If you don’t know who Marquis” Shadow 20z” Jordan is, just turn on a North American Tekken tournament. It’s nearly impossible to watch Top 24 and not see him taking names. Those familiar with Tekken already know what Shadow has done to earn a spot on Liquid. But for those who don’t, Shadow is one of the most prolific and consistent Tekken players in North America. Shadow enters tournaments almost every week and according to Liquipedia, he hasn’t placed below top 24 in over 5 years.
Shadow powered up online, becoming The NA EVO Online champion in 2021. But he isn't just a net play monster, or just an NA monster. He’s won offline majors too, with a pair of DreamHacks, a SummerJam, a Final Round, and countless other killer events under his belt. In the big international events, he’s constantly ruining brackets for the world's best — with wins on Arslan Ash, Anakin, Cuddle Core, Lil Majin, Pokchop, Joe Crush, and Joonya 20z (his older brother).
That last name is the big one. Arslan Ash is one of the best Tekken players to ever do it. And Shadow not only beat him, but beat him twice, in two of the biggest tournaments in Tekken. (At EVO 2022, Shadow trounced Arslan in a way few players ever have. He “No Round Brown-ed” EVO’s top seed, two matches in a row, without so much as a pop-off.) Whether he’s sealing Arslan Ash’s fate at the Tekken World Tour Finals or winning SummerJam or sitting at the top of the NA Tekken Circuit, Shadow20z’s impact will be felt.
First off Shadow, welcome to Team Liquid!
Thank you, I’m excited!
When you reflect on your tekken success, what are some of your most memorable moments?
I would say beating Arslan Ash twice. [At Tekken World Tour 2019 and EVO 2022]
What about tournament wins?
That's a tough one… I would probably say.. It's hard to choose. For me, it’s more about the tournaments where I’ve done really well, those events are more memorable to me than winning.
So you value doing your best more than getting the win?
So imagine your dream scenario, you make it to the evo grand finals this weekend, who is sitting across from you on the stage? Who do you want to face for the title?
Knee. I think Knee because obviously he’s considered the best tekken player ever… I just really look up to his gameplay, it’s very barebones. He plays tekken how it's supposed to be. It’s very admirable so I would like to play him in a grand final.
Is Knee someone you’ve taken inspiration from to develop your own strategies?
I wouldn't say I try to copy his style but I do like watching it. I enjoy all forms of Tekken to be honest. Knee developed a play style that was very effective and that's his craft. He sticks to it regardless of what the meta is.
Me: So how do you approach your training generally?
Training generally is just me making sure that I play consistently everyday. Whether it's just playing online or doing something in practice mode or playing with my brother Joonya. I do a lot of practice with Cuddle Core and Anakin too. Outside of that, I make sure I watch as well. I watch all my previous matches & I watch my competition. I just do a lot of watching in general because I think that's important.
Are you someone that takes a lot of notes? Do you bust out the google sheets?
No, no, no [laughs] way more mental for me. Also, once I see something or notice something I have a pretty good chance of remembering it. Usually I just have to see it once and I'll remember.
Do you do anything to control the mental side of the game? Obviously you train to get better but do you do anything to prepare or cope with the stress or anxiety of competing?
Not really. I think that if I'm confident in my gameplay, then that's all that really matters to me. So it's just about going in confident and playing the best that I can. That’s really all I need to do, I don't really get nervous when I play.
Is that something you’ve worked out through time and experience of traveling and competing?
Honestly, I think it's more so that as a kid I grew up competing. I did Taekwondo and competed in swimming & soccer, so I think I'm just used to competing. The nerves are gone because I feel like if I can do all this competing against people in a physical environment, then I can play a video game.
Is there any specific event win that would be a dream come true? For instance, would you prefer to capture a Tekken World Tour Finals trophy or an Evo World (Vegas) Title?
Wow that's a tough one.. I would want to win Evo. I say Evo just because of how exhausting it can be playing all day [and] playing so many players [where] everyone you know is really strong. Whereas with the Tekken World Tour finals everyone is super strong but they kind of like, pick each other off a lot faster. It's a smaller bracket so there are less matchups to focus on. It's a lot more relaxed I would say [knowing opponents ahead of time].
Traditionally in the fighting game Community we haven't had the lucrative prize pools that we've seen in other esports, so what was your reaction when you saw Gamers 8 and the $1 million prize?
I was very happy. You know obviously I wish I could have played in it but I'm just happy for the FGC in general to get something that big. You know it's not very common for us, so just seeing the progress we've made makes me happy.
What’s the first thing you’re doing if you take down a $1M prize?
I would buy my mom a house. I’d make sure my family is taken care of and then keep traveling and doing what I love.
Anything you’d like the Team Liquid community to know before you head out to EVO this weekend?
Just that I'm excited to be with Team Liquid and I'm ready for the future. Ready for Tekken 8 and I think it's going to all be great.
Are there any shout outs you want to give before we wrap?
I just want to give a shout out to my best friend Nikki.
Shadow, thank you so much for your time. Welcome to Team Liquid and we’ll be cheering for you this weekend, good luck!
That’s it for the interview. We’ll let Shadow’s gameplay say the rest. Be sure to tune into EVO 2023 this weekend to cheer Shadow on and give him a good welcome into Team Liquid.