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EVO 2016

Anakin breaks down his EVO performance, Asia’s Tekken edge, and names best player of all-time

EVO 2016 has come and gone, but the memories will last forever. None of us will forget how entertaining and shocking Tekken 7: Fated Retribution was this year, as it was filled with quite a few upsets and surprises. For better insight into things, I caught up with one of North America’s greatest hopefuls, Hoa ‘Anakin’ Luu of team Circa eSports. He participated in Tekken 7FR at EVO this year, so we got his take on the event as a whole, as well as an understanding of his and others performances.


Anakin, thanks for doing yet another interview with us. It’s always appreciated. We wanted to catch up with you about your EVO experience and performance, as I’m sure many people have questions. But first, how was your EVO overall? I’m sure it was good to see friends and connect again, while enjoying the city of Las Vegas.

EVO was fun just like all the other tournaments. It’s important to find ways to enjoy yourself even when you are competing. I think what makes EVO different from the rest is that you get to see so much more familiar faces, including international friends.

Indeed. How many times have you been to EVO?

This year was my second time at EVO.

Let’s talk about your performance. You and your teammate Speedkicks were considered to be the favorites from USA this year. You came in 52nd or 53rd place I believe? (UPDATE: Anakin tied for 33rd place with several other players)

Something like that (laughs). Obviously, I bombed the tournament but sometimes you just can’t help it.

We’ve seen you fight your good friend JDCR many times before, but this go around it looked like he just clearly had your number. What made this fight so different, and why did it seem so one-sided?

I thought I was doing pretty okay until I got hit with the new move.

Ah, yeah, the d1,2?

Combine the almost two-year head start Asian players have had with their incredibly superior Tekken community, received with the fact that JDCR was probably the world’s most dominant Tekken Tag Tournament 2 tournament player, and it’ll be easier to understand how he won a best of 3 comfortably.

I completely understand. So then the match that got you eliminated, I’m told it was a Katarina player. What was the score in that set, and who was the player?

I got eliminated by Weapon X from SoCal.

That’s right! I knew that! (laughs)

He’s a regular on the Tekken Tour, so I really wished I would have studied a Katarina video or two. He rushed me down pretty good. I think I might have won a round. (laughs)

What was going through your mind at that time? I’m sure you were disappointed.

A little disappointed, of course, but given the circumstances I wasn’t going to let it ruin my day. One of the first things you learn on your road to becoming champion is that you can’t win them all.

That’s your first loss as a sponsored player. Did you feel like you let the team down any?

This is probably where losing sucked the most. At this point it’s not even about me. I definitely feel like I let down all those who’ve supported me and wanted to see me do well. It’s the worst feeling in the world to know that you let people down. But what’s done is done. I’ll just use it as motivation for the later events.

Obviously, you can’t allow this one hiccup to affect you. How does a performance like that affect a player of your caliber?

Experience really helps in a situation like this. It’s not a new feeling to lose a lot earlier than expected at a big tournament. Having gone through the whole ordeal in the past I was able to just put it behind me. Not that I discredit the players who beat me or anything, I just know that it’s most important to move on. I’ve had much more tough losses before I think.

How much would you say Tekken 7: Fated Retribution affected the outcome of EVO? 

I haven’t even played regular Tekken 7 enough to have it really affect me so I can’t honestly say. It obviously helped Poongko nicely though, and I’m really happy for him. He deserved it after standing in line for hours at majors just to play the earlier versions of Akuma. A lot of people assume he made the jump to Tekken and instantly was good due to Akuma when in fact He’s played a lot of Tekken before.

Is Tekken 7FR much different than Tekken 7 Vanilla?

I guess it’s different, but I wouldn’t be the one to ask this question to. I’m not the biggest lab monster who sits there and picks out all the little details and changes. I just play. The most important thing that affects outcomes of tournaments are the players skills and performance.

True. Were you planning on going with Jack-7 the whole way? You have some Akuma experience, and some Shaheen as well. Had you considered picking them?

Having experience with a character in an unreleased game doesn’t really mean much when I have Jack, a proven and tested character who’s carried me through so many tournaments. I wanted to remain loyal to Jack for this one. When I use different characters in tournament I usually have a very specific and laid out game plan for it. Other than that I try not to take too many chances.

As we all know, Saint won with Jack-7. What did you think of his Jack?

I enjoyed it much. There aren’t that many Jack players out there so I enjoy watching them succeed.

JDCR didn’t make the Top 8. That was very surprising.

Surprising, but not surprising when you learn that his losses came to Nobi, the defending EVO/global champion and Knee, in my opinion the best Tekken player of all time. Brackets are a huge factor in these massively stacked tournaments and sometimes it’s not about who you can beat but who you can avoid. Both of his losses were extremely close so if they played out again who knows who’d win

When Knee picked Akuma against him, what went through your mind? One of the commentators even said “the disrespect,” because he didn’t pick his main character. What were you thinking?

Not that disrespectful. Word already on the street at the time was that Knee had a very dangerous Akuma up his sleeve. JDCR came prepared, didn’t let Knee get away with anything. So props to Knee for sticking with that match up when he was given a chance to change and winning.

Geesemaster is a name many are really just beginning to learn. He eliminated Nobi. What did you think of his performance, and why do you think he got as far as he did? He slipped under the radar, I guess kind of like LI Joe in a way.

It’s good that he was able to perform well and represent Portland. We don’t hear too much about those guys so I wonder what else they’ll have in store for us when we see more of them in future tournaments. Feng is one of my favorite characters so geese has instantly become one of my favorite guys to cheer for. Going under the radar also helps especially against international competition. 

How did you feel about Tekken not being at EVO Sunday Finals at Mandalay Bay? The event was off the chain.

From a logical standpoint, Tekken had the second lowest number of entrants so makes no sense to host on the big stage. On the other hand, Tekken 7 is a game that has been gaining so much momentum over the past few months with the fans. Everyone’s paying more attention to it and getting hyper. Not to mention that it’s probably got the best fighting game graphics ever. So as a fan it would have been awesome to see my game and friends on the big stage.

Yeah, things are picking up very quickly and I expect great things over the next year. So lastly. Next year, EVO 2017. Tekken 7 will be out by then. What can we expect from Anakin?

A win.

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Photo by: KaryssaKilljoys of Circa eSports

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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