KingReyJr Rising: Tekken prodigy sets sights on TWT 2023 glory with renewed drive
Exploring free agency, the 17-year-old sensation aims to prove his worth on the global Tekken stage.
In the competitive world of Tekken, prodigy Rey Matthew Escanio, Jr., known as KingReyJr, is carving out his place in the esports scene. At just 17 years old, this Jacksonville, Florida native has already spent more than half of his life dedicated to mastering Tekken. While some may wonder how this “kid” is already playing at a level that allows him to go toe to toe with some of the world’s best Tekken players, his journey didn’t begin just yesterday. You have to go much further back than that.
KingReyJr’s passion for Tekken was first evident at the tender age of three, as he would watch his father play Tekken 6 with friends and quickly learned to recognize the characters. He recalls, “My father would invite his friends over for practice sessions. He said that I loved the game so much that I would slide my chair over to the TV and watch them play and wouldn’t move until they were done. He decided to start teaching me at the age of three because I was able to recognize about 80% of the roster by name. I even knew when Mokujin was Steve Fox because of his movement.” And from that moment, a prodigy was born.
Completely captivated by what he was experiencing, KingReyJr’s passion for the game only intensified. By the age of five, he was already competing in tournaments, going 0-2 in his first event but winning his very first round at the second one the following week. Despite the setbacks, KingReyJr was undeterred. He continued to play and train, honing his skills as he grew older.
“I was five years old when my father decided that I was ready to compete in my first tournament. I played in a Tekken 7 tournament at Underground Alley in Orange Park, FL and went 0-2 and didn’t win any rounds. I did win my first round at the 2nd event I attended the following week in the same place,” KingReyJr said.
For the next decade or so, KingReyJr’s father would cultivate his son’s love for Tekken, helping him train, and navigating him through the ups and downs of competing in tournaments. They would be seen together all of the time, becoming recognizable faces at just about any event you went to. KingReyJr not only competed, but also performed commentary quite often, providing insight into the gameplay and matchups that many wouldn’t expect someone of his age to have. He even held down commentary with Reepal “Rip” Parbhoo for a Tekken World Tour major back in 2018.
Today, KingReyJr is one of the most promising up-and-coming players not only in North America, but the world. He is part of the diverse and strong Tekken scene in Florida, and credits his local BnB Tekken Group in Jacksonville for providing a competitive environment that pushes him to improve, with the fortitude to compete on a national and global level.
Most of these players are on my radar because I hope to defeat them when we meet at events. They are all great people outside of Tekken. But when Tekken is involved, they are my competition.
Regarding his ability to compete with North America’s best players, KingReyJr confidently states, “I’ve always felt like I can compete with anyone anywhere. That is part of the reason why I would love the opportunity to get to as many big Tekken events as possible. I want to play the best that not only North America has to offer but the world as well. I want my name to be mentioned in the conversation when people are talking about the best Tekken players not only in the U.S. but in the world. ”
But KingReyJr is not only focused on his own growth as a player, but also on studying top U.S. players like Anakin, Cuddle_core, Shadow20z, and Joey Fury. He emphasizes, “Most of these players are on my radar because I hope to defeat them when we meet at events. They are all great people outside of Tekken. But when Tekken is involved, they are my competition.”
As far as his approach to matches, KingReyJr is known for his unique and aggressive playstyle, primarily using Asuka Kazama as his main character and weapon of choice. He explains, “I feel like she is the best fit for my playstyle. I think my playstyle is very unique when compared to other Asuka mains. The closest comparison I have seen would be B_Baez from the Dominican Republic.”
With moves like the Dragon Wheel Kick (b+3), Double Lift Kicks (d+3+4), and Exorcisor (f+1+2), KingReyJr expertly applies pressure to his opponents, keeping them guessing about what’s coming next. Despite his primary focus on Asuka, KingReyJr notes, “I can play every character in Tekken 7 to an extent. I mainly play them for match-up knowledge.” His dedication to understanding the game and his opponents has contributed to his growing success in tournaments.
KingReyJr’s recent drive to compete comes after taking a year-long break from Tekken. He shares, “The year away from Tekken helped me to refocus my passion for the game. I decided to start playing again at the beginning of February.” His renewed dedication to the game has led to impressive results, including seven first-place finishes, one second-place finish, two third-place finishes, and one fourth-place finish in offline events since February.
With the 2023 Tekken World Tour kicking off, KingReyJr has big plans. He says, “I do plan on competing in the 2023 Tekken World Tour. As of now, I am registered for CEO 2023, a Master Event here in Florida.” KingReyJr also hopes to attend Texas Showdown, EVO Vegas, and as many TWT events as possible, as he believes he has a great chance to earn points in the 2023 TWT at any event he attends.
Currently without a sponsor, KingReyJr is seeking one for the 2023 Tekken World Tour. He explains, “I currently do not have a sponsor and was previously sponsored by Glytch Energy. I am very grateful for the opportunities that I had while sponsored by them and was proud to represent them.” He goes on to say, “I am currently looking for a new sponsor for the 2023 Tekken World Tour. Having a sponsor that is willing to help me get to the TWT events would be huge. I would also be very interested in what I can bring to the table for the sponsor via competing and streaming. I would love to have another opportunity to represent a great organization.”
Having a sponsor that is willing to help me get to the TWT events would be huge. I would also be very interested in what I can bring to the table for the sponsor via competing and streaming. I would love to have another opportunity to represent a great organization.
Balancing school, training, and competing can be challenging, but KingReyJr has found a way to manage it all. Enrolled in Florida Virtual School, he can work at his own pace and dedicate ample time to practicing Tekken. The benefits of being 17 have allowed him to take full advantage of his practice time, and he acknowledges that “all the practice has been paying off.”
Training partners play a significant role in any esports athlete’s development, and KingReyJr’s father has been his main training partner for years. Additionally, he relies on his local Tekken scene for support and improvement. He expresses his desire to “start training with as many of the top players in the U.S. as possible to help prepare for events.”
KingReyJr credits his parents, particularly his father, for their support in his esports career. From teaching him how to play and getting him to events, to helping him build his brand and set up his stream, his father has been instrumental in his success. Importantly, he adds, “I think one of the most important lessons he has taught me is how to be a good person.”
My dad has supported me throughout my esports career. From teaching me how to play to getting me to events to compete. He has also taught me about the importance of building my own brand and how to utilize social media for that purpose. He’s even helped me with setting up my stream. But I think one of the most important lessons he has taught me is how to be a good person. I also must give my mom a shoutout for being so understanding through it all.
As for the upcoming Tekken 8, KingReyJr is excited about what he’s seen so far, especially the Asuka announcement. Though he hasn’t had a chance to play it yet, he hopes to get an opportunity before its release if he can attend an event that features it.
In closing, KingReyJr extends his gratitude to his supporters and followers on social media, and shares a message for potential esports organizations: “I would love the opportunity to work with you and figure out what I can bring to the table for your organization to help in any way that I can.”
With a strong foundation, passion for the game, and an impressive track record, KingReyJr is poised to make a major impact in the Tekken esports world. Keep an eye on this up-and-coming prodigy as he continues to make noise in the competitive Tekken scene.
To keep up with KingReyJr, follow him on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.