A fantastic year of the TEKKEN World Tour deserved a fantastic finish, and that’s what we got on Sunday. The TEKKEN World Tour Finals in San Francisco produced unbelievable matches, incredible finishes, heart-stopping moments, and a brand new world champion.
Here’s how it all went down in San Francisco.
JDCR was the player that everyone wanted to avoid, as none of the first eight players to select their group wanted to compete against the Evo champion. He quickly proved those fears to be correct with a 3-0 run through the group to take the top spot. He dropped just four rounds over the course of his three group matches, including a clean sweep of Fergus.
The second spot in the Top 8 came down to Joey Fury and Fergus. After both men beat P.Ling and lost to JDCR, the two squared off in the final match in the group. Joey Fury picked a great time to turn in one of his most impressive games of the year, dropping just one round to Fergus on his way to a 2-0 win and a spot in the last eight.
Speedkicks must have felt a bit disrespected, as his group was the first to be filled. Blackbeard, Qudans, and Super Akouma all liked their chances against the top American points-earner. For Qudans, the move to select Speedkicks’ group paid off. The South East Asia Major champion went 3-0 in group play, dropping just four rounds in the stage.
But Speedkicks ended up with the last laugh over the other two challengers. He opened the round with a thrilling 2-1 win over Blackbeard, then knocked off Super Akouma 2-0 to earn the runner-up spot in the group.
After seeing the first three European players in the finals bow out in group play, Tissuemon put the continent on his back. Europe’s top points-earner scored a comeback 2-1 win over Noroma, then he did the same against Noroma. A convincing win over KaneandTrench cemented his spot in the Top 8.
Once again, the runner-up spot in the group came down to the final match. Noroma took the opening game from Anakin in the JACK-7 mirror match. Anakin decided to switch to Paul Phoenix in the second game, and the move almost worked. The match came down to a staredown in the final round, but Anakin blinked first and fell 2-0 to Noroma.
This was the group that had everyone salivating. Reigning global champion Saint found himself in a group with American legend JimmyJTran, Korean legend Knee, and 2015 global champion Nobi. Somehow, Saint was able to survive the group of death. He scored a hard-fought 2-0 win over Tran, then came from behind against both Nobi and Knee to win the group.
The second spot in the Top 8 went to NorCal’s JimmyJTran, much to the delight of the San Francisco crowd. He gave his fans plenty of reason to make noise, as he won two of the most exciting sets of the event. He came from behind to knock off Knee, who brought out Steve Fox in the final game in an attempt to surprise Tran. The American also came from behind against Nobi to win the final group stage match 2-1 and punch his ticket into the Top 8.
Before the tournament, JDCR and Qudans were widely believed to be the favorites to win it all. But the reigning global champion, Saint, reminded the world that he had not yet been dethroned. He turned in a dominant 2-0 win over Tissuemon in the winners’ semifinal, then turned aside Qudans with a 3-1 win to punch his ticket to the grand final.
The losers’ bracket began with plenty of bad news for American fans. Speedkicks and JimmyJTran both bowed out in seventh place after their respective losses to Joey Fury and Noroma. Joey Fury, the last American standing, saw his run come to an end one round later. A mid-set switch from JACK-7 to Paul Phoenix was not enough to escape a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Tissuemon. Noroma also bowed out in fifth place after he fell to JDCR by the same score.
Once the field was down to four, Tissuemon was the only person standing in the way of an all-Korean top three. The Japanese-born Italian player would not stand for long, as JDCR quickly dismantled him in a decisive 2-0 set.
That set the stage for the losers’ final. JDCR was one set away from providing the all-Echo Fox grand final that many expected. But he first had to flip the script against Qudans, who had defeated the Evo champion twice at the South East Asia Major and had just done so again in an instant classic of a winners’ semifinal set.
Qudans had no intentions of letting this encounter be any different than their previous three. He and his Devil Jin raced out to a 2-0 lead by having an answer for nearly everything JDCR’s Dragunov could offer. JDCR decided to switch to Heihachi (much to the delight of the crowd) and was able to win a game, but Qudans held on to win the set 3-1 and advance to the grand final.
The grand final set between Qudans and Saint was nothing like their winners’ final encounter. Saint came up with all of the clutch plays in their earlier battle, but it was Qudans who was Mr. Clutch at the end of the night. He earned a hard-fought 3-1 win in the opening set, then pulled off a miracle last-second Rage Art win on his way to a 2-0 lead
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Saint responded with a dominant game three punctuated by two perfect rounds, but it wasn’t enough to slay Devil Jin. It was Qudans who was able to clutch out game four to earn the title of world champion and take home the $15,000 first-place prize.
Qudans’ emotions were on display throughout the event, which was his first on American soil in over ten years. He cheered with every big win, took on a look of focus after almost every game loss, and wasn’t afraid to let the world see how much the title meant to him when he accepted the trophy on stage.
The title was hard-earned, especially since his final two opponents were the two men that were the dominant forces on the 2017 TEKKEN World Tour. And Qudans wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
“I want to have matches with JDCR and Saint in the later rounds of the tournament,” Qudans said in a pre-tournament email interview. “They are the most impressive players this year, so it will be a very memorable match to both me and my fans.”
Qudans’ win was a memorable end to a memorable year. And as good as 2017 was, 2018 might be even better. There was no announcement of a 2018 TEKKEN World Tour, but TEKKEN series producer Katsuhiro Harada and game designer Michael Murray had plenty of good news for fans of the competitive scene.
The duo announced that the team was working on reducing the game’s input lag and that the game’s next DLC character, Geese Howard, would be ready for release very soon. They also revealed the game’s third DLC character will be Noctis Lucis Caelum of Final Fantasy XV. He is scheduled to be available in spring of 2018.
With that, the inaugural TEKKEN World Tour draws to a close. We hope that you’ve enjoyed following the Tour as much as we have enjoyed producing it. We hope to see you again very soon.
*NOTE: A special thanks to Woon Jin Lee for providing translation for Qudans’ comments.