Image: Tekken/BandaiNamco

The closing event on the Tekken circuit went down over the weekend in Bangkok to much fanfare. The Tekken World Tour (TWT) saw both legends and young players alike reach the late stages of the tournament.

The Road To Thailand Goes Through Pakistan

One of the most interesting developments in the entire FGC this year has been the rise of Pakistan in Tekken. Not traditionally known for much esports or FGC talent, Pakistan took the Tekken world by storm through a series of great results in major and super major tournaments. Players like Atif “Atif Butt” Ijaz, Bilal “Bilal” Ilyas, Awais “Awais Honey” Iftikhar and others were racking up points and taking games off well established players throughout 2019.

But no one represents the Pakistani movement more than this years EVO champion, Arslan “Arslan Ash” Siddique. He catapulted himself and his countries scene to the center stage after winning the OUG Tournament last October in Dubai against Tekken legend, Jae-min “Knee” Bae. As the year progressed, players from other regions were flocking to Pakistan to train. So with an unlikely country at the forefront of the game, Tekken World Tour got underway with expectations high for the Middle Eastern country.

Last Chance Qualifier

Before the TWT, there’s always a Last Chance Qualifier to see who will take the final slot in the main tournament. And the narrative of Pakistan making waves at the major events continued. Atif Butt and Bilal got through to the final bracket of the LCQ. But it was only Bilal that made it though to the tournament proper after he dominated Philippines player Alexandre “AK” Laverez.

Tekken World Tour: Bilal vs AK – 2019 LCQ Finals

The Main Event – Groups

With all the hype around Pakistan, conventional wisdom would lean on them to have both their players make deep runs into the final bracket. But it was not to be. In fact, it was Japan that stepped up and sent three players to top 8’s. Yuta “Chikurin” Take, Shoji “Double” Takakubo and Daichi “Nobi” Nakayama all made it out of the group stage dropping only one match between the three of them. Joining them in the finals would be a couple Korean veterans Knee, Sun-woong “LowHigh” Yoon and Kim “JDCR” Hyunjin as well as Korean upstart, Soo-hoon “Ulsan” Lim. Lastly rounding out the bracket would be the sole western representative, American player, Hoa “Anakin” Luu.

So the final chapter of 2019’s Tekken World Tour would have Knee, Nobi, Chikurin and Double in the winner’s bracket. The loser’s bracket made up of Anakin, Ulsan, JDCR, and LowHigh. It was the country that commanded the Tekken scene for years in Korea vs. a country looking to regain its form in Japan.

The Main Event – Top 8’s

Early on in Top 8’s two of those Korean legends, LowHigh and JDCR were eliminated quickly. While Knee and Chikurin looked very competent in their first matches, and would meet each other in winner’s finals.

After being sent down the loser’s bracket, Nobi played an amazing set against Anakin. The American looked out of ideas against Nobi until eventually Anakin was able to claw back wit ha massive low parry that lead to a Rage Art swinging the match back in Anakin’s favor. This was the most hype match of the evening up to this point.

Tekken World Tour: Anakin vs Nobi – 2019 TWT Top 8

But the stories of the day were Ulsan and Chikurin. In such a stacked bracket of established talent. Ulsan and his Kazumi blew through the loser’s bracket and eventually eliminated one of the Tekken GOATs, Knee. Chikurin, the man that sent Knee down, looked imperious against his opponents. While he used Geese Howard through most of the tournament, Chikurin pulled out Akuma for Grand Finals. It was clear that Ulsan was not prepared to see such a drastic character change this deep into the tournament. Chikurin swept Ulsan in Grand Finals, and walked away with the lion’s share of the $250k prize pool.

Tekken World Tour: Chikurin vs Ulsan – 2019 TWT Grand Finals

Announcement Hype

As usual, the TWT had its share of new DLC announcements. Game Producer, Katsuhiro Harada, took the stage just before Top 8’s began to thank the fans and show off the new trailers. First was new character Leroy Smith, a dreadlocked, octogenarian Kung-Fu master. Next was Tekken mainstay Ganryu, a sumo wrestler who’s seemed to have added streaming to his repertoire. And lastly, Fakumram, a Muay Thai practitioner who seems to be absurdly dangerous and totally seems like Bryan Fury 2.0.

That brings the TWT to a close. The tour returns in April but there will be plenty of Tekken action at places like Final Round in March.