Qualifier Two: DVK sends Mickey to the losers' bracket in Top 8 but falls in Grand Final rematch

(Check out our glossary as you read this article for definitions of the jargon used)

Top 3 from left to right: DVK (second), AlphaPlay | Mickey (first) and Frost (third)

It was quite a day of interesting moments at Qualifier Two of Season Two of the TEKKEN 254 Circuit. Coming into the tournament at third place overall, DVK conjured what was probably the surprise of the season so far when he sent reigning champion AlphaPlay | Mickey to the losers' bracket in the first round of Top 8.

Challenger Division

All smiles from Lowlife (left) and Deno_dev (right) during their Losers' Semi-Final, with judge Jairus Ogembo of Ace Pro Gaming observing in the background

The Challenger Division welcomed six new players to the competition for Qualifier Two: AppyAppy, BoneBreaker, Squidy_daddy and Stanley Styler, as well as Shoryuken's RMP team-mates BiG_47 and Kane n Lynch a.k.a Krach the Beast, both better known for their exploits in Mortal Kombat (MK) alongside AlphaPlay | SlyFacEd. However, only BoneBreaker, Squidy_daddy and Stanley Styler managed to appear for the tournament, meaning Squidy_daddy gained a free pass to face Lowlife in the Winners' Quarter-Finals, while AlphaPlay | SlyFacEd, who missed Qualifier One, was set to begin his campaign in the Winners' Final with the rest of the players in his half of the bracket absent, MojAY-T (second time) and Quan included.

In what was the only match of Winners' Round 1, Stanley Styler warmed up with a cagey 2-1 win over BoneBreaker, sending him down to the losers' bracket. He followed that up with a straightforward 2-0 win in the Winners' Quarter-Finals over Deno_dev, while Lowlife defeated Squidy_daddy by the same score in the opposite fixture. Squidy_daddy ended his tournament run without any wins outside of walkovers, losing 2-0 to Deno_dev in Losers' Round 3 to finish in sixth place.

Lowlife and BoneBreaker got to scrapping in Losers' Round 4, with the latter narrowly claiming victory in the first match with Bryan before narrowly losing the next to Lowlife's Alisa. Lowlife dominated the final match with 3 straight round wins, confining BoneBreaker to fifth place and setting up a Losers' Semi-Final encounter with Deno_dev. Lowlife continued his good run of form with another victory, sticking with Alisa to beat Deno_dev's Bob over 3 straight rounds in the first match before scraping out a win at the final round of the second.

AlphaPlay | SlyFacEd presented himself as a threat in the Winners' Final, going back and forth with Stanley Styler in matches with the set eventually going down to the wire. However, Stanley Styler was steadfast in his bid to win the tournament, sending SlyFacEd to the Losers' Final with a win in the final match of the set. Here, SlyFacEd could not put the brakes on Lowlife's momentum, with the latter winning 3 straight matches in his continued surge to the Grand Final.

Known in the community as an avid Law player, Stanley Styler switched to his main character Paul to face Lowlife's Alisa for the second time. Stanley Styler struggled for the first two matches, dropping a fair few crucial combos as Lowlife forced both matches to a final round, which Stanley Styler managed to win on both occasions. While he claimed a perfect in the first round of the third and final match of the set, Stanley Styler continued to struggle with his execution, narrowly grinding out the second round with a charged b+2 to stuff Lowlife's spring kick as both players were in rage. The third round saw a more solid display from Stanley Styler, earning himself a 3-0 victory in the set and 16 points to take himself to third place overall for the season.

Premier Division

The day's proceedings kicked off with Pool A. AlphaPlay | Mickey took top spot with a clean 5-0 record in sets, dropping only one match against Proto-G, whom he was facing at this stage for the second consecutive tournament. Finishing in second place, Frost won 4 sets and dropped one, narrowly denying Proto-G a second consecutive berth in the Top 8 this season. Poker Face and XiT | QueenArrow came fourth and fifth respectively, while Dawa Jr. failed to appear for the tournament once again.

Pool B was completely dominated by Mickey's AlphaPlay team-mate Simba, dropping not a single match (10-0) as he finished with a 5-0 set record. Vega also managed to get himself in the Top 8, coming second with a 4-1 record in sets. Newcomers Furious Monkey and Battousai swapped places from Qualifier One; the former advanced to the playoffs for 9th to 12th place with a set record of 3-2, while the latter followed just behind in fourth place with a set record of 2-3. The pool's remaining two players, PseudoDude and Mugi, both failed to appear for the tournament (the latter doing so for the second time in a row).

Pool C promised to be a hairy affair, as Tiz and AlphaPlay | PR1EST, who both finished in the Top 5 in Season One, were drawn alongside Darktempest, who finished seventh overall in Season One, and RMP | Shoryuken, who finished eighth in Qualifier One two weeks earlier. Tiz rose above the competition to finish top with a set record of 5-0, winning 10 matches and losing 3, while AlphaPlay | PR1EST followed in second place with a record of 4-1 in sets. RMP | Shoryuken couldn't seem to find any form (and perhaps luck) this time round, coming in fifth behind Darktempest (third) and community veteran Chuma Mzee. Dice1533 was also set to make his return having last competed in January, but had to leave the tournament prior to the start of the pool to fulfill some domestic commitments.

Pool D began with Xstar beating DVK 2-0 in the first match for the second consecutive tournament, going on to top the pool with a clean record of 5-0 in sets and 10-0 in matches. DVK rebounded from the loss to finish second with a set record of 4-1, while In4red managed his second consecutive third-place pool finish. RobbyM$ and Pip Squeak followed in fourth and fifth respectively, while Flurryfists, who came sixth overall in Season One, continued his poor run of form as he finished bottom of the pool.

Katarina main Darktempest (left) and Yoshimitsu main In4red remain firmly fixed on the screen during their 9th place playoff match, which Darktempest won for the second time in a row

Flurryfists was awarded 20th place for the tournament as he was the only one present amongst the sixth-place finishers. With PseudoDude also absent, RMP | Shoryuken advanced to the 17th place playoff through a walkover. In the other playoff semi-final, XiT | QueenArrow got revenge over Pip Squeak with a 2-0 win, having lost to him by the same score in the 17th place playoff at Qualifier One. RMP | Shoryuken stopped her dead in her tracks, however, finishing what would have been a bad day for him on a positive note with a narrow 2-1 win.

The playoffs for 13th to 16th place began with RobbyM$ beating Poker Face 2-1 in a close set, while Chuma Mzee suffered a 2-0 loss to Battousai to drop to the 15th place playoff match. Playing in his first tournament since Round Two of Season One in February, RobbyM$ ended his day with a 2-0 win over Battousai to claim 13th place, while Poker Face lost 2-0 to Chuma Mzee to finish 16th, five places below what he managed in Qualifier One.

In4red and Darktempest set up a rematch of their 9th place playoff match from Qualifier One by beating Proto-G (2-0) and Furious Monkey (2-1) respectively. Having come seventh in Qualifier One, Proto-G would have been disappointed with his performances on the day as he went on to lose his last set 2-0, with Furious Monkey improving on his 16th place finish from the previous tournament. The 9th place playoff match ended just as it did two weeks earlier, with Darktempest putting his Katarina to work to win 2-0 against In4red's Yoshimitsu.

DVK (furthest back) pulls up a cheeky smile during his Winners' Quarter-Final set with AlphaPlay | Mickey (second from back), as Vega (second from front) looks on

The Top 8 started with an upset as DVK made good use of Miguel's poking and high damage output to shut down AlphaPlay | Mickey, who picked Bob for the first match before switching to Violet. The 2-0 win for DVK saw the reigning champion drop to the losers' bracket for the first time ever. Tiz had to work hard with Nina to advance to the next round against Vega's Akuma, winning 3 rounds straight in the final match with the set tied at 1-1 prior. Frost had some fortune in his narrow 2-1 win over Xstar, with the latter failing to take advantage of some dropped combos from the former and regain momentum. PR1EST had to face his AlphaPlay team-mate Simba in the last Winners' Quarter-Final, securing a 2-0 victory to advance to the next round.

Determined to brush aside his first ever set loss in the TEKKEN 254 Circuit, AlphaPlay | Mickey left nothing to chance in picking his main character Alisa for Losers' Round 1, scraping through the first match after being taken to a final round by Vega's Akuma before winning a clean 3 rounds in the second. AlphaPlay | Simba faced Xstar in the other set of the round, having previously met at the 5th place playoff in Qualifier One, hilariously shutting down King's rage art with Devil Jin's Demon Paw (f, f+2) at the end of the second match to stay alive in the tournament. Xstar redeemed himself in the 7th place playoff, however, winning 2-0 to hand Vega his worst ever tournament finish in the TEKKEN 254 Circuit.

With his loss to Tiz in the Losers' Final of Qualifier One in mind, DVK poked his way to victory with Miguel once again despite failing to duck and punish a number of Nina's strings. Tiz put up a good fight in the first match, but lost 3 rounds straight in the second to drop to the losers' bracket. In the other Winners' Semi-Final, Frost stuck with Lars to beat AlphaPlay | PR1EST in tournament for the first time, working hard for a 2-0 win to guarantee himself a first ever Top 3 finish in the TEKKEN 254 Circuit.

The action in the losers' bracket continued with another AlphaPlay set; Mickey switched to Gigas to win 6 rounds straight against PR1EST, albeit having been taken to the brink of death in all 3 during the first match. In the opposite set, AlphaPlay | Simba seemed out of sorts with his execution and punishment in his first match against Tiz, but put in a strong performance in the second to win 3 straight rounds and take the set down to the wire. In the end, Paul's power proved a valuable asset for Tiz, taking advantage of virtually every big whiff with deathfists to amass big damage and answer with 3 straight rounds of his own in the final match.

Frost prepares to face DVK in the Winners' Final

Tiz seemed completely clueless against AlphaPlay | Mickey's Gigas in the Losers' Semi-Final, perhaps owing to a lack of match-up knowledge, losing 3 straight rounds in the first match. Mickey's composure came to the fore in the second match, ducking and punishing Nina's d/f+3, 2 (twice) and WS 1, 1+2 in the third round on his way to a convincing 2-0 victory.

The focus shifted back to the winners' bracket with DVK facing Frost in the Winners' Final. Having won with Lars in the previous two rounds, Frost understandably stuck with the character in a bid to maintain his momentum, while DVK went with Geese, with whom he had lost a match to RobbyM$ in Pool D hours earlier. While DVK's apparent nerves showed in some rigid movement, dropped combos and missed punishes, he still managed to grind through with a win in the first match, forcing Frost to switch to his main character Bryan. Losing another 2 rounds in the second match, Frost found some luck as DVK dropped what would have been a match-winning combo, stealing the round with a rage art as DVK attempted to poke out a win before riding on his momentum to win the entire match and level the set.

After pondering over switching back to Miguel, DVK went with his main character Jin for the third match. While he continued to drop some combos and miss a few punishes, most notably punishing a snake edge in the final round with just WS 1, DVK's fundamentals and use of Jin's wavedash mix-ups ultimately carried him to victory heading into what was the fourth and final match. DVK seemed a completely different person here, taking full control of the match and winning 3 rounds straight to advance to the Grand Final.

Frost did not seem fazed by the fact that his next opponent would be AlphaPlay | Mickey and stuck with Bryan heading into the set. While Mickey took an early 2-0 lead in the set with Gigas, putting in the sort of solid displays we've gotten used to seeing from him, Frost switched back to Lars and began working to turn the set completely on its head. Many would have bet their life savings on Mickey to see out the set having won another 2 rounds in the third match, but Frost refused to let up and fought his way back into contention by taking 3 rounds straight off his opponent.

AlphaPlay | Mickey answered back with a round in the following match, but Frost would not be denied and took the set to a final match at 2-2, winning 3 straight rounds yet again. Deciding a change needed to be made, Mickey switched back to his main character Alisa, hoping to kill Frost's momentum and win the set. Mickey nearly lost the first round when ducked a throw and punished with a rage art, going on to steal the round with some calculated pressure. Frost won the following round and came very close to taking the entire set down to the wire—literally one jab away from winning the round—but Mickey remained calm and fought his way back to seal victory and set up a rematch with DVK.

AlphaPlay | Mickey faced DVK in the Grand Final of a TEKKEN 254 tournament for the first time since Round Two of Season One in February 2018

Perhaps looking to dictate play for the final set of the tournament, AlphaPlay | Mickey went with Xiaoyu, known to be an extremely elusive, mix-up-heavy rushdown character, while DVK stuck with Jin following his victory over Frost. DVK seemed to still have the drop on Mickey when he calmly weathered his pressure to win the first match, but Mickey took advantage of some habits he seemed to notice from DVK, rolling under retaliation while in Xiaoyu's Rain Dance stance (RDS) to punish Jin and rack up some big damage on a number of occasions. In rounds, Mickey won the second match 3-1 and the third match 3-0, setting himself up for what would be the first ever Grand Final reset at a TEKKEN 254 tournament. After a stray rage art surprisingly hit and killed Mickey in the first round of the fourth match, DVK came painfully close to tying the set in the third, but after seeing out the round in the clutch, Mickey remained solid and went on to win the following two rounds, resetting the bracket.

Mickey continued his comeback in the reset by winning 3 straight rounds in the first match, memorably rolling under and punishing Jin's rage art at the end of the second round after having Xiaoyu's RDS 1 parried. A double KO in the third round of the second match put the players at two rounds apiece, and DVK made sure to get the win this time as he tied the set at 1-1. However, he dropped a crucial combo towards the end of the first round of the following match, giving Mickey the opportunity to steal the round and cap the match off with the following 2 rounds as well. DVK put in a spirited effort in the fourth and final match of the set, answering back in the third round with Mickey 2-0 up, but the reigning champion just would not be denied another tournament win to add to his growing collection.