Born and raised in South Africa, Rene “KOR” moved to the USA in 2004 where he began his Tekken career in 2005. Starting in one of the most vibrant and competitive cities in the country for Tekken, he quickly climbed the ranks from tournament to tournament. Under the wing of Crow, a two-time Evolution champion, KOR gained the respect as a top player from competitors worldwide. From MLG to the stage of Evolution andother major tournaments, he has shown his understanding and experience of the game through the success of championship victories. In Tekken Tag Tournament Two, he will strive to stay at the top and do his best to train and share his knowledge with those who want to learn the game and climb the ranks to the top.
Q: How long have you been playing Tekken?
Rene Maistry: I’ve been playing Tekken competitively for seven years. For fun, I’ve been playing the game on consoles since Tekken Tag Tournament in 2000.
Q: What do you like most about the Tekken series?
RM: I love the diversity it gives you in the way that you can play the game. I love the challenges it gives your brain — kind of like a game of chess. The best thing about it is that it lets you play a videogame and use your mind strategically — trying to figure out your opponents and trying to figure out a gameplan.
Q: How would you describe your fighting style?
RM: My style has actually evolved throughout the various Tekken games. I’ve changed from a defensive fighting style to an offensive fighting style. Now I’ve combined the two, using both defensive and offensive techniques, using something that’s a mix between the different fighting styles I’ve used.
Q: What prompted the change from being a defensive player to becoming an offensive player?
RM: The changes in the game system prompted the changes in my fighting style. The different characters I played also prompted the change. At the end, I chose a character that was good for my offensive and defensive styles.
Q: What character did you start with and who do you like to play as now?
RM: I started out with Ganryu in Tekken 5. He was a great character for a defensive style. He’s great for being patient and waiting out your opponent’s mistakes. Then I moved over to Bob Richards in Tekken 6. He’s great for a very offensive style, where you make move after move against your opponent, forcing them to guess or block. I combined what I learned with those two characters and put them into Lars Alexandersson. You can be successful with him both as a defensive character and as an offensive character.
Q: Are there any characters you don’t like facing off against?
RM: No. When I was still learning the game and trying to get to the top, I did have problems against certain characters. After playing against so many different people at such a high level, you kind of see it all and adapt. Now I feel comfortable with all the matchups in the game. That’s the goal really — to learn all the different matchups and feel comfortable putting your game up against anybody using any character.
Q: Early on, which characters gave you trouble?
RM: Back in Tekken 5 it was Julia Chang and Steve Fox. I never liked playing against fast characters, because of the character I was using then, Ganryu. Fast characters made it difficult to even attack at all. They forced me to play defensively, all the time.
Q: What are some of your biggest achievements competitively?
RM: I’m very proud of my Evolution 2011 championship victory. I’m proud of consistently placing first or second in various tournaments held by MLG. I’ve never lost in a local tournament and I was always proud to rep my city in state tournaments.
Q: What are some common mistakes you see made by Tekken novices?
RM: I see people whiff a lot of offensive moves. I also see a lot of people have problems with movement and spacing, not using things like sidestepping and back-dashing properly. A lot of people just starting out are just sloppy with movement, which can be very costly.
Q: What’s some advice you’d give to players with average experience?
RM: Definitely work on the fundamentals. Make sure your fundamentals are tight and strong, and that you have a good grasp of the game. What I mean by that is understanding what’s punishing, what’s spacing, what’s offense, and what’s defense. Knowing how apply all of those things in a match against someone at your level or better is the best way to improve. I always tell people to continuously play against people at your level or better. That’s really the key.
Q: Who are some of the players that you admire and why?
RM: Definitely Crow. He’s a mentor to me. He’s won Evolution tournaments. He’s the guy I trained with to become the player I am today. The city of Houston wouldn’t be anywhere on the Tekken map if it wasn’t for Crow.
Another player that I have a great amount of respect for is Jop. He’s another Georgia/Texas player that’s very strong. He’s won a lot of tournaments and has beaten a lot of international competition.
Q: Are there any Tekken-related Twitter feeds that you recommend?
RM: I would definitely recommend following @LevelUpYourGame. Those guys do a great job helping out the Tekken community by helping people learn with great videos and tutorials.