Tekken 7 Mainstay Speedkicks Retires, Leaves Panda Global

by in Fighting Game News | Jul, 10th 2020

Stephen “Speedkicks” Stafford has announced his intention to retire from Tekken 7, and as a result has left Panda Global with immediate effect. 

“Speedkicks, after much deliberation, has decided he is retiring from Tekken – although, we hope this does not mean a retirement for his intelligent quips about the franchise on his Twitter,” Panda Global said in a statement. “Speedkicks has earned the title of a veteran Panda, having donned the jersey in 2017 when he joined our growing family. We’ve made incredible memories together, and between his powerful Hwoarang and his sense of humor, he’s been a joy to have with us for these last 3 years. We know he’ll accomplish great things with whatever passion he chases in the future.”

Panda Global announced this departure alongside two other players, Shadowverse player Stavros “Zerofyne” Vitsensatos and Smash 64 veteran Dan “SuPeRbOoMfAn” Hoy (who recently went on to secure a World Record speedrun of Crash Bandicoot 2: Corext Strikes Back.) He also retires in a week that’s seen several other big names in the FGC retire, including Street Fighter legend Nuckledu

Speedkicks Quit Because He Didn’t Like Tekken 7 Despite Skill

Speedkicks was a beloved figure in the Tekken 7 community before he decided to retire, well known for his quips about recent balance changes as well as for being one of the best Hwoarang players in the world.

“I realized I was sick of the game way before I knew I had to stop competing,” Speedkicks explained on Twitter. “Taking 2nd place at TX Showdown using chars I never practiced after grinding in Korea in 2018 showed me the game was exactly what I thought it was. I spent the rest of that year and the next one trying to find alternate ways of winning that were fun to me because I didn’t want to let go of competing.I still don’t actually…I just hate the game. So my regret is not figuring out how to like the new Tekken.”

It seems Speedkicks will not be returning to the FGC either, due to the time commitment of learning a new game and being able to compete at a top level. 

“The amount of time I dedicated to learning Tekken was pretty intense. I don’t think I have it in me to do that again,” he explained. “But I also couldn’t play a new game without giving it my best. So I’m just casual gaming from here on out.”

Speedkicks Had an Illustrious Tekken 7 Career

During his time in the Tekken 7 community, Speedkicks was a mainstay and consistently appeared across many top 8s in his career, including five career tournament wins at several events across North America.

Throughout his career, he earned approximately $14,990 from his 24 tournament placements, including about $1000 from Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Given his ubiquity across top 8s throughout his Tekken career, this also serves to highlight how underfunded the FGC is compared with other esports, as athletes with similar placement records in other games have made a significant living. 

His placements included:

  • 5 1st place finishes, including Dreamhack Atlanta, Austin 2018, and East Coast Throwdown 2017
  • 6 2nd place finishes
  • 4 3rd place finishes
  • 10 top 8 finishes

He also had several top 64 finishes at almost every event he entered, and was a gatekeeper in several of those events to the upper echelons of play from would-be contenders. While he will no longer be in attendance at FGC events moving forward (after COVID-19 is cured, anyway,) any time a Hwoarang player starts making waves they will inevitably be compared to Speedkicks’ patience, poise, and ability to open up combos for big damage with the kick specialist. 


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