KUWAIT BATTLE ROYALE (Kuwait City, Kuwait)
France’s Super Akouma will be in the field, but things won’t be easy for him. This weekend marks the 2018 Tour’s first and only stop in the Middle East, so many of the region’s strongest players will be hungry to make a mark.
Here are a few of the storylines to follow this weekend:
Can Super Akouma start his 2018 campaign on the right foot?
2017 was a very good year for Super Akouma. The Frenchman turned in several strong performances, including runner-up finishes at both Dreamolition Derby and the TEKKEN Grand Battle. Those strong performances helped propel him to a third-place finish in the European standings and a place in last year’s global finals.
But that run nearly didn’t happen. Super Akouma could not secure his place in the global finals until the final day of the season. In the end he finished just 30 points clear of the finals qualification line. A strong start to the 2018 season will be critical to avoid another nail-biting finish, and a deep run at this weekend’s event would help his cause immensely.
Can TEKKEN Master live up to his name?
Western audiences might not be familiar with many of the players in this weekend’s field, but the name TEKKEN Master will certainly ring a few bells. TEKKEN Master’s most famous results – including an appearance in the grand final of Evo 2016 – are in other games, but the Bahraini star is no slouch in his namesake game.
TEKKEN Master didn’t have his best weekend at last year’s East Coast Throwdown, but he did reach the last 32 of the event. He had more success a few weeks prior at Viennality, a non-Tour event at which he placed third. But the result he will most want to replicate is a previous trip to Kuwait: his second-place run at the K.O. Fighting Game Festival in 2015. Will his return be just as fruitful?
When will a clear leader emerge?
One would be forgiven if they assumed that last year’s TEKKEN World Tour was the JDCR and Saint Show. The pair of Korean stars entered a combined sixteen offline Tour events last year, and 12 of those 16 events ended with one of them lifting the trophy.
2018 has been a different story. We’ve seen consistently-strong performances each week from players like JDCR, Kkokkoma, and others, but we have yet to see any one player rise head and shoulders above the rest. Kuwait Battle Royale is the fifth event of this year’s tour, and unless there’s a last-minute change in the entry list, it will end with the crowning of the tour’s fifth different champion. As the season progresses, will any of those stars start taking the top spot more frequently, or will the lack of a dominant force continue?