Circa eSports at DreamHack Denver
Denver saw its first DreamHack on the weekend of October 20-22, 2017, as both locals and competitors from abroad made their way to the coliseum to take part in gaming festivities. This event sported the final Tekken World Tour tournament for North America before the Global Finals on November 12, in San Francisco. Competition was fierce, as North America’s top three contenders —PG|Speedkicks, Anakin, and our own Circa|Joey Fury— had shown up, ready for blood. The brackets were stacked, and many speculated on who would come out on top. With killers like ITS|Jacki Tran, WayGamble, and Xcel|Spero Gin in the mix, anything was possible.
I followed Joey through his journey in this pivotal competition. He admitted that there were a few names to watch out for in his pool, but didn’t seem much bothered. Joey also hinted that he had a secret character in his pocket, but wouldn’t let us in on who.
After a couple of intense matches in pools with NG|Obscure and UYU|P.Ling, Joey was set for Top 8 on Sunday. Tension was in the air and $15,000 was on the line. Joey’s first match against Panda Global’s Speedkicks presented him with the opportunity to unleash the mystery character he’d been teasing: Gigas. This character choice made sense, as Gigas is a big-bodied character like Jack, but exists under the radar, and likely wouldn’t have been prioritized by many as a threat. Speedkicks’ Hwoarang dealt enough damage to leave Joey nearly on the magic pixel in round one, but he was able to activate Gigas’s Rage Art just in time, winning the match with five golden letters—GREAT!
Despite this good start and an impressive use of pressure, Speekick’s managed to take two rounds from Joey in set one. Speedkicks also utilized pressure, getting a floor break and consistently carrying Joey into the wall. Joey managed to close out the set 3-2 after pulling multiple jab punishes and low attacks.
The pressure was evident in Joey’s expression. “He looks like he’s up to something,” Aris commented as the two players returned to the character select screen. Both fighters refused to make a switch, confident that no counter-pick was necessary. This turned out to be a mistake on Joey’s part, as, although he utilized a more patient playstyle and good spacing, he wasn’t able to keep up with Hwoarang’s pressure. Speedkicks convingincly took the second set 3-2.
The competitors returned to character select and Joey went back to Jack-7. While he had successfully thrown his opponent off using Gigas, it didn’t last. Joey took the first round of set three with a mixup in the corner, visibly more comfortable using his main—but he let the comfort get to him, allowing himself to get stuck against the wall and pressured by Hwoarang, despite making his usual impressive reads and damaging low-forwards. He managed to avoid this pressure and sidestep during a critical moment in round three, getting Speedkicks in a wall combo. Speedkicks quickly took round four after a damaging wall carry, and boasted a significant life lead. It wasn’t over yet. Joey came back with a vengeance and a devastating tombstone, nearly landing a perfect in the final round. Thus, Speedkicks fell into the loser’s bracket, waiting to exact his revenge.
Joey faced JimmyJTran’s Bryan Fury next. Joey played very confidently in this matchup, after watching Tran’s sets against Anakin. He took the first two rounds with ease, but was beaten in the third with a perfect. Jimmy Tran’s punishes with Jet Upper gave him the upper hand, getting him another round and setting the match 2-2. In a wonderful turn of events, Joey was able to launch Tran into the air and gain significant damage, ending the set 3-2 with a tombstone. Utilizing the knowledge he gained from watching Anakin, he was able to successfully switch up his playstyle enough to throw Jimmy off—but not for long. Tran took rounds one and two without a hitch, effectively adapting to Joey’s playstyle. In a mad scramble, Joey managed to take round three, but it was no use. Tran took round four after punishing Jack’s whiffed low-forward, launching him into the air and winning the set 3-1. Jimmy demonstrated intense awareness of Joey’s moves and perfectly-timed reactions.
“Jimmy J might have turned it around, but Joey is no slouch,” Aris stated as match 3 went underway. This was true—Joey took round one with a well-timed sweep, but was bested in round two by Tran’s pressure against the wall and consecutive knockdowns, misreading his spacing. Jimmy consistently put Joey in this situation with the wall carry, and took the set 3-1 with a down forward two-one.
All was not lost, as winner’s semis were in a FT3 format. Joey showed his strength and took his second match with a breathtaking 3-0, finishing it out with a perfect. He interrupted Tran’s damage and wouldn’t let himself get stuck in the corner—a quick change from his previous set. The two were now tied 2-2.
The final match landed on Jimmy’s favorite stage in the market square. Joey attempted his rage art to finish out round one but failed and was punished by Tran, who took it and rounds two and three with the same inane wall pressure. It was a complete turnaround from the previous set. The two were evenly matched, but Joey now sat in the loser’s bracket—alongside Speedkicks.
The two fist-bumped and smiled, but their fight was everything but friendly. Joey decided on Gigas once again, betting on Speedkicks’ lack of matchup experience to help him win the first match. Although Hwoarang’s faster pokes were able to keep Gigas in check, it wasn’t free, and Joey still managed to deal significant damage, taking round one in a repeat of his previous initial set against Speedkicks with his Rage Art. He took the second round with a well-timed low parry, but was bested by a low attack from Hwoarang in round three. Joey finished the set 3-1 with a low of his own.
Joey couldn’t keep up the pressure forever. Although he took two rounds from Speedkicks and attempted to counter his opponent’s wall pressure with jabs, he couldn’t hack a second set with Gigas and lost the match 2-3.
Joey chose not to make a switch and stuck with the red monstrosity through the next set, but came running back to Jack after losing 3-1. Speedkicks utilized a confusing pattern of jabs to keep Joey at bay, as well as taking advantage of his whiffed moves.
The next set would determine everything.
Speedkicks won the first round with a whiff punish, utilizing incredible spacing and timing. Joey took round two with an uppercut, launching Hwoarang into the air after keeping a significant life lead throughout the round—but it wasn’t enough.
The two went neck-and-neck in round three. They stuttered across the screen in neutral, attempting to make the best guess to get the winning damage. Hwoarang knocked down Jack’s health to the magic pixel with an overhead kick, and finished the job with a standing jab.
Joey made it out of this legendary tournament in third place. With a bracket that stacked, he definitely made us proud, and we can’t wait to see how he’ll use this tournament knowledge in the Tekken World Tour Global Championships this November!
Recap by Ginni Lou (@EXT0PD0LL)
Cover photo by Drew
Dreamhack Denver was the last NA Dreamhack event for Hearthstone. This means making it to top 8 was crucial for getting those HCT points. Unfortunately, Ryder was knocked out by Round 4. His two major losses were both off stream by mugsy and pizzsa. Because of this, it's fairly difficult to do an analysis like I usually do. However, I'm glad to know that Ryder at least made it past the preliminary rounds. So here are the scores he got during his run at DreamHack Denver this year.
Ryder vs. Vellith
Ryder vs. mugsy
Ryder vs. pizzsa
Recap by Grass (@tgsgrass)