As Toryuken 2 come to an end, players went home to relax, sleep, and remember all the great moments they’ve had over the weekend. On Sunday night, after an exhausting and exhilarating two days of gaming, I had the opportunity to interview Rene “Kor” Maistry, one of the top US Tekken players, about Tekken, his 2nd place finish at Toryuken 2, and his life.
How does it feel to be part of Empire Arcadia now?
Well, DMG is something I grew up with in the fighting games community. I got a lot of wins with DMG by my side. EMP is a different project, it’s made for the community by the community. With EMP, I feel the players are of a higher caliber, and it’s more to live up to, but at the end of the day it’s a team. I encourage anyone in competitive games to join a team at least once.
I’ve had the pleasure of playing you at drunken Tekken, and also really serious Tekken. Tell me about both of them.
Drunken Tekken is reckless Tekken, mostly for fun, you’re not all the way into it, you don’t second guess your moves, you don’t think as much. It’s always fun. Serious Tekken, on the other hand, is when you play with something on the line. You know you can’t even mess up once, you have to play perfectly. I love serious Tekken, just the adrenaline from it, and the way you have to adapt and change your play style.
I got to money match you. I beat you in the first game, 5-4. How did you feel at that point?
In the first match you beat me, I was trying to get used to what you were doing. I stayed back more, tried to figure out your offensive and defensive patterns. I really hoped you would run it back, because a lot of people say “no, I’m good.” I’m glad that you ran it back, that was very sportsmanlike of you. I enjoy money matching, first to five is always fun for me.
Ok, when I beat you in the first set, were you worried? What was going on in your mind?
Honestly, I thought you had an interesting play style, and I wanted to explore it more. That’s why I wanted to MM you some more. It’s not that I felt like “I got this”, you know? If you got 3 games up on me in the next one, I would’ve still felt like you could’ve won.
So we ran it back, and you won 5-1. At that point I felt you had convincingly figured me out. What happened?
I got more used to your defensive and offensive patterns, I knew what you wanted to go for in certain situations, and I adjusted accordingly.
(NOTE: Kor’s being humble. We played a 3rd set after that, and he beat me 5-0).
How long does it take you to adapt to your opponent?
Initially, I try to see how far I can get with offense. I try to alternate between offense and defence every round to see what works best. I usually need 2 or 3 matches to adapt completely. If I can’t, then I know what I’m doing isn’t working, and I have to completely go 360 and change up my game. It’s a little harder after 3 matches of consistent losing.
You played FightingGM in winners finals, and you lost. What happened?
Well, I kind of know GM’s play style, and didn’t expect him to be that offensive. I started to see his patterns, and he wasn’t changing it up much, but he was definitely guessing right. I didn’t adapt fast enough in those three matches. I thought it was ok, I could always come back from the losers bracket. I tend to come back from losers, 6 games, I’ve done it plenty of times. I relied on my second time to play him to adapt, and I didn’t do it fast enough. It’s like how it was before when I played him at NEC 2 years ago, I didn’t adapt fast enough.
We noticed you were catching on in the grand finals, near the end.
Yea, I started to feel very comfortable with it near the end, but at that point it was too late.
At any point in those matches, did you get mad or freak out?
The only time I freak out is when I mess up. When I mess up my execution, or I mess up something, then I get flustered. When I was playing GM, I didn’t mess up, he just outplayed me, and outplayed my play style. Maybe I should’ve gotten mad, because it brings my adrenaline up, but I didn’t, because keeping composure against someone with an offensive play style is very important.
Do you have any advice for people in tournaments with nerves?
Try to zone out everything except for the game, put your two eyes into the game. Nothing else matters around you, and think of it like playing your buddy at home. You guys are relaxed, there’s no tension or pressure, you’re just going to play.
Let’s talk about your dress style. You are one of the better dressed Tekken players out there.
Thank you, I appreciate that. I like to dress up. You know, when you go out of town, you’re not at home, you want to dress nice.
What about your hair, the Kor trademark?
I’ve done a little bit of modification here and there, but it’s the Kor hair.
Would you consider yourself a geek?
I consider myself a hardcore Tekken geek. I love the game, and every opportunity I get, I’ll play it. I kind of put it before all other hobbies.
What do you do for a living?
I go to school fulltime, trying to graduate in marketing, similar to your job. I also work fulltime at a metals company where I sell copper, brass, and bronze to the industrial sector. I also help out with my dad’s company too, he’s got the same type of business in metals, and we’re trying to build up a family business. So I work fulltime and go to school fulltime.
That’s a lot of hours. On top of that, you play Tekken, and you’ve just gotten married. Tell us about that.
Ok, first of all, she works with me. We met at work, one thing led to another, we got together and dated for a year. We decided to get married, we love each other, and we wanted to make it work. I met her parents, who came down from China to meet me. It’s a bright future ahead. We’re working towards making money, and having a good life together.
In addition to being a great Tekken player, you seem to have your life in order. Could you talk about that?
Sure. I understand Tekken is a hobby, and I understand that I prioritize it in my life, but I know that if I have something to do, I need to get it done first, then I can play. I have goals and aspirations in marketing, and with my dad’s company, as well as becoming a successful entrepreneur and businessman. That’s my main focus in life, everything revolves around that. I understand that my life with Tekken may not last too much longer, because of all the things that are happening in my life, so I’m trying to enjoy it while I can.
What was it like being invited to be part of writing the Tekken guide for Tekken Tag Tournament 2?
It was a very prestigious ordeal for me. I enjoyed every bit of it. People think it’s easy to make up strategies for a game, but it’s so new, that you’re coming up with it. There was a lot of writing too, a lot of work, but it was definitely worth doing.
When was the last time you won EVO?
I won in 2011. Before then I was winning tournaments like CEO, and MLG, several Texas tournaments too. When EVO came, I was pretty confident, and ran through pretty much everyone in winners until I lost to Rip. I came back in losers to beat him, and then played Fab in the grand finals. It was a straight set, I came back from losers to win 3, then another 3. I was very comfortable with Bob in that game, I devoted a lot of play time to Tekken 6. I don’t get to play as much as I used to. I try to keep the same level of play, I think I’m better now, but the system is different. EVO was definitely a phenomenal win.
What about EVO this year?
I am going to try my best to win it, that’s my ultimate goal. I’ll probably retire after that, if I can win two EVOs.
Is there anything else you want to talk about that I haven’t asked you?
I really enjoyed being in Canada, your hospitality, the Montreal and Toronto crew. The level of play is really good here, and I wish you guys would come to more US tournaments and compete, because I think you guys could do really well.
TTT2 Top 3 at Toryuken 2, with the organizer NeoRussell far left