After the group stages of the Tekken World Tour finals (which you can see a recap of here), the playoffs took place, with the top eight competitors battling it out for the ultimate glory of becoming world champion, and it was to be Qudans who walked away with that honourable title.
The first match in the playoffs was Evo champion JDCR facing Qudans, but the latter showed a lot of strength with his Devil Jin. Going into the match, many would have expected JDCR to progress, since he had an exemplary record in the group stage, but a tense back and forth pushed the match to the final game, with Qudans progressing in an emotional moment.
Then fellow Korean fighter Saint went up against remaining EU hope Tissuemon, which also had its fair share of excitement. Evenly low health bars made for tight matches, but ultimately Saint progressed with a 2-0 win overall, pushing the Italian to the losers bracket alongside JDCR.
Speaking of the losers bracket, the first fight here was an All American affair, as Joey Fury took on top-of-the-leaderboard Speedkicks, with the latter coming out the gates quick, winning two rounds really quickly and eventually sealing off the first game entirely. It was a great matchup between Jack's raw power and Hwoarang's quick feet, but Joey Fury brought it even, carrying that form on to produce win in a really tight last game.
The other losers match saw Noroma take on JimmyJTran, another really tense matchup. Considering JimmyJTran's quality, many would have probably expected him to do better, but Noroma progressed confidently, even if there were some close moments throughout.
With both JDCR and Tissuemon down in the losers bracket, that meant they had to face Noroma and Joey Fury respectively. Tissuemon and Joey Fury, firstly, had one of the most entertaining matches of the tournament, with the American consistently pulling unexpected and unorthodox tactics from out of nowhere. Elsewhere, JDCR seemed to have found his form again with a win against Noroma.
Back in the winners bracket, it was then Qudans turn to faced JDCR's teammate Saint, and the match started off incredibly intense, with dominance switching between both sides. Qudans won the first game though, and a solid comeback in the second round of the second game proved that this was indeed "high octane action" like the casters were saying. After Saint's convincing and dominant third game to make it 2-1, Saint continued that form, even if the fourth game was a little nervous, winning the match 3-1.
In the losers semi final, JDCR and Tissuemon battled it out to see if Europe could further surprise people, but it seemed as if this wasn't the case, as JDCR was dominant and loyal to his Dragunov pick throughout. Despite moments of promise from Tissuemon, JDCR progressed to face Qudans in the losers final... again.
For many this match actually felt like the final itself, as Qudans started with a perfect round over JDCR, making it 2-0 shortly after, but JDCR fought back to make it 2-2, with Qudans eventually taking this first game after a tight finish. Qudans then took the second match, but what followed was a crowdpleasing moment from JDCR, who responded to fan chants for Heihachi by actually picking the character, sending the crowd even wilder than they already were. JDCR brought it back a little with this pick, but it wasn't enough, and he was sent out of the competition with a standing ovation.
The grand final itself saw Qudans face Saint again, the player who knocked him down to the losers bracket, although both were a little defensive. Regardless, Qudans sealed a close 3-2 win on the first game, with the hesitance showing. Games two then went to Saint, but Qudans responded with a dominant 3-0 victory to reset the bracket and edge closer to the trophy.
Qudans started strong, getting the crowd going with a perfect first round, then a comeback to win the second, then another dominant third round, winning the next match 3-1 to make it 2-0 overall, the highlight here being a ridiculous moment where Qudans got a KO by initiating a move with four seconds left and getting the KO itself with one second left. The last game of the series was a tense back and forth, but a solid performance meant Qudans bested his nemesis, and lifted the trophy in an emotional moment.
Did you expect Qudans to win?