Twenty-five-year-old Vernon Bourne made the trek from St Elizabeth, Jamaica, to Seoul, South Korea, in December to represent Jamaica at the 11th eSports World Championship and walked away much more aware of his chosen profession after facing off against the second-best Tekken 7 player in the world, Hoa ‘Anakin’ Luu.
“Anakin, from America, was my first opponent. Being one of the best players in the world and a legend in his own right, I think I did pretty well against him despite not being able to really warm up for the matches. I did a lot better than I thought I would,” Bourne said.
“eSports are a very legitimate entity right now.”— Bourne
Korean player Jae Min Bae would go on to win overall, but Bourne learnt a lot from the experience.
“eSports are a very legitimate entity right now. I already figured that from watching it from home, but to actually be there and see the production for myself was really cool,” he said.
Bourne, playing for Jamaican eSports team Dr Birdz under his gamertag Jabugz07, went on to fight Namibian player Zubscop, whom he beat. However, Jabugz07 would be eliminated in the following match.
“In hindsight, I should have won that match, but I guess tournament experience and composure is what I lacked at the time. It was an amazing experience however,” he said.
Jabugz07 got the nod to enter the international competition when he found himself ranked as the best Tekken 7 player in the island after a series of tournaments put on by the Jamaica eSports Initiative. This got him to the Evolution Championship Series — the largest annual fighting game eSports event — in Las Vegas, Nevada, last year. Like in Korea, he represented Jamaica as part of the Dr Birdz.
Bourne’s gaming history began in 2009. By 2013 he found his true calling at that year’s Mash Di Button gaming tournament.
“I saw Tekken playing on the monitor right next to me, and it really caught my attention,” Bourne said.
He started playing Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and was hooked, even over other genre leaders like Mortal Kombat and Marvel vs Capcom. He made the leap to Tekken 7 when the game came out.
“The one thing about Tekken that made me stick to it was very simple, the online experience. On Tekken Tag 2 was the best I had ever experienced on a fighting game, and I thought it was amazing because it’s usually an awful experience for me, especially playing from the country with the bad Internet,” he told BUZZ.
Having gone up against a Tekken 7 titan such as Anakin, Jabugz07 has only had his appetite whetted for more international competition.
“If all is good in the world later on this year I’m hoping to go back to EVO. I’m currently trying to be a better Tekken player so I can represent Jamaica much better than I did last year, and I’m also hoping to help the Tekken scene in Jamaica improve as much as possible. We are really only as strong as our scene, and if our scene is strong who knows where we will end up one day,” Bourne said.