This weekend gave the Australian fighting game community a bittersweet taste of what 2020 might have held, were we not forced to spend most of it at home. For the first time since summer, the CouchWarriors League schedule was able to feature something more exclusive than an simple online ranbat, as the Tekken World Tour Online Challenge travelled down under!
As the title implies, the “travel” here was all metaphorical – the Online Challenge events being the TWT’s own hasty compromise in the face of a cancelled tournament circuit. The realities of netplay meant that this World Tour would be limited to OCE players only. And of course, with each region only getting a single Online Challenge, there were no TWT standings for our Tekken champions to covet.
Still, the event carried the pomp and production value of a World Tour event and it was taken seriously by the players and casters. Our isolated community being featured on the official Tekken channel and socials is always a fun ride, and top players gave it their all up and down the bracket to make sure the occasion would have plenty of highlights.
It's nice and cool in NA right now.— Bandai Namco Esports (@BNEesports) October 17, 2020
But in Australia there's some fiery Tekken action going on.
So make sure to do yourself a favor and hydrate🚰🥤
ft. @petrorose @BrownmanFgc 🇦🇺
#T7OnlineChallenge Australiahttps://t.co/vrgVGne896 pic.twitter.com/maKm1J3WxM
Saturday featured the Challenge itself, with a handful of top players appearing in long exhibition sets for Sunday. 57 combatants lined up to form a small but elite field; the winner would receive half of Namco Bandai’s $1000 pot bonus, plus the chance to take on a very secret final boss after the tournament for extra cash.
A few names were tossed around – mostly the players earmarked for the next day’s exhibitions – but anyone wishing to find out and challenge the secret boss had a mountain of challengers to climb first!
The tournament started mostly as expected, with the big name seeded players able to reliably power their way into Top 16. But the margin between those top regional stars turned out to be much thinner, with matchup knowledge and interpersonal rivalries often deciding the results.
Genuine Gaming’s EVO veteran Dee-On Grey was assassinated in his first Top 8 match by Kaige “DF1|LunaHueca” Collicoat, sending the first seed down to Losers side 2-1! LunaHueca was showing off unreal confidence and ease with T7 newcomer Eliza, using her unique meter-based moveset to fuel a merciless oki game.
Joining Dee-on in the desperate Losers Bracket gauntlet was another highly decorated player, Chris “GRU|Stuckles” Stuckey. The CWL points leader had actually dropped his set against Paul “DHT|–delirious–” Evgenidis back in round 3, but managed to pull out of the nosedive and carry his second chance all the way to Losers Quarters.
There, he ran into Michael “romppastompa” Hamilton; one of several high-ranked Sydneysiders who Stuckles doesn’t have to deal with in CWL Online events. romppastompa picked apart Lucky Chloe’s movement with Bryan, never letting Stuckles get momentum on his signature character.
Landing consecutive successful launchers on Chloe to bully Stuckles out of the tournament, romppastompa left casters Petrorose and BrownManFGC with little to add.
Carrying momentum into his match with Dee-on allowed romppastompa to threaten the #1 seed, forcing Dee-on to save not one, but two potential elimination rounds. But the Genuine Gaming star was up to the task, and after righting the ship Dee-on was able to close things out.
From there, Dee-on looked unstoppable as he marched past both romppastompa and LunaHueca to reclaim his expected place in grand finals. Waiting for him on Winners side was Y50K, who had been on fire all tournament; overcoming Harlem, –delirious–, romppastompa and LunaHueca while giving up a total of one game!
But despite that impressive run it was Dee-on who immediately took command of the matchup, getting all over Y50K with Leeroy pressure as he almost whitewashed their first set.
Hope that Y50K might rally after the reset was soon lost as Dee-on was determined not to let him back in the matchup. As Brownman and Petrorose gleefully counted off each “No-Round Brown!”, Dee-on completed the brutal sweep and put his name on that first place prize.
Your winner of #T7OnlineChallenge Australia is @Deeon_Grey completely dominating Y50K!— Bandai Namco Esports (@BNEesports) October 17, 2020
But now he is going to face the [FINAL BOSS]! Tune in now!
#T7OnlineChallenge Australiahttps://t.co/vrgVGne896 pic.twitter.com/qNTMoD2WsC
But there was still one more match to play today! CWL overall points leader Naveedi “Kanga|Chand NY” Iqbal stepped forward to reveal himself as the secret boss for Dee-on. If viewers were left unsurprised by that choice they could at least agree it set up a terrific set of Tekken, as the two long-time rivals duked it out over the bonus prize money.
This was another set which went the full distance, much to the delight of the casters and fans. After exhausting almost every trick in their characters’ respective arsenals, it was Chand NY who managed to catch Dee-on’s ankles once, then twice in succession to just BARELY hold onto his pride and status as the final boss of OCE Tekken!
Since Chand NY didn’t have to endure the actual bracket in his role as boss, Dee-on received first-place CWL points for this event. As you can see, while the top places are fairly cemented going into the last month of points-earning events, there’s still room wide open for anyone to earn their way into the Top 16 – and thus the season finale – by spiking next month’s CWL Online!
It would be a wonderful treat to see accomplished players like LunaHueca build on their success in this event and challenge the top dogs in December. But whether or not we get those sorts of consequences from this Online Challenge, it was terrific just to have the TWT in town again and catch up on some rivalries we’ve been sorely missing in 2020.