Tekken prodigy Alexandre ‘AK’ Laverez dominates by seeing the game as simple and fun
According to Google, a prodigy is defined as “a person, especially a young one, endowed with exceptional qualities or abilities.” In 2013 at the King of the Iron Fist Global Championship in Japan, the Tekken world was introduced to a true Tekken prodigy named Alexandre Laverez, better known as AK. He was only 13 years old competing against the worlds best at the highest level in Tekken Tag Tournament 2. It has been three years since then, and AK will again be competing at the global finals again next month.
There are a few things I’ve learned about players who excel in Tekken and are heads and shoulders above the rest, they do not lack in confidence, they thoroughly enjoy the game, and they have a work hard on perfecting their craft. They see the game much differently than their counterparts. That mental block that most have that keeps them from going further – they don’t have that. There’s a simplicity to the game for them. And that’s what I’ve learned about AK. And quite possibly he sees life in the same manner.
He’s making a name for himself in eSports, even being interviewed by some of the biggest media entities, like Sports Illustrator. And all in the name of Tekken. I expect great things from this young man. Check out my interview with this prodigy.
Hey AK, thanks for agreeing to an interview with us! First things first, congrats on qualifying for King of the Iron Fist Tournament in Japan. How does it feel accomplish such an amazing thing?
Thanks! It makes me happy!
What does the name “AK” mean?
Angel. My parents called me “angel” when I was younger but I couldn’t pronounce it correctly. Only the sound “A” and “K” could be heard when I supposedly said angel. So it became AK instead of angel.
Interesting. Let’s discuss your huge win a few weeks ago. How confident were you that you would win Brawlfest?
I practiced hard, so I was very confident that I could win.
During the grand finals, you were in winners, and then Doujin reset the bracket and put you in losers. Were you concerned?
Yes. Because I really wanted the PS4 because my PS3 is broken.
You have a chance to go to to Japan and winning a PS4 is what’s on your mind? That’s hilarious! (laughs)
I was okay with the PS4, but when I looked at the crowd who believed in me I cannot fail them for my beloved PS4.
Again, that’s hilarious. (laughs) Did you have much experience with Tekken 7 before the tournament? How did you prepare?
Tekken is all the same. Same moves, same characters just being improved to be more beautiful.
That’s probably why you’re so good at the game. You don’t overcomplicate things. It’s simple to you. Does Playbook Arcade have the game yet?
Playbook will have Tekken 7 as soon as it is available.
Cool. When the world first heard of you, you were 13 years old and kicking butt in the global championship in Japan. How old are you now, and what grade are you in?
16 years old. I am in grade 10.
So that means you were in the 7th grade at that time? Wow. How did you get introduced you to Tekken?
My uncle Joshua introduced me to Tekken He brought me to an arcade in a mall.
And you’ve been growing stronger ever since. What age were you then, and which version of Tekken was it?
Six years old, and it was Tekken Tag Tournament 1.
How did you learn to play so well at a young age?
Tekken is easy to learn but hard to master. I love the game. I play Tekken because it makes me happy.
And that’s why you excel at this game. It’s simple to you. So many are intimidated by Tekken and say that’s why it’s not as popular as some other fighting games. If they took your approach to the game I think many more would be successful at it. Aside from nailing down the fundamentals, I believe it’s mental for the most part. When did you enter your first Tekken tournament?
It was in 2009 with Tekken 6.
When did you realize you were really good at this game?
I’m not really good in playing Tekken. Sometimes I’m just lucky. (smiles)
How do you balance school and being a pro player?
School is first.
Of course. But at your age, and with school, when do you find time to practice? And do you have a job, because going to the arcade to practice certainly takes money.
I only play every Sunday 6pm to 8pm at arcades, and my dad gives me 150 to 300 pesos ($3-$6 USD). The load depends on how much money we have.
Good deal. I like how you play with Paul and Law. Very fun to watch! Why are they your favorite characters?
They are best friends. If you watched the tournament, Paul was badly beaten by Jack 7 and he needs Law his buddy to help him win. And they did. (smiles)
Your play style has been described as “YOLO,” meaning “you only live once.” Or as Aris would say, you like to “party” when you play. How would you describe it?
We only live once. Maybe. (smiles)
Well, let’s contrast that with your performance in the grand finals at Brawlfest. You played a bit more patient. I know you say you had the PS4 on your mind, but I don’t think that had anything to do with it. Why were you so cautious?
My dad said, “patience develops as people age.” Maybe because I am 16 years old now and my patience is developing. Not sure.
That’s probably it. My son used to play a “YOLO” style as well, but as he’s gotten older I’ve also seen him grow in patience and fundamentals as well. Are there any other characters are you good with?
I play all characters. It doesn’t matter.
Are there any new characters in Tekken 7 you think you’ll play?
I did. I like Akuma.
I can’t wait to see your Akuma! What do your parents, friends and family think of your Tekken career?
If it makes me happy, they’re all for it. And it’s not bad.
Who are some of your favorite Tekken players?
Good answer. Do you think you’ll enter EVO 2017?
If they want me to play there, maybe.
Of course they want you there. You’re still a teenager. What else do you do beside play Tekken? Any hobbies, sports, etc?
My favorite sport! Do you play for your school?
Yes. I am varsity basketball player in my school, St. Paul College of Parañaque.
Nice. What advice would you give to other young players or people who want to learn Tekken?
Follow your parents, study well and practice hard.
Thanks again for the interview AK! And best wishes at globals in Japan!