Qualifier Three: Xstar reaches Grand Final for the first time; Top 16 decided for Circuit Finals

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

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

TEKKEN 254 Circuit defending champion AlphaPlay | Mickey claimed victory yet again at Qualifier Three of Season Two, this time beating the community's resident King loyalist Xstar, who highlighted his improved run of his results since Season One by making his first appearance in the Grand Final of a TEKKEN 254 tournament.

Challenger Division

BoneBreaker (left) and Stanley Styler settle their Losers' Final meeting on the Alienware Aurora R7

The Challenger Division saw a twelfth competitor, K-SPOT, register to participate in Season Two of the TEKKEN 254 Circuit for Qualifier Three. Alongside Lowlife, MojAY-T, Quan and RMP's BiG_47 and Kane n Lynch, he ultimately failed to appear for the tournament, while AppyAppy made her first appearance of the season having registered for and missed Qualifier Two. These various absences lead to a number of walkovers, with Deno_dev getting a free pass to the Winners' Semi-Finals and Stanley Styler having to beat BoneBreaker 2-1 in the Winners' Quarter-Finals to get a free pass to the Winners' Final. The other Winners' Quarter-Final saw AppyAppy claim a 2-0 victory over AlphaPlay | SlyFacEd to set up a meeting with Deno_dev. However, she suffered a 2-0 loss and dropped to the losers' bracket as Deno_dev advanced to the Winners' Final to play against Stanley Styler for the second time this season.

The first set of the losers' bracket (walkovers aside) saw a rematch between AppyAppy and AlphaPlay | SlyFacEd, with the latter avenging his earlier loss with a 2-0 win to advance to the Losers' Semi-Final. His run in this tournament was brought to an end by BoneBreaker, who saw him off with a 2-0 win to advance to the Losers' Final. Despite this, SlyFacEd narrowly qualified for the Premier Division Playoffs in 4th place overall with 27 points, edging out BoneBreaker by a single point.

With their last meeting in Qualifier Two ending in a 2-1 loss, Deno_dev was eager to take down Stanley Styler and move on to the Grand Final. Victories against each other over the first three games (Deno_dev leading 2-1) prompted switches from Law to Leo for the former and King to Paul for the latter, but Deno_dev ultimately came out on top with a 3-1 victory to send Stanley Styler to the losers' bracket.

BoneBreaker's Bryan was made light work of by Stanley Styler's Paul in the Losers' Final, the latter winning 6 straight rounds to set up an almost immediate rematch with Deno_dev in the Grand Final. Taking no chances with his character picks, Stanley Styler stuck with his main Paul and ran amok; after taking the first game to a final round, Deno_dev switched from Law to Leo for the rest of the set but could not stop his opponent from resetting the bracket with a score of 3-0, at which point he switched characters again, this time going with Bob. The second set was a closer affair, with Deno_dev notably throwing away a two-round lead in the second game, but the final result was the same as Stanley Styler won his second consecutive tournament of the season. Both players qualified for the Premier Division Playoffs, Deno_dev in 1st place overall with 43 points and Stanley Styler in 2nd with 32 points. Lowlife's high-placing performances in the previous two tournament were enough to see him qualify in 3rd place overall with 31 points.

Premier Division

AlphaPlay | Mickey and Xstar started off the day fighting their way out of Pool A, with the former finishing top at 5-0 in sets and the latter coming second with a record of 4-1 in sets, his only loss coming in the tournament's first set against the former. Furious Monkey attained a second consecutive third-place finish in pools, while Chuma Mzee also managed some consistency with a second consecutive fourth-place finish. Dice1533 came fifth in his first appearance of the season, leaving RMP | Shoryuken to lick his wounds in what would be his worst performance at a TEKKEN 254 tournament to date.

Mickey's AlphaPlay team-mate PR1EST continued his resurgence with a near-perfect record in Pool B, suffering his only match loss against Flurryfists who himself saw a turnaround in form with a third-place finish and a 3-2 record in sets; his second loss was delivered by Vega, who came second with a 4-1 record in sets. Perhaps the shock of the day came when players and spectators learned that Tiz, a perennial Top 8 figure, finished fourth in the pool with a 2-3 record in sets to set up his own worst finish at a TEKKEN 254 tournament so far. RobbyM$ also suffered a dip in form at fifth place, while sixth place went to Dawa Jr. who once again failed to appear for the tournament.

With no Xstar to throw a spanner in the works for him early in the tournament, DVK enjoyed his first pool win of the season with a 5-0 record in sets, ditching his regular tournament picks (Jin, Miguel and Geese) and seemingly testing the waters in Pool C with Claudio, Hwoarang and Devil Jin instead. Frost also got himself into the Top 8 with a 4-1 record in sets to finish second, while In4red continued his consistent run with a 3-2 record in sets to earn a third consecutive third-place pool finish. Like Chuma Mzee in Pool A, Battousai came fourth in his pool for the second time in a row, leaving absentees Pip Squeak and Mugi to occupy the final two places.

Darktempest's failure to qualify for the Top 8 so far this season seemed to fuel him this time round, becoming the fifth player (after AlphaPlay | Mickey, Tiz, Xstar and AlphaPlay | Simba) this season to win his pool with a perfect record (5-0 in sets, 10-0 in matches). AlphaPlay | Simba followed in second place with a 4-1 record in sets, while Poker Face came in third with a 3-2 record in sets. XiT | QueenArrow saw an improvement in her form, finishing fourth for the first time this season in her bid to qualify for the Circuit Finals. PseudoDude left himself at risk of dropping into the Premier Division Playoffs in fifth place, while the final spot was occupied by Proto-G who failed to appear for the tournament.

Poker Face (left) and Furious Monkey locked in battle during their 9th place playoff semi-final

RMP | Shoryuken did not need to pick up his controller again after the end of the pool stage as he was automatically awarded 20th place for the tournament in the absence of Dawa Jr., Mugi/Pip Squeak and Proto-G, qualifying for the Circuit Finals in 15th place overall with 30 points. The absence of Mugi and Pip Squeak also allowed RobbyM$ to automatically advance to the 17th place playoff, where he beat Dice1533 2-1. Dice1533's opponent in the playoff semi-final, PseudoDude, was automatically awarded 19th place.

In the 13th place playoff semi-finals, Chuma Mzee derailed XiT | QueenArrow's bid to sneak into the overall Top 16 with a 2-0 win, while Tiz's results for the day continued to worsen as he lost 2-0 to Battousai. Chuma Mzee claimed another 2-0 win over Battousai to claim 13th place for the tournament, but the latter still did enough to advance to the Circuit Finals, placing 13th overall with 35 points. While QueenArrow did well to beat Tiz 2-0 in their 15th place playoff, it was ultimately not enough as she found herself in 17th place overall, 4 points adrift of the final Circuit Finals spot occupied by Flurryfists. Conversely, Tiz advanced to the FInals in 8th place overall with 53 points, having put himself in a strong position with good performances in the previous two tournaments.

In Darktempest's absence, In4red was now the only player appearing in the playoffs for 9th to 12th place for the third consecutive tournament and began his quest for maximum points at this stage with a narrow 2-1 win over Flurryfists, while Poker Face defeated Furious Monkey 2-0 in the other playoff semi-final. Furious Monkey then beat Flurryfists 2-1 to claim 11th place for the tournament and advance to the Circuit Finals in 12th place overall with 37 points, while In4red also beat Poker Face 2-1 in the 9th place playoff, with both advancing to the Circuit Finals in 10th place overall with 46 points and 11th place overall with 38 points, respectively.

AlphaPlay | PR1EST battles Darktempest (front right) in Losers' Round 1 on the Alienware Aurora R7, with Stanley Styler watching on

An AlphaPlay team kill kicked off the Top 8 as Mickey banished Simba to the losers' bracket with a 2-0 victory while DVK, who advanced to the Grand Final on the winners' side in the previous tournament, suffered a 2-0 defeat against Vega to drop to the losers' bracket early this time round. Xstar claimed his first Winners' Quarter-Final win of the season against Darktempest with a 2-0 win, while Frost dropped another AlphaPlay member to the losers' bracket with a close 2-1 win over PR1EST.

Sticking with Claudio, DVK managed a 2-1 win over AlphaPlay | Simba's Kazuya in Losers' Round 1, while Darktempest swapped Katarina for Lars to overcome the challenge presented by AlphaPlay | PR1EST's Jack-7, winning 2-0 to advance to Losers' Round 2 and set up another AlphaPlay team kill in the 7th place playoff. Simba avenged his loss to PR1EST in the 5th place playoff at Qualifier Two with a 2-1 win, earning himself 4th place overall with 57 points; PR1EST also advanced to the Circuit Finals in 9th place overall with 49 points.

AlphaPlay | Mickey continued his surge to the Grand Final with a largely dominant 2-0 win over Vega in the Winners' Semi-Finals, setting up a Winners' Final meeting with Frost who beat Xstar 2-0 to guarantee himself a Top 3 finish for the second tournament in a row.

In Losers' Round 2, Xstar kept himself alive with a narrow 2-1 win in his fourth meeting of the season with DVK, who refused to switch back to his main characters in favour of ploughing on with Claudio against Xstar's King. Vega was also sent packing by Darktempest, suffering another 2-0 loss before losing 2-0 again to DVK in the 5th place playoff, which was affected by a few interruptions. DVK qualified for the Circuit Finals in 2nd place overall with 65 points, while Vega did so in 5th place with 57 points, ranking behind AlphaPlay | Simba on sets won.

Switching back to Katarina, Darktempest lost 2-0 to Xstar in the Losers' Semi-Final to earn his first 4th place finish since Round Three of Season One and qualify for the Finals in 7th place overall with 53 points.

Frost puts his Lars to work against Xstar's King in the Losers' Final

AlphaPlay | Mickey had been picking Bob for most of the tournament but decided to switch to Xiaoyu for the Winners' Final against Frost as he did in the Grand Final of the previous tournament against DVK. Frost couldn't get any meaningful momentum going as he lost 3 straight rounds with Dragunov, prompting a switch to Lars for the second game. Mickey rode the challenge and strolled to victory in another 3 straight rounds, but Frost stuck with Lars in a bid to get himself back in contention for the winners' side in the Grand Final. Despite managing to win a round in the third game, Frost could not stop Mickey from sending him to the Losers' Final, where a rematch with Xstar awaited him.

Having beaten Xstar with Lars in the Winners' Semi-Finals, Frost naturally decided not to change the supposed winning formula and picked Lars again to face Xstar's King. A heated first game that went to the final round went Frost's way, setting the tone for what would be a very close set. Xstar showed great character to close out the next 3 games, every single one going to the final round, making extensive use of King's throw mix-ups to rack up valuable damage and keep Frost on his toes. Beating Frost for the first time in three meetings this season, Xstar reached the Grand Final of a TEKKEN 254 tournament for the first time, leaving Frost with his second consecutive third place finish and a spot in the Circuit Finals in 6th place overall with 55 points.

The Grand Final was much more contrary to what spectators had just witnessed, with AlphaPlay | Mickey switching back to Bob and piling the pressure on Xstar, winning 3 straight rounds to take the first game in seemingly no time. With the first ever set between the two looking to be a blowout, Xstar won a round in the second game but went 2-0 down in the set, giving himself an uphill battle if he was to have any chance of winning the tournament. The tide looked to be turning for Xstar in the third game when he took 2 straight rounds to try and get himself on the board—Mickey notably dropping a round-winning combo in the first after launch punishing a rage art—but adjustments seemed to be made as Mickey steamrolled his way to victory, putting Xstar on the back foot and earning perfects in Rounds 3 and 5 in the process.