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Never lacking confidence in his game, Fighting GM plans to dominate in Tekken 7

You can’t lack in the confidence department if you want to be great at something. You must be sure of yourself. You have to know what you bring to the table, because if you don’t – something might get taken from you. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? Such is the case with pro Tekken player out of New York, Ariel ‘Fighting GM’ Capellan.

For the majority of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 he was probably the most dominant and awarded American player. But where has he been lately? Tekken 7 is out and there has been no sign of him even remotely close to the game. I caught up with him to see what he has been up to lately, because it didn’t look like much “Tekken” was happening at all. Check it out.


What have you been up to these days? Do you still play Tekken?

I stopped playing Tekken completely.  Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is not a main game anymore and I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to achieve as a player, so I lost interest. Same thing over and over. For me and my scene it’s dead. Nowadays I’ve been doing things I missed out on cause I used to focus on Tekken so much so I’ve been really enjoying myself.

You sound like JDCR. He said something similar. He says after Tekken 7 he’s probably done. Have you played any Tekken 7?

I’ve played a good amount of Tekken 7. To me it’s just a beta. It’s like Tekken 6 but much easier to play. For a beta it’s not bad. I would like to see what the full finished product is when Tekken 7 fully gets released with all its characters.

We’ll know in early 2017. Do you plan to participate at all in the Tekken Tour to try to secure a spot in The King of the Iron Fist Tournament?

As of now no plans have been made for me to participate in a Tekken Tour event. If the game was out and I could practice, and Lee was in it, sure why not? But my interest in it isn’t too high. I would still try, of course.

How do you like the tag system compared to solo play? Do you prefer one over the other?

I prefer solo play . The Tekken I started playing in tournaments was Tekken 5. So I’m used to Tekken’s core one on one play, and prefer that. The tag system was interesting. You could be really creative with it, and it forced you to be patient and learn the tag system. The tag system itself is a whole new way to play Tekken so it’s pretty much like learning a all new game. People who started in tag 2 are gonna have a hard time adjusting to 7.

You think so? Why is that?

Fundamentals play a big part in one on one Tekken, and in Tag, tag stuff does. With the tag system you always had to be careful ’cause things was always happening, but defensive play was a bit different. With Tag there was lots of ways to get out of things with the advanced movement and tag gimmicks. Solo Tekken you have to actually fight for yourself and block. Less scrubby

Great insight. Me and another pro player were just having this discussion. He got his start with the tag system, and just participated in a tournament for Tekken 7. His eyes were just opened up to what you just said. Now, you are widely known for your dominance in Tag 2, so do you actually think you will fair in Tekken 7 once it’s out?

I’m sure Lee will be announced.  I believe I will do very well. I’ve been a top player in every Tekken game I’ve played in tournaments, and I’m defnitely better at one on one Tekken. Lots of people didn’t believe I would be so dominate in Tag 2 but I was able to prove them wrong. I believe Tekken 7 will be the same and similar to how I was in Tekken 6 but with much more experience.

What do you think of Akuma being in the game, and do you think you’ll use him in tournaments?

It’s a interesting concept to get Street Fighter players and other 2D players to play Tekken . I would only use him for fun, but not seriously. I’m not a fan of Street Fighter like I used to be, but I find it really cool he’s in the game. It has more people interested in Tekken and that is always great.

New York used to be known for having a strong Tekken scene, but now it seems like things have fallen off. Why?

Everyone now has other things they have been focused on and everyone’s tired of TTT2. No new Tekken out on console, plus Fab hasn’t been playing for some time now, and now that I’ve been gone the scene is dead. I was the only one keeping the scene alive – hosting sessions all the time for new players. But now that I don’t anymore, everyone stopped playing. I’m sure when the new game is out everyone’s fire will be back.

Let’s hope so. You recently posted on Twitter that you were a Guinness world record holder for having won the most tournaments in TTT2. How did that whole process happen? 

I’ve been working on it for years. It was my main goal. I wanted something for everything that I’ve won and achieved in Tekken, and to show my dominance in history. Good thing people noticed my success and got in touch with me. Truly a real blessing and my final goal as a Tekken player for now.

What do you say to those who think JDCR may have won more tournaments in TTT2?

Me receiving the award says otherwise. They can be jealous, but it is what it is.

You’ve been making it known that you’re open for sponsorship. Just yesterday a top Tekken player asked me who were the top American players worthy of sponsorship. I named you. Are you hoping to find sponsorship for Tekken 7?

Yes, for Tekken 7, and only for Tekken 7. If I get sponsored I’ll be open to compete again and I feel it will reignite fire for me. I do want to be the best player for Tekken 7. If given the opportunity to prove myself.

Interesting that you say that, because Anakin said the same exact thing, and thankfully for him he got picked up by Circa eSports. What did you think of the news when you heard it?

I didn’t think much of it, but congrats to him.

Some people think Tekken 7 will return us to the Golden Age of Tekken, like when Tekken 3 came out. Can you see that happening?

Hopefully back to Tekken 5 days where everyone played and it was so much fun. It’s taking a long time to be released and I understand it’s to make sure we get a complete project. Hopefully people are still interested in playing Tekken 7 when it’s released.

I think it will be. You have solid defense, know matchups very well, punish with precision, have a very strong poke game and more. How did you acquire these skills?

I felt Lee wasn’t a very strong character. So I had to make up everything he lacked, and the fact that I knew everyone I played would be using high tier characters compared to him. That, along with the fact that I really wanted to make a name for myself, be the best player with Lee, and show people what he can really do. I practiced everyday and learned matchups and the game inside and out. I watched videos and entered lots of tournaments. I’ve been playing since I was thirteen. I started in Tekken 3 and my first tournament game was Tekken 5.

I’m beginning to see a mentality among elite players that sets the greats apart from the rest. The confidence is on another level. So how do you practice these days though?

I watch match videos of different opponents and I study frames and how to step and move and punish against different characters. Defense and offensive practice.

Speaking of matchups, who has been your most difficult American opponent, and non-American opponent?

It’s always been Fab for historical reasons. A rivalry thing. You just wanna overcome a rival. It was always fun. Non-American would have to be Holeman for sure.

Holeman? Have you ever played Speedkicks? There seems to be no video of it. If you did a first to 10 against him in TTT2, what would the final score be?

The last Final Round I went to I beat him 3-0. In 2014. If I constantly played and practiced like I used to I would win decisively. Now he has the advantage.

The last time you faced Kodee in a tournament was at WinterBrawl 9 I believe. He was so stoked that he beat you that he got up, ran off stage and fell to the floor. It was as if he had conquered his nemesis. What was going through you mind at that moment, and what do you think of Kodee as an opponent? Is he the strongest Mishima player in America in your opinion?

At that time my mind wasn’t in the game and my lack of practice showed. I didn’t think much but just a “Wow, I did this good without any prep.” He’s a good player and best Mishima for sure over here.

Was that your last official tournament with TTT2? Have you been in any others?

My last tournament was KIT back in January.

Oh yeah, that’s right.

That was my last tournament for TTT2. I haven’t been to any ever since.

Top 5 worldwide. Go!

Worldwide? That one is hard to say. Koreans, of course, and South Americans. America? Me, Majin, Fab, Anakin, and last is toss up between Inkog and Mr. Naps.

Mr. Naps is a toss up? Interesting. Man, you’re setting the stage up nicely for people wanting to see you play Tekken 7. Gonna be quite a few grudge matches. (laughs)

Movies. You been doing a lot of premieres lately.

Yes, it’s a big passion of mine and a main interest besides gaming.

Oh really? Interesting.

I’ve been watching films since I was small. My father owned a video store so I watched lots of movies growing up. I’m blessed to have so many connects in the film industry to be able to enjoy a big passion of mine.

Last question, and this one may be a bit heavy. You seem to be a very polarizing figure within the Tekken community. Sorta like the person people love to hate. It seems some want to see you fail and never have anything good to say, and there are those who are in your corner. Two extremes. Why? Why so many detractors?

It’s an extreme of people that personally know me and interacted with me, and an extreme of people that have heard stuff from people who already don’t like me for whatever reason. (laughs) I respect everyone that has respect for me. Much love to everyone.

(laughs) Good deal! How can people keep up with GM?

All my.social media. Outlets of course!

Thank you, sir!

Aziz Peregrino-Brimah aka Zee the CEO | Founder / Editor-in-chief of TekkenGamer | Gaming has been a passion of Zee's since the early days of Atari and ColecoVision. His first experience with Tekken was in the early 90's, and it was Tekken 3 that sealed the deal. True story... As a teenager Zee once received his Winn-Dixie paycheck and spent it all at the arcade the same day. Needless to say, his mother wasn't pleased.

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