Tekken 6 Tournament: Full report
13th Nov 2009 | 17:11
Promotional feature: What will you fight for? That was the question Namco Bandai asked UK gamers when it invited the nation down to Namco Station in London for its prestigious Tekken tournament.
Travelling from as far afield as Liverpool and Manchester for this tournament, Tekken players from far and wide responded to the challenge to prove they were the best. Well, that and the small matter walking away with the grand prize of a 42" TV.
There were two tournaments due to be played - the final qualifiers and the actual national tournament itself when all the big guns would be turning up. That's when it got hardcore.
Sunday 10am might seem an early start for some, but not these guys. Players turned up in droves, even arriving ahead of Namco Station staff. Once the doors were open and the players scrambled inside, there was no messing about as they jumped on the Tekken 6 pods straight away to start warming up.
There was a huge contrast in playing styles, from defensive Zafina players to all out Lars aggression. There was even someone chancing their luck as Mokujin! I scoped the opposition and noticed a few Law players standing out as something special and a Devil Jin player who even brought his own custom arcade stick. Serious business was at hand. And why was I checking out the talent? Because I was entering the tournament myself, of course. Gulp.
I'd be taking my battle-hardened Raven up against the various Eddy, Steve, Xiayou, and others lined up on the Tekken pods. The atmosphere between the players was friendly, but you could sense the slight tension in the air as everyone analysed each others playing styles and strategies. Not soon after the players had arrived, a projector screen beamed the first set of tournament brackets. The tournament was starting!
My first match was against Londoner Andy. The rules were relayed to us; best out of three, only the loser can switch characters. As newcomer to the game, he didn't seem confident and it showed. Tekken 6 rewards aggressive play - once you get in close the pressure is on the defender to stay sharp and safely duck out of trouble and create distance again.
That didn't happen here, as Andy's Steve quickly fell under the pressure of my Raven. It's always nice when the first match in a tournament is a comfortable one and so it proved here - not only does it help you warm up but it settles your nerves slightly too.
Up next was Ian from Sheffield, who had eased through the first round with Hwaorang. Hwaorang is a tricky character to face. He has various flamingo stances where his kicks become unpredictable, so defending against him up close can be a real headache. Bearing this in mind, I decided to keep my distance, wait for the kicks to miss, and then counterattack with a Raven combo.
It proved a sound tactic - the more Ian's energy bar wiltered under various combos, the more erratic his attacks became as he put himself under pressure. The first match was quite close but the second was a comfortable win.
Now the quarter-finals and things started getting serious. Michael was my next opponent. A lively lad from Liverpool who seemed to spend as much time dancing and singing as he did practicing, he was clearly happy to have made it that far and loving every second of the tournament. But that didn't mean he was there to make up the numbers - Michael was the first opponent I faced who had a clear gameplan.
His character, Marduk, is one of the trickier to use in Tekken 6's cast, but he had a tactic in place. Marduk has a move where he rears back, then charges forward and slams his opponent to the ground. From here, he can punch his opponent, snap their arm, break their leg... it's a tricky tactic to defend against. Michael based his game around this move and got plenty of "ooooh!" noises from the crowd when he landed it.
Even so, it proved to be his undoing because Marduk is vulnerable during the move, which makes him easy prey for combos. After shutting down the tackle a couple of times, I gained the momentum and eventually the win.
Just four players remained. Myself, Claydon, Imran (one of the Law players I noticed earlier) and Robin, owner of the custom arcade stick. I'd be up against Claydon's Baek while the other two battled for the remaining spot in the grand finals.
Like Hwoarang, Baek is a tricky character to play against because of his various kicks. One mistake will see you kicked high into the air, where you're then at the mercy of further kicks as you try to scramble back to a decent defensive position. Claydon kept the early pressure up and took the first match without too many problems. By this point, the entire room was watching and the pressure was on.
For the second match, I decided to keep my distance and block high if Baek got close, figuring he couldn't do much damage with low attacks. My hunch proved right, but Claydon also switched up his gameplan for the final match, as he held back himself. It came right down to the last bit of energy in the last round, we both went for a kick and... Raven's kick won!
Claydon jumped up, turned around to the crowd and shouted "I can't believe it!" and then watched the replay in disbelief. A close match but those are the kind of margins we're talking about in tournament.
Now it was down to the final. Robin eliminated Imran in a semi-final that went right down to the wire and seemed confident. His Devil Jin had been cleaning up the opposition and I knew I was in for a tough match. So it proved - despite my best efforts to make the finals at least competitive, Robin was never really knocked out of his comfort zone.
He realised I didn't know how to deal with Devil Jin's flying attacks - he can either throw or kick from that position - and using that as the main building block for his attacks. When I was knocked down, he did a good job of covering my attempts to get back to my feet. When I charged in, he kicked me away. When I blocked, he throw. Everything I guessed, everything I tried, everything I thought of, he was one step ahead. And that's why after winning 2-0, he was crowned the grand champion and raised the Heihachi trophy aloft.
Afterwards, Robin gave some useful advice. He said that some characters can hit Devil Jin in the air when he takes off for the throw/kick mix-up, which leads to a combo. He said it was a risk the first time he tried it, but when Robin saw I didn't know how to deal with it, he kept on using the move. He also said learning the basic moves and general movement is more important than learning combos. It's the basics that will get you far in Tekken 6.
Robin also won a place to the main event - the finals of the National Tekken Tournament on the same day, which this tournament served as the final qualifier for. That tournament had the top Tekken players from across the UK - known names like Ryan 'Prodigal Son' Hart, Dinosaur, Starscream, Cobra Commander and others.
And it was Ryan Hart, winner of Tekken tournaments on the international stage in Las Vegas, whose Kazuya triumphed in London over Luna's Alisa in the finals. Two champions crowned on the end of a day that ended with lots of virtual fighting, but lots of laughter and stories to tell. And for those of you who weren't there, there's only one question we can ask you - what will YOU fight for?