Arslan_Ash, a relatively unknown Kazumi player from Pakistan, just won the Tekken 7 tournament at Evo Japan 2019. The event welcomed many of the game's very best players from all over the world, but none of them could stand in Arslan's way as he dismantled the competition.
Arslan popped up on the global Tekken scene last year, when he was able to beat Knee -- widely considered to be one of, if not the best Tekken 7 player in the world -- to win a tournament in Dubai. What's more, it was an incredibly convincing victory, with Knee unable to win a single match.
However, Arslan didn't attend many -- if any -- of the other major tournaments throughout the rest of 2018. His victory over Knee was quite quickly forgotten about as the South Korean master went on to dominate the Tekken World Tour. It's probably safe to say that many put Arslan's accomplishment down as a bit of a fluke.
Fast forward to Evo Japan 2019, which happened over the weekend, and Arslan's skill is now undeniable. The Pakistani was knocked down into the losers bracket of the tournament fairly early by another relatively unknown player, but that clearly didn't deter him.
Arslan had a tough road ahead, and his first big obstacle was, of course, Knee. The rematch that many fans had been waiting to see, the contest sadly wasn't shown on stream, but Arslan once again came out on top, beating Knee 2-0. Another convincing win, and suddenly Arslan looked like a force to be reckoned with.
Arslan managed to fight his way into the top 32, and from there, he went on to tear through some of the biggest names in Tekken 7. Looking at the bracket, the run Arslan had is nothing short of astonishing. First off, he had to take down Chanel, one of South Korea's best, and Knee's teammate. Arslan won 2-0. Next, it was Rickstah, a deadly Akuma player from the US. Again, 2-0 to Arslan.
It doesn't get any easier, either. Also tearing his way through the losers bracket was LowHigh, another South Korean beast who's currently the Evo champion, winning it in 2018. 2-0 again to Arslan. At this point, Arslan looked unstoppable -- he had taken out three of South Korea's greatest players without any of them winning a single match. Fairy tale stuff.
Japanese player Pikohan_Kouki was the next to fall, and then Book, widely considered to be Thailand's best, also failed to stop Arslan. Both matches ended 2-0 to Arslan. This run was already unbelievable, but it just kept getting better and better for the Kazumi main. To top things off, he had to fight jimmyjtran, an insanely talented Bryan loyalist who many consider to be the best player in the US, to make it into the losers semifinals. And he did, although Jimmy was able to actually win a match for himself, unlike the rest of Arslan's victims, ending the set at 2-1 to Arslan.
Arslan was now just two wins away from the grand finals, but at this juncture he must have been feeling invincible. He'd go on to crush Japan's last hope as the country's only remaining player, chikurin, was soundly beaten 2-0. Perhaps Arslan's staunchest challenge came next in the form of CherryBerryMango, another South Korean master. After a gruelling set, Arslan was able to take it 3-2 and advance to the grand finals.
Waiting for him was AK, a brilliant young player from the Philippines. Being on the winners side of the bracket, AK hadn't lost a set to anyone, but Arslan beat him 3-0 to reset the bracket. With an unbroken determination in his eyes, Arslan went on to win the second set 3-1. Again, the Pakistani just could not be stopped.
Tekken 7 is no stranger to tournament upsets, but this is perhaps the biggest in the game's history. The fact that Arslan had to go through so many incredible, tournament-proven legends is one thing, but to beat them all as comfortably as he did? Unprecedented.
With this year's Tekken World Tour kicking off soon, it'll be interesting to see whether Arslan can make it out to more tournaments. Based on his performance at Evo Japan, we might be seeing Tekken 7 get taken to a whole new level.