Going into the Tekken World Tour 2018 Finals no one was betting on Rangchu -- a South Korean player who specialises in using Panda and Kuma, two literal bear characters -- to win the tournament. After a whole year of competitive events across the globe, the finals were attended by the 20 top ranking players in the world.
Rangchu had done well over the course of the season, consistently surprising crowds with his incredibly confident Panda and Kuma gameplay. But going up against Tekken legends such as Knee, Qudans, JDCR, Saint, JimmyJTran, and more in the World Tour Finals, no one could have seen him clawing his way to the top.
At the event, Rangchu was able to make it out of his group in the winners side of the bracket, but in his first top 8 match, he was comfortably beaten by Knee, another South Korean player who had been dominating tournaments throughout the year. However, during their set, Rangchu had decided against playing as Panda or Kuma, presumably thinking that he couldn't possibly beat Knee with his big bear buddies.
It was this cautionary and ineffective approach that perhaps spurred Rangchu on to stick to his animals for the rest of the tournament. After an intense showdown between Knee and fellow South Korean legend Qudans in the winners final, Knee was also sent into the losers bracket, where he would once again face Rangchu, who had been tearing his way through the losers bracket competition.
Only this time, Rangchu opted for Panda, and, after a gruelling set, got the better of Knee and advanced to the grand final. Qudans, an unbelievably deadly Devil Jin player and last year's Tekken World Tour champion, put up a fantastic fight, but somehow, Rangchu was able to reset the bracket.
Qudans certainly didn't go down easy, but with momentum on his side, Rangchu was able to string together a series of wins, pulling out some super risky but ultimately effective strategies. He ended up winning the final set 3-1.
A Tekken tournament as big as this has never been won by a Panda or Kuma player, and again, no one would ever have bet on it happening. What's more, Panda and Kuma are generally considered to be 'low tier' in terms of character effectiveness, while Devil Jin, the character that both Knee and Qudans used against Rangchu, is widely considered to be one of, if not the best character in Tekken 7. It just goes to show that any character is viable in Tekken 7 -- and that's down to some evidently superb balancing on Bandai Namco's part.
It's been a great year for Tekken 7, and for 2018's tour to end on such an unprecedented note, we suppose it just sums up how magical fighting games can be.