Despite their high learning curve, competitive fighting games continue to grow in India thanks to the dedicated efforts of the FGC (fighting game community), which includes passionate players like the Tekken 7 enthusiast Rohit Jain. We spoke to the Tekken pro in an exclusive interview, who opened up about his growth from being a casual fan of Bandai Namco's acclaimed fighting game series to playing among the greats.
The 31-year-old gamer recently earned the 17th spot at the REV MAJOR Philippines 2022, helping India climb up the ladder on the international fighting game map. Here is how it went down.
Q1. First off, tell us about yourself. When did you start gaming and what got you into the competitive scene?
Rohit: Hi, my name is Rohit Jain. I'm from Rohini, Delhi. Besides video games, I'm into playing the guitar and traveling. As for gaming, I have been an avid gamer since childhood. I began my fighting game journey with Street Fighter and of course, Tekken. I started with Tekken 2 and while I began as a casual player, that was what slowly got me into the competitive scene later in 2019.
From 2, I moved on to 3, and then the first Tekken Tag Tournament game. But from there, I made a big leap directly to Tekken 7. There's this local gaming place I used to frequent as a child for Tekken, and eventually, a friend of mine suggested that I get into Tekken 7 since Tag Tournament was outdated at that point. Tekken 7 was also initially a casual experience for me, but first-hand exposure to various tournaments helped me gain valuable experience.
In 2019, I participated in The Capital Hustle and placed ninth, which gave me the confidence to pursue this line. Following this, I aimed for a couple other offline tournaments like The Zostel Hustle (seventh rank) and Dreamhack 2019 (ninth rank). Come 2020 and before the COVID-19 lockdown, I tried my hand at a few more local matches, including the Delhi Ironfist, where I won third place. From March 2020 onwards, I improved my performance through various online tournaments against Indian players from all around the country.
At first, I was worried about these other players being way more skilled than me, but it turns out they're all on a similar level. So I fought my way to the top, taking the first place in many matches. I had moved on to the bigger tournaments at this point, including K.O Fight Night where I emerged first in Qualifiers and fourth in the Playoffs. Impressed by my efforts, this is where my sponsor Sudanshu Sharma stepped in, opening the gates to the REV MAJOR Philippines 2022 event for me.
Q2. I would like to congratulate you for representing India on an international level at the REV MAJOR 2022 tournament in Philippines. Going against international opponents must be quite nerve-wracking but this a big win for the Indian FGC. How was your experience playing on unfamiliar territory?
Rohit: Thank you so much, yes it was indeed a big deal for me, getting to wave my country's colors at an international level. The REV MAJOR experience was quite wonderful, I got to fight against Tekken players from various countries around the world.
I played quite a long set against the Thai Tekken professional Nopparut "Book" Hempamorn and also neighboring Pakistani players. I also got a chance to meet Jae-Min "Knee" Bae, the Tekken God in person and even duked it out against him.
I stood up against many challenging players, but they all clearly had a lot of experience and character knowledge, which did lead to some nervousness on my end. There were plenty of top-tier participants there but I never felt out of place; the Koreans, the Filipinos, all of them were humble and friendly towards me.
Q3. What is your advice to fans who want to pursue a professional Tekken career in the FGC?
Rohit: The main advice I would like to give the Indian Tekken community is to play together and support one another. But for those looking to play at an international level, you will have to step up your game. These international players are well-learned about character movements, so be sure to pay attention to that. Polish your fundamental knowledge of Tekken 7, and have a robust grasp of each of the characters you go against.
Q4. What made you pick Tekken 7 or Tekken as a whole to get into, over other fighting games?
Rohit: As I mentioned before, I have played tons of Street Fighter and I even have experience with King of Fighters. But with Tekken 3, my interest in the series began to deepen. The way I saw it, Tekken's 3D movement is pretty unique in the genre and still is.
This is exactly why I enjoyed Tekken 7 too, since it is the most refined formula in the series thus far and there is nothing else like it out there. Plus, my love for the franchise also contributed to Tekken 7 being my go-to fighting game to play, both casually and competitively.
Q5. If there was a fighting game you would like to get into besides Tekken 7, which would it be?
Rohit: Definitely Street Fighter. When Street Fighter 6 arrives I will definitely be spending a few hours on it, it definitely looks like a step up from before. After Tekken, Street Fighter has been my second favorite fighting game series.
I grew up playing Street Fighter 2, Street Fighter EX2 and a bit of Street Fighter 4 as well. Unfortunately, it is hard to make time for two different games, so I ended up focusing on Tekken 7 instead.
Q5. What were the challenges you faced in your journey as a professional fighting game player? Not just on a gameplay level, but also support (or lack thereof) from friends and family?
Rohit: Thankfully, my parents have been very supportive of my career choice as a professional Tekken player. So their stance has never been a problem. However, going forward I would appreciate more support and sponsors from my fans.
But as far as Tekken 7 itself is concerned, I did have some trouble with my character knowledge at the start. I decided to catch up on this aspect when the opportunity to perform on the international scene popped up. Not much else, besides the obvious pressure of playing on foreign turf.
Q6. Is there any professional fighting game player you look up to in the scene? If so, who?
Rohit: Yes, Knee is my favorite, the Tekken God. I met him and he's a pretty friendly person. I love his gameplay and he's a champ at every character he picks to play as. His defensive playstyle is amazing and he's an EVO winner too. So yes, I want to be like him.
Q7. Can you elaborate on your playstyle to Tekken 7 battles? Also, which characters do you main?
Rohit: As for my method of fighting, I aim to strike a balance between offense and defense, but prefer to begin the match leaning towards the latter. I main Eliza and Zafina for competitive matches. But for more casual plays, I go back to my evergreen favorites, the Mishimas, Kazuya and Devil Jin.
Q8. What are your thoughts on the existing Tekken scene in India?
Rohit: For one, it is disappointing to see how this Indian community has split into different small parts instead of being together like a family. So it is crucial that we all unite to practice together, play together and eventually grow together. Just like the Pakistani professionals, we could see more gamers from our community climbing up the ladder to success in the international Tekken scene.
Q9. Do you think there are any issues with the current FGC in India?
Rohit: Our players should learn to stick together and support one another, regardless of the game they play, if they want to get better. This unity should provide understanding and growth to perform better on an international scale, especially since foreign players do care about their region's scene.
Arslan "Arslan Ash" Siddique, the notable Pakistani fighting game player, sponsored two players to represent their country at REV MAJOR, but you don't see much of that here. The problem here in India stems from toxicity, perhaps even from a jealousy point of view. This needs to improve if we want to succeed.
Q10. What are your expectations for Tekken 8?
Rohit: I have high hopes from Tekken 8. I think it will be better balanced than 7 and they could also improve the netcode with regards to the online scene. Overall, I think it will be great.
Q11. How does the future look for you amidst the Tekken scene?
Rohit: I missed the chance to visit EVO this year due to lack of available slots, so I will be trying for next year's showcase. That's in August 2023 which I will be 100% be attending. Overall, this is just the beginning of my international journey.