of 2017’s most eagerly awaited fighting game by bringing together some of the country’s best “Tekken” players for over 9 hours of ferocious combat.
Held at PlayBook Circuit Makati on June 3, 2017, Rage Art involved around 160 players – including Filipino “Tekken” prodigy Alexandre “AK” Laverez of PlayBook Esports (PBE), and South Koreans Kim “JDCR” HyunJin and Choi “Saint” Jinwoo of professional eSports organization Echo Fox.
Sponsors such as Player.me and XSplit/SplitMediaLabs, as well as the thousands of “Tekken” fans who viewed the tournament on Twitch, contributed to the PHP 100,000 prize pool.
The road to glory
While the event kicked off at 10am, the tournament proper commenced around 2pm. By then, PlayBook Circuit Makati was already filled to the brim with “Tekken” players and fans eager to see some face-breaking, bone-crunching action.
The double-elimination format was chosen for the competition. All group stages prior to the Finals involved best-of-3 matches.
The early matches proved a breeze for professional players such as AK and JDCR, but for everyone else, it was a grueling test of skill and patience. And though many moved forward in the competition, a lot more were eliminated as the day wore on. Come evening, only 16 players remained in the running to become Rage Art champion.
By nightfall, this number was further whittled down to 8. Thus began the series of best-of-5 games that had the entire crowd erupting in cheers loud enough to bring the house down.
The Top 8 Winners Final saw AK facing off against JDCR. JDCR consistently picked Dragunov against AK’s Paul and Law. Despite an impressive show of skill, AK lost to JDCR. The final score was 3-0 in favor of JDCR.
Then, in the Top 8 Losers Semi Final, PBE’s Andreij “Doujin” Albar met Saint in battle. After Doujin’s Jack-7 lost to Saint’s Jack-7, Doujin surprised everyone with his strong command of newcomer Kazumi. With Kazumi, he defeated Saint’s remaining picks Jack-7, Dragunov, and Eddy. The final score was 3-1 in Doujin’s favor.
As a result, Doujin pushed forward into the Losers Final, forcing him into a duel against fellow PBE teammate AK. AK threw his Paul at Doujin’s Hwoarang. Both players proved equally matched until the last game, which went to Doujin. The final score was 3-2 in Doujin’s favor.
Doujin and JDCR then entered the Grand Final. Doujin’s Kazumi squared off against JDCR’s Dragunov in the first match. After losing, Doujin selected Jack-7 for the next fight. But JDCR won again.
Doujin then opted for Lars, with whom he was able to best Dragunov. With things looking up for Doujin, he picked Lars again for his fourth match against JDCR’s Dragunov. After an intense and extremely close game, however, JDCR bested his opponent to win the championship. The final score was 3-1 in JDCR’s favor.
The tournament results are as follows:
1st place/champion: Echo Fox – JDCR
2nd place: PBE – Doujin
3rd place: PBE – AK
4th place: Echo Fox – Saint
5th place: Coffee_Prinz
6th place: Prime
7th place: Imperium Pro Team – El
8th place: Noelittle
9th place: Grounderz
10th place: PBE – Maru
11th place: Sakuraagi
12th place: SquareSquare
13th place: Dobu_Orochi
14th place: Elite.ErrorQueen
15th place: Muzikat
16th place: Sephrix
You can watch the entire tournament by clicking on the following the TeamSp00ky Twitch video link.
The way of the champion
So how does one go from casual gamer to fighting game champion?
One thing is common with at least three of the top tier players who participated at Rage Art: they all started young.
“I’ve been playing Tekken for 15 years,” said 28-year-old JDCR. “The first Tekken I played was Tekken Tag 1.”
His friend and colleague Saint started playing when he was around 3 years old.
“I used to play casually,” admitted Saint. “But I took things seriously starting with Tekken Tag 2. From there, I went into the competitive fighting game scene.”
JDCR only became a professional this 2017 when Echo Fox decided to sponsor him. It’s a job that entails lots of hard work… and travel.
“I travel twice or three times a month,” said JDCR. “One week ago I was in America, and three weeks ago I was in Australia… Tournaments are everywhere in the world, so we travel a lot… It’s really fun to meet new people, to be in a new country. But I hate riding in airplanes.”
This was his first time in the Philippines. However, at the 2013 Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Global Championship, he faced AK – his first and only Filipino opponent until Rage Art.
JDCR confessed the fighting game scene in South Korea is small, especially when compared to the “League of Legends” and “Dota 2” communities.
“We need to make fighting game communities on YouTube, we need to teach new players,” he replied when asked what he thought was the best way to grow the South Korean fighting game scene.
JDCR gave a surprising answer when asked how much “Tekken” he plays in a day:
“Maybe I play 20 minutes a day. 5 hours a week, maybe.”
Strangely enough, Saint echoed his response.
“I don’t practice much… but I spend a lot of time watching fighting game videos so I can learn about the tournaments.”
Saint plays a lot of characters, such as Jack-7, Bob, Shaheen, Dragunov, and Eddy.
“If you play more characters, you’ll be able to develop good strategies in tournaments,” he explained.
Saint plays other fighting games too, but his main focus is “Tekken.”
“I don’t have enough time (to play them all)… I need to focus on the Tekken scene.”
Pinoy “Tekken” wiz AK’s origins are no different from JDCR and Saint’s.
“I stared playing when I was 4 years old,” shared the 16-year-old gamer. “I played Tekken Tag Tournament 1 in Harrison Plaza. My grandmother always brought me there. My uncle introduced me to Tekken. He was the one who taught me the moves and everything.” AK became a serious player when “Tekken 6” was released in 2007 – when he was just 6 years old.
He soon realized he could take his gaming to a professional level.
“I started beating opponents much older than me,” he said. “I joined a Tekken 6 tournament once, but I lost in the first round. It was in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 that I started moving upwards.”
AK got good through practice, playing 2 to 4 hours a day. Despite this, AK still finds time for school.
“I prioritize school, of course,” he stated. “I will finish my homework and everything first. If there’s an upcoming test, I won’t play. I’ll study first. Once everything’s finished, then I play.”
AK’s family is supportive of his gaming. They attend all his tournaments, and were present at Rage Art to cheer him on.
Like JDCR and Saint, AK’s done a lot of traveling – and he’s pretty happy about it. His best experience abroad was participating in the aforementioned 2013 Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Global Championship held in Seoul, South Korea.
“It was a world tournament, so the Japanese were there, Koreans, Americans… Initially, they held qualifiers here in the Philippines, which I won. Then they took me to Korea. I won third place.”
At said tournament, AK made waves throughout the global fighting game community; the 13-year-old was the world’s youngest professional “Tekken” player, and he even defeated top players such as Nobi the “Tekken Emperor of Japan” and South Korea’s Help-Me! AK also fought Saint and JDCR, who secured first and second place, respectively.
AK usually feels nervous before a match, but all worries vanish when he’s playing.
“During a match, while I’m playing and I’m focused, the nervousness goes away,” he said. “The game is all that matters.”
AK has the following advice for those eager to become professional fighting game players:
“Don’t be dismayed when you lose. Use that loss as inspiration, to challenge yourself to become better. And have fun. You’ll eventually reach that point when you’re good enough to fight against the professional players. Who knows, maybe you’ll become champion too.” — TJD, GMA News