Fighting Games Challenge ended with two sights we rarely see: a grand final featuring a Devil Jin mirror match, and a Knee loss.
Qudans earned his first TEKKEN World Tour win of 2018 by taking top honors at Fighting Games Challenge in Lodz, Poland. The reigning Tour champion and his Devil Jin defeated Knee in the winners' final, then survived a stiff challenge in their grand final rematch.
Despite a tough challenge from Polish player Gajda, Qudans won his pool on Saturday. He then ran the gauntlet during Sunday's Top 32 session. He started the day with a win over Kaneandtrench of the UK, then scored victories over fellow Korean stars LowHigh and Kkokkoma to earn a spot in the winners' final opposite Knee.
Knee, who was coming off of back-to-back Master event wins at Battle Arena Melbourne and Combo Breaker, was the favorite to win the event. He scored wins over Super Akouma, Joey Fury, and Rangchu to earn his place in the winners' final.
Knee selected Paul Phoenix to match up against Qudans' signature Devil Jin. The pick did not work as Qudans scored a dominant win in Game 1 and pulled out a tense Game 2 to jump to a 2-0 lead. Knee made the switch to Bryan and found some success, winning Game 3 and jumping out to a two-round lead in Game 4. But Qudans stormed back to take the final three rounds and earn his place in the grand final.
After scoring a 3-1 win over Kkokkoma in the losers' final, Knee earned a second crack at Qudans. This time Knee tried to counter Qudans' Devil Jin with a Devil Jin of his own. Knee got the best of things early, scoring a quick 3-0 win to force a bracket reset. Knee stuck with Devil Jin and was able to take the first game of the second set, but he would get no closer than that. Qudans responded with three straight wins to win the set 3-1 and take his first TEKKEN World Tour title of the year.
Knee's loss marked the end of his perfect run at Master events in 2018. He competed at three of the season's first four Master events - Final Round, Battle Arena Melbourne, and Combo Breaker - and won all three.
By contrast, Qudans headed into the weekend with just one top-four finish on this year's Tour. He had placed ninth or worse in each of the three Master events he had attended before Sunday.
"I seem to have spent a lot of days this year with many troubles and thoughts about myself," the champion said on Twitter after his win. "I will be the UYU Team Qudans who [will] always do my best in the future. I am happy to win the competition."
Sunday was another strong day for Korean players, as they swept the top six positions. Kkokkoma finished in third place, with Rangchu one spot behind him. Chanel and LowHigh ended the day tied for fifth place.
Joey Fury of the United States finished tied for seventh place with France’s Super Akouma. The former recorded the best result for an American player outside of U.S. soil, while the latter was the top European finisher on the weekend.
It was a bit of a rough weekend for the host nation as just one Polish player - Caradolph - made it to the last 16 of the tournament. Frizen missed out on becoming the second Polish player to reach that plateau by the narrowest of margins. In the final round of his Top 16 qualifying match with Kaneandtrench, he missed what would have been a match-winning Rage Art by mere pixels. That miss allowed Kaneandtrench to pull of the win and end Frizen’s run in dramatic fashion.
Knee’s second-place finish extended his lead atop the TEKKEN World Tour leaderboard to 490 points. He narrowly missed becoming the first player to officially qualify for the Tour Finals, but his ticket to Amsterdam is all but secured. Qudans’ win propelled him up to seventh place in the standings, while both Rangchu and Joey Fury jumped into Tour Finals qualifying position.
TWFighter Major, the TEKKEN World Tour event originally scheduled for next week, has been delayed to mid-August due to a venue change. That means that the next Tour event will be in two weeks at ADFT IX in Barcelona, Spain.