Backed by Circa eSports, Anakin gains back a passion for Tekken like never before
Fifteen years ago he was just a kid who loved a game, and that game loved him back. It was roses and sweet nothings in the beginning, but as the years went by the petals began to somewhat fade. The boy and his game eventually formed a bit of an on-and-off relationship. At times the game showed him the world, and gave him experiences he had never imagined. The highs were certainly high, but they weren’t frequent enough. There were more lows than anything else. He looked for more mountains to climb, but there were only valleys to be found. Was it all a dream?
That boy is now a man, and his name is Hoa ‘Anakin’ Luu. And the game? Tekken. They probably know one another better than any pair you’ll ever find. He’s a veteran who has courted this game for fifteen years or more. A champion with a champion’s heart. But because of a scene that has not reached the heights of its counterparts, he may not have always received his just due.
And that inner flame? It’s back and setting everything it touches on fire. Don’t get in Anakin’s way, because he will gain a greater focus – championing over you in poetic fashion. As if it was written and he just wanted to flirt with death.
Anakin, it’s an honor to talk to a legend as yourself. Thanks so much for your willingness to do this interview with us. A lot has been going on lately, and we have so much to ask you. It wasn’t long ago that you talked about retiring, but like Jordan you’ve come out of retirement and are collecting those back-to-back championships. Why the change of heart? Did something re-ignite your passion?
There was a moment in time where I kind of lost my competitive drive and& desire to constantly improve. Even throughout Tekken Tag Tournament 2’s lifespan, I never really put forth the effort I did in previous Tekken games during practice. The arrival of Circa eSports came right on time. At long last I was given a chance to attend more tournaments than ever before and showcase Tekken in a positive light. That wasn’t going to be an opportunity that I would pass up no matter what.
Speaking of Circa, we talk with Marc Leikach (CEO of Circa eSports), quite often. We actually interviewed him a few months ago. Very nice guy, with a great sense of humor. And he loves him some Hoa Luu. But how did this newfound relationship with Circa about? And what’s it been like so far?
Tasty Steve was actually the guy who put Marc in contact with me. He’s always looked out for the Tekken community and I’m really thankful that he was able to help make that happen. I like Marc because he’s a lot cooler than most other people his age.
Yes, he is.
I can see that he really does what he can to fulfill the needs of all his players. So far it’s been an enjoyable experience with Circa eSports and I can tell it’s only going to get better.
Oh, I certainly believe you. I can see it. I love how they have a hands-on relationship with their players. They’re involved in the community too, not just throwing dollars into a bucket from a reclined seat.
But tell me, does playing for a them put more responsibility on your shoulders than playing for yourself when in a tournament now? Any added pressure?
Playing for a team definitely adds an entirely new level of pressure to the table. Good thing for me though, is that the more pressure there is the better I play.
It does! Speaking of which, let’s talk about some of your recent tournament appearances. You won Combo Breaker last month, and you just won CEO last weekend. You landed in the losers bracket in both of those tournaments, but then went on to reset the bracket and close it out 3-0. Is there reason this keeps happening? What’s going through your mind in those moments, and how do gather yourself mentally?
Pretty sure that I’m just getting lucky. Whenever I was down at Combo Breaker or CEO I was never really phased. I knew that I’ve made bigger comebacks in tournaments where the stakes were just as high. They were familiar situations for me and I knew that in order to succeed it was most important to keep my composure.
It looked like Lil Majin may have had your number at CEO though. He looked strong. Did you know he would be there? And what did you think of his gameplay? Did he have you worried? Because for a brief second it looked like you said a tiny little prayer. (laughs)
Majin and I have battled it out for years and at this point we’re pretty much rivals. I enjoy getting a chance to fight against him in tournaments because he knows how to challenge me so well.
Yeah, he was giving you the business at times, man.
Regarding the “prayer,” I believe that Rick the Hadou was just hyping up the crowd, and I was thanking the crowd for cheering for me. It definitely looked like I was requesting diving intervention though. (laughs)
When he placed you in the losers bracket, and then bowed toward you on stage, what were you thinking?
I actually didnt see him bow.. I think I had my back turned. Majin does a good job of hyping the match up so he was just doing his thing.
Battled tested. Not too many players have seen the matches you’ve seen. You’ve been in this thing for a long time. I’m glad you’ve found your motivation again. I’m glad you’ve signed with Circa. I can’t speak for you, but from my vantage point it looks like they saved you. They came into your life at the perfect moment. And right now the moment is eSports. It’s a real thing, even for Tekken. It hasn’t always been like this though. Like what you’re seeing?
As a player whose first Tekken tournament was almost 15 years ago, it’s a welcome sight to see how far the scene has come. Tekken is a game that requires years of dedication to reach a high level, so it’s good to know that the players can finally start getting rewarded for it.
Let’s talk about this history-making journey you’re on. You’ve got lots of heart, man. And I mean in a big way. Rip fought long and hard for his qualifying spot in the King of the Iron Fist Tournament. Everyone knows what he went though, and now that he has it he says he’s not giving it up for anything. Brawl Pro said he’s not giving his spot up either. I don’t think anyone else is either. But why do you find it easy to relinquish your qualifying spot? Or is it not easy at all? Is it a challenge to yourself?
The opportunity to be sponsored and compete in tournaments shouldn’t go to waste. I’m just capitalizing on Circa eSports’ timing and trying to gain as much as Tekken 7 experience as I can. It’s also nice to travel and have little weekend getaways at the same time also.
Win-win situation for me. Also, I know that there’s no way that when it’s all said and done that I wouldn’t be one of the 20 qualifiers for a Tekken Nationals. That much I’m confident about.
How many more times do you think you’ll relinquish it? Will Wizard World Columbus be the last time?
If I see some events that I can attend I’ll most definitely do my best to go.
EVO is coming up. I know that Knee will be there, JDCR too. Nobi just announced that he will be there. Kuro Kuro and the “Mature 4” and some others from Japan will be there. I’m sure Saint will probably be there too. When you hear of these guys coming, does that mean anything to you?
I’m good friends with some of these players after meeting them throughout the years. By them entering, the tournaments become very interesting, and it’s a challenge that I welcome. Representing your country at EVO is one of the biggest honors you can have as a player.
Asia has had Tekken 7 for two years. You’re just getting your hands wet with it. How do you get ready for the task under those circumstances?
I’ll just go into it with the same mindset I’ve always had. Just do my best and there will be nothing to worry about. I’m not really worried about who has what first and who plays what more.
Speedkicks. He just got picked up by Circa. You two joining forces makes for a very strong American team. Like LeBron James, did you have anything to do with the signing of this teammate? And will this stop you from going at each other’s throats in tournaments? Either way, Circa wins right?
Either way Circa wins and they’ve had their eyes on Speedkicks for quite a while. We’re still going to go at each other in tournaments because that’s how champions should do. I’m happy for him and I can already see that this is going to help him in Tekken a lot.
Last question. I don’t think there has ever been a time that you have not been mentioned in someone’s Top 5 or Top 3 for best players in America. And without fail Mr. Naps’ name always comes up too. The third is usually a toss up. There’s no footage of you and him online anywhere. When was the last time you and he fought one another, and what was the outcome? And when can we see you two square off again to settle the debates for people? Sadly, he won’t be at EVO.
It’s been a while since we’ve played so I think we’re due for a clash. He got me the last couple of times but I’m surprised we didn’t get to play more during Tekken Tag Tournament 2’s lifespan. More than likely we’ll duke it out at the King of Iron Fist North American Tournament.
Indeed. Thanks so much Hoa.
Header photo by Circa Kudo