After 12 hours of intense play, MASTERCUP 10’s Tekken 7 team competition ended with the previous tournament’s runners-up finally claiming the title that they had almost managed to win a year ago. But what should have been a joyous occasion was tainted by controversy due to a slight technical malfunction during the championship match.
Since getting its start in 2007, MASTERCUP has become one of the most important Tekken events in the world, and this year’s installment saw 224 teams (1,120 players in total) travel to Japan for a shot at its prestigious title. This group included Team YAMASA, who found themselves on the wrong side of a miraculous grand finals comeback last year, and Fursan Allstar, a group of exceptional Tekken players from South Korea. Both eventually made it to the very end of the tournament.
Fursan Allstar eventually got whittled down to just Evo 2018 champion Sun-woong “LowHigh” Youn, whose final test would come against Takehiko “Take” Abe, one of the strongest Tekken 7 players in Japan. As the match began, it became clear that it was anyone’s game. These were two equally talented competitors, and they traded rounds back and forth, both attempting to secure the championship for their respective teams. At one point, LowHigh elicited some additional excitement from the English commentary team when his character stood completely still during a particularly tense exchange. Soon, it became evident that there was something other than hubris that could explain his break in movement.
As shown in the clip above, LowHigh (depicted through the player camera in the upper left-hand corner) appeared shocked around the time that his character stopped moving, looking around to his surrounding teammates and then continuing the match. Nothing unusual happened during the rest of the match, and Take eventually won the final round. But as he celebrated with his teammates, many of whom were brought to tears after finally winning MASTERCUP, the broadcasters noted that there was a wave of discontent among their opponents on the Korean team.
As the players anxiously shuffled around on stage, spectators voiced their confusion as to what the problem was. The commentators initially noted that there might have been a controller malfunction, and aftera few brief moments of conversation among the players on stage, it was revealed that, during the last round, LowHigh’s screen had blacked out for a couple of seconds.
The organizers were still unsure of what to do, since LowHigh’s own screen couldn’t be seen on the tournament’s main feed and there seemed to be no way to verify what had happened. Then, a fellow Korean player, Sang-hyun “Jeondding” Jeon, provided evidence in the form of a clip from his own live stream, which showed his own perspective from the audience and had been archived from a broadcast on his sponsor’s Twitch channel.
In the clip, it’s clear that LowHigh’s screen goes blank for around two seconds, during which time the live audience exclaimed their objections. A member of the tournament staff (seen on the left-hand side of the video) even seems to indicate that something happened with the arcade cabinet by crossing his arms. That said, nothing much happened in-game during the malfunction, and LowHigh continued to play without calling for a do-over. The organizers spent a few more minutes discussing the issue before announcing that the match would not be replayed. LowHigh’s failure to stop the match and notify tournament staff in the moment ended up being his downfall. Team YAMASA were indeed MASTERCUP 10 champions.
While the Japanese players were elated over their win, the tiny glitch makes the victory feel less satisfying than it would have been otherwise. And although it didn’t seem to affect the match in a major way, the Korean players are left to wonder how the rest of the grand finals would have played out if LowHigh’s screen didn’t go black. Could he have finished Take without that distraction? Did he have enough left in the tank to defeat YAMASA’s final player, Tekken legend Daichi “Nobi” Nakayama? No one will ever know, but maybe, as American expat Andrew “Jiyuna” Fidelis suggested on commentary afterwards, it can be settled in a more definite way with a grudge match at a future event.
Ian Walker loves fighting games and writing about them. You can find him on Twitter at @iantothemax.