Last week Tekken World Tour finals took place in Amsterdam witnessed the victory of Hyeon-ho “Rangchu” Jeong. After a whole year of training and working, he finally got what he deserves, even though his character does not look like a winner at all.
Instead of winning any major tournaments, Rangchu entered the grand finals by proving his talent through his performances at every event he took part in. Perhaps the Taiwan Challenger was where he marked his name when he became the runner-up, just behind the famous Takumi “Noroma” Hamasaki of Japan. He also stood out thanks to his character: the panda.
At first, the panda reminded us of Kuma, the bear that was the bodyguards to Heihachi Mishima. Panda is normally not considered a good character. She was not born to attack others, her actions are slow, and her body was too large that makes it easier for enemies to beat her. Street Fighter’s Dan Hibiki even called her a ‘joke character,’ which might be offensive but is partly true to some extents.
However, in the case of Rangchu, it was quite obvious why he stuck with the Panda until the final match. He did use some additional characters to make up for the skills that the Panda could not offer, but whenever the Korean gamer switch to another backup character like Geese Howard, Kuma, Feng Wei, he lost. Thus, it is not a big surprise seeing the Panda at the final.
Having lost his first match, Rangchu managed to improve his position. His opponent in the grand finals was Byeong-mun “Qudans” Son, one of the legends of Tekken community. Rangchu was evaluated as the ‘underdog’ as he was from the losers bracket, not to mention his character.
The second set was nothing better for Qudans. Rangchu dominated the game and let Qudans run around the stage. The crowd at the Theater Amsterdam cheered up whenever Rangchu gained back his advantage. Even when Qudans took the top position, Rangchu managed to defend and fight back. Finally, he amazed the audiences, and properly the whole world, by winning another 3-1 game, becoming the next Tekken World Tour champion.
Rangchu’s first title was much of a milestone for him, and he achieved it with the Panda, a character that no one would ever bet in, even its developers. He earned respect for this character. This was such a surprise that before crowding the trophy, series director Katsuhiro Harada still could not believe what he had witnessed: “Panda? Panda? Really?”