Last week TekkenGamer attended Play Expo Manchester, the North of England’s biggest gaming expo. While there we got to chat to Manchester Battle Arena (MBA) who organised and hosted the fighting game tournaments at the event. MBA are at the forefront of the North West UK fighting game scene and host a range of successful multi-game events, in both a casual and tournament setting. Tekken is the main focus of MBA’s lineup, and the team hosted an exciting Tekken 7 tournament at Play Expo.
Since the birth of MBA they’ve only grown stronger, and they currently have a great team of dedicated staff, and an ever-growing clan of players who represent them at tournaments on a national and international basis. The most recent being MBA Roo Kang who traveled to Dubai this past weekend to compete in the OuGaming TTT2 tournament.
After spending the best part of two days with the MBA team, it became abundantly clear that these guys are some of the best in their field. The impressive tournament setup and their undeniable passion for the fighting game community is what impressed me above all. Not only are they professionals, but they are also true fighting game fans. I spoke to MBA co-founder and chairman Esmond ‘MBA Ez’ Fong, and MBA staff member Jaz ‘MBA JazdaBham’ Bansal, who helps out at the events to find out more about Manchester Battle Arena, and to see what’s in store for the North West when it comes to Tekken. Both Esmond and Jaz have been fans of Tekken since they were children, and both started to play seriously after Tekken 6.
The North West’s fighting game scene was on the decline and the community was drying up, especially with the closure of Gamerbase Manchester in 2013, which played host to a range of gaming tournaments. Something needed to change, and quickly, so Esmond and Yingah (also a co-founder) took it upon themselves to give the scene that much needed revival.
After Gamerbase closed, there was nowhere for us to play. I was a really hungry Tekken player so I created my own scene by gathering the local players to get involved. It started off as casual home tournaments in my own house, but it soon got to a point where there was around 25 people coming round, so as a scene, we had to do something bigger!” Esmond continues, “We needed to start tournaments, and we really needed somewhere in the North to represent Tekken as there was nowhere really up here that did, not like you see in London, or other European cities. Not a lot of multi-game scenes put Tekken as the main focus either, everyone uses Street Fighter, so we started MBA and decided to put Tekken as the main focus. It was a risk at first, but it’s definitely paid off.
Manchester Battle Arena have certainly cemented themselves in UK fighting game scene, and are continuing to go from strength to strength with their events and tournaments. This was evident at Play Expo, with both the casual and tournament areas being constantly full during the event.
With the release of Tekken 7 getting closer by the day, there has been a lot of discussion regarding the current state of the UK Tekken scene, with most of the community wanting to see more of the game in terms of events and tournaments. I asked Esmond and Jaz what they thought of the current scene, and what they’d like to see in the UK when it comes to Tekken. “Right now I think the Tekken community in the UK is strong. We’re in a good position for newcomers as well as veteran players with Tekken 7 as they both seem to be enjoying the game equally. I think the UK is starting to get more notice,” stated Jaz. I definitely agree. After visiting EGX and Play Expo, where Tekken 7 was playable, there definitely seemed to be a mutual sense of excitement surrounding Tekken at both events. Both the casual and hardcore players were really enjoying the game, and most importantly were having fun with it.
I spoke to many members of the community at these events, and they all had great things to say about the game, even the players who distanced themselves from the scene during the TTT2 era. Esmond followed on with, “When we announced Tekken 7 for Play Expo everyone got so excited, there was a great reaction!” He continued, “I hope we will see a Tekken Tour in the UK. We were the first multi-game scene to have Tekken 7, and I’m hoping more can be done for the UK as the demand is definitely there.” Esmond’s thoughts are most definitely echoed throughout the UK community. People want more Tekken!
So what’s in-store for MBA once Tekken 7 comes out? Esmond tells us “We’re wanting to launch a big event upon release and bi-weekly ranking battles. We already hosted a massive Street Fighter V event which had over 75 players, so we’re hoping to do the same thing for Tekken 7 when it launches.” The UK community needs to keep MBA on their radar as these events will definitely be something to look forward to.
Manchester Battle Arena are an integral part of the UK fighting game scene, and I can’t wait to attend another one of their events in the near future! Thank you for keeping the North West scene alive. Keep doing what you’re doing guys! Keep up to date with the latest MBA news on their website, Twitter, Twitch, and Facebook.
A huge thank you to MBA Ocelus (Liam) who played a huge part in putting the event together and a big thank you to Ben, Jordan, Sean, Max, Ying, Scott, Abdul, and Bally for helping make the Play Expo event a huge success! Big shout outs to our sponsors Bandai Namco, PQube, Replay Events and Arcade Club.