Tekken 7 at the 2018 Evolution Championship Series was in top form this year. Hosted at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, the floor was a crowded mess of people accompanied by their aspirations, sweat, and heartbreak. And though the first two pools were often one-sided, the top 8 was about as back and forth as it gets and definitely moreso than I can remember in recent years. The crowd itself had a roughly 20% larger turnout than the previous years, and the director of Tekken 7 and long time producer of the series Katsuhiro Harada made a major announcement on a new season and upcoming characters.
The Top 8
The top 8 consisted of both veterans and first timers. The winners bracket consisted of: JDCR, Lil Majin, Lowhigh, and Qudans; while the losers bracket contained: Rangchu, Noroma, Chirichiri, and Book. Ultimately, and to the upset of the local fans, Lowhigh pulled away with the victory. The upset in question was both audible and palpable and it didn’t even have anything to do with the final match. Spirits were broken when Lil Majin, the only American representative in the top 8, and the first American in a long time to grace the finals, lost to Lowhigh in the winners bracket and then to Qudans in the losers. This was especially crushing after a close victory over Tekken juggernaut JDCR. With each round won, even while he was losing, the crowd exploded with the hopes that an American player could overcome the long standing Korean dominance of the Tekken scene. Lil Majin put up a great fight, but as he was forced out of stages with walls and into open infinite range stages, he wasn’t able to successfully adjust to a brawling/poking style of gameplay to keep up with the Korean standards. Almost insultingly, there was next to no cheering for the first and second place champions while there was a massive burst for the King-playing Lil Majin.
In the aftermath, Harada took to the stage to express his thanks to all the fans and to announce the next step for Tekken 7. Dismissed characters Anna Williams and Lei Wulong were announced alongside a new guest character Negan, from the popular comic/AMC series The Walking Dead. While Negan was a surprise, the most well received character was Lei Wulong. The Jackie Chan homage was not included in the original roster and many fans were upset, as unlike Anna, Lei is a completely unique character/moveset. This installation of Tekken has been fairly polarizing since it’s really the first main entry where DLC has held any kind of prominence. Namco’s Tekken series has always been praised for releasing full games without chopped up character DLC sold later which competing games have been doing for years now. It will be interesting to see if this remains a standard as it is in the rest of the gaming community or if angry fans will dissuade them from trying this in future installments. I will readily admit to this being the least played of all entries for me due to the historically large roster getting changed/chopped up. You can see the announcement in the video below:
Hopefully, these characters will bring back some players that were lost to character omission and we will be looking at the return of the rest of the cast especially *cough Wang, Mokujin, and Julia*. Either way, Evo 2018 was great for the Tekken scene this year and as a Tekken player of 23 years, I can say I definitely look forward to next year.