Player Profile Series: Joey Fury at TXT
This past weekend, Team Circa’s Joey Fury travelled a staggering 5,130 miles from his home in Buffalo, New York to compete in the Tekken Extreme Tournament in Santiago, Chile. Ranked 3rd in the American Tekken World Tour standings, our team had high hopes for his placement in South America’s premier Tekken competition. (Spoiler alert: we weren’t disappointed.)
I reached out to our teammate before his performance on October 7th to get a read on his preparation strategies.
You're traveling abroad for this tournament. Talk to me about the Chilean FGC. What's the country like? What is your favorite thing about it so far?
The trip has been exhilarating. I have never traveled this far for Tekken before and I am having an incredible time. It is fun stumbling through conversations in Spanish and getting to experience the South American culture. Spero and I had a great day walking the streets of Santiago, meeting new people, and drinking some Chilean beer. My favorite thing about the country so far is getting to listen to the Spanish language being spoken all around me. I can't entirely explain it, but I really enjoy it. I haven't gotten to play many South American players yet but I will very soon.
How are pools looking for You? Are there any killers in this tourney?
It is hard to say how pools are looking because I recognize so few names in the brackets. I am well aware of how strong the competition is in South America so I will simply have to approach every match with a strong will to win. The word on the street is that South America is well-prepared for Jack and that the Peruvians say the tournament will be free. I look forward to showing them what a real Jack player looks like.
How did you to about preparing for this tournament?
This is my third consecutive tournament weekend following SCR in Anaheim and TFC in Raleigh, so I suppose my preparation has been done by competing consistently. The trip down to Santiago was exceptionally long so my preparation now is just staying rested, hydrated and focused.
What are your goals for this weekend? How do you think you'll end up placing?
The goal is always total victory. I have traveled a long way so I intend to take 1st place. In addition to that, my goal is to cherish the experience of competing in a foreign country, to have fun, and to play my heart out. If I do that, I know I will make the USA and my Circa family proud.
Joey certainly held to his word. He steamrolled his way through pools, making it out on winner’s side without breaking a sweat. He defeated South American player FHwoarang’s Feng convincingly, and finished off match one with those coveted, seven golden letters—perfect. He likewise defeated AR|Filox 2-0 off-stream, then PHD|WarDragoN-5000 on camera. WarDragoN got an early start with Lili, taking round one with a series of aggressive low attacks and a throw. This didn’t faze Joey, who came back with a vengeance, finishing match one 3-1 with a Tombstone—and another perfect. WarDragoN sensed something was amiss and made the switch to Akuma, but Joey, being experienced in this matchup, confidently gave no quarter, taking round one of match two with perfect number three—back to back. He closed it out 2-0, keeping a significant life lead and executing skilled sidesteps to avoid Akuma’s Hadoukens. Joey’s last battle in pools against Hanny-Master’s Paul generated some hype for the crowd and commentators after a double KO—his only loss in match two.
His journey through Top 16 proved to be more of a struggle. ORG/BA|Crespo put him in losers with Akuma, taking the win 2-0. The competition between these two was a kind of grudge match, as Crespo had eliminated Joey’s friend and fellow American player, Spero, earlier on. Although Joey was prepared for the Jack/Akuma matchup, Crespo managed to deal significant damage with jump-in attacks. Joey attempted to jab out early in order to avoid this big damage to no avail, and Crespo took the first match in this fashion 3-0. After this loss, it appeared that Joey was having second thoughts about his character choice, as he hovered over Paul after returning to the character select screen to gather his thoughts. Although tempted, he decided to stick it out with Jack, and managed to break Crespo’s win streak after maintaining the upper hand in health when time ran out. Despite this brief reprieve, Joey wasn’t ready for Crespo’s assertive playstyle, and suffered another defeat at Akuma’s rope-bound hands.
Despite this loss, Joey made it through to Top 8 after defeating Avalon|Joephking’s Bob 2-0 with ease. He appeared more comfortable with this matchup, finishing round one of match one stylishly with Jack’s Rage Art. His domination was so palpable that the crowd began chanting with each hit Jack-7 landed. “This doesn’t even happen in the U.S.!” Sajam commented. “Nobody likes Jack!”
He went on to take wins from AEG|D@X and HDG|True Alvin 2-1. AEG|D@X’s Eliza won their first match 3-2, managing to interrupt Joey’s blockstrings to win the final round with her unblockable. Spero’s encouragement was audible from the crowd during this match, and he stepped in to do some quick coaching before the next battle. This advice obviously came in handy, as Joey clutched out the next match 3-2, switching from his usual playstyle of low attacks and grabs to take advantage of his opponent’s mistakes and maximize punishes. Due to a lack of matchup experience and suffering a loss in round one, it was obvious he was playing on tilt and was a little zoned out. He turned it up in match two and his comeback kept going, winning round three with a perfect and taking the match 3-2, converting with a down-forward two after getting pressured against the wall. He managed to stay alive and make impressive reads, giving the crowd an exciting match that went down to the wire. This showed us that even though he faced a major challenge of not completely knowing the matchup, he could still utilize his skills to take a massive win needed to get him to Top 8.
Joey’s final match against Fogo no Mundo|Sapito went 1-2 in Sapito’s favor. Joey demonstrated incredible patience and exhibited knowledge of the Jack/Xiaoyu matchup by consistently blocking and punishing Sapito’s negative moves. Although he lost match one, Joey came back and won match two after getting some coaching from Spero. He took round one with a significant life lead, holding out to take the match 3-0 in a staggering win with utter dominance. The final match began with Joey feeling some momentum, taking four consecutive wins with round one in his pocket. However, the scales began to tip when Sapito took a trade in his favor, then maximized damage by punishing Joey into a launcher.
Then came round three. The clock was ticking. With only five seconds left, it looked like Joey would win with the life lead when time ran out, but Sapito executed a low parry, just barely getting enough damage to knock out Joey with one second left on the clock. Both the crowd and commentators alike got rowdy, those assembled beginning a chant in the background. Sapito ended up taking the fourth round with a smart mixup. Joey came out in 4th place for his first international tournament, a staggering success and a testament to his hard work.
I followed up his performance with a few more questions:
Were there any surprises you encountered at TXT? Tell me about them.
I didn't anticipate Eliza and Akuma being so widely played throughout the brackets. There were multiple players using Akuma exclusively and a few other top South American players had pocket Akumas. I was also surprised to see one of my biggest Tekken inspirations, Spero Gin, fall before Top 16. He had an exceptionally hard pool but we weren't aware of that fact until far into the tournament when it became clear that Crespo's Akuma was incredibly dangerous. I think the biggest surprise for Spero and I was how different the sensation of competing is when you are 5000+ miles from home. We can now empathize with people who travel internationally to compete. It is a unique challenge.
Let’s talk about that Double KO that happened when you played against Hanny-Master.
It's interesting you ask about that. I assume there must have been some shock and hype over that moment looking back on it. Strangely, I have been producing a lot of double KO's in both casual and tournament matches lately. When I saw the slow-motion begin, my brain actually recognized pretty quickly that it was likely a double KO. I wasn't fazed at all when it happened. I took it as a win for me because I came back from a deficit in that round. I could also see major outward frustration from my opponent over the fact he didn't take the round clean. He made a lot of great comeback efforts in that match to keep rounds close but in general I felt in control at that point.
Top 16 started giving you some challenges. You contemplated choosing Paul against ORG BA Crespo’s Akuma, who put you in losers. Why didn’t you make the switch? Do you think you might’ve won had you done so?
I contemplated choosing Paul very, very hard during that match. I am a major Jack loyalist when it comes to tournaments because of my relationship with the character. I always believe that any difficulties I encounter can be dealt with via adaptation, rather than opting for a different match up. I feel stability and pride from knowing that it will just be me and Jack come hell or high water. However, Akuma is a completely different beast and he is not bound by traditional Tekken mechanics. The way my Jack was operating at that moment was seriously at odds with Crespo's Akuma. It was a rare instance in which I feel a switch would have been beneficial. In the moment, however, I decided that playing the character I am most prepared with was the best option. I was in a foreign country with a lot of pressure so I had some lingering thoughts that my Paul could falter given the circumstances. He is not as tournament ready as Jack is. I would unleash Paul if I had the rewind button but I did what I thought was right at the time.
What was your biggest struggle in this tournament? How are you going to utilize your experience from this venture to improve?
I think my biggest struggle was staying 100% focused on the content of my matches. All the extraneous factors of travel and environment slowed my ability to adapt and I gave up a lot of Game 1's that I feel should have been much more easily handled. This forced me to have to make a lot of reversals happen to stay alive in losers, and it forced many more stressful situations. It wore me down and I think I was running on fumes by the time I got to my match with Sapito.
I think just going through the experience of long distance travel and feeling what it is like to go through a bracket of players that you have virtually zero intel on is valuable. Spero and I got to see the other side of things and get insight into what it will take to progress to the level of an international champion. Rapid adaptation, the ability to read deeper into player tendencies with less data, and just being a straight up clutch warrior. These are skills that need to be refined if you are going to make the big time. The skills are abstract so the solutions are elusive. But they can be found. Lastly, I was inspired by the fierce competitiveness and raw passion that the South American Tekken community possessed throughout the weekend. These communities are so in love with this game and we could feel their excitement when getting to fight against new opponents. Spero and I identified many valuable qualities within the South American scene that we can seek to emulate to improve ourselves.
Are you happy with your placement? Do you have any parting thoughts?
I'm happy and I'm unhappy. I felt that I fell apart in my losers semi match and failed to execute on reads that seemed very clear to me. It was a painful loss. But in the end, I have to give respect to Sapito for his superior composure. It is something I am still growing toward as a player. All that said, I am very happy I placed highly in the first tournament I have ever traveled for internationally. It is a big step for me and I feel I have come such a long way since last year. I can only be proud of the progress I am making and I know even bigger things are coming. And seriously. I was a dead man walking after that Eliza match. I'm grateful I made out with 4th place points!
(Article by Ginni Lou, @EXT0PD0LL)