JDCR, Saint Miss Out on Tekken 7 Grand Finals at South East Asia Major

South East Asia Major is always home to fantastic competition, due in part to its great location near some of the strongest fighting game countries in the world, and this year’s installment was no different. In addition to Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi dominating the Capcom Pro Tour’s Street Fighter V Asia-Oceania finals after earning his spot in the last-chance qualifier to Justin Wong winning his first Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite event, Tekken 7 saw its most consistent competitors finally miss out on the main event, over two years after it first arrived arrived in arcades.

Hyun-jin “JDCR” Kim and Jin-woo “Saint” Choi are, without a doubt, the best Tekken 7 players on the planet today. Since the game’s release, these South Korean powerhouses have completely overshadowed the rest of the playing field, winning tournament after tournament and doing it in style with the backing of eSports newcomer Echo Fox. In fact, according to results compiled by SRK Rankings, this weekend’s South East Asia Majors marked the first time neither of these competitors have made grand finals at a major Tekken 7 event they both attended since Evo 2015.

So what happened? As the regional finals with $15,000 up for grabs, South East Asia Majors was still expected to go to either JDCR or Saint. Unfortunately, they ran up against countrymen Byung-moon “Qudans” Son and Sun-woong “Low High” Yoon, who have both been on upward trajectories over the past year. The former, a competent veteran whose accomplishments include securing the Tekken Tag Tournament title at Evo 2005, traveled to Singapore without a single Tekken World Tour win under his belt, while the latter hoped to follow up a strong previous showing at September’s Tokyo Tekken Masters. These players were on the verge of a breakout performance, and walked into South East Asia Majors with a lot to prove.

The first signs of change came in the early rounds of the top 16 bracket. Saint, coming off a successful trip through pools, dropped to Low High with a quick 2–0 loss. A little while later, JDCR met the same fate against Qudans, putting both Echo Fox members on a crash course in losers. After tearing his way through Japanese competitors Daichi “Nobi” Nakayama and Kiyonori “KuroKuro” Saito, Saint faced JDCR in the quarter-finals of the lower bracket, an odd sight after seeing them battle for first place at so many previous competitions. JDCR emerged the victor, improving his personal record against his teammate, and earned a chance at the rematch against Qudans in losers finals.

But it just wasn’t meant to be. While his performance the second time around improved from the close 2–1 of their previous bout, JDCR couldn’t find purchase against Qudans’ frustrating Devil Jin play. Unafraid of the Evo 2017 champion, Qudans gave JDCR little time to adapt to his rushdown style, taking their final game with three straight rounds. JDCR was out of the tournament at third place and Saint ended his run tied for fifth. Qudans, on the other hand, went on to defeat Takumi “Noroma” Hamasaki, who sent him to losers with a loss in winners finals, and walk away the South East Asia Majors champion.

Photo c/o IGN Southeast Asia

By winning this regional event, Qudans made a huge push into the Tekken Word Tour standings with the 300 ranking points he earned in Singapore, and now sits just 35 ranking points behind Saint on the Asia-Pacific leaderboard. As far as the grand finals are concerned, there’s no chance JDCR and Saint won’t be making a trip to San Francisco later this year. But while these recent losses have done little to shake them from their perches, South East Asia Major was a sign that, maybe, their combined reign of terror may finally be at an end.