Struggling against all odds and baiting enemy mistakes with some risky “footsies” is part and parcel for any fighting games professional worth their grain of salt.
And for Abhinav Tejan, the title of “best Tekken player in India” comes with its own hurdles that the 27-year-old had to grind out of his system regularly.
In an exclusive conversation with Abhishek Mallick of Sportskeeda Esports, India’s prodigal Tekken star opens up about his professional journey and gives some valuable insights on the nation’s FGC scene.
Here is an excerpt of the conversation.
Q1. Abhinav, tell our readers a bit about yourself. What’s life like outside stomping players in fighting game servers?
Abhinav: Hi, I am Abhinav Tejan, and people in the gaming community know me as Tejan. I am a 27-year-old professional competitive gamer from Delhi. The game that I compete in is called Tekken, a fighting game, and currently, I am playing the 9th iteration of the series, called Tekken 7.
I play this game a lot because it has become my profession, and sometimes it feels like a job, so I have to take a breather every now and then. What I mostly do if I am not practicing is that I go out and hang out with friends, talk to my parents, and do things that are not related to gaming.
Q2. For how long have you been playing fighting games? Walk us through some of your fondest memories with the genre while growing up.
Abhinav: I first played Tekken when I was 5-6 years old. I went to an arcade shop with my older brother where I saw Tekken 3 for the first time, and it looked amazing.
It had a different kind of attraction compared to other games at the arcade at that time. Maybe it was the graphics, or perhaps it was the 1v1 competitive nature of the game that lured me in. But it put a different kind of impression on me than the others.
I think it may be why I am still playing Tekken after trying out other competitive games like Dota 2 and CS: GO.
Q3. What was the first tournament you attended? How nervous were you while going up against some of the best that the region had to offer?
Abhinav: I used to play this game casually during school because I didn’t know there was a competitive scene for it at the time. But after I graduated from high school in 2010, I found an advertisement for a LAN gaming event, which had a Tekken 6 tournament as a featured title.
At that time, I had a PS2, and the only Tekken game you can play on it was Tekken 5, so I practiced on Tekken 5 and went to the tournament. I didn’t go there to win.
I just went there to have fun, but after I reached the top four in the event, I started getting nervous. I calmed myself down and took the win. It was a comfortable victory for me because most participants were Counter-Strike and Dota players.