The young prodigy is now among the elite in the international scene, symbolizing the possible dawn of a new generation of pro Tekken players.
Young rising Tekken 7 star Genki “Gen” Kumisaka is now the first ever Red Bull Kumite Tekken champion. The 20 year old Tekken savant from Japan showed what he was capable of at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, displaying both skill and composure against some of the best players the world has to offer.
For his efforts, he receives $6,500 in prize money, as well as the Red Bull Kumite boxing glove-shaped trophy. This result likewise helps him cement his status as a top talent in pro Tekken, whom his contemporaries will definitely have to prepare for.
Gen has been destroying the competition over in East Asia this year. He placed first in almost every major online tournament hosted between Japan and Korea prior to Red Bull Kumite. Initially, we thought that him not having played in an offline setting for almost two years would affect his chances in Las Vegas. But Gen quickly put these fears to rest starting with the group stage.
He started off very strong, going 2-0 against Hoa “Anakin” Luu without breaking a sweat. He ran into Jae-Min “Knee” Bae for his second match, which went down to the wire at 2-1 in Knee’s favor. This match in particular would be a preview of sorts for the grand finals; a clash between two titans to give the crowd a taste of what was to come.
Gen then put himself firmly in contention for the top four bracket by sweeping Nopparut “Book” Hempamorn in his third match. This result put him at 5-2 in terms of game score, which was enough to give him an advantage of +3. As such, he was set to face up against Vincent “Super Akouma” Homan, who himself placed first in the other group.
Upon reaching the playoffs, Gen made sure to take off the leg weights. Faced with the task of taking down Super Akouma, he pulled out all the stops to ensure his place in the grand finals. Gen put Super Akouma in a precarious position early in the series, with the former putting in two wins without much trouble.
Although Super Akouma got on the board first in Game 1, Gen quickly adjusted to take the next three rounds. In fact, he seemed to already be in Super Akouma’s head from this point, what with the solid whiff punishes and strong wall game.
Game 2 was more of the same, with Super Akouma making a few key mistakes that Gen was quick to capitalize on. Super Akouma showed signs of life in Game 3, going three rounds straight without losing a single one in between. His Demon Flip mixups were on point in this game, forcing Gen to guess plenty — almost all of which were wrong. Gen fired back in Game 4 with another 3-1 round split, putting Super Akouma on the back foot with match point.
Not wanting to go down so easily, though, Super Akouma turned into Super Saiyan in Game 5. Despite being on match point very early into the game, he brought it back hard by winning three straight rounds to stay alive. He even started things off with a perfect, spending all of his available meter to do so. Fortunately for him, going all in didn’t come back to bite him in the end.
Alas, Super Akouma’s comeback in the series was not meant to be. Gen threw the hammer down in the sixth and final game, relying on his solid poking and reads to close things out. It was then when he knew whom he’d be facing in the grand finals. It was Knee, who absolutely manhandled longtime rival Kim “JDCR” Hyunjin in the Geese versus Armor King matchup. JDCR got thrashed on his side of the bracket, with Knee sweeping him clean four games to none.
And so, Gen found himself up against what many consider to be the greatest Tekken player of all time in the Red Bull Kumite Tekken grand finals. He approached this series a bit differently compared to the group stage, though, picking Fahkumram instead of Lidia. In fact, in a post-match interview with Esports.gg, Gen revealed to us that he chose to play Fahkumram knowing that Devil Jin (one of the best counters to Lidia) would be an option for Knee. “I wouldn’t have been able to land the moves I wanted to had he picked Devil Jin against my Lidia,” Gen told Esports.gg Americas Editor Dustin Steiner. “So picking Lidia versus Knee would have been a bad idea.”
It worked brilliantly. Gen came out guns blazing in the first game, grabbing hold of the momentum early on with three straight rounds. He had almost complete control of Game 1, and made Knee’s patented Steve look totally free. Knee of course would adjust accordingly in Game 2, playing the fundamentally-focused whiff punish game to great effect. At one point in Game 2, he even block punished one of Gen’s lows with Steve’s Rage Art.
With the 3-2 result for Game 2 in the bag, we had ourselves a series in the Red Bull Kumite Tekken finals. Gen threw the next counterpunch in Game 3, while Knee did the same to tie the series yet again in Game 4. Unfortunately for the latter, this is when things started to fall apart for him. Gen dug real deep in the next three games, crushing his opponent with only one round loss to speak of.
Knee even turned to Devil Jin in Game 6, but to absolutely no avail. Though it doesn’t happen often, Knee looked mortal in the closing stages of the match, with Gen gaining more and more momentum with each resounding victory. Two clean sweeps punctuated Gen’s grand finals run, proving once and for all that he is one of the best players in the world right now.
In the same interview mentioned above, we asked Gen what beating the Tekken GOAT in the Red Bull Kumite Tekken finals meant to him as a player. “Beating Knee is a huge confidence booster for someone like myself,” said Gen. “It’s not just me who thinks Knee is the best in the world either, so I’m hoping that me beating him will cause other players to consider me one of the top competitors right now.”
When it came to the match itself, Gen also revealed that forcing Knee to think twice about his character choice was important. “To me, seeing him switch from Steve to Devil Jin meant that I’d forced him to not want to use Steve. That’s vital when playing against Knee.”
This result is likewise a big boost for the Japanese Tekken scene, according to Gen. “Showing that Japan is a strong region in Tekken is something I’m very proud of, especially since I beat someone like Knee. He’s just one of those players that you see winning all the time, so me proving that it’s possible to defeat him is great.”
Given the generational gap between the two — Knee being 36 years old and Gen being just 20, we also asked him what it meant to win a major tournament at such a young age. “I am young, but I’ve actually been playing Tekken at a high level for 14 years now. But being able to prove those who have called me inexperienced wrong is a great feeling.”
Of course, Gen is not quite done just yet. When we asked him about his plans in the coming year, he told us that he’s looking forward to more offline events now that the pandemic situation is starting to improve worldwide. “My specialty is playing offline, so hopefully I can play more offline events in general [in 2022],” said Gen.
The international Tekken scene will surely have to take notice of him now, and prepare for him accordingly — lest they suffer at his extremely skilled hands.
Header photo via Marv Watson / Red Bull Content Pool.