This is what it’s all about.
The TEKKEN World Tour Finals take place this Sunday in San Francisco. A season’s worth of thrilling victories, heartbreaking losses, and tremendous moments has all led to this weekend. The world’s best players will fight for a share of the $50,000 prize pool and the title of greatest TEKKEN 7 player in the world.
As noted on Thursday, the Evo champion and the top-ranked player in each of the three regional leaderboards will headline the four groups. The makeup of each group will be determined at the event, as the rest of the field (in order of their finish on the regional leaderboards) will get to choose which group they wish to compete in.
If you’ve followed the World Tour all season, there’s a good chance that you know many of the players who will compete in San Francisco. But just in case there’s a name or two that doesn’t ring a bell, here are the players who will compete in the TEKKEN World Tour Finals… and why any of them can walk away as champion.
JDCR – Hyun-Jin Kim, South Korea
How he got here: JDCR was the first person to secure his spot in the TEKKEN World Tour Finals when he won the Evo title in July. He will headline Group 1.
Why he could win: Because it seems like he’s won everything else. JDCR picked up two World Tour wins before Evo, then racked up five more afterwards. He has reached the grand final in 10 of the 11 World Tour events he has entered this year, so it’s hard to imagine him not being there in the end on Sunday.
Saint – Jin-Woo Choi, South Korea
How he got here: Saint picked up wins at Tokyo Tekken Masters, the Let’s Play Live Finals, and OzHadou Nationals. Those victories, combined with strong performances at almost every Asia-Pacific event he entered, made him the first player in his region to clinch a TEKKEN World Tour Finals berth via points. He will be the featured player in Group 4.
Why he could win: Because Saint is on the short list of players who have beaten his Echo Fox teammate, JDCR, at a World Tour event this year. He defeated the Evo champion at the season-opening CEO, and he was one round away from doing it again at VSFighting. He also happens to be the reigning King of the Iron Fist global champion, so he’s no stranger to performing well on big stages.
How he got here: Qudans’ TEKKEN World Tour campaign didn’t start in earnest until early-September’s Tokyo Tekken Masters, but the late start didn’t matter. He secured his place in San Francisco by winning the Asia-Pacific Regional event, the South East Asia Major.
Why he could win: Because despite the level that JDCR and Saint are playing at right now, Qudans may be the player with the most momentum. He finished third at Tokyo Tekken Masters, second at TWFighter Major, then beat Asia’s best – including Saint and JDCR – at the South East Asia Major. He seems to be improving every time he plays, and that is a scary thing to think about.
Noroma – Takumi Hamasaki, Japan
How he got here: Noroma’s win at the Korean Master Event put him in the heart of the qualification race, and his second-place finish at the South East Asia Major was more than enough to send him through to San Francisco.
Why he could win: Because he’s proven he can hang with the best. Markman may have had to ask “Who is Noroma anyways?” during the Korean Master Event grand final, but after his top-eight finishes at the following two Master events and his second-place run at South East Asia Major, everybody knows exactly who he is.
Nobi – Daichi Nakayama, Japan
How he got here: Nobi qualified for the global finals on the strength of consistently-strong play. His only win came in the Eastern Asia-Pacific PS4 event, but he reached the grand finals of two other tournaments and made the top eight at the South East Asia Major.
Why he could win: The bright lights of a global final will be nothing new to Nobi. He won the inaugural TEKKEN 7 global championship in 2015, and followed that up with another top-eight finish in last year’s edition.
Knee – Jae-Min Bae, South Korea
How he got here: Knee reached the global finals largely on the strength of his second-place finish at Rev Major and his win at the Abuget Cup. He also finished third at Evo and made appearances in the top eight of the Eastern Asia-Pacific Steam event and at TWFighter Major.
Why he could win: Believe it or not, the legendary Knee might be under the radar. He hasn’t dominated the tour like JDCR and Saint have, and he’s not riding a huge wave of momentum like Qudans and JimmyJTran, but his Evo run proved that he’s just as dangerous as he ever was. He’s also experienced in global championships, as he finished runner-up to Nobi in the 2015 final.
Speedkicks – Stephen Stafford, United States
How he got here: Speedkicks made grand finals appearances at the the Americas Regional event, DreamHack Denver, as well as four other TEKKEN World Tour events. His wins at the Eastern NA Steam event and the East Coast Throwdown helped him reach the top spot in the Americas region. He will play in Group 2.
Why he could win: Speedkicks has been playing well as of late, turning in his two best performances in his final two events of the season. And after he narrowly missed qualifying for last year’s global finals, he will be looking to make up for lost time.
JimmyJTran – Jimmy Tran, United States
How he got here: After taking a nine-month absence from competitive play, JimmyJTran returned with a vengeance. His fourth-place finish at SoCal Regionals was best among American players, and he followed that up with wins at both The Fall Classic and DreamHack Denver.
Why he could win: Like Speedkicks, Tran has been red-hot at the end of the season. He also has plenty of recent experience on the big stages, having qualified for all three global finals in the TEKKEN 7 era.
Anakin – Hoa Luu, United States
How he got here: Anakin dominated the Americas region in the first half of the season. He was the top-placing American player in each of the region’s first five offline events, picking up three wins along the way as well as top-six finishes at both CEO and Evo.
Why he could win: Anakin more or less cemented his spot in his second consecutive global finals fairly early in the season. While most of the finals field has been on the tournament grin, Anakin has spent most of the past two months working on his game at home. He just might have a couple of new surprises in store for the competition this weekend.
Joey Fury – Joseph Bennett, United States
How he got here: Joey Fury was one of the most consistent players in the region. He picked up a win in the Eastern NA Xbox event and placed fourth or better in six other World Tour events.
Why he could win: Joey has rarely had an off day. While he’s only reached one offline grand final on this year’s World Tour (at Summer Jam), he always seems to be in the thick of things near the end of every tournament he enters. Why can’t he do the same at this one?
P.Ling – Tray Sherman, United States
How he got here: An early-season run, including a win in the Western NA PS4 event, put P.Ling among the region’s leaders. He ended the season in sixth place in the region, but moved into the final qualifying position when TEKKEN Extreme Tournament winner Crespo found himself unable to make the trip to San Francisco.
Why he could win: P.Ling wasn’t even supposed to be here this weekend, so he’s already playing with house money. That means that there will be no pressure on P.Ling, despite being the only American to escape the group stage at last year’s global final.
Tissuemon – Shimon Kawai, Italy
How he got here: Wins in his home country at Milan Games Week and The Colosseum, along with a second-place finish at the European Regional event, Paris Games Week, was enough to take the top spot in the region. He will headline Group 3 this weekend.
Why he could win: Much like Qudans and JimmyJTran, Tissuemon made a late-season surge to the top of the standings. He appears to be peaking at the right time, and will be hungry to make a deep run after failing to escape group play in both the 2015 and 2016 global finals.
Blackbeard – Adnan Zaman, Denmark
How he got here: Unsponsored Blackbeard hasn’t had many opportunities to compete on the TEKKEN World Tour, but he took full advantage of his final chance. His victory at Paris Games Week – his only top-six finish on this season’s tour – was enough to earn a place in San Francisco.
Why he could win: He’s the tournament’s X-factor. While players will have plenty of experience against popular characters like JACK-7 and Dragunov at a high level, how many have spent significant time practicing against Josie? And how much time have players spent the past few days preparing for Blackbeard’s Josie in particular? Much like he did in Paris, he might be ready to surprise a ton of people.
Super Akouma – Vincent Homan, France
How he got here: Second-place finishes at both Dreamolition Derby and the TEKKEN Grand Battle were enough to place Super Akouma at the top of the regional leaderboard for much of the season. His ninth-place finish at Paris Games Week might not have been the strong statement he wanted to make, but it was enough to clinch a place in the global finals.
Why he could win: Despite grand final losses to JDCR at Dreamolition Derby and the TEKKEN Grand Battle, Super Akouma has found success in high-pressure matches. His biggest win of the year was a comeback victory over Caiper in the losers’ final of the TEKKEN Grand Battle. If he can tap into that early-season form again, he and his Akuma can do some serious damage.
Kaneandtrench – Kane Heartfield, United Kingdom
How he got here: Kaneandtrench started the season strong with a win at Tattakai Holland. He followed that up with a fourth-place finish at VSFighting, and closed the season with another fourth-place finish at Paris Games Week. That Paris run was just enough to see him through to San Francisco.
Why he could win: Kane didn’t play as well as he would have liked during much of the second half of the season, but he came through big when it mattered most. Much of his run in Paris came after an early loss in pool play, so high-pressure situations will be nothing new for the UK King of the Iron Fist champion.
Fergus – Fergus McGee, Ireland
How he got here: Fergus didn’t pick up a win this season, but he earned three runner-up finishes on the World Tour. His fifth-place finish at Paris Games Week was just enough to see him earn a tiebreaker over Caiper and claim Europe’s final spot in the global finals.
Why he could win: As the author of one of TEKKEN 7’s most influential guides for new players, few can question his understanding of the game. His results haven’t been the greatest on this season’s World Tour, but he just might be able to regain the form that led to his runner-up finish in the UK King of the Iron Fist finals.