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From T.O. to Tekken Pro: An interview with Tenshimitsu

Poland’s Joanna Torz has been much more than just Yoshi main.

From T.O. to Tekken Pro: An interview with Tenshimitsu

We discuss all things Tekken in this in-depth feature with professional Tekken player and Yoshimitsu expert Joanna Torz. Or as you may know her Tenshimitsu. From starting out in the arcades, to organizing tournaments, to securing a sponsorship deal, learn more about her incredible Tekken adventure.

This is a feature I’ve been excited to share with the community for a while. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it.

Hello! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! So to get started, tell us your name and where you’re from.

Hi! My name’s Joanna, my Tekken nickname is Tenshimitsu, and I come from Poznan city in Poland.

Tell us more about your history with Tekken, when did you first start playing?

A long time ago, when I was maybe 12 years old, I liked going to arcades. I remember that I liked playing a lot of Battle Arena Toshinden 2, but surprisingly I noticed that all the people were mostly crowded around a different game. It was Tekken 2. First time I looked at it, I thought “Why are they playing this, the graphics are inferior to Battle Arena Toshinden?!”. But one day, when the crowd was smaller, I decided to give it a try. Haha, after this day, I never played Toshinden again!

Haha I love that, Tekken 2 is when I really started to get into the game too!  So what exactly was it about Tekken that made you want to stick with the game and put so much effort into it?

At first I didn’t really put too much effort in the game, I was just discovering moves and trying to play with what I know in order to beat arcade mode. However, I really liked the atmosphere of Tekken 2, each character had their own stage and music. When Tekken 3 appeared in the arcades, I learned that there were actually gaming magazines where I could read more about the game. I also tried to surf the net looking for more information. So, to sum it all up, I liked the atmosphere, music, story and characters, and I liked that this game had a lot of depth – it felt really great to discover more and more moves and combos and keep trying to build “the perfect winning strategy”!

I think that’s one of Tekken’s strongest points, the depth of the game and how you can spend hours practicing until you find the perfect strategy! Within the community, you’re known as Tenshimitsu, why did you choose that name? (I have an idea as to why haha)!

Well yeah, my favourite character is surprisingly Yoshimitsu, haha! My first nickname which you can still see on Tekken Zaibatsu was Kazu-Yoshi-girl. I wasn’t very creative when making it, it was made after my main Tekken Tag Tournament 1 characters (Kazuya and Yoshimitsu). After I learned that Yoshimitsu’s name actually means something (Yoshi – good luck, Mitsu – light), I decided to create a nickname that was unique, meaningful and connected only to my main character. That’s how Tenshimitsu was born. Tenshi means ‘angel’.

Interesting! I love hearing the backstories to player’s tournament names! Staying on the subject of tournaments, you’ve organised a lot of events in the past. Can you give us an insight into what it’s like to organise fighting game events?

Oh, it’s definitely a lot of work! Not only on the day of the tournament, but also the months before. The advertising, creating a tournament website, looking for sponsors, venue arrangements; there’s a lot of planning and looking for trusted people who you can form a crew with. On the day of the tournament there’s a lot of physical work like unpacking monitors and consoles, setting up a streaming spot, and so on.

Wow, there’s definitely a lot of work that goes into the organisation!

I see a Tekken tournament as a joint effort of a team of passionate people who usually were tournament attendants in the past, and would like to make a perfect event for the community!

Absolutely! What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced when organising an event?

I think finding people you can count on is the biggest challenge. Following the plan is another challenge but it’s connected with the trust that everybody from the staff team knows what to do. In my opinion, great tournaments are made by great teams.

I totally agree with that ideology! Tell us about your biggest success?

My biggest success was a tournament in October 2016 which I organized with the help of CKT Gaming Team. Thanks to Mr Isshak from Bandai Namco too who personally brought Tekken 7 consoles with him, so we could play Tekken 7 for the first time in Poland. I was so proud I could be a part of this!

Amazing! Isshak is awesome! You’re one of the most prominent Tekken players in the EU. When did you decide to start playing the game competitively and why?

I think it was during the first Tekken Tag Tournament times. I decided to attend a tournament for the first time and I did quite well considering how inexperienced I was. During this tournament I met Agnieszka Postrzech from “Kapucha Team” (the first Tekken-focused team in Poland) who was one of the best Tekken players at that time. She became my Tekken mentor. It was during their team gatherings where I learned frame data, better combos and all other advanced topics, like proper side-stepping and backdash-canceling. It was an eye opener, it felt great to improve so fast!

Out of all the tournaments you’ve competed in, which one was your favourite and why?

I have best memories about “Tawerna Cup” series of local tournaments in Poland because I was nicely surprised during one of them! The Polish Tekken community brought a delicious Yoshi cake to thank me for making WCG 2011 preliminaries happen in Poland.

That’s amazing!

The art I received during this event still hangs on my wall! Other than that, I really liked Ultimate Tournament series and recently organized FDJ Master league! I am really grateful for the portrait movie made about me. The tournaments are getting better and better; the Tekken World Tour series of tournaments are spectacular, I love how the FGC grows!

I agree, the Tekken World Tour in particular was a highlight for me last year. In fact, I first met you at VS Fighting last Summer! One thing I always I remember from that event is your game against Dragunov.. That ending.. Wow! How did you feel after that game?

I really wanted to win this game because I wanted to play with Saint who was next in the DE tree! Doing uf+3 in that situation was just pure instinct. I was so happy after this game that when I finally played Saint, all my concentration flew out the window. Yikes! Luckily I feel that my composure is getting better lately.

Haha, literally everyone there went crazy when you did that! You’re now sponsored by F-Secure which is awesome! Can tell us more about that?

Being a sponsored player was one of my dreams so I’m definitely happy and proud about it! It’s quite amusing because in fact I started web development career to support Tekken fans by creating websites and now, after all these years, it’s the other way round – an IT company supports me in continuing my Tekken adventures. F-Secure has recently celebrated 30th anniversary, I’m so happy that such a seasoned company sees potential in engaging with eSport and FGC.

That’s such a great achievement! So how exactly do you prepare for a tournament?

Hmm, of course I play a lot, mainly I try to attend as many offline sessions as I can. Online is good only to some extent, I feel it teaches some bad habits. I use practice mode to train movement, combos, spacing, versus strategies and setups. I also look up the excel file with specific Yoshimitsu anti-character stuff which was made by Cosmic Forge and the “Illumimanji” discord group (high five! :D). I re-read strategies written by fellow Yoshimitsu players on manjikai.com, and I talk a lot with my Tekken friends on discord or Facebook. If I know I’m most likely going to face a great Tekken player, I look up their fights on YouTube or Twitch and try to pinpoint their weaknesses.

Are there any players who inspire you?

Of course! During TTT1 times I watched MadYoshi – his style was really crazy! Then I loved watching Souten and Otokonoko from Japan. Souten is a legendary player who was also really entertaining to watch! Recently I’ve been watching Kari and eyemusician who I think represent two completely different styles of playing Yoshimitsu. They’re both great!

Are there any characters you particularly dislike coming up against? Why?

I dislike Akuma and Eliza. I feel that there should be no place for fully invincible attacks in Tekken. I also don’t like how their moves are animated.

I think a lot of people echo your thoughts there haha! The competitive Tekken scene is definitely growing. What piece of advice would you give someone who’d like to transition from the casual scene to the competitive one?

I assume that if somebody wants to transition to the competitive scene, he or she already loves digging deeper into Tekken mechanics. I would say: continue researching, and get in touch with the local scene and attend tournaments! Tournaments are the heart of Tekken and the best training ground where I feel that I improve the fastest. It’s also the best place to make friends with knowledgeable Tekken players. Don’t wait until you ‘feel ready’. Don’t waste your time, just go to tournaments! There’s no better place to improve. Use every opportunity.

Great advice! Staying on the subject of the competitive tournaments, we interviewed CuddleCore who is competitive female player based in the USA. When we spoke to her, we discussed the subject of the FGC being very male dominated, and she mentioned that it’s a lot more manageable to be a female in the scene now. What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever experienced any negativity in the past?

I have never experienced any negativity in the past. Only recently I’ve noticed a couple of negative comments on Twitch chat, but I’m happy that other viewers react to these comments quickly and silence the trolls. Talking trash makes only the talker look immature & bad. The community raises awareness in my opinion, Tekken is a very intense game and I think it’s crucial to constantly maintain a friendly atmosphere.

I couldn’t agree more with that! It seems most of the negative energy comes from people hiding behind a screen haha! So, you’re one of the best Yoshimitsu players on the scene. What made you first choose Yoshimitsu and why did you stick with him?

Hmm, at first I liked his looks in Tekken 2, 3 & 4, as well as his story which was very positive and funny at times. Then I really liked his style, I was having a lot of fun back in the Tekken 5 and DR times. Then his style went through a drastic change in Tekken 6. Even though Tekken 6 was a great game and I got used to changes, Yoshimitsu was clearly a low tier. One of the changes I still don’t really get is taking away a standard low punch from regular stance, I’d love to know the reasoning behind this. However, I think now in Tekken 7 he’s almost a complete character, I’m really grateful that the Tekken balance Team brought back his df+2 in regular stance, and that he can swiftly transition between all of his stances. There were a lot of other awesome little tweaks that would take a long time to talk about. I’m never bored when I play Yoshimitsu! I hope they continue expanding his abilities, especially in “No-sword stance” which feels a little behind

Kaneandtrech is one of the best players in the UK, and another Yoshimitsu player. Have you played any matches together? What do you think are the key differences between your Yoshimitsu and his?

Yes, we have played a bit of freeplays during last year’s TWT event in Warsaw, it was fun! As for differences… hard to say, we’re both following a more “solid” approach of playing Yoshimitsu, without too many shenanigans. Kane has played a lot more games than me overall that’s for sure. It affects the overall confidence in game. I feel I should play more.

If you could give a first time Yoshimitsu player one piece of advice, what would it be?

The complex character that he is, it’s hard to summarise advice to only one piece. Maybe… check out Manjikai strategy blog! There’s all that I would talk about when introducing Yoshimitsu to somebody!

Do you have any other favourite characters you like to use?

In the past I played more characters like Kazuya, Kunimitsu, True Ogre, Jin. Now I mainly stick with Yoshimitsu, mostly because of lack of time. Other characters I plan to use in Tekken 7 are Katarina, Kazumi and Noctis. I wish Kunimitsu was added to Tekken 7 at some point, she was great!

Katarina is definitely fun to use, she’s one of my new favourites! Are there any Tekken characters you can relate to, and why?

Hmm, probably Kunimitsu, she’s really cool! Especially in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 where her style was more original.

What’s your all time favourite Tekken game and why?

Tekken 3! The memories, the modern game play! This game was far ahead of the times.

Awesome!  So, we’d love to learn more about you outside of Tekken, so I’m going to ask you some random questions! What other games are you currently playing?

I’m now mostly playing Hearthstone. I also like Shadow of the Colossus (remastered version is great!), Tenchu and the Metal Gear Solid series. I like going back to them from time to time.

What are your main hobbies outside of gaming?

All kind of creative stuff like drawing and sculpting. I’m now in the process of making a figure for a friend of mine. I’ll share it on Twitter when it’s ready!

I’m looking forward to seeing that! What’s your all time favourite movie?

Forrest Gump!

What a classic! What are you currently binge-watching on TV?

I frequently go back to re-watch some episodes of Netflix the Punisher and Breaking Bad series. I also like One-punch man! So funny!

What’s your favourite country to visit?

I like going to Croatia, such a beautiful country! I also dream of going to Thailand and Japan. One day, I hope, I’ll go there!

Japan is on my bucket list too! Are there any other games you’d like to play competitively?

Yes, I’m thinking about playing Hearthstone competitively.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us! Hopefully I’lll see you at an event this year!

Thank you so much! <3 It’s an honour!

You can follow Tenshimitsu on Twitter here.

Advocate of the Tekken community and self-proclaimed Queen of the Iron Fist Tournament, gaming has been a main hobby of Zoë's since she was a kid. Her favorite genres are fighting and action/adventure. Her other passions include football (soccer - Liverpool FC to be exact!), fashion, music, and eating far too much pizza! Lastly, one name for you - Nina Williams.

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