The City of Atlanta, Georgia is biggest home for Tekken players on the East Coast. Many notable American players such as Circa’s Hoa “Anakin” Luu call Atlanta home. Today, I’m going to be speaking with Joshua Otis, or more commonly Jio in the community. Having played in numerous majors, Jio is a notable member of both the Atlanta community and Knoxville, Tennessee communities. A transplant from Memphis, Tennessee, Jio has been playing the game competitively for 13 years. As of late, Jio can also be found commentating for the upcoming Tekken 7 alongside community figure,Mark “Markman” Julio. I caught up with Jio after his performance at Wizard World Minnesota for a brief conversation.
Seth Hall: Your main game is Tekken. What drew you to play it and what continues to drive you competitively?
Jio: I started playing as a masher back in T3. I was drawn to the character design, the music, and how a lot of moves were derived from real martial arts and wrestling disciplines. I didn’t start playing competitively until the end of T4. I continue to play competitively to prove to myself that I still can do it at a high level.
Seth: What got you into the competitive side of the scene? What was your in?
Jio: I worked at the local arcade. The manager would organize local tournaments and I decided to play. Went 0-2. The salt of losing drove me to compete.
(Note: Salt is a common term in the community used to describe the feeling of loss.)
Seth: So what are your thoughts on the local scene? Tekken 7 is on the horizon and there is most likely an influx of new players. Are the any general hurdles you see the community struggle with? I know that competitive SF players are always trying to catch up to Japan, does Tekken have something similar?
Jio: Well the local Tekken scene has shrunk from 50+ players to around 8 or 9. Everyone is just ready for Tekken 7. Some of us watch videos of T7 and play solo TTT2 to try to make the most of the wait. Other players have moved on entirely to other games, such as SFV and MKX. I think catching up to Japan and Korea has been difficult in every iteration, because they always get the game significantly earlier. T7 was released in SE Asian arcades over a year ago. The wait T7 has been even more frustrating because we are teased by location tests and exhibitions at majors, and still haven’t been given a release date. Even the best american players will have difficulty bridging that gap.
Seth: So you’ve recently been doing commentary at events. I saw you alongside MarkMan at KIT/FR. Have you considered moving more into the streaming and community sides of things or attempting to work for PR on the American side of things with all the work you’ve done for the scene?
Jio: I’ve done commentary for 4 or 5 years. In the past couple years, I’ve had the opportunity to commentate larger events. I enjoy it nearly as much as playing. I’d love to do it more often, should the opportunity present itself. I take pride in serving the community in any capacity. I usually only make guest spots on Anakin’s stream, because I don’t own any streaming equipment.
Seth: Tekken Tag 2 is ending its life cycle. What about Tekken 7 has you excited and what do you think it will do for the scene? What has you concerned about it? I know Tag 2 had a steep barrier to entry, do you think Tekken 7 will have the same?
Jio: I’m excited to go back to 1v1, because having two life bars made a lot of pokes almost obsolete. I’m also looking forward to exploring the new combo system, especially the new floor and wall break possibilities. Also Xiaoyu received a much needed buff in T7. I’m concerned that the movement nerf may hinder more skilled players, but I’ve started to become more accustomed to it. The wakeup game has been toned down, making escaping oki situations less daunting for new players. I believe this Tekken will significantly easier for new players to pick up and compete with more established players.
(Notes: Pokes are when players use basic buttons as an attempt pressure, catch or harass the opponent. Okizeme, or Oki, is usually the pressure applied to a player getting up after a knockdown.)
Seth: So continued before I grab food, what would you tell new players to develop starting with T7? Where are the best starting points? What are easy pitfalls to avoid that kill a lot of newer people.
Jio: You need to identify your best moves for keepout, pressure, and tracking and practice utilizing them appropriately. Remain aware of stage position, using attacks that allow to take advantage of the stage (floor/wall breaks). You want to learn the most damaging combos that you can consistently execute, and your punishment for each frame window. One of the most difficult things for new players is character familiarity, so don’t allow the number of moves to discourage you from playing. Continually learn from either watching or playing with or against unfamiliar characters. Find the weaknesses of their strongest maybe 3 or 4 attacks, and concentrate on learning how to exploit them.
Seth: So you recently went to Wizard World in Minnesota. What was your experience there, how was the competition. What do you feel you did well at, and what do you feel you were lacking in?
Jio: Wizard World was a fun event. There were actually 2 tournaments. A first come 16-man bracket and the main double elimination event on Saturday, with top 8 on Sunday. Very high production value, friendly and helpful event staff. I feel I played well for the most part, I have a lot of work to do learning the new characters in the game. I ended getting 4th, losing to the same Katarina player in both pools and top 8. The tournaments were run pretty quickly, so there was a lot of time for casuals. The competition was probably one of the more stacked Tekken 7 events so far with players such as Rip, Mateo, Jannakazama, ZTS, Spero Gin, Rick Da Ruler, and Datboi STL among others.
Seth: Thank you so much for your time. Did you have any shoutouts or social media you wanted to promote?
Jio: Shout out to MarkMan, TastySteve, RockSteady, ATL Tekken and TN Tekken. You can find me on twitter @thebigjio and on Instagram as thatman_Jio.