Tekken will make its triumphant return to the Evolution Fighting Game Championship's (Evo) main stage with the newest version of Tekken 7. The field is loaded with talent from all around the world, and the favorites to win it all will once again be the top South Korean players.
Despite the game's official release only a couple of months ago, Tekken has at least two years of playing history. Last year, it could be argued that both Japan and Korea experienced a leg-up from the competition (top-three placers for Evo all from South Korea), but with the worldwide console release, the gap may shorten. This year's Evo will boast the biggest number for a Tekken tournament in the event's history, with 1,278 pre-registered players. Although many of the contending names will be from the Asian region, Evo is the tournament of surprises. Some of the biggest and most notable names in Tekken's history will be in attendance, and we're here to detail which players are worth monitoring.
The favorites: South Korea
The players from South Korea should be renamed the "Kings of the Iron First" because they're the easy favorites to take the Evo crown. At the very top of the charts sit Echo Fox's Jin Woo "Saint" Choi and Hyun Jin "JDCR" Kim. Both these players dominated the past two years of Tekken 7 and looked especially unstoppable at the start of the 2017 season. Saint is the defending Evo champion and could make it two in a row this year. Right behind them is the Tekken legend Jae Min "Knee" Bae, the runner-up from last year's Evo tournament and arguably the best Tekken player in the game's history. He should post up an unsurprising dominating performance when the games start again.
The region will be well represented with both newcomers and veteran Tekken players. It will not surprise anyone to see many of these top Japanese names among the last contenders in the tournament. Yamasa's players will top the list: Nakayama "Nobi" Daichi, Kato "Yuu" Yuji and Abe "Take" Takehiko are the most likely to make an appearance on Sunday's final stage. All three were Evo top-eight finalists (Yuu finished ninth, Take placed seventh, and Nobi finished fifth last Evo) and could very well repeat the feat. Right after them are a couple of newcomers: Yamade "Nishi" Hiroto and Funabashi "BATS" Yuto. Both female players are extremely high-ranked and come in with expectations of a long tournament run.
The Wild Cards
Last Evo, two players from the United States, Anthony "Geesemaster" Jaimes and Stephen "Speedkicks" Stafford, finished in the top eight. Both were relatively well-known in the states (Speedkicks garnered most of the notoriety) and both finishes were considered surprises. Once again, Geesemaster and Speedkicks make the short list of players to watch, with two more joining them: Stream.Me's Hoa "Anakin" Luu and Reepal "Rip" Parbhoo. All four are from the United States but do possess a strong chance to make very deep tournament runs.