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EVO 2017: Tekken’s Top 8 – A look at competitive gaming

Although this article is titled EVO 2017: Tekken Top 8, the hype EVO gives eSports is intense and real; it really makes you appreciate the skill that all of the players have. Not that long ago, I checked out the Top 8, as everyone is now aware that I’ve been playing a good bit of Tekken 7 since its release. I was in awe at the sheer skill of the players involved, so there are a few of my highlights from the event – and why these events are hugely important for creating a stronger, more collaborative environment for gamers worldwide.

Aris (avoidingthepuddle) on the left, Markman on the right

We’re introduced to the Top 8 with two huge names in EVO, Aris, also known as avoidingthepuddle and Markman. These two commentators keeps it interesting and fresh throughout. Their commentary skills are to be commended, as they talk about the upcoming matches. Their passion for the game oozed through their voices, showing a deep love for the title. Tekken 7 took a long time to hit our consoles and PCs, but now it’s here, it feels like a pure celebration of all that is Tekken. They call out about the event, explain the layout of the tournament and then the first game gets underway.

For those completely unaware as to what any of this is about, EVO is a fighting game event, which featured Tekken, BlazBlue, Guilty Gear, Street Fighter, Smash Bros and oh so much more. Tekken has always been considered the chess game of the fighting game genre, favoring good timing, a great strategy and most importantly of all, patience. The occasion twitch cost people big at this year’s tournament, which I was screaming out about. But, the tournament had money poured into it and it felt huge. I mean the stadium, the setup, the audio and even the commentary – All hugely important factors which elevates the feeling of playing video games. Aris told it best, when the final two came head to head, best of friends who wanted to play Tekken on a professional level and make it their jobs.

Michael Murray and Harada-San of Team TEKKEN

We had one of the greatest near upsets of the show, as an incredible player known as Jeondding nearly finished off the soon to be champion JDCR. He was unsigned by sponsors, but you could feel that after he took it to JDCR, going to the last frame of a best of three taking the near champion to a single shred of health, that he would be sponsored later that night. This was when JDCR went into overdrive and managed to take the wildcard out, but there wasn’t much in it. One jab and the upset could have happened. It was intense, it was fascinating, it was extremely high level of play. Perhaps the greatest example of how to get noticed.

As we head through great match after great match, we’re told this is EVOs 15th anniversary. More than half of my life, this event has been around for. I remember when I saw my first EVO, oh so many years ago. This was where the best of the best fought it out. This year was no different, with 4 Korean players, 2 Japanese players and 2 American. Don’t worry, UK fans, we have our own tournaments! Better than travelling such a distance to compete, that’s for sure. Still, EVO has always been about the highest level of competition. Here’s hoping Kaneandtrench, who at least until time of writing is undefeated in the UK, can take it to the top level Korean players. With his strange Yoshimitsu pick, going against the winner of EVO is no small feat.

Jeondding came back with another incredible match, taking it to Saint, the former world champion (2016). Saint stuck to his familiar game plan with JACK-7, which ultimately proved to be too much for Jeondding. The unsigned talent will go on to do many great things in his community, as will fellow unsigned player Taisei. Jeondding took Eddy Gordo, whereas Taisei played a smart game with Steve Fox. Seeing potential upset after potential upset was genuinely exhilarating, which in turn made me want to pick up my pad. Okay, I lost my next game, but hey – Was worth it!

It’s worth noting that earlier this year, Saint whose JACK-7 is revered amongst the Tekken community, was defeated by a relative unknown on the world stage. Intriguingly, it was a Filipino guy by the name of Andreij “Doujin” Albar that took out the former world champion in a much smaller competition. You can check out more on this Kotaku article who reported on the upset. It’s fair to say we could see other upsets, as the console release of Tekken 7 has seen many a great player come up in a short space of time. Communities are being built to get people to a strong level of competition, as are whole YouTube and Twitch communities being built. It’s fair to say then, Tekken 7 was the shove the Fighting Game Genre needed.

JDCR enjoying an emotional win

JDCR vs Knee in the Winners Final, where Knee pulls out a character he doesn’t normally use – Was definitely an interesting choice, as it threw JDCR off his game in the early going. But ultimately it wasn’t enough to deter JDCR, who then fought a very game Saint in the grand finals and ultimately overcame the exceptionally talented JACK-7 player. This marked JDCR’s largest recorded win, which was apparent with the floods of tears he let loose, along with the support he received after the spectacle. It was truly a great way to end the show – and the weekend!

The reason I wanted to cover EVO, but more specifically this part, is half thanks to the fact that I am currently a bit addicted to Tekken 7 (obviously), but more importantly, to show what it’s like when a tournament is won at such a high level. We recently held our tiny video game tournament, which consisted of 18 players over 4 games. The fact that games are being treated like a serious chance at a career these days is great and the community keeps on growing. Every day that passes, a new technique, or a new streamer is found that adds something to the intrigue. Here’s hoping Tekken 7 keeps on growing, and here’s hoping the community around competitive gaming does too. But enough from me now, what do you make of all this? Have you seen EVO yet? You can check it all out on their YouTube channel here. As always, leave your thoughts below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.


One response

  1. Pingback: BBC Three and eSports | GeekOut South-West

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