Playbook Esports’ Alexandre “AK” Laverez has been holding an arcade stick since he was four years old.
Growing up in the city of Pasay, AK was a fixture in Harrison Plaza’s arcade. It became his daycare of sorts, spending most of his time there while waiting for his grandmother to finish her errands.
One day, however, AK failed to show up at their rendezvous point, which made her grandmother panic. So she rushed to the arcade, only to see a long line in front of a particular machine. That led him to AK, who still hasn’t dropped a match since he sat – explaining the long queue behind him.
After finding out that AK has talent in the popular fighting game, his parents promised to support him in every way they can. That, as long as he’s having fun doing it.
“Siguro nakita rin po nila na ‘Uy, parang may talent si AK dito sa laro na ‘to ah’. Tapos nagtuloy-tuloy na hanggang pagtanda ko, Tekken na po ‘yung nilalaro ko. Tapos sinusuportahan na rin ako ng family ko, nagco-compete na rin ako sa tournaments,” said AK in Tiebreaker Vodcasts’ Beyond The Meta, presented by SMART.
AK’s family didn’t have that much luxury back then. What they have either went straight to the table or other house expenses. But his father, Ronie, took his promise to heart — to support AK in his journey in any way the can. So he usually saves up PHP 50 for AK to train in arcades.
A swipe for Tekken in the local arcade costs 30 pesos, which means that AK has no room for error since one loss would end his time in the machine.
“‘Yung Tekken po kasi kaya one game, ‘yung one game na ‘yun ipaglalaban ko ‘yun hanggang dulo. So dahil doon sa one game na ‘yun, kapag natalo ako, uwi na kami agad eh. Wala nang pera, uuwi na kami, so ilalaban ko ‘yun,” AK shared.
“Tapos may mga times pa na kapag kunwari walang challenger, ‘yung isang swipe na ‘yun. Kasi diba may CPU tapos may stage one, stage two, may ganon pa e. Uubusin ko pa ‘yung oras na ‘yun para lang masulit ko ‘yung larong ‘yun kasi diba may timer ‘yung Tekken 60 seconds, 80 seconds? Uubusin ko ‘yun na hindi ako pipindot, iga-guard ko lahat ng ibabato sa akin ng computer, isasalag ko para mag zero ‘yung timer, para sulit na sulit talaga. So ilalaban ko talaga ‘yun.”
After making the most of his time playing, AK and his father would use the remaining money to share a meal in their favorite food kiosk.
Fast forward to today. AK has already cemented his mark as the top Tekken player in the country. He won four-straight titles in The Nationals while also representing the Philippines in different international tournaments with the most recent in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, where he finished with a silver medal.
And for him, none of it would have been possible if not for the PHP 50 and the countless times that his parents supported him throughout his journey.
“‘Yun ‘yung nakatulong sa akin hanggang ngayon kasi natutunan ‘kong mag-defense, ‘yung laro ko natutunan ko i-guard. Lahat nakikita ko agad. So ganon ‘yung naitulong sa akin nung dahil sa 50 pesos na ‘yun.”
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