Strongstyle, a legendary community-ran Tekken tournament, returned for the seventh time this past weekend. Taking place in San Jose, California, it featured some of the best Tekken 7 players in the world, but this was a team tournament -- something that we don't see all that often here in the West.
Teams were made up of three players, with each player having two lives. This meant that most matches took over half an hour to complete, but it made for some surprisingly tactical tournament play. It's also worth noting that players were stuck with just one character throughout the competition, so team composition and deciding who should step up and when were key factors.
There were so many good sets at Strongstyle this year, but the one that stood out most was 'Who's on JDCR's Team?' versus 'One Does Not Belong'. The two teams had made it deep into the tournament, making it all the way to top six. However, both had been knocked into the losers bracket earlier on, and so this was a straight elimination match.
Who's on JDCR's Team?, as the comical name suggests, was spearheaded by consistently brilliant South Korean player JDCR. Backed up by veteran Tekken player NYC_Fab and Kazuya expert Oni Jin, it was an undeniably skilled team, but one that many wouldn't have bet on beating One Does Not Belong.
With two of America's top ranking players -- Anakin and JimmyJTran -- leading the charge, One Does Not Belong suffered a shock defeat early in the tournament. However, alongside legendary loudmouth and tournament organiser Bronson Tran, the team had torn its way through the losers bracket. At this point, they looked pretty unstoppable.
And that continued to be the case for the first few games. Anakin took a life from NYC_Fab and eliminated Oni Jin fairly quickly -- Who's On JDCR's Team was already reeling. However, the tides began to turn when JDCR took to the stage. Wheeling out what was quite possibly the best Armor King play the world has seen in Tekken 7 so far, JDCR dispatched Anakin in style, then took a life from Bronson as well.
Eager to stop JDCR's momentum, JimmyJTran stepped up to claim one of the Korean's lives. Now with only one life each, JDCR and NYC_Fab had to stand their ground, but against someone like JimmyJTran and his devastating Bryan Fury, that was a tall order.
What followed was some of the most instinctive Steve Fox play you'll likely ever see. Utilising all of the boxer's tools, NYC_Fab pushed back against JimmyJTran, seizing a convincing victory. The pendulum has swung once again, and NYC_Fab went on to eliminate Anakin and Bronson. Suddenly, One Does Not Belong found themselves on the brink of defeat, and it was all thanks to the heroics of NYC_Fab, a player who isn't as prevalent on the pro Tekken scene as he used to be.
With just one life remaining, JimmyJTran was the team's anchor, and, in a gruelling game that came right down to the wire, NYC_Fab was finally knocked out. It was all going to come down to JDCR versus JimmyJTran -- a seemingly destined clash between two of the best Tekken players in the world right now.
With both players only on one life -- their team's final life -- this was extreme pressure Tekken played at the highest level. If you're going to watch any of the above video, make sure you watch this final game -- it's the real deal. Tekken 7 has proven to be a fantastic fighting game spectacle time and time again, and this is pretty much the height of back-and-forth, all-or-nothing Tekken.
Down on health and running out of options, it looked like JimmyJTran had JDCR cornered in the final, final round of the whole set, but with one genius hop kick from JDCR's Armor King, the Korean was able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. What a ride it was.
Unfortunately for Who's on JDCR's Team, they'd be knocked out in the next round of the tournament, but what a run they had. In our humble opinion, this was one of the best Tekken 7 sets you're likely to see all year.