Echo Fox' Hyun Jin "JDCR" Kim took down teammate Jin Woo "Saint" Choi to win the Tekken 7 title at the Evolution Fighting Game Championships (Evo) in Las Vegas.
The finals for Tekken 7 was an international affair with four Korean players, two Japanese players and two American players. Of the top eight, only two players were considered outliers: Southern California's Michael "Suiken!!" Khieu and Japan's Miyabi "taisei" Taisei. Taisei's impressive Steve Fox low-parried his way to an incredibly impressive fourth-place finish. Despite the monsters in the Japanese Yamasa team, it was the relatively underrated Taisei who made it the furthest.
As for the USA, the surprise of Khieu was a welcome addition to a game in which parity is scarce. He was a menace in the losers bracket leading up to the top eight. As for Stream.Me's Hoa "Anakin" Luu, his placement in the top five was an affirmation that he truly belonged on the big stage of Tekken's elite. He's long symbolized the best chance for the USA against international talent.
Despite the numbers (it was the biggest Tekken 7 tournament in the game's history with 1,278 players), the top 33 of the tournament was chock-full of recognizable names.
It was another Korean-centric top eight for Tekken 7 again. The four players were Jeon "JEOndding" Jeondding, Jae Min "Knee" Bae, Echo Fox' JDCR and Saint. The latter three were a who's who in Tekken, as all three were considered the best in the game's history. As for JEOndding, he finished the lowest of the four, but his inclusion in the top eight was still a formality.
This year's Evo represented one of the better opportunities for a different country to take the championship. Some of the best Japanese and American players were in attendance, many of the higher-ranked arcade players went to Evo for the first time, but the skill level and dominance of South Korea was too much.
Grand finals: JDCR against Saint
The Echo Fox team kill was a common grand finals throughout the Tekken World Tour and the majority of 2017. On the biggest stage for Tekken 7, the two teammates tangoed again. JDCR, on the winner's side, started the set with Heihachi to counter Saint's signature JACK-7 but could not neutralize the pressure from the giant robot. Saint took full advantage of the character change and easily reset the bracket 3-0 until JDCR swapped back to his main character, Dragunov.
The most improved player in Tekken, JDCR, stuck to his guns with Dragunov and rolled over Saint's defenseless JACK-7. Whether it was the neutral game or baits, JDCR's movement made Saint look stagnant and stiff. The pressure was impeccable, the hit-confirms and whiffs were perfect and JDCR dominated the reset bracket to take down the Evo championship.