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A talk with Kaneandtrench, UK Tekken 7 Champion & EU Tekken World Tour leader

London’s Kaneandtrench talks Tekken, rising to the top, Yoshi and more.

Photo by: ESL UK

A talk with Kaneandtrench, UK Tekken 7 Champion & EU Tekken World Tour leader

Most people, including the UK, probably first learned of Kaneandtrench when he qualified to represent the Europe at the King of the Iron Fist Tournament 2016 in Japan. Ever since then his name has remained in the headlines. He recently won the ESL UK Tekken 7 Championship, where he remained undefeated during the series. He is also the current the front-runner on the European leaderboards of the Tekken World Tour.

I remember seeing a picture of him during the UK Tekken 7 Championship that showed so much extreme focus. It was then that I knew he was on another level and took Tekken very seriously. And not only that, he uses a character that very few use or excel with – Yoshimitsu. I wanted to know more about this guy, and you should too.

Mr.Kane Heartfield, thank you so much for your time, sir. First, let’s get to know you. What is your age and where are you from?

I am currently 20 years old, I come from London, England.

London. I visited once as a child. What’s it like growing up there?

I never got to see much of London besides Croydon until I was about 16, which was when I started exploring more of it as part of my travelling to UK events. And for the most part, it’s been interesting growing up in a place like London. There are some places that are really nice to wander around in, while others are considered a bit dangerous and not very welcoming – which Croydon is apparently one of them, and I live closest there. Guess being a Croydon guy helps. (laughs)

Are you in school or anything? Do you work? 

I’m currently going to be studying at university over at Bristol starting from 11th of September. I work as a shop floor team member at my local convenience store. Well, until I go to university.

Where does the name Kaneandtrench come from? And why all one word? Was that a username at one time?

So the story behind my username is one that’s kind of childish. Back on PS3 I had a good online friend and we decided to join up our names together as separate accounts, my result being Kaneandtrench. It was an account I never really used until my main one at the time had problems, so I moved to Kaneandtrench and that’s been my account name ever since. But I never did talk to the guy again. So now I consider my name to be a play on the game title Kane & Lynch.

When did you first start playing Tekken?

I first started playing Tekken when my older brother bought Tekken 4 back when I was around 5 to 6 years old, so essentially Tekken 4 was my introduction to the franchise.

Has Yoshimitsu always been your main character?

Back when I began on Tekken 4, the first character that stood out to me was Yoshimitsu because of the design and well – he had a sword. But, throughout the series he’d always be the one I end up playing first out of the entire cast and eventually would move on to become my main in competitive play. So yeah, he’s pretty much been my main boy since the start.

Your skill level with Yoshi is quite high. What do you attribute that to?

Well, it all started when I started taking the game seriously by playing Tekken Tag 2 online, and it went on like that for a while until I went to my first ever tournament at an arcade called The Heart of Gaming. Ever since that ended I was coming down to the arcade for sessions and I learned a great many things from all the UK heads, and the knowledge they gave me helped me to become better than how I was back then. Then I started looking at the bigger picture. For example, watching matches from players around the world, what the main things to look out for are, like movement and punishment. Eventually, all that combined with my own experimental and unique playstyle helped mold me into the player I am today.

What Yoshi players did you watch?

EyeMusician and Kari stand out to me the most because while they both have very different playstyles with Yoshi, they both are very good with him and know what it takes to win. And I’ve seen some interesting things from them both. That’s not to say I catered my playstyle to how they played though, because Yoshi, I believe, is a character that can be played in a number of ways, and as long as you have the fundamentals and skill to win in whatever way you play him, then that’s enough.

At King of the Iron Fist Tournament 2016 you defeated a very strong Korean opponent in CherryBerryMango. 3-1 was the score actually. Were you surprised that you beat him, or did you have all the confidence in the world?

I was indeed surprised that I beat a Korean who’s pretty much been playing the game for a long time, but at the same time I was confident because that’s what you need to be like when playing the game. To me it doesn’t matter who your opponent is, even if they are Korean. If you are confident in how you play, and confident, you have a chance of winning then you can make it. And that confidence is what helped me pull through against CherryBerryMango.

How did you fair at that KOIFT? I don’t quite remember who you faced.

I faced Kobore and Furumizu from Japan and I’m So Hot from Korea. And despite the big level of competition, I got away with one game in my group, despite being eliminated. And my other games came pretty close too, so I put up a good fight regardless, it was definitely a great experience!

Did you have any Tekken 7 experience, or were you playing classic Yoshi?

So I naturally had no Tekken 7 experience as I had never played the game before until the UK qualifier last year. So I went in with the knowledge from Tekken Tag 2 combined with what I studied of 7 online, and it carried me through the tournament pretty much.

In what ways has Yoshi changed from TTT2 to Tekken 7? In my opinion he is a very strong character.

I definitely agree. Yoshi’s buffs in Tekken 7 have completely changed how strong he is as a character from Tekken Tag 2. Beforehand it was pretty difficult to be aggressive with Yoshi and you had to rely really hard on his tricky play most of the time, and he had limited pokes as well. But now all the new moves and stance transitions he’s received as well as changed move properties have made him into a flexible fighter capable of handling any situation. While he may not be as strong as some tournament favorite characters still, like Dragunov, he is more than capable now of being a big threat to anyone.

Every character has their “thing” that leads to playing them the way there were intended. What is the key to playing Yoshi?

I couldn’t say to be honest as this can be debatable. Yoshi is a character that can be played in many different, effective ways, as evidenced by the top Yoshi players in the world, like Kari, JustFrameJames, etc. I guess if you ask my opinion the key to a high level Yoshi is to have a good understanding of his whole movelist, balancing solid play with gimmicky play from his setups and stances while maintaining solid fundamentals throughout the match. If you can combine all of that into your play, then you’ve pretty much got one killer of a Yoshi.

Did you compete in TTT2, or were tournaments not as big as they are now in Europe, especially with esports and the Tekken World Tour and such?

I did compete in Tekken Tag 2, but it was during the middle/end of it’s competitive lifetime so tournaments weren’t as common then as they were in the beginning. Plus I was restricted to UK tournaments since I didn’t have the money for travel at the time. But overtime as I entered more and more tournaments in that game my skills and results were improving, so I knew by the time we were finished with Tag 2, I would be ready for Tekken 7. And the World Tour is the perfect chance for me to show what I’m really made of.

Who was your team?

My main team was Yoshi and Miguel, the latter being a character I really enjoyed using from Tekken 6 due to the kind of character he is, a mean, brawling badass. This was one of the most unique teams in competitive Tag 2 history, and people took note of that when they saw me in tournaments.

During the ESL UK Tekken 7 Championship series, you went completely undefeated. How many qualifiers did you win?

I won 3 qualifiers, those being Hypespotting 6 in Scotland, the Birmingham qualifier and then the London qualifier.

Do you think it is your opponents not knowing the Yoshi matchup?

It could possibly have been a lack of Yoshi knowledge at the time as before he was a character that would get slept on, but Tekken 7 has changed him so much that learning how to deal with him might be a wise move now. But the UK guys were also still very new to Tekken 7 mechanically as a whole so until they got their hands on the game, I think their play wasn’t as good as it normally would be. Plus before the championship I did get to compete in Japan and the experience I got from there was on another level so it definitely made me a deadly opponent at the time.

In the grand finals of the ESL UK Tekken 7 Championship you faced CKT’s Fergus (now TDG). He’s a pretty strong Asuka player, but you beat him quite handily. How did you prepare? What was the key to defeating him?

As I stated before, I studied a lot about Tekken 7, not just what to do with Yoshi but how to deal with the new stuff from the other characters so I’d be prepared for the matchup. There was even frame data for me to look at so I knew what was unsafe and what wasn’t. The key to beating Fergus was the fact that occasionally he would throw out some keepout moves from her in the open and I just waited patiently to whiff punish every single one while occasionally going in to chip him down with pokes, because I noticed he doesn’t deal with poke pressure that well. Of course, my patient play made me end up eating a lot of mixups at the time. I think tournament nerves eventually got to Fergus,which he has established before as one of his weaknesses, because eventually he couldn’t handle what I threw at him and he was dropping killing combos which made the reset easier for me to win compared to the first series of sets.

You continued your undefeated status winning Tattakai Holland, but then you hit a bump in the road at the WAR tournament, falling to RTFM’s Roo Kang. What happened there?

I think it was a matter of adaptation to the game, because in the past during the championship, RooKang played the same way from how he did in Tekken Tag 2 back when he didn’t own the game, but now I think since he’s played the game long enough. He’s finally learned the way he needs to play, and I noticed this before the WAR event when we played online. His playstyle had changed and I just couldn’t adapt fast enough at the time to beat him. I eventually went out to his teammate Asim as well, because I started playing way too predictable and using the same old moves, and my defense was lacking as well. So since that event, I’ve been training hard against their respective characters and I believe I will be ready for them whenever we play each other in tournament next time.

VS Fighting followed shortly after, which also brought Echo Fox’s JDCR and Saint. What was it like facing JDCR for the first time?

Playing JDCR for the first time was great, because I was able to experience first hand what a true Tekken pro is capable of. And despite not managing to take a set off of him, I at least managed to get away with at least one round in each set which shows that I am capable of putting up a fight. All I need is just to train more and even play JDCR himself more until I get used to how he plays, because he plays Dragunov in a way I haven’t experienced from other Dragunov players in tournament before. The first game was a strong one for me, but a simple mistake cost me my chance of taking it, from that point on it was kind of hard to deal with him because it seemed as if his playstyle changed with every set, and I just couldn’t adapt fast enough to his play. But what mattered most is that despite knowing who he was and what he was capable of, I went in confident and didn’t doubt myself once and that enabled me to stay solid despite him being the better player in the end. We will actually be meeting again at Dreamolition Derby in Germany this weekend, so if we play in tournament again then let’s hope for a better outcome.

A few days ago you were disqualified from the Tekken World Tour qualifier. What happened?

I ended up being disqualified based on a stroke of real bad luck. My internet connection is kind of average and even bad at times partly due to the area I live in. But the speed wasn’t the issue on that day, it was the router itself. My router has a problem that occurs every now and then, like a few months in-between. It will stay on an orange light,meaning no internet, for pretty much three-fourths of a day before going back to normal. And unfortunately it did it on the day of the online tournament’s brackets. So I am disappointed that I missed out on points due to such a simple thing but here’s hoping I can perform well in Germany so this won’t matter much.

What are your thoughts overall on the online qualifiers?

I don’t like the idea of online tournaments for the tour mainly because all sorts of problems can happen which can cause a lot of inconvenience and DQs – like my problem. Some players may have the best connection speed in the world, but it’s known that Tekken 7’s online isn’t exactly the best considering the input lag and online lag combined, and random disconnections can sometimes happen consistently. So I don’t think it’s a good idea to implement such things in future tours purely due to the fact that problems like these can hinder them as well as cause some players to be eliminated unfairly, especially looking at the amount of points one can gain from these online tournaments – same amount as a Challenger event which I personally don’t agree with.

Why didn’t we see you at EVO this year? And can we expect to see you there in 2018?

I sadly couldn’t come to EVO this year because I didn’t have the money for the trip at the time, plus I only recently signed with my team District G and there weren’t any plans to sponsor for this event just yet, but there will be next year I believe. But hopefully next year, despite the fact I’ll be at University by then, I can maybe try to come if it’s not an inconvenience to me.

When Ozzy the Liono came to CEO earlier this year, he interviewed some ATL Tekken players that had some interesting comments about you and the UK as a whole. Pretty much they were saying your dominance is due to people’s lack of Yoshi experience, and that the UK is free. What did you think about that?

I saw the interview Ozzy had with the ATL guys and I couldn’t help but laugh in amusement about how I was being called trash and that I play nobody good to be considered good myself. I mean, recently I’ve been performing very well at Tekken World Tour events, beating a few top European players like Sephiblack, Malekith and even Tissuemon, all who have been playing the series for much longer than I ever have and have a history of being top placers in tournaments, so if that’s not worthy of praise then I may as well just come kick their butts myself haha. My teammate and friend King Jae actually went down to EVO and played some of the American players and showed them that UK is not as free as they initially thought, which is why I personally want to qualify for the world finals and teach a little respect to those that would call me “trash.” Not trying to fire any shots, but if I make it, bring me Anakin, bring me Speedkicks, anyone, I’m ready for anything to be thrown at me.

How do you think your chances are for being one of the top 5 TWT finalists from your region? 

Well right now I’m in first place with 115 points, but quite a few players have already started catching up to me, recent examples being Caiper and Sephiblack, but I believe I have a decent chance of qualifying, provided I do well at Dreamolition Derby and any other events I’m able to go to during my time at University. It would be good to make the finals a second time, and I haven’t been to America in quite a while so it’ll be interesting to return after so long.

Oh, so you’ve been to America? When was this?

I’ve been twice, both times to Florida, with family just for leisure really. I even got to play at a tiny arcade on the first visit, which had Tekken 2. But I enjoyed both visits a lot.

Now that Tekken 7 is out, how are you enjoying it?

I naturally enjoy any Tekken game, so now Tekken 7 is out, I enjoy every second I play of it, whether it’s online or offline, I have a passion for the game that will never die.

Which platforms do you play on, and have you been playing any online ranked?

I play only on PlayStation 4 and I do indeed play a lot of online trying to climb as high up the ranks as possible.

You recently signed with District G, joining King Jae, The Phantom and others. Congrats on that. Now that you’re sponsored, what does the future hold for you?

Well, my future plans is just to go to as many events in different countries around the world as possible and just play my absolute best in every single one. I want to try and become one of the best Tekken players ever one day and I still have a very, very long way to go down that road. So now that I’m sponsored, it will be a lot easier for me to branch out of UK tournaments and be a part of multiple other Tekken communities, playing their best players and making new friends. That’s what I love most at the end of the day.

Last question. In your opinion, who are the top players in the UK and in the EU? And have you ever played Farm2Play’s Devil?

Okay so if we’re talking top UK players for Tekken 7, not including myself I’d say Asim, StarScream, and The Phantom. For EU I’d say Caiper from Spain, Sephiblack from Germany, Tissuemon from Italy, and Malekith from Holland. I haven’t included Devil into that list yet because weirdly enough he hasn’t shown himself during the tour at all, which leads my answer to be no, I haven’t played him but I would very much like to as he is known as one of the best European players out there, qualifying twice for the world finals in 2015 and 2016 respectively – although for the latter, his brother Matt-JF stepped in for him because of an issue preventing Devil from going. I’m sure beating him would get even more eyes on me than there are now. (laughs)

(laughs) Indeed. Thanks Kane! I look forward to seeing more of your masterful performances on the Tekken World Tour.

To keep up with Kaneandtrench you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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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