As one of the American FGC’s largest hubs, New York has been a hotbed of fighting game players for decades. In recent times, one man’s efforts in organizing NYC Tekken tournaments has not gone unnoticed, as Helst has brought players from all across the East Coast together to compete in the region’s strongest monthly gatherings.
Starting as a passion project, Helst began running Tekken tournaments at I Fix Machine Arcade purely as a way to get more offline games in NYC. “I had a few online friends but I refused to believe that NYC didn’t have SOME sort of Tekken scene,” he said.
After I Fix Machine Arcade closed its doors in November 2018, Helst needed a new venue for his Tekken tournaments in the area. Relocating to Next Level, the well-known venue of the weekly NLBC tournament series, his monthly events have been able to thrive more than ever.
Since the change in venues, Helst has had to deal with a few new challenges, including the need for providing more Tekken setups in order to accommodate a larger attendee count than ever before. “With Next Level we only had 2 setups to start and way more people (and space), which created its own sets of issues. Though Henry has been getting more Tekken setups as finances allow which has helped a lot, and the community really stepped up in bringing PS4s.”
The relocation has also helped Helst gain more exposure as a known and respected tournament organizer within the Tekken scene. “Next Level is a known place in the FGC, and because of that people started recognizing me. It was weird when guys like Spag reached out to me or hearing Tasty Steve name drop the event at Combo Breaker.” Staying humble, Helst mentioned that he is still new to the T.O. life, though his work is clearly already making waves in the community.
In terms of attendance at the NYC Tekken monthlies, Helst has seen quite a few standout players that continue to grow as competitors at his events. Mentioning names such as Stride and Runitbackeddie, these players have stuck to the grind of coming to tournaments and fighting with the region’s best, and Helst knows that they’ll only get better as they progress.
Other players praised by Helst for their performances are NYC_Ukiyo, Radicalkingz, cavemanat320, and Mr. Flubbs. With tournaments reaching over 100 entrants, it’s clear that the East Coast has made a point to travel from multiple different states into Brooklyn to support the offline Tekken scene. “I am very thrilled with how the monthlies have grown,” he stated. “ I would have been happy with just keeping stable numbers but people just keep surprising me. But at the end of the day whether it’s 15 or 115 man bracket, I just want people to play, period.”
When the 2019 Tekken World Tour was first announced, the new “dojo” tournament system caught many by surprise. Being such a popular area for Tekken, NYC quickly became home to some of the country’s largest TWT dojos. Offering the maximum amount of TWT dojo points for a single event at their very first dojo, this has further incentivized some players to travel to Next Level to prove themselves as worthy of the world leaderboard.
So what does the TWT dojo system mean for NYC Tekken? “I think we were already growing pretty steadily, but the dojo events just further incentivize regional travel or hitting other regions’ locals,” said Helst. “As a scene, NYC Tekken would be fine with or without the dojo system, but it gives these young guys a taste of the big leagues and sometimes that taste gets you hooked. I would not be shocked if other pro tours start figuring out how to do similar systems. I hope they do. Players of any game can only benefit from it.”
With the next NYC monthly rapidly approaching on June 23rd, competitors like Joey Fury, BloodHawk, FightingGM, and dozens of others will again duke it out with TWT ranking points on the line. Be sure to catch the event stream on twitch.tv/TeamSp00ky, and keep up with Helst on Twitter at @HelstNYC.