Shoryuken interview: Red Bull’s Hoa “Anakin” Luu discusses his “Class in Session” video series, playing online during the pandemic, and his thoughts on the future of Tekken 7

By on September 16, 2020 at 11:46 am
Hoa "Anakin" Luu poses for a portrait in Atlanta, Georgia, USA on 30 January, 2020. // Brian Hall/Red Bull Content Pool // SI202007160053 // Usage for editorial use only //

Hoa “Anakin” Luu poses for a portrait in Atlanta, Georgia, USA on 30 January, 2020. // Brian Hall/Red Bull Content Pool // SI202007160053 // Usage for editorial use only //

How a Tekken pro filled a need in the community by giving more options for education

A longtime Tekken pro player, Red Bull‘s Hoa “Anakin” Luu has had quite the pedigree throughout the franchise’s growth in recent years. According to Liquipedia, Anakin, hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, has consistently placed in the top eight and top 16 of every major Tekken 7 tournament he has attended with quite a few first-place victories on his resume. He was also the number one ranked Tekken 7 player in the United States in 2018-2019 and ranked second overall globally right behind his fierce longtime rival Jae Min Bae also known as “Knee” from South Korea according to the Tekken World Tour standings.

Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has greatly affected various sectors of societies as well as the fighting game community worldwide, most if not all major tournament events that include Tekken 7 in their main lineups have been canceled for the rest of 2020 and possibly beyond. As a result, we won’t get to see pro players such as Anakin in high-level tournament play for a while. However, that’s not stopping Anakin from continuing his Tekken 7 training and creating content. In fact, with his latest video series in collaboration with Red Bull Gaming titled “Class in Session: Anakin’s Tekken Academy,” Anakin is sharing his knowledge and wisdom of basic and advanced Tekken 7 training to help new as well as experienced players who want to learn and get better at the game at a competitive level.

In this SRK interview, Anakin talks about how the idea for his recent video series originated as well as how he’s staying busy during the pandemic situation. He also discusses his thoughts on the upcoming fourth season of Tekken 7, the Tekken World Tour, and what his plans are for the foreseeable future.

Marcos Blanco: First of all Hoa, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Due to what’s going on with the COVID-19 situation, a lot of fighting game community events and tournaments have either been put on hold or outright canceled including things that were upcoming for Tekken 7. Has the pandemic affected your ability to practice or play competitively and how are you coping with these societal changes? Also, what are your thoughts on how the pandemic affected not only the Tekken 7 community but the FGC as a whole and what the future holds after this unfortunate situation subsides?

Anakin: The world is definitely going through a lot right now. The pandemic has affected our ability to gather and compete live, and that’s something that I surely do miss. However, I think esports are better suited to adapt to these challenging times than other sports/live events. Online gaming already accounts for a big part of the FGC and gaming in general. These days, there are numerous regional online events players can enter on a weekly basis. That will definitely help satisfy players’ competitive drive until we can one day attend live events again. I have no doubt that we’ll be back stronger than ever next year. I’m sure all the gamers are eager to get out of the house once it’s safer. Who would’ve thought?!

MB: Regarding the videos you and Red Bull Gaming have collaborated on recently titled “Class in Session: Anakin’s Tekken Academy“, how did the idea come about to do this series? What was the process like and what do you hope viewers, especially those who don’t know much about competitive Tekken, take away after watching these videos?

Anakin: The idea spawned back when COVID-safety precautions were ramping up and it was recommended that people stay in their homes except for essential needs. Between people all of a sudden having a lot of extra time on their hands at home and the popularity of Tekken 7 increasing even though it’s been released for over three years, it seemed like a perfect idea. I hear all the time about people wanting to learn the game, but not having enough time to practice or having a good community to teach them. With “Class in Session,” I did my best to break down the game piece by piece for beginners, so they could tackle the game at their own pace week to week.

MB: The Tekken series has been long considered a franchise that is difficult to compete in at a high level. However, the developers have made strides to make Tekken more accessible in the mainline series with mechanics like Rage Mode, Rage Arts, and Rage Drives. What do you think about these changes made to the Tekken formula? Do you feel Bandai Namco has struck a good balance making the series more accessible to new players while still maintaining the depth that seasoned vets such as yourself appreciate? Why or why not?

Anakin: It’s no secret that Tekken is known as a difficult game to pick up. Even though the developers eased up on some of the difficult mechanics, the game still isn’t easy. That’s why it’s so important to add Rage Attacks and Slow-Motion. Now, spectators can watch and enjoy the game without being bothered to learn about all the intricacies of the game. More spectators will eventually lead to more new players. It’s a perfect balance for sure and I think all long-time fans of Tekken appreciate the changes that have helped out community grow in a way nobody thought possible.

MB: Bandai Namco has recently announced the fourth season for Tekken 7 with new characters, stages, mechanics, moves for some of the roster, and balance changes on the way. What changes and mechanics would you like to see implemented into the game personally? Anything you wish for your main man Jack-7 to have in future updates? Which characters would like to see return? Do you have any ideas for a brand-new character to be added to the Tekken lore?

Anakin: When it comes to new releases/seasons/content, I like to have little-to-no expectations so I can be surprised and excited when the releases do happen. But with that said, my Jack-7 is known for using a lot of different attacks, even some of the lesser-used ones. It would be really sweet to just receive any attack that Jack-7 players can incorporate in competitive tournament matches. Sometimes characters receive new attacks that don’t have a purpose or real practical use. As long as Jack gets something I can hit people in the face with, I’m good! As far as characters, I’m a big fan of Mokujin. I play a lot of characters and can’t decide sometimes so Mokujin is perfect for that. I want Mokujin, Baek, and Roger Jr.

MB: If the COVID-19 situation starts to normalize by either the end of this year or sometime next year, what are your goals as far as competitive Tekken 7 is concerned? When the Tekken World Tour starts up again, are there any changes to the format you would like to see happen to benefit pro players such as yourself? Also, should we expect more Tekken 7-related content coming from you?

Anakin: I think the competitive Tekken 7 scene has come such a long way since the start of Tekken 7, I really can’t see how things could get much better for now. Each year it seems that the TWT takes one step forward in terms of format, and that’s why the 2019 competitive season was the most exciting and unpredictable so far. Hopefully, the organizers continue to do a good job of highlighting lesser-known regions in the Tekken community, such as South America, the Philippines, and Pakistan. One thing I would like to see, perhaps in a future Tekken sequel, would be the ability to advertise TWT/official Tekken events somewhere in-game similar to how Street Fighter advertises their DLC and CPT stuff.

I’ve been active on YouTube recently, especially with all the extra time on my hands. I’ll continue to create Tekken-focused content on my channel because it seems like a lot of people are learning from my vids!

MB: Any final thoughts or shout outs you want to give? Thank you for your time once again.

Anakin: Shoutout to all the local scenes & organizers who have taken the initiative to run weekly online tournaments for the community during these challenging times. I’ve been able to still get my fix of watching tournaments. I watch as much as I can. It’s awesome!

If you want to learn more about Hoa “Anakin” Luu and how to get better at Tekken 7, follow him on his Twitter and Twitch channels. You can also catch the rest of his seven-part video series “Class in Session” on Red Bull Gaming.

Sources: Red Bull Gaming; Liquipedia; Tekken World Tour