One of the best parts about a series of bouts between two talented fighters is seeing how they adapt. When a player has to scrap it and step outside their comfort zone, that’s where contenders are made. And it’s exactly what Hoa “Anakin” Luu did in a tense Tekken 7 loser’s bracket match-up today.
Jeannail “Cuddle_Core” Carter and Hoa “Anakin” Luu had some history coming into this match at Combo Breaker 2018. Go back to the video from Eleague Tekken Team Takedown, and you’ll see Carter picking apart Luu’s team one-by-one, Luu included. The latter even swapped off his usual Jack-7 to guest fighter Geese Howard just to try and take down Carter’s Alisa, to no avail; both fights were 3-0 sweeps for Carter.
So coming into the match today, with both fighter’s tournament lives on the line, it was interesting to see Luu stick to his guns on Jack-7. And in game 1, it looked like it was the wrong call, as Carter seemed to have an answer for everything Luu did.
As commentator “Tasty” Steve Scott noted, Carter knew every step of the Jack-7 flowchart. Luu’s normal pace, aggressive and oppressive, would need to change or he’d be out of the event. He didn’t go back to character select and change it up this time, though. He had solved something in his head, and in the next game, we saw a different Jack-7 show up.
Luu played patiently, using Jack-7's ability to poke at opponents from a safe distance to force Carter to reach for punishes. The game ended on a perfect slam into the wall of a volcanic arena, and 0-1 became 1-1, just one set for each player.
Where Luu adapted, Carter struggled to find a new answer for Luu’s new gameplan. A piledriver into the earth all but sealed the deal, and Luu came out ahead 2-1.
Adaptation is key, and it’s what got Luu his revenge for Eleague and kept his tournament run at Combo Breaker 2018 alive. In a tournament where players at the caliber of Carter and Luu are in the loser’s side of the top 24, it can simply be flexibility and quick thinking that puts you over your opponent.
Compete is Deadspin and Kotaku’s joint site dedicated to competitive gaming.