Maltese Tekken Players Competing at an International Event - Interview

Battalion 1944, COD2, League of Legends and CS: GO - these are the titles one would usually wonder to when thinking about local competitive esports. Maltese esports has a preference for first-person shooters, as seen through the diverse array of past leading titles such as COD2, Overwatch and the ongoing Battalion 1944. However, one title which has been gaining more local friction in recent events is that of Tekken 7. Packing high-framerate gameplay and demanding lightning fast reflexes, it offers what most competitive fighting games offer. A prolific name in the local Tekken 7 scene is Joseph Facciol, who has just recently made his way to Italy with a team to take part in an international Tekken 7 event. 

Hence, we decided to take the opportunity to get a closer insight through an interview. This is our first interview with a local fighting-game competitor, and it's with Joseph Facciol. 

1.) We'll start with an introduction. Tell the audience about yourself; who you are, your occupation, where you live and a heavy focus on gaming and what it has meant to you up to this point.

I am Joseph Facciol from Fleur-De-Lys. I work as an LSE and I love 3 things in life: Family, learning and gaming. As opposed to many, I do NOT think that learning and gaming are opposed; I have always seen a link between them after all, both encourage self-criticism and improvement. From an early age, gaming has always been a way to achieve escapism. Not escapism in the negative sense but as a way to put yourself through alternate experience. I guess the word I am looking for is, ‘katarsis’ - a purification of emotions.

2.) There are many competitive genres to choose from; with the majority favouring first-person shooter and MOBA - fighting games are a whole different realm completely. What makes them so different and why do you favour this genre?

To be honest, I do not know much about the fighting game genre in general because I only play one fighting game - Tekken. Ironically, it is the only game which I feel tense while playing but on the other hand it is very rewarding. I have always described Tekken as a game combining the amount of moves available in chess with the element of bluff from poker while demanding the player to act on these two elements literally in less than a second. This is actually what, in my opinion makes this game different from the main stream genres like shooters and rpgs: the intensity of having to play at the frame-level of the game! 

3.) You have quite the experience with local competition, as you've attended many of our events to reach podium finishes. Share your thoughts and honest opinions about the local fighting-game scene. What needs to change? How could this change be brought about? 

The local community has hit a few bumps along the way during the previous installments but it turns out that the long break provided a thirst for tournaments never before seen on the island. Ever since the tournament at the airport which you guys organized the community growth and the frequency of tournaments organized ha been increasing at a rate never witnessed before. Indeed, I do think that the Tekken community has reached its highest peak, so far... As it is always is the case, there is always room for improvement and my hope is that local esports groups keep growing and are open to include us their events to help each other grow. Local groups competing against each other would, in my opinion, spell danger for the local esports community. Instead, I think that cooperation  amongst local groups will be crucial if we want to let our voices be heard on an international level. Other than cooperation, awareness of the enormous esports economic potential among everyone is key for success here. It will help provide local players with the much needed sponsorships which are essential to be able to stay at par at an international level.

4.) Joseph Facciol will also be competing in an international competition this coming week, as he leaves for Italy this. Describe your current situation and the event which you're involved with. What are your expectations?

I have been away for quite a while from playing Tekken competitively and have only managed to make an effective comeback recently. That being said, I am presently confident in our abilities but it is our first international competition so we are totally inexperienced in that regard.  I say ‘we’ because although we have been competing locally against each other for over a decade we are indeed heading for this event as one team. Apart from me, there are also: Lawrence Spiteri, Christian Cauchi, Johnatan Cassar, Matthew Tonna, Steve Micallef, Dylan Caruana, David Cilia and Sean Dingli. I know for a fact that the 4th ranked best player in the previous Tekken World Tour will be taking part so the competition will be at an astoundingly high level. That being said, whatever happens, will be a learning experience for all of us and once again an opportunity to further improve both competitively and in terms of organizing other events.

5.) Tekken 7 is the 7th instalment in the fighting-game series. How familiar are you with the series and how long have you been competing seriously? At what point did you realise that this was something you could take to the next level?

 I never planned on playing Tekken. I remember I did like the game in demo one on the play station one but wanted to buy Monster Trucks. It just so happened however, that when I went to the local store the shopkeeper regretfully told me that he did not have monster truck and amongst the many games which( he said were up for sale was Tekken 2 platinum edition. Upon hearing the name I remembered that I did enjoy playing the demo with my father especially and decided to buy it. I instantly got hooked up and remember continually practicing during every instalment. My very first local competition was during my college days at a tournament in Imgarr when I met the local community for the first t8me and got the beat if my life. I then started to compete with the local community until I reached my prime in Tekken 5 DR and Tekken 6 when I was on a tournament streak. I then took a long break and was away from the Tekken scene for a while until I started competing again a few months ago. Then last wekend, I finally managed to win a tournament in a final against Sean Dingli who was on a tournament streak of his own and is still running strong. In fact, it was he who suggested that we embark on this trip. As my well-respected rival I owe a lot to this guy. We have both gained from our rivalry. Well, in the end, little did I know that that happy coincidence of buying my second preference game would lead me to go abroad and compete internationally. 

6.) Taking the step to compete internationally is no easy feat. For our last question, we'd like for you to provide some advice for prospective fighting-game competitors. What does it take to compete on an international level and where does one start? 

What has the process been like up to this point? One word- PRACTICE. As in any form of performance, practice is the most important element. Also, Tekken has a steep learning curve so in the beginning there will be quite a big gap between new players and seasoned ones. But you learn much more from your losses than you do from your wins so that should not be a reason for newcomers to lose motivation. Also out of all the Tekken instalments, Tekken 7 is the one which is most beginner-friendly so there has never been a better time to join the community. Finally, like many other games, Tekken is best enjoyed with friends so I suggest newcomers start practising against their buddies and join us on Tekken City Malta so that our community will grow even more and we will all learn from each other.

If you've taken the time to read these incredible answers, it's quickly understood that Joseph Facciol is a mature and determined competitor, taking a hobby to the next stage. Again, I'd like to emphasise the quality of the answers - the best replies we've ever received for an interview. Just like at the past MESF 2017, we'll be considering featuring Tekken 7 again for you all to enjoy. Just like Joseph recommended - "start practising"! 

Posted by Gabriel Sciberras on 12th May 2018, 07:25

I'm Gabriel - 17 year-old student attending a sixth form with a little free time on his hands. I've been working with Gamers.com.mt for a roughly a year now - spreading my interests in technology, gaming and writing over the platform along with interviews and hardware reviews. All constructive feedback is appreciated. Thanks for reading!

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