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Ozzy the Liono shares his Tekken story, and how LionZ Den is a childhood dream come true

When you ask people not from the UK to name some of the greatest Tekken players in the world, you hear names from Korea, Japan, and sometimes even America. But you very seldom hear them name someone from the UK. It’s not that the UK doesn’t have great players, because they certainly do. But for some reason people just have not had it on their radar. There’s a huge difference between perception and reality, and one man in London knows it and plans to change that stigma. He goes by the name of Ozzy the Liono. I didn’t expect everything that came out of this interview, but I gained more respect for Ozzy and LionZ Den as a tournament than ever before. I can truly say that this is the premiere Tekken event of London, and I’m expecting big things in years to come.


Ozzy, how are you doing, man? I know you’ve got LionZ Den around the corner, but what else have you been up to?

Hey Zee! I’ve been good man just been enjoying life spending time with family and trying to do something amazing for the European Tekken community.

The UK is so big. What part are you from?

The part of the UK I live in is in the capital, London. I’ve traveled the world and I think it’s best city in the world with every ethnicity based here.

London is great. I’ve been to London and Africa. I spent a month in London when I was nine, and actually got lost on the streets by myself at night. It was around the time the movie American Werewolf in London came out too! No lie! (laughs) Long story. But anyway, what’s the Tekken scene like over there compared to America and other countries?

Tekken scene over here in London is strong and there are loads of players with huge talent. However, there are just not enough events for them to showcase their talent, or big events that capture the public’s imagination. Compared to other countries I believe Europe is at the bottom of the tier at the moment. However, with events like LionZ Den, with my vision, I believe Europe will climb the Tekken hierarchy.

Where did the vision for LionZ Den come from?

The idea came during my childhood.

Oh really? Wow.

The initial introduction to Tekken was enough for it to become a part of me. The first time I played, the character chosen was Marshall Law, because I was able to play as Bruce Lee. I have great admiration for Bruce Lee. In addition, the soundtrack, the story-line, and the depth of the game play stimulated my mind. At that point, this game became a huge part of my life.

The idea of LionZ Den started to formulate in mind as I started to run tournaments in my bedroom and at my friend’s house. Later, I got involved with the disenfranchised as an 18-year-old working with the youth where I began to observe a pattern. Many of the local children would approach me after gaming sessions and would say that they had a great time. I knew from that moment that I wanted to give back to community and in doing this I was made to stand out.

During the tournaments I met people who found joy in the gaming world and didn’t fit in the other generic parts of society. I’ve met a range of personalities in the Tekken world and have learned in abundance. There are people who have suffered from anxiety, depression have come out and met people who suffer from similar thing’s and realized they are not alone, to give them joy I put on a show of LionZ Den.

That’s awesome, man. I love that because it’s deeper than just gaming for you, but making a human connection with people. That’s truly FGC-stuff right there.

I always try to improve and make it bigger each time, because LionZ Den is bigger than me as it brings everyone together from different nationalities and backgrounds. This beautiful game called Tekken also gives me the chance to meet people from all over the world and contribute to them. Through LionZ Den I’m bringing something different to the gaming world.

So, it sounds like putting on these tournaments is as much for you as it is the community. Is this an outlet of some kind?

People say that I have the heart of an innocent child and I guess that has always stayed with me, especially when it comes to gaming, as well as epic beat-em-up’s like Tekken. I was always fascinated with the idea of role playing, even as a child. WWF (World Wrestling Federation), or PC games, or action movies like Blood Sport , fighting gladiators from all over the world from different backgrounds having it out to the death! The arrival of Tekken made it possible so that I could be anyone of these incredible characters.

I get it. And you really do feel like you’re one with the character, and are immersed into their world. I love Tekken and a few other games like Destiny for those same reasons. This is quite profound, man. And so this new game you had discovered, Tekken, allowed you to become more, a heroic gladiator or warrior in your own mind?

I always imagined myself being on a huge platform with giant screens and people cheering and chanting my characters names, just like being in the coliseum in Rome taking on Tiger-like characters like King, as well as other mythological fighters. This would be played in the modern era without any actual human blood. So to me it has always made sense to have Tekken with a hyped up audience, as they are modern day battles played out on screen between the best of the best. I have always wanted to do it in a boxing ring, because I’m a massive pugilist fan.

Man, I feel like you’re preaching right now! You’re getting me hype! (laughs) And so when did this go from more than just friends meeting at the house to battle and into something more?

The transition to events and competing actually came from playing Tekken 5 DR online. This game was incredible, but the online was so bad. But we still played online a lot. I bumped into all these online guys and one specific person who went by the name of Adnanish messaged asking me to come to an event in London and to visit him. He came from Denmark and the rest is history. So really and truly Adnan is one of the primary reasons LionZ Den ever came about. If he had never asked me to come visit him it would never have taken place.

Well, thank God for Adnan! Okay, so when you decided to put on the very first LionZ Den, were there any challenges that you faced?

Of course, there was many challenges. However, there is a saying that if you want something perfect to happen, then work hard for it and then the universe will conspire. I would like to thank the team that volunteered and helped out on the very first event. The entire journey of performing the LionZ Den 1 was a great experience. This all began at my university on a studio night out that turned into a terrific gaming night.

So far you’ve had two LionZ Den’s and now you’re about to have a third. LionZ Den 2 was great because you had KOR, Help Me and JDCR there from Korea. That helped bring the hype big time. When is LionZ Den 3, and will there be any special guests?

LionZ Den 3 will have a specialist Ling player in Sodam from Korea. I was after Sodam for such a long time because I believe being a top player isn’t enough. You have to bring more than that, and with Sodam, he is like three players in one. He is an amazing personality, funny, charismatic and he is damn good at Tekken. The European Tekken community has a massive test on their hands with this magician. It will also be interesting to see players like Real Menace, Ice Beam, Devil, Phantom, Harry Potter, Starscream and Asim dealing with Sodam.

In what ways will LionZ Den 3 be bigger and better than the last two?

LionZ Den 3 will be like a festival, a circus, and a massive party. The vision is to make it more than just a gaming event, but in addition a great show. This event will be break through for European Tekken in many ways. America has EVO, Korea have Tekken Crash, and now Europe has Lionz Den. But the difference is they have me with some of the great fighters. 

But Will Tekken 7 be playable there? That’s the real question.

Tekken 7 will be available to play at LionZ Den for entire two days and it’s extremely possible that the latest model Tekken 7: Fated Retribution will be available.

Good!

https://twitter.com/OzzyTheLiono/status/761622861945659392

Yes. Namco UK has amazing plans for Tekken 7. It’s exciting times for European Tekken as Namco has shown it’s all about the community. They want to put on the best events for the community ,so a massive shoutout to UK Namco.

That’s good to hear, because I’ve seen the UK beg and plead to get their hands on Tekken 7. They UK looks hungry!

They really are! I get messages all the time asking Ozzy is Tekken 7 going to be at LionZ Den? And now it is. They have been watching Koreans, and the Americans, and now you can finally play for two days as much as you like.

Okay, before we get out of here, what’s good with LionZ Den TV? It’s been a minute.

LionZ Den TV will return when Tekken 7 comes out. It will be a fresh look as I just feel there’s nothing much more to offer on LDTV regarding Tag 2. I’ll be back on with Tekken 7. I’ll have a fresh game with fresh material.

Your commercial. How did you come up with that concept?

The concept came from DJ Khaled. The guy is funny as hell and he did a sketch where he offers this woman money, etc. I thought ‘I should improvise on it and change it up and give her a control pads instead.’ (laughs)

The woman in it, who is she? I think you just made her famous.

She’s a model and a friend. I believe she performed brilliantly. We also performed a Punjabi video for Facebook which went viral. Now she’s got many hungry gamers after her. (laughs)

Where can people register and learn more about LionZ Den 3?

You can visit the website lionzdengaming.com or on the Facebook page, or alternatively just follow me on Twitter @ozzytheliono.

Will it be streamed?

You can watch the stream live at twitch.tv/lionzdentv

Good stuff. I’m glad we did this interview because it even helped me respect LionZ Den even more now, especially after hearing you voice your heart from a sincere place. What I hear is that it’s all for the love of the game and the people. And that’s what’s up.

Alright London! You’ve got what you’ve been wanting. It all goes down August 13th! Be there!

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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