There were a lot of expectations for the return to offline international competition for TEKKEN 7. The lineup already featured some of the best players the game had to offer in names like Knee, Anakin and Gen, just to name a few. It was made even better with the legendary JDCR and developing talent Infected making their way to the main event through the Last Chance Qualifier. It would be a clash of legacy players and the newer generation that would define much of the battle in the Red Bull Kumite cage.
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Pool A: A Battle Royale of Titans
With an Evo Japan champion, two players with historic resumes and a player who has been on an upward trajectory in the era of online play, it would have been no surprise if Pool A would have been a difficult one to predict. That is, before the first matches started.
Gen kicked things off with an impressive showing against Anakin, a player that he had not been able to best in the past. His Fahkumram gave Anakin’s Jack-7 way too much to handle, making what should have been a hard-fought match against a rival look like a cakewalk for the player.
Knee had a similar read on his opponent, Book. Already known as a master of taking away the best option of his opponents, he pulled out Steve Fox to handle Book’s Lidia. His patience and ability to punish mistakes has always been a hallmark of Knee’s greatness, and his powerful ability was too much for Book.
Gen and Knee’s next match would prove to be a pivotal and important reference point for things to come. The match started with Gen trying his hand at Lidia against Knee’s Devil Jin, a character pick aimed at Gen’s own personal struggles against the character. Knee came out with a solid victory in the first game, forcing Gen to make the switch to his Fahkumram. Gen came back into the match with incredible force, securing a perfect round right out of the gate and tying the set 1-1. But Knee was ready with another counter pick once again, swapping over to Steve Fox and winning the set 2-1. It would be on Gen to make the adaptations in the future.
Despite his early losses, Anakin kept the pool interesting with a key 2-0 victory over Book, setting up a do-or-die scenario against Knee. Even more pressure was applied to Anakin as Knee showed that he had yet another character prepared: the oppressive Geese. The character and Knee’s ability to lock down opponents proved once again to be too much for his competitor. Unfortunately, even Anakin's ability to overperform during international events couldn’t make for a magic run at Red Bull Kumite, and he was eliminated.
Gen and Knee made it out of groups and into the knockout stage.
Pool B: Ripe with Opportunity
While Pool A had some of the more accomplished players vying for spots in the top 4, Pool B was more of a gathering of players with much to prove, plus the LCQ qualifier JDCR acting as a litmus test of their skill level. Cuddle_Core was the first player to take on the task of attempting to beat JDCR and she came out swinging.
She took an early round lead in the set with her Xiaoyu looking ready to make an upset over JDCR’s indestructible Armor King. In response, like all legendary players, JDCR was able to adapt with a key low parry swinging the momentum of the set in his favor. Cuddle wasn’t ready to concede, clutching out a key round to extend game 2. Only then did JDCR take things to the next level, responding immediately with a perfect round and riding his good fortune to a win over Cuddle_Core.
Super Akouma made the most of this chance to show out, opening up against Infested in classic Akuma fashion with an impressive combo that cleared off a hefty chunk of Fahkumram’s health. Infested returned the favor showing that Fahkumram could have just as impressive displays of strength, even without the use of a meter. The back and forth between the two heavy hitters ended with Super Akouma as the victor, making way for a key match against JDCR.
In the match against JDCR, Super Akouma continued to impress. He was able to time out JDCR’s Dragunov in a round that was determined by mere pixels of health. Super Akouma was confident throughout the set and despite losing to Cuddle_Core in his final matchup of the day, proved that he was more than ready for the challenges ahead.
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Super Akouma’s loss set up a final head-to-head qualifying between JDCR and Infested in one final matchup between a seasoned veteran and an upcoming talent. As the two LCQ winners, someone would have their day’s hard work vindicated, and unfortunately for Infested, his Fahkumram was no match for JDCR’s classic Armor King. JDCR moved onto the top 4, joining the white-hot Super Akouma.
Dancing with Destiny
The bracket for the final four set up for a dream scenario for its competitors. From one end of the bracket, the grand final would either have one of the legends in Knee or JDCR looking to cement their legacy. On the other, there was Super Akouma and Gen, both looking for the first big wins of their careers. To kick things off we would get a classic match between Knee and JDCR.
The 4-0 scorecard doesn’t tell the full picture of the match between Knee’s Geese and JDCR’s Armor King. It was a set filled with moments of calm, leading to tense final moments of rounds that would be determined by slivers of health. Both players stuck to their character's guns all the way but it would be Knee that would carry home the 4-0 win.
Gen and Super Akouma’s set had more fireworks for spectators. Gen and his Lidia got off to an early start in the set, being able to keep Akuma’s insane damage potential under control. With his back against the wall, Super Akouma exploded back with a perfect round and showed signs of life, potentially hinting at a huge comeback. The effort wasn’t enough, however, and the set ended with a 4-2 victory for Gen, a result that had Super Akouma falling out of his seat, frustrated with how close he came to making the comeback happen.
And with that, the stage was set for a Gen vs Knee rematch.
Gen would be the one to open the set with a win on his Fakhumram, opting to go to the character right away against Knee’s Steve Fox. Fitting of a match between these two giants, the next few rounds were a back-and-forth affair with the change in momentum coming after Gen was able to go 3-2 in the set.
Eventually, Knee would make the switch to Devil Jin, a character he identified as a counter for Gen. It was a matchup that Gen may have been dreading, but he was ready for it, and went up 4-2 in the set. Knee would make the switch back to Steve Fox, but at this point it was too late. Gen would seal the deal with a 5-2 victory, overcoming his tournament demon and getting a win that will firmly place him in the conversation of the best in TEKKEN 7.
A first for Gen and a first for Red Bull Kumite, the TEKKEN 7 champion was crowned.