Unsung Heroes of the FGC: Davy “DVK” Kamanzi

By on May 5, 2020

Season Four, Qualifier One of the TEKKEN 254 Circuit - Photo provided by JD Photography

Unsung Heroes is our series about the many members of the Fighting Game Community who work behind the scenes to make our community a vibrant, positive, exciting place to be. If you would like to submit your own Unsung Heroes, contact us here or @toptiergg.

Around 2001, Davy Kamanzi was over at his friends’ place when they asked if he wanted to try out a new video game they’d been playing. A native Kenyan whose parents both hail from Rwanda, Kamanzi was also an open-minded gamer, so he accepted. It was a decision that would change his life. The game his friends showed him was the demo for Tekken 4, and it hit him like no other game had. “I was picking Christie and mashing the kick buttons to get easy wins,” he recalls. “And, yeah, it just sort of grew from there. I pretty much fell in love with the game instantly.”

When the next game in the series came out, he made sure to get his own copy. Now, over fifteen years later, the boy who once cheesed out his friends on a PlayStation 2 demo disc is a leader in the Nairobi Fighting Game Community. His story is what the FGC is all about: love, community, hard work, and selflessness. In a word, Kamanzi is a hero.

Finding Community

“Until 2017, I was very much just a casual player,” Kamanzi says. At the time, he was living in the UK as part of a two-year stint of taking BTEC (vocational) courses and playing soccer. He still played Tekken, but he’d mostly played online and had never made any significant connections through the game. “I didn’t realize that wi-fi wasn’t the best way to go.”

In the UK, he had other options, and he dove into the world of wired netplay in Tekken 7. “Once I started meeting other players online,” he says, “that’s when I realized, ‘Whoa, I’m really trash at this game.’ So, yeah, I didn’t wanna keep getting bodied, so I started properly watching tutorials [and] started properly learning the game.”

Season Three, Qualifier Four of the TEKKEN 254 Circuit – Photo provided by JD Photography


Soon, however, Kamanzi had to return to Kenya, where he initially struggled to find other fighting gamers. He decided to make the search easier by creating a Facebook group, which he called Tekken 254, inspired by the telephone country code for his home nation. If he thought that he’d make a couple of friends and take it slow, he was in for a surprise. “It suddenly turned into a tiny community.” And, from the seeds of that tiny community, an entire scene was born.

Tekken 254

Until the outbreak of COVID-19 hit, Tekken 254 was in the midst of its fourth season of league competition. For Kamanzi and his two colleagues (Nathan “Lord Vega” Amba and Yunus Baraza), it’s an accomplishment even to have made it this far. Kenya had an active FGC in the aughts, but it ran out of momentum and eventually folded. At first, it seemed that Tekken 254 might suffer the same fate. According to Kamanzi, “The first year, we had to spend a lot of our own money…just to sort of get things off the ground.”

But with persistence, adaptability, and a long-running partnership with a local esports organization called Ace Pro Gaming, led by co-director Fanuel Opiyo, they managed to whip Tekken 254 into shape. Not only does Kamanzi feel that he’s close to achieving his personal goal of being able to make a living from esports, he’s also helping his community to achieve its goals. Just before the pandemic, Tekken 254’s events regularly pulled in 20-40 players. Impressively, they also attracted crowds of around 30 spectators, many of whom are other gamers who happen to be in the venue, notice that “this seems pretty hype, and then they stick around and see what’s happening.”

“It’s been really fun seeing the community grow with each event and getting to meet new people,” he adds. He also takes a great deal of pride in knowing that the global FGC is starting to notice his local players. Standouts like Mawira “Darktempest” Nyaga, Michael “Mickey” Muhoro, and Sylvia “Queen Arrow” Wahome have helped to put Kenya on the map. It also helps that Tekken 254 has started to stream on a regular basis: every time they go live, Kamanzi says, there are always a few internationals in the chat who say, “‘Oh, sh*t, Kenya has an FGC’ and ‘Oh, sh*t, these guys are actually pretty good.’”

Season Two Finals of the TEKKEN 254 Circuit – Photo provided by JD Photography


In short, where once Kamanzi struggled to even find other people to play with, he now sees a Kenyan FGC that has become a force in its own right. And that transformation is due in no small part to his contributions.

Ready For Whatever Comes Next

As with everyone else, the Kenyan FGC is on a hiatus right now, which means that Kamanzi’s plans will take longer than he’d anticipated. But if anybody is well-suited to playing the long game, it’s him. He’s always run Tekken 254 so that it’s “by the community, for the community,” and he always has his eye on the future.

When it comes to his players, Kamanzi says that “we want to see the standard of play grow, we want to see more top players come out of our scene.” When it comes to the scene itself, “we want to see it grow to a point where, once the current crop of players are done playing that there’s more people that come in – like, it’s not something that sort of dies out.” As bad as things may seem now, Kamanzi is always thinking about the next step. When the time comes to get back in gear, he’ll be ready.

Season Two, Qualifier Two of the TEKKEN 254 Circuit – Photo provided by JD Photography

In the meantime, he’ll be polishing his trademark Jin and exploring other fighting game franchises. He participated in the recent Guilty Gear -Strive- beta, and he’s also been dabbling in Street Fighter V and King Of Fighters XIV. To keep up with him and get his personal viewpoint on the Kenyan FGC, follow him on Twitter, YouTube, and Twitch. And the next time you get hype about a player from the 254, remember to share your excitement with Kamanzi and thank him for making the FGC that much bigger, broader, and stronger.

Make sure you’re also following Tekken 254 on Twitter and Twitch so that, once the pandemic finally recedes, you can see this blossoming scene for yourself. If you’re local to Nairobi, check out Savanna FGC every Saturday at Decoded Africa. For more info, check out the official Tekken 254 website.

All photos courtesy of JD Photography (@theJDphotograph).

Eli Horowitz (@BODIEDnovel) also plays soccer, although he bets that Davy is way better. He lives in Pittsburgh, where he works in software and writes novels. His first novel, Bodied, is set in the FGC; you can learn more about it (and the rest of his writing) at his official website.

Related Posts


No comments found.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.