About 11 months ago, Lyon “Lyonidas” Buhagiar just finished in 9th place in the Tekken 7 European IESF Qualifiers, after making it the second of a group stage of trouble that also included Finland, represented by the world-famous Claudio player Jopelix as well as the Dutch legend ArtofAce. Unfortunately leaving the group was not enough for Malta to qualify, as Lyonidas immediately met Why from Poland who did a quick job of our hero (and then won the whole thing) they beat him on the 9th. and thus excludes him from the first 6 who then had to qualify for the Offline Finals in Eilat, Israel, an event that was sadly canceled due to the current global pandemic that was in full swing.
This year, however, Lyonidas was ready to miss the chance to escape again, and after a year of training against the best of Europe. This training took place particularly in tournaments such as the Intercontinental Fight Club, also known as the Intercontinental Fight Club ICFC, an event hosted by tenomedja to put the biggest names in the entire continent against each other for a weekly prize as well as a leaderboard final to put on the line some sick prizes. Lyonidas, however, increased his notch and also trained in Italy, where he officially represented FULLSYNC for the first time and competed among the best in the country as well as the Korean ace Frannawilliams and the Spanish killer BlackKazama in the Arcade Tournament hosted by Tekken Emilia, and placed 9th among names like DanielMado, ManuelMitraglia and Crossfire just to name a few.
All this boils down to last week, where in a format very similar to the current World Cup in football, Lyonidas played a great game out of three a day against his opponents in the first qualifying group, with the first 2 proceeding to another group stage for the last chance to reach Eilat. Malta’s group was full of talent, as in addition to the Maltese there was also MitrustStorm representing Italy, known as the best player Nina in Europe, Deadeye from Spain and ArtofAce, the Dutch legend again shares the pathways with Lyonidas in the IESF Qualification. Things went awry immediately, as Malta vs Italy ended up in a loss to Lyonidas. Italy suffered losses to Spain and the Netherlands as well, putting Malta dead in the group. Then there was a do or die situation, a situation that did not take the fight from Lyonidas but instead spurred the young competitor to get his 110% out.
An emphatic 2-0 win against ArtofAce but brought back Malta’s hopes of coming out of the group stage, and the Dutch victory over Spain meant that the winner of Malta vs Spain would be the one. to proceed. Lyonidas and Deadeye had met several times in the tournament before, and the latter had beaten the Maltese every time, so it was not only pressure to be eliminated but also against an opponent he had never won before. Another stellar display was given by the Maltese player, as he cruised for another 2-0 victory, placing Malta first in the group head-to-head and sending Spain and Italy, two candidates for victory. of the entire IESF championship, which crashed out of competition.
The work was only half done, however, as on Sunday 26 September another group stage took place, casting six qualifying countries, with the top 4 reserving themselves a place in Israel. This was another difficult task for Malta, as they were brought together with the qualifiers from the other groups in the first phase of the groups; Luxembourg, France, Belgium and Portugal, as well as the Netherlands, which made it out of Malta’s own group.
The representative of Belgium in particular is one of the brightest stars in Europe when it comes to Tekken 7, after recording excellent results at the extremely young age of 19, the world is truly the the PiKaH oyster when it comes to fighting games. PiKaH is also one of Lyonidas ’training partners, making their meeting in the group a closer affair.
The group that was made up of six players meant that 4th place was enough to make the cut, so two wins out of five possible matches would be enough to qualify. Lyonidas had a good start with a win against Portugal, but then lost to Fuhito from France. The third match against the Luxembourg representative started tough for the Maltese as well, as they lost the first game. The 2020 Lyonidas would have messed up and thrown in the towel, but after making amazing strides forward in his practical but most importantly mental game, Lyonidas grabbed on the tip of his mouth and made came back to win the tie with the score of 2-1, making an almost certain qualification with two wins on one side.
The fourth game against the Netherlands was more of a group that raises an issue rather than a qualification issue, with Portugal and Luxembourg sinking in 5th and 6th place, unfortunately gaining one win and no victory in the whole stage of the stage. Lyonidas however was still focused, gaining momentum from his previous win, doing a quick job of ArtofAce and recording a very confident 2-0 to secure a qualification beyond any doubt. The last game for Lyonidas was against his friend PiKaH, a meeting that fell to the wire but the Belgian caught him with a score of 2-1.
Thus ended the group stage, with Lyon emotionally happy beyond his wildest expectations in the prospect of traveling to Eilat and representing his country Malta, and with the opportunity to meet so many other players of world class representing their homeland in Offline Finals in Israel. which will surely keep Lyonidas fans glued to the results of the tournament, by supporting the Maltese. Honestly there could be no one better than Lyon to represent Malta in this tournament, as with his work ethic and dedication he is by far the hardest working player in the Maltese islands.
When we ask Lyonidas a day after the event, with the emotions attached and the pulse definitely more stable, we try to take a look at what was going through his head in the crucial moments of this past week.
First of all Lyon, massive congratulations for getting her out of the gauntlet! It was a lovely trip to see how it unfolds.
1. How I felt on Wednesday evening after the game against MitrustStorm, I came out on the losing end and learned that Italy was beaten by the Netherlands and Spain, thus making Malta the bottom of the group with the rest only two games?
At the time, after I lost the game I was really worried that I needed to win my other games to qualify for the next phase. I was a bit shocked at the end that the Italian representative failed to pass. It just shows that the level of competition is much higher than I expected.
2. What was the state of your mind that faced Deadeye, a player who played several times but never won in the tournament, with the possibility of either making it out of groups or being eliminated from the whole thing?
When I was facing a deadeye, I knew I had the ability to win because when I met him in the online ranking, I won before. But I knew that when it comes to such high stakes, I usually tend to choke. So I really tried to take a game with game after game so I didn’t focus on the bigger picture. I think that’s what actually made it possible for me to finally win him.
3. How did you prepare – mentally and wisely for the games, for your games in the first group stage and in the second one?
At this stage of the competition, I think one needs to work more on their mental game rather than on the gameplay itself. Don’t get me wrong, if you don’t study the game you won’t proceed. But mainly I had to prepare mentally as I don’t have confidence in my abilities. Regarding the group stages, I treated them the same, I had a mission to go through and with luck and effort it reached my goal.
4. How did you feel on Sunday evening, before the event? How was your mental state? Did you believe you could do it or were you afraid of the opposition?
After I qualified for the playoffs on Friday, I didn’t stop to think about what I needed to do to qualify for the finals. I was feeling very anxious, but deep down I knew I had what it took to do it. Thanks to a buddy who kept me distracted over the weekend I got into the playoffs a bit less anxious than I expected. As for my opponents, I’ve faced some of them before so I knew what to expect.
4. This is your second attempt at IESF and you have made the final now, how are you feeling, do you know that it will represent your country internationally? Are you more afraid of the big challenge ahead or more motivated to give your best in front of some of Tekken’s best players all over the world?
It is a great honor to be able to represent countries. I know this is a great opportunity to hone my in-game skills and I won’t take it lightly. Having a small country capable of competing with these massive giants is a dream for many. But thankfully I made it a reality. Considering the challenge I face when I’m in the finals, I think the best way to approach it is to take it game by game and be happy with whatever outcome it has.
We would like to take the opportunity to wish Lyonidas all the best IESF Offline Majors in Eilat, Israel in November. We are sure that it will not only make Malta’s colors proud, but also FullSync, for who is currently playing as our first sponsored athlete!
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