Even with the weight of a nation on his back, Knee found a way to win on Sunday. His reward for doing so: a place in the TEKKEN World Tour Finals.
Knee picked up his fourth TEKKEN World Tour event win of the season with a victory at Abuget Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia on Sunday. With the win, he became the first player to secure a spot in the season-ending Tour Finals.
In order to secure the title, Knee had to run through the losers’ bracket and survive a gauntlet of Japan’s top stars. His final wins came against the three Japanese players on pace to qualify for the Tour Finals: Take (2-0), Nobi (3-0), and Noroma (3-0, 3-2).
Knee is currently the runaway leader on the Tour leaderboard, but he was far from untouchable in Indonesia. He was knocked into the losers’ bracket during Saturday’s pool play by fellow Korean player Mulgold in a ‘final-final round’ thriller. The two would meet again in the losers’ final of Pool D, and again Mulgold would force a decisive game, but Knee was able to pull out the win to advance to Sunday’s finals.
The close calls continued into the Top 8. After losing the opening game and dropping the first two rounds of Game 2 to Rangchu, Knee found himself on the brink of elimination in his first match on Sunday. But Knee recovered and rattled off three straight rounds to win Game 2, then dominated Game 3 to move on.
After that game, Knee returned to the dominant form we have seen so often. He dispatched Book 2-0 to reach the last four of the tournament, then knocked of Take by the same scoreline. After scoring a 3-0 win over Nobi in the losers’ final and a 3-0 win over Noroma in the first set of the grand final, a fourth title appeared a mere formality. But Noroma responded well, winning Games 2 and 4 to force the reset grand finals to a decisive game. Noroma took the first two rounds of the set, but somehow Knee came back to take the final game and the title.
Despite Knee’s win, Japan’s collective performance was the big story of the weekend. All four Japanese players who entered Abuget Cup reached the Top 8, with three of the four entering Sunday’s finals on the winners’ side of the bracket. All four Japanese players finished among the top six on the weekend, while just one of the seven Korean players in the field did so.
Noroma finished in second place, with fellow Japanese stars Nobi and Take finishing third and fourth respectively. Japan’s Yuu tied for fifth place alongside Thailand’s Book.
Korean stars Rangchu and LowHigh tied for seventh place. The rest of the Korean contingent fell during pool play. Chanel, Mulgold, and CherryBerryMango all finished tied for ninth place while JeonDDing, fresh off his first-ever Tour victory at CEO, tied for 13th place.
Despite the relatively rough weekend, it is still Korea who dominates the Tour leaderboard. Knee, with a nearly-500 point lead over second-place JDCR, is already assured of a place in the TEKKEN World Tour Finals in Amsterdam this December. Nine other Korean players are currently on pace to finish in the top 19 on the leaderboard and join him in The Netherlands.