Andreij Albar, better known in the FGC (fighting game community) as Doujin, is one of two members of the Tekken 7 athletes that will be competing at the 30th SEA Games.
Doujin can be considered a veteran despite being just 21-years old. He has competed in a hefty amount of tournaments throughout his career. His biggest moment so far came in 2017 when he won the International Esports Federation (IeSF) Tekken 7 tournament in South Korea. He did this while still being in school and representing the Philippines.
When asked why he chose Doujin as a name he simply said, “I used Doujin without even knowing what it means, when I was young, I used to think of cool, unique, and random names. And when I thought of Doujin, I find it really cool to pronounce, so I used it.”
The beginnings of a Tekken player
Doujin began his love for Tekken at a young age and didn’t really focus on being competitive in other games unlike other esports athletes who jump around titles before they find a true home where they become competitive. He fondly recalled that his father, Tony, was the reason that Doujin started playing Tekken.
He quickly picked up gaming as a hobby, continuing through the succeeding games in the Tekken franchise. Of course there were other games that he played along the way which includes games in the Final Fantasy franchise and a variety of games on the PlayStation Portable (PSP) like Monster Kingdom: Jewel Summoner, and even Pokemon via emulator. His love for playing games, more so on the PSP, put him on the brink of spiraling down an unhealthy level of gaming that affected his grades in school.
“Dumating din sa point dati na sobrang naadik ako sa paglalaro sa PSP (PlayStation Portable) kasi ang daming games sa PSP so download lang ako nang download. May time na mababa yung grades ko nung high school pero narealize ko na rin nung third year or fourth year ako. So cinontrol ko nalang sarili ko. Top 6 ako sa class ko nung High School. Haha!” he admitted.
[It came to a point where I got so addicted to playing games on the PSP because of the vast library of games that I just downloaded. My grades started to dip in high school but I realized the problem in third or fourth year. I just had to control myself. I was Top 6 in my class in high school. Haha!]
As a fighting game fan and player, Doujin spent his time at the arcades. His home turf: SM South Mall. His game: Tekken 6. While Doujin admitted that while he held his own against the average players as he learned the 10-hit combos on all the characters, he struggled when he came up against the veterans of the game. This opened his eyes to the more intricate side of the game he had once fallen in love with. And fell he did, down the rabbit hole that is Tekken.
“Nagtataka ako bakit di ako nananalo. Ayun, sinabi nila na bawat move ng Tekken may info tulad nang gano kabilis, ano yung damage, o kung ano yung situation mo pag nablock o tumama. Inaral ko lahat yun,” he said. “From there, dumayo ako sa North, ayun nanalo naman ako. Mga two and a half years halos ko inaral yun.”
[“I was wondering why I couldn’t win against those guys. They told me that every move of Tekken had information like speed or damage or the situation you’re in when you block something or get hit. After that, I learned all those,” he said. “From there, I visited the north and won. It took me around two and a half years to learn all that and get that victory.”]
He considers Pinoy Gaming Festival (PGF) 2012 his first big tournament but really didn’t look to do it professionally. That would come a few PGF tournaments later, when he was approached by PlayBook Esports. From arcade mainstay, Doujin had just stepped through a whole new world his chosen game afforded him: the opportunity to become a professional gamer.
“Wala talaga sa plan na maging professional esports player ako, kaya sobrang thankful ako sa PlayBook Esports, kay Sir Richard at kay Ate Kris. Nakitaan nila ako ng potential na pwede maging pro. Mga PGF 2014 or 2015 nila ako kinausap.”
[It really wasn’t part of my plan to be a professional esports player but I’m extremely thankful for PlayBook Esports, to Sir Richard and Ate Kris. They saw potential in me to really turn pro. That was around PGF 2014 or 2015 when they talked to me.]
From tournaments and bonding moments
From amateur to professional and before he had the privilege of a coaching staff rallying behind him, Doujin credits his father as his first and best coach. It was his father that watched his games as he started his Tekken journey, an extra pair of eyes that not only observed his gameplay, but his opponent’s as well. Even more than the technical aspect of the game, Doujin’s dad also helped him manage his emotions, especially during losses. More than just a father doing chaperone duties, his dad stood by his side and helped a young Doujin hone his craft.
“Malaking tulong yung dad ko kasi pag may matches ako. Siya yung nag-oobserve sa kalaban, nag-oobserve sa akin. Siya yung nagbibigay nang advice at tips kung ano yung pangontra sa mga bagay-bagay, yung mga certain situations na di ko alam minsan,” he said. “He’s the observer type of coach. Sasabihin niya sayo kung ano certain course of action para mamaintain yung laro.”
[“My dad is a big help especially when I have matches. He observes the opponent and observes me. He gives me advice and tips on how to counter certain players and play-styles and even helps me with moments that I struggle with,” he said. “He’s the observer type of coach. He’ll tell you what the course of action should be to maintain the game.”]
Tekken became more than just a game for Doujin and his dad. They spend time in the game, teaching, practicing, learning, and more importantly, bonding. In preparing for tournaments, he relies on his own training for improvement, his friends for input, and of course, his dad for support.
“Pagkauwi yun na, tutulungan na ako ng dad ko. O minsan magne-Netflix lang siya tapos pag may papakita ako sa kanya, ayun saka kami maglalaro. Bonding na talaga namin yung Tekken,” he detailed.
[“When he gets home my dad helps me with training almost immediately. Sometimes he’ll just watch Netflix but he’s willing to watch and play when I have stuff to show him. We’ve bonded over Tekken.”]
Alongside Tekken and bonding with his dad, Doujin had one other constant in his life that he’s had to manage – school.
School – the bargains and struggles
Currently, Doujin is working on graduating from San Beda College with a degree in BS Entrepreneurship by around July or August 2020. He took the course hoping to put his own business up while still competing in esports.
The road to graduation was far from smooth. Soon after getting into esports, Doujin had to choose whether he were to attend classes or go to tournaments. This was harder with international tournaments that required longer periods of absence.
“Nung unang Tekken World Tour na sinalihan ko, siguro first or second year, kinailangan namin umalis and may conflict siya sa schedule ko sa classes sa school. Syempre, pag college ‘di pwede yung excuse dahil ‘aalis ako, ganito ganyan’,” he recalled.
[The first Tekken World Tour that I competed in, that was around first or second year, I needed to leave and it conflicted with my class schedule. Of course, in college, it’s not like you can be excused from classes that easily.]
He, along with his parents, spoke to his Dean and Vice Dean to explain the situation. It was clear that esports wasn’t just about playing and that it was a job for him. In the end, they allowed him to fly and compete but was also required to maintain a certain grade. It allowed him to compete in Tekken, but at the same time, forced him to keep working hard on his academics.
“Usually pagkabalik ko galing sa ibang bansa, maximum two days ako na walang Tekken. Hahabulin ko lang po lahat para manormalize yung flow ng gawain ko. Kailangan pa rin mabalanse ko yung Tekken at pag-aaral. Pag nasa ibang bansa kasi, pure Tekken”
[Usually when I get home from an international tournament I spend a maximum of two days wherein I don’t play Tekken. I just catch up on what I missed, reset, and get back to my old groove of things. I still need to balance Tekken and studying because when I’m in another country it’s pure Tekken.]
On regular days, his schedule is pretty straight forward – School and then Tekken when he gets home. While it may not be easy, to Doujin it became something akin to learning a new character in Tekken. Putting the focus and the work in his studies allowed him to integrate it into his professional Tekken career, a balancing act that would slowly become a part of who he is.
Inner workings of a more seasoned veteran
With around 70 or more tournaments under his belt, Doujin has seen it all. From big victories to disappointing defeats to upsets and Cinderella story moments, he’s been on and experienced both sides.
Doujin may appear to be a cool, calm, and collected player today but this wasn’t always the case. As a younger player, he took losses pretty hard. It took him a while to recover from a loss and that affected the way he played.
“Dati naiiyak ako maski second ako, pero ngayon, okay na kasi narealize ko di rin biro pag umabot ng second place,” recalled Doujin. “Halos four years din bago ko na overcome yung sakit pagka natalo. Lagi ako inaapproach ng dad ko at sinasabihan ako na “Okay lang yan.””
[“I used to cry after a loss even if I was able to place second. Now, I realize that reaching second is no joke,” he recalled. “It took me around four years to overcome the pain after a loss. My dad would always approach me after a loss and tell me “It’s alright.””]
With more experience, he now deals with losses by simply closing his eyes, realigning his mindset, and focusing on what he needs to do to win. This search to reset or find a more zen state has proved vital in many of his comeback moments. It’s a technique he tried at a tournament and it worked, so he sticks by it until today.
While a loss can really rattle the nerves, especially at the level where Doujin plays, it’s not an excuse to play poorly, or attribute things to fate. For Doujin, focus is something that can be easily lost but can be found just as quickly. He isn’t one to let things go after a loss, and it is this focus, this will to steel yourself amidst every other distraction that allows him to take matches others would’ve thrown away.
“Makakaapekto sa next na laban mo kung iisipin mo pa yung huli mong talo. Ang tendency sa laro mo ay magiging medyo bahala na. Natalo nalang din ako edi okay na rin matalo,” parang ganun pag di mo nareset mental mo.”
[Thinking about your previous loss will affect how you play in the next game. This leads to the tendency to you playing subpar. A certain “I’ve already lost anyway, so losing it all is okay” mentality kicks in if you don’t reset mentally.]
With this focus comes clarity. In Doujin’s case, his many tournaments have given him a self-realization that the eyes watching him are not just from the crowded arcades in SM South Mall. The stages he steps on to keep getting bigger, and more eyes are looking at not just his performance, but how he conducts himself within his time on stage. Even the name he chose for himself – a product of youthful whimsy and because it sounded cool – has now transformed into a name the local FGC recognizes and respects.
Doujin now considers himself more responsible with a more calculated approach to life and competing. Being responsible is a trait that his parents continue to tell him to adapt as a more public figure. His brashness at arcades has been tempered into a more reserved Doujin, the adult who balances his gaming with studies, as well as being a loving son and a public figure.
“Yung Doujin dati, bara bara lang, kung ano lang maisip. Yung Doujin ngayon, sa Tekken at buhay, mas kalkulado, kung may risk man, calculated risk. Mas responsible na rin ako ngayon. Player na eh, public figure na rin. Madalas ako sabihan nang parents ko na “You have to be more responsible.””
[Doujin before would just go in guns blazing and did whatever he wanted. Now, Doujin, both in Tekken and life, is more calculated. If risk was involved, it’s a calculated risk. I think I’m more responsible now. I’m an esports player, a more public figure. My parents often tell me “You have to be more responsible.”]
The 30th SEA Games
Doujin has shown his skill previously at 30th SEA Games Test Event and took home the gold. Things won’t be so easy for Doujin, or his teammate AK for that matter, with more opponents and themselves to face at the event itself.
Victory is ours for now. See you in December, as we do this for real.Andreij “Doujin” Albar / SIBOL 🇵🇭#PlaybookEsports#SEAGames#SibolPH
Both players will also be competing at the Tekken World Tour Finals 2019 Last Chance Qualifier in Bangkok, Thailand. The tournament will be held in the same week as the SEA Games which means both players will have to prepare for a longer run. Physical preparation is just as important for Doujin as in-game preparation. He’ll look to be prepared physically, in-game, and mentally for the 30th SEA Games.
“Paghahandaan ko talaga yung SEA Games at yung mga magkasunod na tournament. Kasi nung nasa Japan kami, nagkasakit ako. So goal ko by SEA Games, handang handa ako physically, para walang sisishan,” he vowed.
[I’ll prepare for SEA Games and the succeeding tournaments. When we were in Japan, I got sick. So my goal is that by SEA Games, I’m ready to kick it so there’s nothing to blame.]
He sees the opportunity to represent the country in the 30th SEA Games as an honor and will look to do the country proud.
“Tinetreat ko yung SEA Games na parang birthday, as in special day siya. Kasama kasi yung esports for the first time, dito pa sa Pilipinas, tapos kasama pa ako sa mga maglalaro, which hindi ko ineexpect talaga. Happy kami na marerepresent namin ni AK yung Philippines sa SEA Games.”
[I treat the SEA Games like it’s a birthday, you know, a special day. It’s the first time for esports to be a medal sport and it’s held here in the Philippines. To top it all off, I’ll be representing the country. I never really expect to be representing the country. We [AK and I] are happy to have the opportunity to represent the Philippines in the 30th SEA Games.]
Despite the many tournaments he’s competed in, he thinks that the 30th SEA Games brings with it a unique kind of pressure. The pressure, in turn, makes him a bit more nervous than usual. It is understandable. After all, he, along with the rest of Sibol will be the first esports athletes to compete for a medal in a regional multi-sport event.
For Doujin, embodying the Sibol battlecry of ‘Lakad Matatag’, to walk strong in the face of challenges, is something he doesn’t have to internalize. For him, it manifests itself in the strength of both him and his teammate AK, their coaches and management, his friends in the FGC, and his family, most especially in the unwavering belief and support from his father. All these, plus his warrior’s journey in the game he loves, propels Doujin to continuously take the next step forward and face his next challenge with determination and confidence.
“Since iba to, medyo may kaba ako pero hahanapan ko nang paraan para mawala yung kaba kasi di kailangan ng kaba sa laro.”
[Since the SEA Games is different, I feel a bit more nervous. But I’ll look for a way to overcome the nerves because there’s no room for nerves when I play.]
Doujin, AK, and the rest of Sibol will be competing at the 30th Southeast Asian Games for their respective disciplines in esports. The esports event will be held at the San Juan Arena in San Juan City, Metro Manila from December 5-10. They will need your support!