One of the best players in competitive Mortal Kombat 11 might’ve fallen shy of claiming the title of champion in a recent tournament, but that didn’t stop them from striking fear and awe into every opponent as they bested some of the most lethal players. The thrilling victory would go on to another player, but for now, Arena Is Free’s taunting turbo teabags and dance moves are sure to stay fresh in the memories of those he pummeled into a bloody mess.
Rip’s Arena, a European-hosted Mortal Kombat 11 competitive tournament series, just wrapped its biggest season yet. In the end, Takkinada walked away as the champion in a final match against Arnkratos, but one of the most thrilling highlights has been a series of stunning performances from a mystery challenger only known by the name Arena Is Free. Gaining notoriety for demolishing their opposition with wild, haunting displays of technical mastery, they added further insult to fatality by obnoxiously teabagging before their fallen foes. With a username that almost seems to mock how effortless the game is for them, Arena Is Free’s identity was a mystery up until the very end of the tourney, when it was revealed they were, in fact, a returning champion.
According to Rip’s Arena, Arena Is Free simply came out of nowhere. Easily impressing the casters, other players, and fans in the qualifiers and finals, they apparently signed up and told the tournament: “You can just send me the prize pool already. I’m going to destroy every single one of these players anyway.” Once things got underway, it wasn’t too hard to believe it would be true:
During the tournament, Arena Is Free would cycle through multiple characters, but always seemed to do their best as the Joker…which was likely a big giveaway to those in the Rip’s community. But whether they were behind the scarred face of the Joker, or the executing decisive attacks with the mechanically lethal Robocop, they always seemed to display a wide knowledge of different characters’ strengths and weaknesses, making them an entertaining and respectable opponent. Of course, the stunning performances like this and the allure of a mysterious stranger tearing it up out there wouldn’t go unnoticed.
Though their victory in the tourney seemed like it was ordained by the gods, Arena Is Free suffered defeat at the hands of Makoran, who after the reveal of Arena Is Free’s identity must be enjoying the payback: It wasn’t the first time the two squared off.
As was revealed in the chat before the conclusion of season 11’s final fight, Arena Is Free was a pseudonym for season nine’s grand champion: Schoolman, who sent Makoran to the loser’s bracket in the quarter finals back in 2022. Though Makoran would come to suffer a 0-2 loss to the soon-to-be-champion Takkinda in this season’s finals, I’m sure they’re feeling pretty good about getting some revenge on Schoolman.
Prior to the reveal of Arena’s identity, some had begun to suspect Schoolman, perhaps from their playing style and fitting preference for playing as Joker, but nothing was sure until the final moments. After finally revealing his identity, he said that he was “very happy about all the compliments about [his] gameplay.” The reveal was a satisfying “I knew it” moment for many other participants and made for a great followup to the grand finals where Takkinada walked away with Rip’s Arena’s largest tournament championship and highest prize pool yet, a total of $3,750
Rip’s Arena is hosting its season 12 kickoff today. Whether or not Arena Is Free/Schoolman shall make an appearance remains to be seen.