"I do not think much about Tekken 8 right now": Ghirlanda discusses the upcoming game, TWT Global Finals, practicing, and more
Joshua "Ghirlanda" is an Italian professional Tekken player who made waves this weekend. At Tekken World Tour Global Finals, he played against some of the world's best players, taking fourth overall. Playing against some of the greatest Tekken players in the world, he held his own, knocking out players like Knee on the way to his last matches against JeonDDing.
Though he did not overcome JeonDDing, he proved his skill as a Tekken player, showing there's more to the game than simply practicing all day. Joshua has two full-time jobs and a family and still makes time to show he's one of the best in the world.
I recently chatted with Ghirlanda, where we discussed his TWT 2022 performance, his hope of becoming a sponsored player, memorable matches, and much more.
Ghirlanda discussed time management skills, memorable matches, and more
Q. First, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Can you introduce yourself to people that might not know who you are?
Ghirlanda: My name is Joshua, my nickname is Ghirlanda, and I am an Italian Tekken player and event organizer who moved to Bulgaria for job reasons in 2018.
Q. You took 4th place at this year's TWT Global Finals, which is incredibly impressive. How does it feel to know you got that far against some of the best in the world?
Ghirlanda: It feels amazing. This achievement boosted my self-confidence in my in-game abilities. Sometimes I doubt myself because more than one person claimed I got a spot in the finals just for sheer luck, being in a region like Europe East which is less competitive than Europe West, and to be honest, I also agreed with it up to a certain point.
However, I showed the world that my qualification was well deserved and that my 2018 LCQ stunt was not just a lucky episode. Being able to prove to the world that it is possible to compete at the highest level of the game versus full-time players makes me wonder how far I could go if I'd put in the game with the same dedication as them.
Q. You've been actively playing Tekken 7 for a few years now, with a few notable finishes, especially across 2022 and 2021. Do you have any particularly fond memories from fighting games over the last few years?
Ghirlanda: Most of my memories from Tekken 7 come from the early seasons. My first big international success was 2nd place in Barcelona, in the Barcelona Games World, a master event during the first season of TWT.
My 2nd place was the best European placement for a master event until SuperAkouma won the mixup in 2019. My biggest memory before this weekend was the LCQ win in 2018, which ironically happened on the same stage, The Amsterdam Theater.
I got 3rd place in my pool with a 2-2 score, which was not enough to qualify for the Top 8. I have good memories also for BTC 2019, where I got 3rd place with s3.0 Katarina, the weakest Katarina in Tekken History, a massive achievement for me.
Because of COVID, after 2019, Tekken was not very exciting for me. I wouldn't say I like to play online much. I feel Tekken is meant to unify people, but it is harder to create bonds online.
Offline Tekken, for me, remains the only true version, so I was thrilled in 2022, we finally started reuniting again. Clash Of The Olympians 2022 was my first Dojo prime victory and was the first event in three years I attended.
We still do not know how to act after being isolated due to COVID. It was also the first tournament where I brought my daughter and my iconic 444club t-shirt (available in my Twitch store). These are the best Tekken Memories TWT gave me, until this weekend.
Q. Your story is a pretty interesting one, too. You have a family and two full-time jobs, and you still play Tekken competitively at such a high level. How do you manage all of that?
Ghirlanda: It is tough to balance, I will be honest. There is a reason I look 10 years older than I am. But I try to stay strict with my routines and finish everything on time. Tekken 3-4 times per week is enough for study. The most important thing for Tekken is the mind, anyway.
You don't need to play the game the whole time, but think about how to play. A lot of people play the game without thinking much. I think about the game without playing too much, the opposite.
Q. Seeing you at the event with your family was one of the most heartwarming things I've ever seen at a fighting game tournament. Can you describe what you felt at that moment?
Ghirlanda: I do not think words can express what I felt. I think the photos of the TWT crew speak for themselves. These moments are simply unforgettable, and having talents like Vexanie be able to capture these moments forever is a pure blessing.
Q. You also competed against some truly notable names in the Tekken community. Your Group was a murderers' row of top-tier players. Were any particular matches that felt overwhelming that you still came out on top?
Ghirlanda: The AO match was the key to everything. I practiced a lot against my friend Manuelmitraglia's Kunimitsu. By December 30, my knowledge of Kunimitsu was 0.
I trained against Kunimitsu for the whole month, thanks to Manuel. being able to beat AO in such a clutch match made me realize my training paid off. So facing Arslan Kunimitsu was easier because I was already confident in the matchup.
Q. Were you intimidated by playing Nobi in the Loser's Bracket? As a former EVO World Champion, he's known for his sharp gameplay.
Ghirlanda: I faced Nobi before in TWT Finals 2018, so it was not the first time. We had a close match there during pools; if I had won it, I would have had access to the Top 8.
I am not intimidated by anybody when I play. I am used to changing diapers and tolerating my daughter crying for hours. Playing a few sets versus top players is exciting, not intimidating.
Q. You spent quite a bit of time playing Katarina as well. Is she your go-to character, or are there other Tekken characters you enjoy on a competitive level?
Ghirlanda: I love Ganryu, and my favorite character is Roger Jr., which did not make it into Tekken 7. But Katarina is my most robust character by miles. I do not have time to have a serious secondary, to be honest, and I do not think it is needed in short sets.
Q. What have fighting games taught you as a person? Are there any essential life lessons you think others could learn if they dove into more fighting games?
Ghirlanda: FG taught me many things that apply to real life and vice versa. Real life taught me something about fighting games too. They are pretty similar. The first thing that comes to mind is how the mentality is essential to succeed in everything.
If you notice, top players do not complain much about changes. They prefer to adapt, as the key is to win. They put the game before their ego. A loser mentality puts the ego before the game, making it prone to complaints.
The same also happens in real life. Complainers usually love to grumble without trying to change anything. This applies to Tekken and real life.
Q. Tekken and 3D fighters generally feel very challenging to get good at. What advice do you have for players getting into Tekken 7?
Ghirlanda: Enjoy the game, learn as much as possible, focus on improving, and use the game to make new friends, not new enemies.
Q. What are your impressions of Tekken 8 so far? More information has surfaced, but how do you feel about what you've seen so far?
Ghirlanda: I do not think much about Tekken 8 right now. The main reason is that TWT2023 is still played on Tekken 7, so I have to focus on 7. The second reason is that I do not think a game can be judged by a few trailers.
It requires time to be played and to be understood. I am confident if something is too broken, patches will fix it. So I am not worried about Tekken 8's fate, it will be great. But for now, it is important to keep the focus on Tekken 7
Q. What do you hope for in 2023, professionally or personally, as a fighting game player? What are your goals?
Ghirlanda: I would like to be able to travel the world to compete with a sponsor, and if possible, to make it full-time. I always wondered what I could achieve the moment I could put my 100% into Tekken.
It would be amazing if this year is finally the year this dream can be achieved. I have dreamed of going to Evo since 2010. And, of course, I want to bring the TWT trophy to Europe, 4th place is nice, but not enough.
You can find Ghirlanda streaming regularly on Twitch and producing videos for YouTube, and you can also catch him posting on Twitter. Joshua's story is heartwarming, and many on social media are hoping for his continued success in the competitive world of Tekken.