The end result of South East Asia Major might have been an expected one, but the rest of the tournament was anything but.
JeonDDing fought back through the losers’ bracket on Sunday to win South East Asia Major 2018, the final Master event of this year’s TEKKEN World Tour. The victory ensures that the Korean star, who was the top-ranked player in the Singapore tournament’s field, will enter the TEKKEN World Tour Finals as the overall number-two seed.
Beyond JeonDDing in the top spot, the rest of the tournament was full of surprises.
JeonDDing’s grand final victory came over a surprise finalist: AK of The Philippines. The two played a pair of intense sets that could have gone either way. JeonDDing faced tournament point in the final game of the first set, but his Eddy danced out of danger to pull out a clutch 3-2 victory over the Shaheen specialist. The second set ended 3-1 in JeonDDing’s favor, but it was far from an easy win. AK was one round away from forcing a decisive final game.
AK is well-known as a strong player, but he had not finished in the top 16 of a Master event this year before Sunday. The Philippine star scored a victory over Nobi during Saturday’s semifinals, then upset reigning TEKKEN World Tour champion Qudans on Sunday to advance to the winners’ final. His second-place finish was his best result ever at a Tour event.
Few predicted that AK would reach the winners’ final, but even fewer could have predicted who his opponent in that round would be. Indian star Tejan took the bracket by storm on his way to a third-place finish. Tejan showed off some incredible Asuka play as he knocked off potential TEKKEN World Tour finalists Take, Qudans, and JeonDDing on his way to the winners’ final.
Tejan’s victory over JeonDDing in the winners’ semifinal was perhaps his best performance. JeonDDing took the opening game in convincing fashion and made it look like the moment was too big for Tejan to handle. But the Indian star rebounded instantly and rattled off six straight rounds to take the set. Although JeonDDing scored a 3-0 win in their losers’ final rematch, Tejan showed that he can hang with anyone in the world.
Qudans bowed out in fourth place after losses to AK and JeonDDing. His performance was likely enough to ensure that he will be among the top four seeds in the TEKKEN World Tour Finals, meaning that he will avoid Knee and JeonDDing in the group stage.
Thailand’s Book secured a fifth-place finish, which was enough to officially clinch his spot in the Tour Finals. He became the tenth person to secure their spot in the season championship.
The rest of the top eight finishers still have bullets to dodge to reach the Tour Finals. Noroma, who tied for fifth place alongside Book, ended the weekend in 15th place. He stands one spot ahead of fellow Japanese player Nobi, who tied for seventh place.
Korea’s Dimeback, who also tied for seventh place, is in a precarious spot. His performance - which included a victory over personal demon Speedkicks - pushed him back into qualifying position, but only by a thread. He is tied on points with Super Akouma for the final qualification place, but holds the tiebreaker advantage by virtue of earning more points at Master events than the French player.
Several other contenders for the Tour Finals fell short of reaching the final rounds of this weekend’s tournament. Take’s ninth-place finish was enough to push him up to 18th on the global leaderboard, but he remains vulnerable. Fergus failed to officially clinch a place in the championship event thanks to a 13th-place result, but only a very specific and highly unlikely path can keep him out of the finale.
There were also players hoping to move above the cutline who were unable to do so. Speedkicks, who bowed out in ninth, remains on the outside of the Finals field looking in. He will need a top-two finish at Canada Cup to get in to the finale. Fellow U.S. player RunItBlack was knocked out in pool play, but he remains just 22 points below the red line. And Korea’s Ulsan likely saw his hopes of qualifying through points end after being eliminated during Saturday’s pools.
There are just two events left on this year’s TEKKEN World Tour before the Tour Finals. Berlin TEKKEN Clash will take place in Berlin, Germany this weekend. The season ends at Canada Cup 2018 the following weekend.