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SpaghettiRip talks founding CKT, UK mid-tier players stronger than US, ‘The One True Rip’

Hassan Farooq, also known as Spaghetti Rip (or Spag for short), is solidifying himself as one of the leaders of the Tekken scene in the UK. He’s the founder and owner of one of the largest teams, Cool Kids Table, he’s heavily involved in the organization of tournaments, and he is even the first to win a Tekken 7 tournament in the UK. Check out this interview as I learn about his Tekken roots, his team CKT, thoughts on Tekken 7, King of the Iron Fist Tournament, and much more.


First of all, how’d you get the name Spaghetti Rip?

I’m glad you asked. (laughs) I think that’s one of the questions I get the most.

I’m off to a great start then! (laughs)

Well, Aris used to do a show called EWGF Fridays and on that show in 2012, at Super Arcade, they were doing a TTT2 location test. Rip was on commentary and for some reason the chat was saying “take the spaghetti out of your pocket Rip,” and he got irritated. That happened to be around the time I joined Twitch so I thought it was a pretty funny name. I planned to change it, but never quite got around to it. But I think it worked out. It’s not the worst name in the world. Probably real close, though.

(Go to 1:13:30 in the video below to see what Spag is referring to)

Interesting story. What part of the UK are you from?

I’m from London.

Were you born and raised there?

I was actually born in Birmingham, which is a city north of London, but lived my whole life in London.

Ever been to America?

I’ve been to New York once, briefly.

When did you first get into Tekken?

My first experience with Tekken was Tekken 3 on a PS1 demo. The game was super fun even though Ling and Eddy were the only two characters playable. I got the game because I really wanted to be able to play the rest of the characters.

Ah, very interesting. Who are your main characters?

My main characters have always been the capos and Law.

Why those annoying characters – capos mainly? (laughs)

I chose Law because of his similarity to Bruce Lee. The capos were chosen partly because of their eccentric fighting style and partly because it wasn’t too hard to get wins playing Eddy on Tekken 6 online. (laughs)

So how do you feel about there being no Capso in Tekken 7, at least not yet? How do you like Lucky Chloe?

I’m not too bothered about it at the moment. There are plenty of characters to choose from but I do believe that Eddy has become somewhat of an icon so I can’t see him not being in the game. Lucky Chloe isn’t really similar to capo at all although I’ve had a good chance to play her and she’s really fun despite being pretty low tier.

Us anti-capo players appreciate the honesty! (laughs) You’ve been using Katarina in Tekken 7 though. Is that who will be your main?

I’m not totally sure yet. Katarina seems like real fun and she is more than viable in a competitive environment, but with so many more characters predicted to come out and with Law being so good, I’d have to wait before making my final decision.

Tekken 7 hasn’t been very accessible in the UK at all. How in the world did even learn to use her?

I have to give credit to MrAdam0 from Sweden. He’s a TO from over there and a big member of CKT. When we all went to the tournament Headstomper he already had quite a few hours with T7. He did his research and learned the art of the skank.

Skank? (laughs)

Adam then took me under his wing and passed this ancient knowledge onto me. Then I watched tons of YouTube videos of Koreans and Japanese players using her and found some more tech. It’s the only way we can learn.

 

 

Keeping it completely one hundred, how would you compare the UK Tekken scene to the US scene?

My honest opinion, without trying to be controversial, is that the mid-tier here in EU is stronger than the US. There are a lot of European players that I know personally who could place really well in tourney’s and are extremely talented. However, the real difference lies in the top-tier, which I think the US has us beat thanks to a few players.

You may have just started a national rivalry without even knowing it. I love it though! Switching gears, tell me about Cool Kids Table.

Cool Kids Table, or CKT, is an organization and team which is primarily focused on supporting Tekken both offline and online. We’ve helped support and organize multiple tournaments around Europe and always had a large group of CKT players at majors within Europe.

Is this a UK-only team?

Most of the members are from Europe, but we have some key members in other countries around the world, including USA. For example, Project-Run-Away, who was recently in the North America King of the Iron Fist Qualifier.

Who are the leaders of CKT?

I am the leader of CKT. It was a position given to me by the members, but there are others such as Fergus, MrAdam0 and Jackpotdante just to name a few.

So what made you all decide to start it?

It started out as a joke. I was streaming Tekken one day and talking about how much I despised Jun, then Omnizantetsuken wrote to Fergus saying “lets make a group for only Jun lovers and call it Cool Kids Table.” After that, I wrote to Fergus saying that I thought we should make this a proper group, since we had a close-knit group of players on Twitch. I thought, why do we have to be sponsored to represent something? We created a Facebook group and we got a huge reaction of people saying they wanted to join, because they watched our streams and liked the idea behind it. I never imagined it would turn out the way it did. It also showed to the world that people who meet online can be friends in real life and work together to create something. At this point, I’ve met with CKT members multiple times both casually and in tournaments and for that I am most grateful.

That’s awesome man. Do you sponsor players and handle expenses too?

Well, that’s the vision. Up until now we were really focused on our goals to help push Tekken in any way we could, rather than pay for players to go tourney’s. We were really focused on organizing tournaments, streaming, commentating and all the little stuff in between. Also, we have paid, on multiple occasions and for multiple tourney’s, for Korean and Japanese players to come down and also paid for their accommodation.

How can someone join CKT?

We are currently working on our website, which I believe will be cktgaming.com. The details on how to join will be ironed out and put on that site.

Fergus is the one who suggested that I do this interview, and I’m glad he did. How you and he connect as friends?

It was all on Twitch. We played each other on TTT2 online and got a message on psn saying “aren’t you that guy on twitch?” and from there we carried on, just like a lot of other people. He’s a really cool guy, he’s come over to London and stayed over at mine. A very strong player too. Just keep a distance from him when he’s had a few drinks. Sorry Fergus.

 

How can someone join CKT?

We are currently working on our website, which I believe will be www.cktgaming.com The details on how to join will be ironed out and put on that site.

The 64-man UK qualifier was two weeks ago. How was the experience?

I always love playing Tekken 7. The tourney was great. To see so many familiar faces and play was just good vibes all around.

Some considered you the favorite to win it. How did you like your performance?

I was not happy with my performance. My nerves had never been so high before. I guess the expectation to do well and the prize added up and got me really nervous. It’s definitely a lack of experience on my end and I have to face it and learn for next time. Not being able to use shoulder buttons was rough for me too since I wasn’t able to break many 1+2 throws, which isn’t good when you’re against a King player. That’s what happens when you’re a cheater European like me haha. All in all I feel I probably should have taken it, but the psychological aspect of Tournaments is something I overlooked and the lesson has been learned.

What do you think about Kaneandtrench representing the UK? How well do you think he’ll do?

Kaneandtrench is a player who’s on the same boat as me so I can really relate to him. He’s considered “new school” and learned most of his Tekken in Tag 2. He turned up to a lot of London tournaments and sessions. His desire to improve and love for the game is crazy and I’ve never really seen him get salty. The arcade stick may hold him back a bit, since he’s a pad player but I’m sure he will do well. You gotta watch out for these Yoshimitsu fanboys…

When it all started, was he someone you considered as capable of winning it all?

He was on the radar for sure. Yoshimitsu has been buffed quite a bit. Now he is really viable to use and since not many people have the matchup knowledge he was always going to be dangerous. He knows the character inside out. I feel even If I had beaten Kane and everyone else, I’m not sure if I would have beaten CherryBerryMango, which he did. I’ve known him for a while now so I knew he was the kind of person who would do his research.

Good. I’m interested in seeing him compete. You’ve been helping him practice recently, How has that been going?

Yeah, I helped him down at Namco headquarters in London. I helped him with getting used to Katarina and some other new characters. He struggled at first, but I’m sure those matches would give him enough of an insight if he ever had to play against them in Japan. The main thing, however, is getting used to the stick. You know our community manager, Edwin, was able to hook up the arcade cabinets with a wire to allow us to use pads. I hope they can come to a similar arrangement down in Japan.

Let’s hope so. Who else has been showing up to practice?

Bubsy and Shadowforce came to that practice session. Really good players and very knowledgeable when it comes to Tekken.

Who is the best Tekken player in the UK?

It was, without a doubt, Asim. He was on another level until he stopped playing. Right now, however, it’s hard to say because we don’t have our usual sessions. I guess I’ll stick with Asim for now.

Devil won the other European qualifier. What do you think if him as a player?

He’s crazy. Super cool guy, I was able to meet him in Poland recently. He’s been playing Tekken competitively since he was 8 or something. He knows the mind games behind this game so well. Most people watch him and say “he’s just mashing”, but they fail to see that he knows his spacing really well and has everyone in Europe beat when it comes to the mind game. I really wonder how he would do vs the North American players. I spoke with Bronson about Devil some time ago and he seemed to think highly of him. Now that he has Bob, I’m very excited to see how he will perform in Japan. Again, I hope he is able to use pad somehow.

Will you be coming to EVO next year?

If you had asked me yesterday I would have said no, but now there is a chance that I will be able to come and I know of some other players here who are also interested. I have never been to an American tournament. I really hope I can come.

What do you hope happens with Tekken in the UK in 2017?

I hope all the casual players that I have seen at all these conventions will be able to come and get involved with our scene. I’ve talked a lot about London but there’s a vibrant scene in cities like Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow that cannot be overlooked. Tekken is so popular here and I feel it’s the responsibility of the competitive players to reach our hands out and bring these Tekken lovers to our community.

I know that you watched the US qualifier. What did you think about the grand finals between Anakin and Mr. Naps?

Mr. Naps is scary good. It’s as simple as that. However, I should add that I personally don’t think the matchup was particularly good for Anakin. I still think he is extremely strong even in areas where Mr. Naps may not be. For example, a top EU player ‘Malekith’ had sets with both players in Strongstyle. He told me he had a very close first-to-5 with Naps but got destroyed by Anakin. They both have their strengths and weaknesses and I believe they both have a chance to get into that top 8 in Japan. I will be rooting for them from the UK!

Who do you think are some of the strongest US players? And who would you like to face?

My top three are Naps, Bronson and Anakin. I know a lot about the US scene and I could name many more top players but those are my top of the top at the moment. I would love to meet them and face them. I used to talk to Bronson a lot, we had a Skype group a long time ago with him and the CKT guys. He’s really funny. I’d love to meet him one day. OH and of course, how could I forget Rip. I’ve beaten him so many times in a two-bar connection I think it’s time for me to beat him offline and claim the title of “The One True Rip.”

Last question, are you and Ozzy related? And how did you all meet?

We are not related. I met him at Eurogamer Expo when he was working there. I always knew who he was since he was a pretty high ranked player online in Tekken 5 and was well known in the scene in Tekken 6. This was before my time.

So Ozzy used to the man back in the day? He seems to be a wild and funny guy. (laughs)

He is a wild guy for sure, there’s never really a dull moment. Chilling with him is always fun, but his personality can be a bit overwhelming at times. (laughs)

(laughs) Any last words you’d like to share with our visitors?

Well, if you got this far thanks for reading this. I guess this would be a good time to say that I’m looking to become the best player in the UK and Europe for Tekken 7. I won’t settle for less. I will be on a break for a while since I have some really important exams, but I’m sure you guys will see a lot of me on commentary and in tournaments. Follow me on Twitch if you want to watch me play Tekken whenever the game drops!

Good deal. Thanks Spag!

No, thank you for all the work you and your team do for our community. I said it before and I’ll say it again. I love TekkenGamer!

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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