Saint’s last appearance in Northern California for a TEKKEN World Tour event ended with an impressive, but lower-than-desired, second-place finish. On his return to the region, he was able to go one step higher.
Saint held off some of the best players that the United States and Korea could offer to win the TEKKEN World Tour event at NorCal Regionals on Sunday. He secured the title with a pair of 3-2 wins over Qudans: one in the winners’ final, and another in the grand final.
The NCR’s final match was a rematch of the grand final from last year’s TEKKEN World Tour Finals. Saint started with winners’ side advantage in that clash, but Qudans was quickly able to erase that edge and claim the crown with a pair of 3-1 victories.
Sunday’s grand final appeared to be headed towards a repeat performance. Qudans quickly took a 2-0 lead by winning the first six rounds of the set in mostly-dominant fashion. NCR changed the story though, Saint became Mr. Comeback.
Saint battled his way back in games three and four to tie the set at 2-2. He lost the first two rounds of the final game, but fought back to win rounds three and four. And with his health bar down to a pixel, Saint pulled out a critical reversal and a clutch parry to complete the comeback and take the title.
As entertaining as the runback was, it almost didn’t happen. Kkokkoma nearly played spoiler thanks to an incredible run through the losers’ bracket. He knocked off eventual fifth-place finisher JeonDDing and fourth-place finisher JDCR in back-to-back matches. He then pushed Qudans to the final round in their losers’ final match. Despite falling short of victory, his third-place finish was his best performance of the young season to date.
Kkokkoma’s gauntlet run included nothing but Korean players because they were the only ones left standing at the end of the tournament. Five Korean players were in the field in Sacramento, and all five finished in the top six of the event. Their only losses came to each other, as the five Korean stars combined to go 21-0 against players from the rest of the world.
That’s not to say that the Korean players went untested.
In one of Sunday’s best matches, Trungy and his Geese gave Kkokkoma everything he could handle and then some in the losers’ side Round of 8. He scored two perfect rounds in a game-one loss, but took the second game of the set in three straight rounds. The third set went down to a back-and-forth final game, but Kkokkoma was able to score the win and eliminate Trungy in seventh place.
JDCR also found himself in a bit of trouble against an American player. Joey Fury, who eliminated P.Ling in seventh place on Sunday, edged the Korean legend in the opening game of their losers’ quarterfinal match. JDCR responded by winning the next six rounds to take the set by a 2-1 margin and eliminate Joey in fifth place.
American players will have to wait a while for their next chance to defend their home turf. The next TEKKEN World Tour event in the United States will be Texas Showdown in early May. In the meantime, the TEKKEN World Tour returns to Asia next weekend for Beast Arena Hong Kong.