Abhinav Tejan (on the left) fighting it out at the IeSF in Busan, South Korea held last year Image: Facebook
Abhinav Tejan is a fighter— hold on, don't get us wrong. This 25-year-old from Delhi specialises in fighting games such as Mortal Kombat, Tekken and Street Fighter and has been playing professionally since 2010.
His tryst with eSports started with a Tekken 6 tournament and there's been no looking back ever since. He has been to four international tournaments and was placed sixth at the International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) 2017 in Busan, South Korea.
He was also part of Esports Federation of India's (ESFI) contingent twice. He talks to T2 Online about his journey so far, his favourite fighting games, his parents and more.
Abhinav's tryst with eSports started with a Tekken 6 tournament Image: Facebook/Abhinav Tejan
For how long have you been playing fighting games? Which was the first tournament you attended?
I have been playing since 2010. I mean BYOC 2010 was the first tournament I attended. But I have been playing fighting games for as long as I can remember.
Tell us about your achievements so far?
I have been to more than 50 tournaments in India and placed in the top 3 in most of them. I have also been to four international tournaments so far. My best performance was in the IeSF 2017 at Busan where I finished 6th.
Do you only play Tekken or other fighting games like Mortal Kombat as well?
I play most of the fighting games but I try to focus more on Tekken because I like the game a lot and I am really good at it.
Despite winning so many tournaments and performing so well in India and abroad, don't you feel you deserve more backing?
Unfortunately, sponsors prefer numbers over performance and games such as CS: GO and Dota 2 bring them the numbers.
Abhinav has represented India in four international tournaments Image: Facebook/ Abhinav Tejan
Is Tekken an easy game to master?
No, I don't think so at all. Tekken is a really difficult game to master even if you compare it to other fighting games such as Street Fighter. I have been playing Tekken for eight years and I usually play 30-40 hours a week regularly. I hope people start paying more attention to games such as Tekken. I was placed sixth at a tournament where top players from 26 countries participated, but people here hardly notice such things.
Do you play with a joystick or prefer fighting sticks?
I play on a PS4 controller because I have always used either a PS4 or a PS3 controller. I preferred a fighting stick back in 2010 when I started playing Tekken. But it was really difficult to get an arcade stick as they are not available in India and they cost nearly double when you order them from abroad. By the way, a good arcade stick costs around $200. Though I have money to get this stick, I realised that I am too accustomed to a PS4 controller and it will take a long time for me to get used to playing on an arcade stick. So, I am now stuck with a PS4 controller.
How does it feel to represent India as an eSports athlete?
It's always fun to attend an international tournament because you meet a lot of new people and make new friends. It feels good to represent India as an eSports athlete and I feel proud, too, but at the same time, it kind of creates a pressure on me to perform well. Maybe because of it, I tend to underperform at such platforms, but gradually I am getting used to such situations. So whenever I play games on an international level, I play it like any other game.
What do your parents think about your passion?
My parents used to be quite supportive but after having played Tekken for eight years and getting nowhere as such, they have begun to doubt whether I will ever be able to achieve something in the world of gaming because of the lack of sponsors and dearth of tournaments being organised in the country. And I cannot blame them. In India, it's really hard to make a living from gaming right now but it is something that I really enjoy. I can't stop playing Tekken — it's a part of my life now and even all my friends belong to the gaming community. I have sacrificed too much for it and I hope someday I will proudly be able to say that I am an eSports athlete.
Abhinav feels he underperforms at international tournaments because of pressure Image: Abhinav Tejan
What are your career plans?
I completed my BTech in 2016 and after that, I decided to focus on gaming for some time and see if I could make something out of it. But now after two years, I am beginning to doubt my decision because gaming is not getting me anywhere. I have been looking for ways to get money to support my passion because gaming is not bringing me any, and you need money to survive. If things continue in this manner, I will probably get a stable job and give up my dream of becoming an eSports athlete. But no matter what, I will still play games and support the Tekken community in every way possible.
What advice would you give to budding Tekken players?
My advice to other budding Tekken players is to keep playing the game because even though India still lags behind in the arena of eSports, we will soon catch up with the rest of the world. I am doing my very best to do that and hopefully, youngsters will soon be able to choose eSports as a lucrative career option in the future.
Abhinav feels Tekken is a part of his life now, something he can never give up Image: Facebook/ Abhinav Tejan
How did you prepare to qualify for the World eSports Championship (IeSF) in Busan last year?
When I qualified for IeSF Busan, what mattered more was mental preparation, because whenever I participated in a tournament abroad, I always underperformed because of pressure. But for this tournament, I ensured I played the way I usually do, without any stress, and I performed really well.
What will be your strategy for this year's National eSports Championship as Tekken is going to be one of the categories at the IeSF as well?
I am practising a lot — though I mostly play online, I also attend offline meets every now and then. Tekken is a game where experience matters the most — the more you play the game the better you get. You just have to familiarise yourself with every situation you may encounter in the game, and the only way to do that is to play it a lot. And that's exactly what I am doing this time around. My friends are helping me, too. I hope I qualify for the IeSF this year, too, and secure the first position this time around.