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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Interview with Mark Horner - Blitzkrieg Masters Amsterdam 2018 MVP

As promised, we've landed an exclusive interview with Mark Horner, the captain from the squad of EndPoint and also the crowned MVP form the recent Blitzkrieg Masters Amsterdam 2018 where the team established their dominance in concrete. We've conducted the interview in order to gain further insight into the winning team mentality and the experience of being crowned MVP, while also offering some well-deserved spotlight to the incredibly talented team. We hope you enjoy! 1. Describe your overall experience at the event, including the online stage and the LAN portion as a player and as a team. The event was really great, we didn’t have to participate in online qualifications as we had won Gallantry Budapest. The offline portion was great, the PCs were amazing and we had plenty of desk space which was always sometimes a bit of an issue. The admins were really helpful and any PC related issues we had were sorted very quickly. 2. 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One thing you’ll notice if you watch the VODs back of the stage games, when the cameras are on the players inbetween rounds or even mid round on our team, usually me or one of us is always talking. We use the 18 seconds or whatever to re-evaluate, why did we win the round? Why did we lose the round? How can we win the next round? Most other teams, especially when they are losing just look sad and don’t talk. It’s talking that plays the most fundamental part in winning – understanding the gaps in our defence/attack, how to plug them, etc. We also have the best team spirit; good luck finding a team that laughs and jokes and has as much fun as we do whether we are winning or losing! 4. Extremely well-deserved, you were awarded the MVP award. Comment on this achievement by referring to your individual performance within the team. I was happy to receive MVP, but as cliché as it sounds, in my eyes there were 4 MVPs. Everyone stepped up; Synde was clutching absolutely everything, Kevin was…using all of our coins, Cozje and Replan were getting some mad multi kills too. I guess my part to play is just get a few frags but read the game and find the holes in the enemy’s play, and keep the team motivated so even if we had a sh*t half they believed we could still do it – and do it we did! 5. The Blitzkrieg Masters Amsterdam was the first Battalion 1944 Major for all. Do you have any suggestions to improve any future Battalion 1944 Majors? It’s hard to say really, as an event it was carried out really well. There’s a lot to think about in terms of how the game grows, would it perhaps be better to run a couple of smaller events for the current player base than one big one? It’s hard to make that call now, but going forward we’ll just have to trust in Bulkhead and their plan for MU3 and beyond. I do really hope that another major or big event is announced soon though! 6. Apart from the fact that EndPoint is the top team at the moment, what else has the event proved in your opinion, about the state of competitive Battalion 1944? That we are #1 by far, CRG (were) #2 by far, then the rest at like 3-16 I believe are really close. A lot of teams, when practising online use all of their strats/nades/rotations that they will use at LAN and play exactly the same or more passive and wonder why they lose to us. When we are practising, we’re losing a lot of our practices because a) we are holding a few things back, yes, but most importantly b) we are learning from every game – most teams don’t do this they just say 'oh it’s unlucky' and move on rather than working out why we lost A/B so much on defence etc. I’d happily lose every PCW for 6 weeks and win the LAN because people underestimate us (hello, CRG 😊). 7. How does your team plan to keep up this position within the scene? Who are your biggest threats? 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The GO Malta Esports Festival - GALLANTRY Malta

Gallantry Events will be partnering up with GMR Entertainment to provide the best Battalion 1944 tournament ever to date in Europe with a nice prize pool and the perfect offline gaming conditions for the participating teams. After their success in organizing a 16 team event in Budapest last July Gallantry Events will be joining forces to host an international and high-quality event during The GO Malta Esports Festival 2018. Starting with the physical venue itself, we’re taking gaming to one of the largest commercial centres on the island, that being the Malta Fairs and Conventions Centre in Ta’ Qali. All the competition will be hosted over 2,500 square metres of area! The central stage will match an incredible size, while spectators will also have the possibility to enjoy an Expo area and a Careers Convention area. A maximum of 16 international teams will head their way to the sunny island of Malta to participate in the Battalion 1944 Tournament, were friends and families can join the teams for a relaxing holiday. Casters and a production team over will also be present to broadcast the games online at a top notch level. The Battalion Tournament will start early morning at around 9am on Friday 7th December where teams will battle out each other in the group stage matches. Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th will be all about the elimination stage where the top teams will face each other and play on the biggest stage ever in Battalion 1944 history in order to crown the champion. Teams don't have to worry to search for Hotels, Transport etc since they will find all information one needs on our website, with very cheap and reduced rates for both. All one needs to do is get the team together, book the flights, check the website for all info and he is good to go to come to Malta. Due to the international coverage which the tournament will be treated with, it’s a fantastic opportunity for organisations to reach out internationally alongside a national presence. Thousands of viewers who will observe through the broadcast, while locals and foreigners will be present at the event - ready to witness some breath taking matches.  Be sure to visit the event website for more info regarding the battalion tournament and comment on the thread below if interested in joining.

The GO Malta Esports Festival - PUBG Open

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Recap of the Blitzkrieg Masters Amsterdam 2018!

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The ePremier League - Inaugural Investment of a Football League in Esports

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