Japan's Noroma was one of the breakout stars of last year's TEKKEN World Tour. On Saturday, he reminded the world that his 2017 success was no fluke.
Noroma fought back from the losers' side to win the Taiwan Challenger title on Saturday. He earned the victory by defeating Rangchu twice in the grand final, 3-0 and 3-1.
The win was Noroma's first of the 2018 Tour and second all-time. His previous victory was his upset win at the 2017 Korean Master Event, one of the most memorable moments of last year's circuit. His performance on Saturday served to remind the world of what he can do.
Noroma was tested early in the bracket, earning victories over both Yuu and Chanel to qualify for the Top 8. Once there, he scored a 2-1 win over GoAttack to earn a place in the winners' final opposite Rangchu.
Rangchu got the better of things in their Winners' Final clash by the slimmest of margins. The Korean star brought out his beloved Panda to face Noroma's JACK-7. Noroma took the opening game, but Rangchu responded with two straight wins to take a 2-1 lead. Noroma made the switch to Dragunov and took Game 4, but Rangchu's switch to Josie for the final game. Things went down to the final ten seconds of the final round, when Rangchu pulled out a clutch Rage Art to win the set and send Noroma to the losers' bracket.
Noroma rebounded from the heartbreaking loss. He scored a 3-1 Losers' Final win over LowHigh, Rangchu's Fursan Esports teammate. He then made sure that his rematch with Rangchu in the Grand Final wouldn't be nearly as close. His Dragunov dismantled Rangchu's Josie in Games 1 and 2, and Rangchu's Xiaoyu fared little better. In the end, Noroma won the opening set 3-0 and the second set 3-1 to take the title.
Despite the Grand Finals defeat, Rangchu's second-place finish was his best of the 2018 Tour. His teammate, LowHigh, ended the day in third place, while fellow Korean player GoAttack finished fourth.
Korean stars found themselves near the top of the standings, but Japan turned in a strong showing as well. Four Japanese players finished among the top eight on the weekend. Nobi and Kari finished tied for fifth place, while Take ended the day tied for seventh alongside Korea's Chanel.
All told, Korea and Japan combined to sweep the top 12 positions. Korean players Secret and Dimeback tied for ninth place alongside Japanese players Yuu and Tanukana.
Tanukana was one of two female players finish among the top 16 this weekend. The second, Taiwan’s Kanchan, was the top finisher for the host country. She finished the day tied for 13th place alongside Loveneet of India, Dee-On Grey of Australia, and Coffee_Prinz of The Philippines.
Noroma’s victory moved him into eighth place on the TEKKEN World Tour leaderboard, placing him in prime position to qualify for his second straight TEKKEN World Tour Finals. Runner-up Rangchu moved up to tenth place in the standings.
The TEKKEN World Tour returns to Europe next week with a stop at ADFT in Barcelona, Spain.