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TekkenGamer Blogtable: EVO 2018 predictions, memories, Season Pass 2 wishes and more

Answering questions around this historic fighting games event!

Evolution Championship Series 2018 is this upcoming weekend, August 3-5, in Las Vegas, NV, and it is going to be the biggest Tekken 7 esports competition the world has ever seen. That’s a fact! The TekkenGamer team has come together to answer a couple of questions, giving their predictions, thoughts and more about this historic event.

1. Let’s start with a big question. Who is going to win EVO? Note: Knee is not participating.

Zee: The age-old question. Well, being that I am an American, it would be great to see one of my countrymen win it all. In my opinion, the top three North American players right now are Jimmy J Tran, Joey Fury, and Lil Majin. These three have been playing well upon the Tekken World Tour, and they’ve put up some great showings against some of the more noteworthy Asian competition. So, I’m hoping one of these, or even Anakin, whom you can never really count out, will win EVO. And with Knee not participating this year, this certainly makes more room everyone, no matter where you’re from. My wishes aside though, the favorites are probably Saint and JDCR, but I also believe kkokkoma has a strong chance to take the whole thing. He’s is like a young Knee in the making with is ability to play multiple characters at a high level. But with there being 1,544 entrants, this is a hard task for anybody, so may the best man or woman win.

Zoë: Saint or JDCR are the two names that instantly come to mind. However, kkokkoma is another strong candidate too, he’s been one of my favorite players to watch this year. His performance at VS Fighting was amazing!

Kaydie: I’m rooting for JimmyJTran!!!

Di: Naturally, Knee would be the easiest pick. But since he is not coming, things are getting more interesting. I will say pretty much the same thing I told my friends when we were discussing our predictions before VS Fighting – Saint. In my opinion, if Saint will be in his top form, he will win. I feel like he is up there along with Knee, being able to play out of his mind with amazing reads and great reaction. I was correct when predicting his win in Birmingham so maybe I will be right this time too? Other than that, I really hope that kkokkoma will place at least Top 8, hopefully Top 3. He has been one of the most consistent players during this year’s Tekken World Tour, plus he recently won against JDCR and was close to resetting Grand Finals against Saint. He is about to enter the next level.

Shen: I am gonna be different and root for Kkokkoma. He isn’t sponsored and after speaking to him briefly, he is really hungry for that 1st place win. EVO will be an emotional win and I have a gut feeling this could be his time. He plays so many characters efficiently, so he has variety in his disposal. After his result in VSFighting, he is going to fight harder and re-evaluate his loss against Saint. I am sure he will have the answers for that because he took that loss quite hard. If it isn’t Kkokkoma, Qudan will probably take it if he is back on form. He seems to really make JDCR struggle and seems to have answers for everything JDCR throws at him. Qudan is probably not happy with his performance at VSFighting, so I feel this is THE tournament for him to redeem himself.

Francesco: This year I place my bet on JDCR or Saint. Usually Knee it would have been the first choice, but as Di said, he’s not going to attend EVO 2018. I think that even without Knee, the korean scene is a force to be reckoned with. However JimmyJTran and Anakin remind us that USA it’s still a strong competitor for the title. I’m expecting great things by these two players. Personally I would like to cheer for Tissuemon, since he’s representing Italy. I rooted for him during the TWT final held at Milan (which he won, in the end), it would be cool to do the same for the EVO final, as well as a great accomplishment for both him and the italian scene.

2. Will you be watching the stream alone or with friends?

Zee: I’ll definitely be watching alone. My son, who is 12 and also loves Tekken, may tune in here and there, but for the most part it’ll be me, myself, and I…  and Twitter! LOL

Zoë: I’ll be watching the stream at home with my other half.

Kaydie: I’ll be there on the ground floor getting rowdy with NorCal Tekken!

Di: The EVO weekend will be quite complicated in my case. I have two activities planned for Saturday. I am helping with a DBFZ tournament in another city and I am going for a football match in the evening. However, since there is a 9-hour difference between Las Vegas and Warsaw (Poland), I will still be able to watch quite a lot games at home at night. I am already stacking coffee and energy drinks. As for Sunday, I will be busy as well but Tekken 7 finals are starting at 10:30PM for me, so that’s great.

Shen: I am definitely watching it with friends. We got a house party at Icarus’s new place (MBA head organiser) with PS4 set ups, snacks and a shed load of alcohol with a TV to watch the epic Evo action.

Francesco: I‘ll be watching the stream too. Maybe some friends will join.

3. What is your opinion on the Tekken 7 EVO tournament not being related to Tekken World Tour this year?

Zee: With 1,544 competitors this year, it makes for the largest Tekken esports competition in Tekken history. In Tekken World Tours, whomever won EVO was given free and clar entry into the Tekken World Tour finals, which is a big deal.  And with so many competing this year, it would seem that this tradition would remain. I’m sure they have their reasons for not including it this year though.

Zoë: It would’ve been cool if they were linked, simply because of how huge EVO is.

Kaydie: I think it’s a bit of a bummer since EVO has such colossal attendance numbers.

Di: I like it and there are a few reasons. If EVO was a part of Tekken World Tour, you might think that there are pretty much no Tekken tournaments outside of this series. EVO is something special and deserves a different treatment. I like the fact that EVO winner won’t be automatically getting into the Amsterdam finals because this way we will have an amazing Last Chance Qualifier event right before the finals – for me it is a great move both from the PR and community perspective; nevertheless, I would love to see last year’s TWT winner, Qudans, to get a free spot in the finals… but since sports drop this rule (e.g. FIFA World Cup), maybe it’s actually a good idea? I am torn on this one.

Shen: I like the fact that is not part of the World Tour. The fact that EVO is an exclusive event and award itself is another accolade that players can strive for. Having two awards for the World Tour and EVO itself. Two big awards why not? EVO is already a big esports name itself, it doesn’t need to be consolidated into one with the World Tour.

Francesco: It’s no big deal to me, not necessarily EVO and TWT have to coincide. Actually I would like to see many leagues and tournaments, and not just for top players, to help increase the esport scene. A lot of time I hear of people getting afraid because of high level players, so I keep thinking about an intermediate league, for players that would like to move a step in that direction, but without jumping directly in the sharks’ pool. Top players always manage to qualify somehow, what I’m worried about is about granting an entry level for beginners, it could help the FGC to be more solid at different levels.

4. What is your best / most important memory regarding Tekken at EVO?

Zee: It was EVO 2015 when Tekken 7 Vanilla was out. I saw Nobi pull off one of the greatest comebacks I had ever seen. He was up two rounds against Saint, who was using Shaheen at the time. With only about ten percent life, Nobi performed a combo that was so glorious that someone even made a standalone clip of it. And one thing to note is that this was also when Dragunov had his old rage art. Newcomers to Tekken 7 probably aren’t familiar with this one.

Zoë: I’ve never attended the event, I’ve only ever watched it on stream. I do enjoy watching it each year though. For Top 8, I get loads of snacks and drinks in and make a proper day/night of it!

Kaydie: Getting out of pools in winners last year, just to get straight bodied by Yamasa’s Take and Kkokkoma immediately after. It was glorious.

Di: I have never attended the event so I can talk only about what I have seen or read. Evolution 2008, Ryan Hart vs. Gandido in Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection. The obvious reason is that I always recommend this video to people who should learn how pressing the PS button can affect the game and how important it is to clear this before each match. I even used this footage in a video to spread the awareness. But there is more than meets the eye. Even though, to my knowledge, no Polish player participated in that tournament, it was quite important for our community. Earlier that year there was a tournament in the UK which winner had their EVO travel expenses covered. Two Polish players, Matt-JF and Devil, met in Grand Finals. However, none of them could travel to USA due to problems with visa (yes, you need it when travelling from Poland to USA but not when travelling from USA to Poland…). This way the prize was given to the next person and it was Ryan who placed 3rd. Even though it has been already 10 years, I still wonder how either Polish player would do at EVO because those were one of their prime days in Tekken.

Shen: One of the hypest moments of Tekken I have seen has to be Nobi doing a ten hit string on Saint in 2015. That was unbelievable. He did the start of a ten hit string, cancelled it to a wall break, tailspin, wall carried to the wall and then finishing it with a rage art. I lost my sh** seeing that. I never thought I see a japanese player utilising a ten string. It was unheard off. I never been to Evo unfortunately but watching the atmosphere on stream looked electric especially the announcement of Geese Howard last year. JDCR jumping up and down having a nerdgasm had me dying.

Francesco: actually they’re so much that I can’t choose. I’ve seen a lot of incredible performances and the competition is definitely well rounded,  there are so many great matches that can provide showtime. However I think that the best memory is the one that we still don’t have about Tekken. I follow also Street Fighter, and I’m waiting for something as crazy as the EVO Moment 37, the one at Third Strike between Daigo and JWong. It was so powerful that made jawdrop even people not interested about fighting games or Street Fighter. I would like to see something like that for Tekken too.

5. Lastly, if a Tekken 7 Season Pass 2 is announced at EVO, what would you like it to be?

Zee: Do I think they’ll announce something? With this being EVO and with the biggest Tekken tournament ever, I would certainly hope so. But, let me make this very clear, no-one here is saying that there will be. We’re only saying that if they do announce it, or something, what we’d like to see. So with that, I just hope that it isn’t an announcement that says something is coming in 6-12 months, or the middle of next year. While an announcement would be great, that would be a huge disappointment. The DLC timeline of Season Pass 1 was something I always thought spread things out too thin, and especially with Tekken Bowl not being online. But what would I like SP2 to be, if announced? I honestly want to see new everything – new characters, new stages, and a new online mode.

Zoë: I’d love to see legacy characters added and maybe one guest character. The legacy characters I’d like to see are Anna, Lei, and Julia. I’d obviously love to see Jun and Unknown, but I’ve got to be realistic! I’d also love to see more legacy outfits plus the addition of Team Battle mode. Oh, and a Devil Kazumi as a playable skin!

Kaydie: Tekken Ball.

Di: Nothing is yet certain so we have to guess, although I am pretty positive that something will be announced, even if it’s only a teaser. Instead of trying to guess what’s about to come, I will say how I would proceed with Season 2 if I had any actual input. I would go with 3 or 5 characters: two guests, Kenshiro from Hokuto no Ken, Kiryu from Yakuza, and three legacy characters: Lei, Julia and Anna or Marduk. These characters would be released each 3rd or 2nd month, either October, January and April or September, November, January, March and May. Other than adding new characters, I would tune in the balance a little bit – not a lot, because the game is quite balanced, but just to make it more interesting. Some ideas: nerf Kazumi’s d/f+1 but buff her u/f+4 (range/hitbox), make Lee’s juggles more consistent, give better frames to Gigas. I have also heard about an interesting change: make Paul’s CH QCB+4 result in an immediate tailspin instead of a stun. I would also love to see 1 new rage drive per character (maybe throws?) and modified input for some Rage Arts because currently some characters can do this accidentally – for example, bears and Jack may press b+1+2 to break a command throw but if they are out of range, they execute their RA which are usually blocked and punish hard. Another example is Asuka’s d/f+1+2 which can come out when trying FC d/f,d,d/f+1+2 command throw.

Shen: I want some balance changes more than anything. #bufflars and please #buffmiguel. Miguel needs his range extended and probably better counter hit 4 conversion. Lars lacks a decent counter hit game now, so maybe make one of his lows like db4 a lot less punishable like Devil Jin’s db2. I would be happy to sacrifice the counter hit launch from db4 if they made it less punishable. That way he would be a bit more viable. My poor mains have been nerfed to death. Other than that, I would love to see Kazuma Kiryu from the Yakuza series in the game. We have pretty boy Noctis, now we need a manly brawler. I am hoping some legacy characters will make it such as Julia, Lei and Ganryu. Yes we do need a Sumo wrestler in the line up. We already have anime in there. Other guest characters from other 3D fighters such as Virtua Fighter or Dead Or Alive are welcomed. Are Bandai Namco going to bring unique characters from the mobile game into the main game? Sure hope so.

Francesco: a character from Virtua Fighter it’s due at this point. There were many 3D fighting games back in the 90’, but in the end the two most technical and balanced games were Tekken and Virtua Fighter. A little crossover would be cool celebrate the two big pioneers of 3D fighting genre. And I think that guests from other fighting games can be easier to add, speaking about gameplay. They can even suit better the taste of the audience because they’re more fitting in Tekken 7. Actually I don’t mind about legacy characters, I like to change the roster a little from time to time. Maybe a new Tekken Force and a proper tutorial? That could be cool. These contents can be interesting even to bring onboard new players.

Former writer for SDTEKKEN, TekkenZaibatsu and 8WAYRUN. Used to play Tekken and Soulcalibur competitively, currently focuses on helping tournament organizers and the community in general.Works in the video game industry and has been credited in multiple titles, including Ultra Street Fighter IV, Street Fighter X Tekken (PC), Mortal Kombat XL (PC) and Injustice 2. Teaches math and English. Loves pandas, red sneakers and ice cream.

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