VR gamers in Downpour Interactive’s Onward recognized a moment of silence on Saturday as they mourned the loss of a friend and teammate. Players paid their respects to Kensai187, a long-time community member and co-founder of the world championship Onward team Beginners.
Many times when news is shared of a friend or relative who has passed away, the focus is on a person’s age, occupation, an illness, or other vital points. While those details are important, they aren’t necessarily the things that make the most impact on others. Our relationships are frequently based on mutual interests, personality traits, and shared experiences.
In February 2017 Kensai187 joined the online social group that supports the competitive scene for the tactical mil-sim VR game Onward. At that time, the first waves of VR gamers were trying to find others who shared their passion for this new consumer technology and the VR Master League (VRML), a community-driven platform, was in the early stages.
Kensai187 had joined just as teams were preparing for the VR Master League season 2 and he helped establish the team Beginners.
At that time, before VRML really gained traction, Onward competitions would consist of one-day tournaments every two weeks. These events would sometimes last seven to eight hours a stretch so teammates spent a lot of time together.
Although the Beginners were a new team, they reached the finals during Kensai187’s first tournament.
“We lost to BossFight,” states Dr. Killinger, team owner of Beginners. He adds that “the competition was the start of the friendly yet fierce rivalry that spans till today still and after this first tourney Kensai would go on to make some of the biggest clutch plays in the history of that rivalry.”
“Kensai was a very honest, talkative teammate and friend, someone who you could really rely on,” he adds. “And I think it’s fair to say that he was one of the people who set an example and defined the highly competitive but highly sportsmanlike foundations of the early Onward scene.”
In fact, if you spend any time looking through Kensai’s posts on the Onward Discord group, you’ll find encouragement for his own teammates as well as others. He also reminded people to recognize the difference between the competitive versus casual scene. He wanted to make sure the game was fun for people with different priorities so he regularly pointed out that it was important to maintain a balance for the playerbase.
After that first tournament when BossFight took the win, Dr. Killinger says Kensai wouldn’t rest until Beginners became the best in EU and the world.
Finally in June 2018, the Onward VR Master League scene had grown to the point that it attracted the attention of the Oculus-sponsored and ESL-run VR League. The world’s top four Onward teams were invited to compete in a LAN event at the ESL studios in Leicester, UK and Kensai was among the competitors.
Although Globochem claimed bragging rights at that particular event, Beginners went on to claim the season 7 championship title at Oculus Connect 5 in September 2018. Kensai wasn’t able to attend that event, but he was active in chat, cheering his own teammates as well as the other team.
Kensai was a great player and teammate. He was a positive member of the VR community and Onward in particular. At one point, when discussing an issue of teams using outside communications, Kensai pointed out that they were still in the first generation of VR esports and it was difficult to police some issues.
However, he pointed out that “a lot of rules come down to honour and fair play.”
Kensai spoke of sportsmanship and respect. These are things we desperately need more of in the world and he was an advocate we appreciated for promoting them.
When we lose someone, there’s a void felt in the universe. It’s not necessary to know the vital details of a person because in reality, the spirit of a person is much more than facts about their age or where they lived. Although most players in the Onward community never met him in person, Kensai187 made a positive impact on their lives. He will be remembered as a great teammate and community member who left us too soon.