Qualifier 2 review: Mickey returns to form; Stacks still on top

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

AP | Mickey poses for a photo after his win over WTCH | DVK in the Grand Final of Qualifier Two on 29 February 2020

After putting in a strong performance but still failing to win Qualifier One in January, defending TEKKEN 254 Circuit champion AP | Mickey reminded everyone why he's the best in the community after a fairly dominant run at Qualifier Two. After getting sent to the losers' bracket yet again by Qualifier One winner MoM | Frost, this time in the Winners' Semi-Final, he laboured to make his way back and defeat both Frost (in the Losers' Final) and his Grand Final opponent WTCH | DVK in resounding fashion.

Over in the Rampage Series, FTG | Mr Stacks continued his winning run with yet another tournament victory. Making the Grand Final on winners' side this time round, he was put to task by RMP | Shizzle Maniax and suffered a bracket reset, but managed to remain composed and get the win at the second time of asking.

TEKKEN 254 Circuit

The top 3 players from Qualifier Two of the TEKKEN 254 Circuit (left to right): AP | Mickey (1st), MoM | Frost (3rd) and WTCH | DVK (2nd)

The pool stage of Qualifier Two welcomed yet more newcomers to the fold, as well as others returning from the Challenger Division last season. Circuit debutant Jones notably gave a good account of himself, taking T-Vets | Battousai to a final match in their set after falling to the losers' bracket at the hands of MeTa | Vega.

However, the spotlight on the pool stage belonged to BDG | QueenArrow, who fought her way through Pool 2 to advance to Top 8 for the first time ever. Having beaten Elko and T-Vets | Chuma Mzee, she just needed one more win to advance to Top 8 on winners' side but suffered defeat against DVK. Having to face Ghost for a spot on losers' side, QueenArrow mounted a comeback 1-0 down to win the set and guarantee her highest Circuit placing since her debut in January 2018.

In the Winners' Semi-Finals, DVK managed to beat Xstar once again, though barely scraping past this time in a very close set; this came after Frost silenced any potential doubters from his Qualifier One victory, beating Mickey yet again in another entertaining match-up between the two. Down in Losers' Round 1, WTCH | PR1EST got revenge on TUG | Furious Monkey for his defeat at this stage in Qualifier One, while Battousai ended QueenArrow's dream run in a fairly dominant win.

Finding himself in the losers' bracket prior to the Grand Final for the first time since Qualifier Two of Season Two in July 2018, Mickey embarked on his road back there with a one-sided win over Battousai, while Xstar had to work hard to get past PR1EST. An upset looked on the cards when Xstar took the first match of the Losers' Semi-Final against Mickey, but a switch from Xiaoyu to Julia proved effective for the latter as Xstar was resigned to yet another fourth-place finish.

Seeking to avenge his loss to Frost's Bryan in the Losers' Final at Qualifier One, DVK opted for Jin (whom he had used all tournament save for his Winners' Semi-Final against Xstar) rather than Miguel this time and hit the ground running, dispatching Frost's Claudio and forcing a familiar switch to Bryan. However, DVK remained resolute in not giving Frost a chance, extending his lead in a close second match before securing his spot in the Grand Final with a convincing win in the third to take the set 3-0. Frost went with Dragunov for his fourth set against Mickey this season, but a relative blowout in the first match prompted him to try and pull off a repeat with a switch to Leroy. This time though, despite Frost's best efforts, Mickey proved too strong as he handed his opponent another 3-0 loss.

To everyone's surprise, Mickey called on Leroy to face DVK's Jin in the Grand Final and got himself 2-0 up fairly quickly, despite a stage switch and what looked like a positive adaptation from DVK in the second match; DVK's win in the third match proved to be but a bump in the road as Mickey claimed a quick three rounds in the fourth to force a reset.

A seemingly bewildered DVK couldn't seem to decipher Mickey's approach, coming close to a win in the first match but failing to close out the win yet again; Round 4 in particular would probably have eaten away at him, as he overextended in his attempt to quickly finish the job after getting a knockdown, but got clipped by a get-up kick that gave Mickey an opportunity for a comeback. Mickey maintained his quick poking to limit DVK's offense, leaving him reeling in his chair after securing a 3-0 reset win to take the tournament.

Rampage Series

The top 3 players from Qualifier Two of the Rampage Series (left to right): RMP | Shizzle Maniax (2nd), FTG | Mr Stacks (1st) and Bobgranthill (3rd)

With the Kenya Kombat Circuit renamed to the Rampage Series for the 2020 season, competition continued at Qualifier Two, with the highlight of the early rounds perhaps coming in the form of a Rampage team kill; Shizzle Maniax sent Qualifier One runner-up Baraza to the losers' bracket with a 2-0 win before brushing Qualifier One second runner-up SWG | Sultan 3-0 to put himself in the Winners' Final. However, it was at that stage that Qualifier One winner FTG | Mr Stacks held up the proverbial stop sign on his path, sending him to the losers' bracket in a fairly one-sided set. After losing the first two matches with Eternal Geras, Shizzle Maniax went with Jaded Jade in the third to try and salvage the set, but Mr Stacks and his Arctic Frost held firm to secure a resounding 3-0 victory.

Newcomer Bobgranthill already guaranteed himself an improvement on his fourth-place finish at Qualifier One by advancing to the Losers' Final, eliminating Baraza in the Losers' Quarters and BrilliantBryce (who knocked out Sultan in the Losers' Quarters) in the Losers' Semi-Final. Shizzle Maniax took the early lead with Warlock Shang Tsung, but Bobgranthill stuck with Upgraded Jacqui to pull one back in the second match. With the set in the balance, Shizzle Maniax switched to Mean Streak Kabal; Bobgranthill put in a valiant effort to keep himself in contention, but eventually had to settle for third place as Shizzle Maniax earned a runback with Mr Stacks in the Grand Final.

Enlisting Thunder Wave Raiden this time round, Shizzle Maniax got off to a bright start with a win in the first match, but Mr Stacks stuck with Arctic Frost and worked hard to win the second. Deciding against a character switch, Shizzle Maniax was resolute in his gameplay during the third match, notably coming back from a big life deficit in Round 2 to get himself within one point away from resetting the bracket. Mr Stacks brought out Buzzed D'Vorah, with whom he won Qualifier One, and probably would've been disappointed to let Shizzle Maniax back in after winning the first round as he succumbed to a bracket reset.

Interestingly, both players switched characters for their second rodeo, with Mr Stacks going back to Arctic Frost and Shizzle Maniax going with Spring Cleaning Cetrion; he perhaps would've regretted the switch as Mr Stacks took two rounds straight to take the first match, prompting him to go back to Thunder Wave Raiden for the remainder of the set. Looking more comfortable in the match-up this time round, Mr Stacks made it four rounds straight and 2-0 in the set, with Shizzle Maniax seemingly confused as he banked on Spring Cleaning Cetrion yet again for a potential reverse sweep. His efforts eventually proved to be futile, failing to win a single round as Mr Stacks romped to yet another tournament win.