The race to finish among the top 19 players and qualify for the TEKKEN World Tour Finals is starting to take shape. There will surely be plenty of surprises in store for the second half of the season, but we do have some idea of who can start thinking about the Finals and who still has work to do to get there.
Here are three stories to follow in the second half of the 2018 TEKKEN World Tour:
How many of Korea’s stars will reach the TEKKEN World Tour Finals?
The fact that Korean players have won eight of the first 14 TEKKEN World Tour events should come as no surprise. What is a bit surprising is how those wins have been shared. Six different Korean players - Knee, Saint, JDCR, Qudans, LowHigh, and JeonDDing - have already picked up Tour wins, a far cry from the stranglehold that JDCR and Saint held on much of last year's Tour. That spread of success has led to Korean players owning 10 of the top 19 places on the leaderboard heading into this weekend, including the entire top seven.
The players currently in the top seven (the six event winners plus Kkokkoma) haven’t officially clinched TEKKEN World Tour Finals berths just yet, but there are few realistic scenarios that would see any of them fall below the qualification line. But the players a bit farther back still have some work to do. Chanel and Rangchu are in strong position but will need a few more points in the second half to secure their spots. Dimeback’s fifth-place finish at CEO has him on the right side of the qualification line, but only by 30 points.
There is still a chance that even more Korean players can make the Finals field. GoAttack (currently 23rd) seems the most likely candidate as he was able to travel to both Combo Breaker and the Taiwan Challenger. Gura (34th) will need bigger results to get into the conversation, but his win at last year’s Barcelona Games World shows that he is capable of just that. And Breadman23 (25th) will be a threat… if he can attend events outside of Korea.
Can Europe take advantage of its second-half schedule advantage?
A trio of European stars currently sit above the Tekken World Tour Finals qualification line. Tissuemon (t-8th) of Italy is well into qualifying position thanks to a pair of Tour victories. He is joined in qualifying position by France's Super Akouma (13th), who is above the cutline thanks to an early-season win in Kuwait; and the U.K.'s Kaneandtrench (18th), who has already turned in a few strong performances.
Reaching the Top 19 is an achievement for anyone, but this is especially true for European players. Europe has hosted just four offline TEKKEN World Tour events so far this season, the fewest of any region. The script flips after this weekend, as the continent will host six offline events in the second half of the season compared to the four each that the Americas and Asia will host. European players just below the qualification line, including Fergus (20th) and Asim (24th), will have a chance to make a late charge up the standings. Throw in the fact that the Last Chance Qualifier will take place in Amsterdam and Europe might find itself very well-represented in the TEKKEN World Tour Finals.
Can America’s best make a charge up the standings?
American players have picked up some big results on this year’s Tour, including Lil Majin’s fourth-place finish at CEO and Joey Fury’s wins over JDCR and Saint in recent weeks. But those successes haven’t translated to the Tour leaderboard. Entering this weekend, only two American players count themselves among the top 19. Twelfth-place Anakin has a bit of room between himself and the cut line. Joey Fury, however, is currently the last man in the TEKKEN World Tour Finals field and will need to pick up every point he can to stay there.
The good news for American fans is that after the top 19, five of the next ten players in the standings are Americans, and all of them have the capability to make a charge up the standings. Lil Majin (21st) proved at CEO that he can hang with the best of the best. 2017 Tour Finalists Speedkicks (22nd) and P.Ling (t-27th) are threats to make deep runs at any event they are in. Shadow (t-27th) and Trungy (29th) still have some work to do, but both have already made deep runs at Tour events this year. And don’t forget about JimmyJTran (35th), whose 2017 charge up the standings to the top of the Americas region came entirely in the second half of the season.