Following our great collaboration with Zagreb Tekken Showdown for the recent A1 Gaming Weekend TEKKEN 7, we decided to sit down with one of the community’s founders, Petar “Keno” Koenigsknecht. The interview with Keno has the goal of introducing our community to Zagreb Tekken Showdown and the great work they have been doing for the past two years.
Hey Keno, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. Would you mind introducing Zagreb Tekken Showdown to our fans that aren’t familiar with the job that you are doing? What are your main objectives?
Hey, glad to be here! Zagreb Tekken Showdown is a project that has been organizing offline Tekken tournaments since 2019. We started creating these tournaments because there was a lot of interest in Zagreb concerning the latest Tekken game. Tekken 7 has boomed not only in our country but across the world. Our goal is to incorporate ZTS into Tekken World Tour – the international Tekken league sponsored by Bandai Namco. During these past two years we have managed to build up a strong community of Tekken players. In the beginning, our events were mostly Zagreb-exclusive, but as we made more tournaments, people from all around the country started to visit us.
We want to create a competitive scene in the region so that the players have a place where they can test their skills without having to go abroad.
How do you feel about the current state of TEKKEN 7 in the region? Are there new players trying to go down the competitive road?
We have noticed a big jump in the average skill level during the last year and a half. The difference is even more visible once you check out our 1st tournament and compare it to the last one. Players that visit tournaments have more motivation to get better and since Zagreb has become a hot spot for Tekken, it’s only natural that we are getting exponentially better over time.
Even though it has been some time since we started as a community, we still see new players every time we host an event. One portion of newcomers always tend to start playing competitively. This influences the dynamics of our tournaments and helps others to grow as well.
That being said, Croatia has become almost undisputedly the best country in the Balkans for Tekken. The player base is large, the average skill level is high and we have been dominating the latest Tekken events in the region. Every top 8 sees at least 4 Croatians, in this latest tournament there were 6 of us in the top 8.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced your projects and the FGC community as a whole? As you are primarily focused on LAN tournaments, how has the transition to online play been going for you?
The COVID-19 crisis has put on hold many of our plans for this community. With the LAN tournaments out of the question, the whole international Tekken community has shifted its focus towards online tournaments. We started as an offline tournament organization and didn’t think we would ever do an online event. Online events just lack that atmosphere and adrenaline we were used to. Luckily, some of our Slavonian members have kept the community together by organizing Tekken podcasts and our Serbian colleagues organized two online events in the recent period. There is always some Tekken content in the Balkans, and we are not the sole providers.
Did you expect a big player turnout in this online format that the A1 Gaming Weekend featured? How does this compare to some of the other tournaments that you have organized?
We couldn’t have guessed or predicted the number of participants for this tournament, but we were content with more than 40 players that attended the event. Of course, offline tournaments that we organized before the COVID crisis would easily feature more than 64 players. This tournament was available only for PC Tekken players, so our PS4 players had to sit this one out. Unfortunately, Tekken still doesn’t feature cross-platform play.
What were some of the favorites going into the A1 Gaming Weekend cup? What regional players are on the rise?
A1 Gaming Weekend featured some of the best Tekken names in the region. Most notable of all is without a question QSKE’s Crashbanter – a player from Osijek that has been dominating the competitive scene in the whole region. He is our star player and we consider him to be one of the best in Europe. The COVID crisis has stopped him from winning the tournaments abroad and getting more international attention, but this is only the matter of time. He recently won the Polish and Serbian online Tekken tournament, A1 Adria’s was his third in a row!
Another favorite for this tournament was Kalash – one of the strongest players from Zagreb whose matches are always fun to watch and commentate. Kalash is certainly one of those players that progressively became a big threat. He wouldn’t be a favorite in our early tournaments but the community has made him one of the best players in Croatia.
The similar could be said for Tkalac. Another Slavonian, Tkalac started to make a name for himself right before the lockdown. He was present for only one offline ZTS tournament, but had good success even there. He is still on the rise, so who knows what’s to be expected of him!
Macedonian players also made a big impact with 2 of their players reaching top 8 and Yamato taking the 3rd place. They are completely new to us but it’s safe to say that Macedonia also knows how to play good Tekken.
This tournament was stacked and full of surprises, especially in the top 8. Still, some notable names were missing – names like: Masamune, BurkeCro and Bagheera. These players usually help create even more drama since they are all candidates for top 8. We will see the biggest clash once the offline events start rolling again.