GIF: Tekken

Last weekend, a Tekken 7 player from Peru shook up this year’s Tekken World Tour standings with a big win that gives him a shot at the international finals later this year.

Tekken Extreme Tournament is a longstanding event in South America, and this year they were chosen as a Master-level event on the Tekken World Tour. This distinction drew players to Colombia from other parts of the continent as well as the United States, Korea, and Ireland, all of whom competed to earn the ranking points necessary to potentially qualify for the Tekken World Tour finals in December.

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Peru’s Abel “Abel del Maestro” Segovia has proven himself to be one of South America’s strongest Tekken players, with a Tekken Tag Tournament 2 win against South Korean powerhouse Hyun-jin “JDCR” Kin in 2015 and a series of strong showings at Tekken Extreme Tournament in previous years. He came into this year’s event fresh off a third-place finish at Lima Salty, an annual tournament in his home country. At this event, he’d have to contend with the much more diverse lineup of international talent in attendance.

Abel’s first major test came against Chang-bin “Binchang” Moon, a competitor from South Korea. Korea is a goldmine of Tekken 7 skill, and while Binchang might not have the prestigious tournament wins of some of his countrymen, it’s not uncommon to see even mid-level players from the peninsula dominating on the world stage. In this match, though, Abel seemed unfazed, downing Binchang with a clean 2-0 sweep before moving into the finals bracket.

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From there, Abel defeated a succession of esteemed players, including fellow Peruvian standout Roy “Roynichi” Herrera Lizama, Tray “P. Ling” Sherman of the United States, and Ireland’s Fergus McGee in a down-to-the-wire match that sent Abel to the grand finals. American visitor Averiey “Runitblack” Cobb-Entin took an impressive win against Fergus in losers finals and ended up being the last roadblock in Abel’s journey to a championship victory.

It didn’t look easy. Runitblack handed Abel his first loss of the tournament, a decisive 3-1 pummeling that forced the pair into a second grand finals match. With an entire continent’s hopes on his shoulders, Abel took some time between sets to catch his breath and appeared to enter the next match with renewed confidence. He won the first game and never looked back, handing Runitblack his own 3-1 loss and becoming the Tekken Extreme Tournament champion. Upon realizing what he had achieved, Abel hid his face in his hands as local players came up to congratulate him.

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Winning another Tekken Tournament Extreme title is impressive for Abel, but this year, it’s a much bigger deal, given what this result does for his position in the Tekken World Tour standings. Despite being his first event of the entire circuit, the 300 points Abel earned for winning this event shot him from unranked to tied for 22nd on the overall leaderboards, according to figures provided by Tekken World Tour writer Steve “AceKingOffSuit” Jurek. And while Abel isn’t a shoe-in for the finals later this year, he’s one strong tournament showing away from finding himself in a qualifying position. However, with just three events left before the December finale, Abel must travel to Singapore, Germany, or Canada to earn those points, which may prove difficult for a South American competitor who rarely travels outside the region to compete.

No matter what happens with Abel, his victory at Tekken Extreme Tournament and the subsequent shakeup it has caused on the Tekken World Tour qualification process shows just how important these circuits can be for players outside regions with major representation. South Korea, Japan, and the United States produce much of the world’s Tekken talent, but last weekend proved that the countries of South America have what it takes to disrupt the status quo.

Ian Walker loves fighting games and writing about them. You can find him on Twitter at @iantothemax.