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| Jan 28, 2023

Jamaica Esports Initiative: ‘Tekken’ things seriously in Bali

/ Our Today

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The self-rpoclaimed ‘Mr Tekken’, Dwayne Downer (left) shares a quick moment with Gregory Moore, chairman and CEO of the Jamaica Esports Initiative (JEI). (Photo: Contributed)

By Nichola Beckford 

2022 was a good year for the Jamaica Esports Initiative (JEI) as the entity fielded Jamaica’s virtual athletes at ground-breaking events across the globe.

In December, it was a double-header as Gregory Moore, JEI chairman, shuffled the island’s top video gaming talent across the world, beginning with the International Esports Federation (IESF) World Esports Championships in Bali, Indonesia and finally stopping in Istanbul, Turkey for the Global Esports Federation (GEF) Global Esports Games. The former took place from December 1 to 12, while the latter ran December 14 through 18.

“Jamaica was invited to participate by each federation for the respective events and our athletes go through a national selection and regional qualifiers,” Moore explained.

In Istanbul, E-Football and Street Fighter V were the games of entry. For Bali, Jamaica took part in Tekken 7, which was an amazing experience for Jamaica’s top Tekken player Dwayne ‘Mr Tekken’ Downer.

“It was an eye-opening experience. I got to meet people and players from all over the world. Of course, I got to represent my country, but it’s good to experience other cultures and also the synergy of Esports. To see everyone come together under one umbrella and play games is something I’ve never really experienced before, and at that level,” said Downer.

Tekken is the long-running fighting game franchise that solidified fast action 3D play into what was primarily a 2D graphics-driven genre then dominated by Capcom’s Street Fighter series. Created by the Japanese video game company NAMCO, Tekken began in 1994 in the arcades, proving popular enough for each version to make it to home consoles.

Tekken 7 was made for consoles and PCs in 2017 and Downer hasn’t stopped playing it since, not only earning him his moniker ‘Mr Tekken’, but gaining him a spot on the Dr Birdz, Jamaica’s national Esports team.

While Downer represented Jamaica in Bali playing Tekken 7 in December 2022, earlier this year, the Jamaica Esports Initiative (JEI) took part in the first-ever Commonwealth Esports Championships, fielding a team for the game Rocket League. (Photo: Contributed)

For Downer, this was his first-ever international competition after years of playing and dominating Tekken 7 in the local sphere. He was impressed from start to finish, as Jamaica was well received.

“The organisation stood out to me the most. The IESF World Esports Championships was very well organised. Immediately, just arriving at the airport there were persons designated to get us to the hotel, and at the hotel, there was a welcoming ceremony for the players,” said Downer.

He added that every day there was a schedule for the players, encouragement to explore the cultural side of Indonesia, and plenty of sponsor interaction.

Given the gap in competition experience, Downer didn’t get too far into the event, but was able to observe how the best in the world play the game, changing his own thought process.

“In Jamaica, we play against each other a lot. I’ve never played on an international stage such as the IESF World Esports Championships before, and the competition there is totally on another level. I’ve taken away a lot of learning points that I plan to apply to my specific gaming, and also to pass on to my gaming colleagues,” said Downer.

Since the World Esports Championships, Downer said his game skills have increased.

“What stood out to me most while playing and watching the other international Esports athletes is the pace. In Jamaica, we learn to play the person against the person. When you play at that level you’re playing against the game itself,” Downer said.

A contemplative Dwayne Downer reflects on his recent trip to Bali, Indonesia for the IESF World Esports Championships. (Photo: Contributed)

“There is this thing in Tekken that we call positive frames. Positive frames mean that if you do something to your opponent then you can induce positive frames that allow you to do something else even if they block, but at the World Esports Championships, I saw negative frames, which is something I’d never seen before,” Downer explained further.

Those using the negative frame methodology are able to restrict offensive moves, or even predict what move will come next from an opponent as there are usually only one to three options at that moment. Downer is already looking forward to his next appearance on the world stage, but is hoping to transfer all his knowledge into a new generation as he admits at his age, personal demands hamper his ability to truly take advantage of competing internationally on a regular basis.

Moore is already planning for the 2023 World Esports Championships, in Lași, Romania, scheduled to take place in September.

“The JEI definitely sees where it can improve on our game, but we also understand that our Esports athletes were up against the world’s best. They are happy and motivated by the experience and wish to use it to improve themselves as well help build and encourage other local athletes,” said Moore.


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