(Check out our glossary as you read this article for definitions of the jargon used)
The final event for Season Two of the TEKKEN 254 Circuit, dubbed the Savanna Majors, saw the community's number one player AlphaPlay | Mickey defend his title against his team-mate AlphaPlay | PR1Est, who finished in the Top 3 for the first time since Round Three of Season One when it mattered most. Xstar wrapped up what he will surely consider for himself a season of good performances by finishing third.
PREMIER DIVISION PLAYOFFS
The event's activities kicked off with the Premier Division Playoffs, pitting the Premier Division's bottom 4 against the Challenger Division's top 4 for the last four places of the Premier Division for Season Three of the TEKKEN 254 Circuit. Dawa Jr. and Mugi, who both missed all three qualifiers, as well as Dice1533, who missed Qualifiers 1 and 2, all failed to turn up once again, granting Deno_dev, Stanley Styler and Lowlife free passes to the Winners' Promotion Playoffs.
PseudoDude, who finished in 21st place overall with 12 points in the Premier Division, saw off the Challenger Division's 4th place finisher AlphaPlay | SlyFacEd with a 2-0 win to advance. Stanley Styler earned promotion to the Premier Division with a 2-0 win over Deno_dev in the fourth meeting of the season between the two, while Lowlife saw off PseudoDude by the same score in an Alisa mirror to move on to the top tier. However, the absence of Mugi and Dice1533 meant that PseudoDude had no opponent to face in the Losers' Promotion Playoffs, guaranteeing him a place in the Premier Division for Season Three.
Elsewhere in the losers' bracket, AlphaPlay | SlyFacEd automatically advanced to the Losers' Promotion Playoffs in the absence of Dawa Jr., but could not quite cross the finish line as he suffered a 2-0 loss to Deno_dev, meaning he would be remaining in the Challenger Division for the upcoming season.
The Finals for Season Two of the TEKKEN 254 Circuit began with the first 4 matches of the Round of 16 (Vega vs Poker Face, Tiz vs AlphaPlay | PR1Est, DVK vs Flurryfists and AlphaPlay | Mickey vs In4red). However, heavy input lag and consultation with the players forced the organisers to restart the tournament with a different console for the split-screen set-up usually reserved for the last 3 sets of a tournament.
To get back on schedule, the Round of 16 and Losers' Round 1 were played as organisers awaited the delivery of the console. Poker Face took the lead in his set against Vega before Vega switched from Nina to Akuma and pulled it back to win 2-1, while AlphaPlay | PR1Est saw off Tiz 2-0 with relative ease to advance to the next round on the winners' side of the bracket. DVK followed up a tense first-game win with a quick victory in the second to send Flurryfists to the losers' bracket, while AlphaPlay | Mickey also played Nina as he earned himself an expected 2-0 win over In4red.
Proto-G surprised everyone by shunning Steve and Hwoarang, his regular tournament picks, in favour of Law for his set against Darktempest's Katarina, which went down to the wire as the latter came away with a 2-1 win. Frost began his run with a relatively close 2-0 win over Battousai, while AlphaPlay | Simba swapped the Mishimas for Feng Wei to see off RMP | Shoryuken in another 2-0 win. Furious Monkey switched from Law to Dragunov after his first game against Xstar and did well to win the second, but couldn't do enough in the third to stop Kenya's best King player as Xstar moved on with a 2-1 victory.
The day's action continued with Losers' Round 1, where Tiz quickly dispatched Poker Face in 6 straight rounds to advance to the next round. In4red had a harder time against Flurryfists but also managed to move on with a 2-0 win. Proto-G needed to work very hard in his 2-1 win over Battousai, with the first two games of the set having gone down to the final round. In the last set of the round, RMP | Shoryuken's season was also brought to an end as he lost 2-0 to Furious Monkey.
With the split-screen set-up reinstated from the Winners' Quarter-Finals onwards, AlphaPlay | PR1Est continued his run in the winners' bracket with a dominant 2-0 win over Vega, while his team-mate Mickey avoided a repeat of his Qualifier Two loss to DVK, securing a 2-0 win to escape another early drop to the losers' bracket. Frost had to come from behind to grind out a 2-1 win over Darktempest, while Xstar forced a switch from Feng to Devil Jin by AlphaPlay | Simba after the first game of their set, losing the second but ultimately emerging victorious with a 2-1 win.
Switching back to Feng for Losers' Round 2, AlphaPlay | Simba's luck went from bad to worse as he struggled to deal with Tiz's Nina and crashed out of the tournament in a 2-0 loss. A third meeting of the season between Darktempest and In4red finally went the latter's way, as the community's friendly neighbourhood Yoshimitsu main worked to overturn a 1-0 deficit and avenge his losses from the 9th place playoffs in Qualifiers One and Two. DVK brought out Miguel for the first time on the day to see off Proto-G's Law in a fairly straightforward 2-0 victory, while Vega remained unbeaten against Furious Monkey with a 2-0 win in what was another third meeting between two players for the season.
In Losers' Round 3, In4red took the lead in his set but fell off as Tiz came back to win 2-1, while DVK switched back to Jin to continue his surge through the losers' bracket, sending Vega out of the tournament with a 2-0 win. Back in the winners' bracket, Mickey dropped his AlphaPlay team-mate PR1Est in a 2-0 victory to move on to the Winners' Final. Frost picked Lili for his set against Xstar, perhaps bearing in mind that he lost with Lars during their last encounter, but failed to get a positive result as he was sent to the losers' bracket with a 2-0 defeat.
AlphaPlay | PR1Est stopped Tiz in his tracks in Losers' Round 4 and kept himself alive in the tournament with a tense 2-0 victory, both matches going down to the final round, but Frost found no such form against DVK as he suffered yet another 2-0 loss to end his campaign. In the Losers' Semi-Final, AlphaPlay | PR1Est swapped Panda for Jack-7 to face DVK's Jin and shut him down convincingly in the first game, working harder in the second to stave off a comeback and win the set 2-0 with the match down to a final round.
AlphaPlay | Mickey continued his habit of picking Xiaoyu against higher-ranked opponents for his Winners' Final set against Xstar. With Mickey 1-0 up and completely dominating the set, Xstar finally won a round and gathered some momentum after losing five straight rounds, but it did not mean much in the end as Mickey set himself up for yet another appearance in a Grand Final. Xstar exhibited more patience in the final match, using less highs and improving on his whiff punishment to take the match to a final round, but it was not enough as Mickey moved on with a 3-0 win.
With multiple sparring sessions between them on PC, Xstar and AlphaPlay | PR1Est were expected to give spectators a very close set. With the first game down to the final round, PR1Est and his Panda had to dig deep to overturn a massive life deficit, somewhat toying with Xstar as he launched him 3 times in a row with b, d/b, d, D/F+2, 2 to take the lead. PR1Est showed more dominance in the second game, dropping only one round as he doubled his lead to put himself on set point. However, perhaps due to a little overconfidence, PR1Est began to play a lot riskier and Xstar did well to punish him and pull a point back, albeit missing a few opportunities to launch punish. Xstar remained patient and kept PR1Est in check with more mids and lows to discourage the use of Panda's high-crushing Hunting Bear Stance (HBS), whiff punishing a f, f+2 in Round 4 with a rage art to level the set at 2-2.
After spending several moments mulling over a character switch, AlphaPlay | PR1Est comically switched from Panda to Kuma (the two characters have identical move lists) ahead of the final game. Taking a more aggressive approach, PR1Est lost the first round but maintained his pressure, catching Xstar whiffing under HBS and keeping him guessing with painful mix-ups once he got on the inside. PR1Est whiff punished King's d/b+4 with Kuma's rage drive in Round 4 to set up a rematch with Mickey in the Grand Final, leaving Xstar with a respectable third place finish for the season.
AlphaPlay | Mickey stuck with Xiaoyu to face AlphaPlay | PR1Est's bears and hit the ground running, getting 3 straight rounds off his team-mate to take the lead. PR1Est threatened a comeback and took the second game to a final round, but Mickey displayed composure to see out the win and further slim PR1Est's chances of a bracket reset. Having not lost a single match all day, Mickey was in top form and the third match of the set proved no different, with PR1Est managing to win just a single round as his team-mate ended his title defence in convincing fashion.
As part of their sponsorship of the TEKKEN 254 Circuit for Season Two, Dell EMC Kenya provided prizes for the Top 3 players at the Circuit Finals. Before prizes were handed out, Fanuel Opiyo of Ace Pro Gaming gave a vote of thanks before Peter Mbiti of Dell shared some information about the company and its gaming products. Xstar received an Alienware AW958 Elite Gaming Mouse and a Dell backpack for finishing third, while AlphaPlay | PR1Est received an Alienware TactX gaming headset in second place.
As champion, AlphaPlay | Mickey walked away with a brand new Dell Inspiron 15 7000 gaming laptop worth an estimated Ksh. 158,000, with specs including a 3.8 GHz Intel i7 Quad Core processor, a 1 TB hard disk drive (HDD), a 256 GB solid state drive (SSD) and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Ti (6 GB) graphics card.