JDCR may have won more events than any other player during the 2017 TEKKEN World Tour, but Knee reminded the world that 2018 is a brand new year.
Knee used a variety of characters to win the TEKKEN World Tour Master event at Final Round 2018 on Sunday. His mix of Devil Jin, Paul, Steve, and Kazuya was too much for anyone else in the field to handle.
The win was Knee's second major title of the young year. His first was at Evo Japan, where he held off Chanel to take the crown in January.
The Final Round champion sealed his victory by defeating both JDCR and Saint, the two players who dominated last year's tour. Knee beat JDCR 2-0 in the winners' semifinal, then scored another clean 3-0 win, this time over Saint in the winners' final, to reach the grand final. Once there, he scored his final win over JDCR - this time by a 3-1 margin - to take home the title.
JDCR seemed to be down early in Sunday's action. After his decisive loss to Knee, he dropped his first game to Kkokkoma. He appeared to be headed towards an early exit, but the reigning Evo World champion bounced back to win the set 2-1. He then scored a convincing 2-0 win over Chanel in the losers' semifinal, before beating Echo Fox teammate Saint 3-2 in a tense losers' final set.
This weekend was the first of what figures to be many clashes between TEKKEN super-teams. Rox Dragons teammates Knee and eventual fourth-place finisher Chanel both reached Sunday's finals session on the winners' side of the bracket, as did Echo Fox teammates JDCR and Saint. The four combined to sweep the top four places in Atlanta.
Team UYU, who just signed reigning TEKKEN World Tour champion Qudans, will also be in the discussion for top team in the game. Qudans wasn't in this weekend's field, but teammates Fergus and JeonDDing both turned in strong ninth-place finishes.
Hometown hero Anakin, who tied for fifth place alongside Kkokkoma, was the highest-finishing American in the field. He and seventh-place finisher Lil' Majin were the only Americans to make it to Sunday's finals session.
America's breakout star of the weekend may have been a player who just missed Sunday's finals though. Baltimore, Maryland's L.J.R. and his Katarina scored victories over Dimeback, Shinblade, and Fergus on his way to a breakthrough ninth-place finish.
Knee's win headlined a banner weekend for Korean players, who descended upon Atlanta in full force. Korean players took seven of the top 12 places this weekend, including six of the top eight.
The strong Korean performances are benefited by the biggest changes made to the TEKKEN World Tour format for 2018, the Global Leaderboard. Knee's win earned him 300 points, which places him well atop the leaderboard after the season's first event.
Knee won't have to wait long for a chance to extend his lead. The Tour continues on Saturday at Thaiger Uppercut in Bangkok, Thailand. Knee is scheduled to compete, as is Saint, JeonDDing, Dimeback, Qudans, and more.