A new Tekken 7 world champion has been crowned: Hyeon-ho “Rangchu” Jeong. The secret to the South Korean upstart's shocking victory? A panda. Seriously, he defeated the world's best Tekken players using the Panda character.
There were a lot of surprises to Rangchu's emergence as the world champ. The biggest was by far the fact that he chose Panda as his main. The character is exactly as her name describes, a martial arts-wielding panda bear. Panda, and her brown bear counterpart Kuma, have always been sort of joke characters. Aside from the silliness of literal animals taking part in a martial arts tournament, they also fall into that category of fighters who hit hard but are easy to counter due to their slow movement and large hitboxes. That's not the type of character that often goes far in competitive play.
Also of note is that Rangchu didn't actually win major tournaments on the way to worlds. He was only invited to participate in the World Tour finals due to his consistent high placing in other events, reports Kotaku. He was always close, but never managed to top more veteran players.
So it was astonishing, to say the least, when Rangchu and his Panda made it to the grand finals against Byeong-mun “Qudans” Son, last year's world champion. Even more ominous was that Qudans picked Devil Jin, a very strong character that often acts as a boss in the game's single-player modes. It would be like picking Ice Climbers to fight against Giga Bowser.
Yet, as the video shows, Rangchu won quite soundly. His victory can largely be attributed by his taking full advantage of Panda's strengths to the point where her weaknesses were covered. He made liberal use of her long arms to deliver an aggressive poking game, forcing Qudans to play on his terms. In the end, his fierce play earned him a 3-1 win and the championship.
The surprise was palpable, to the point that even Tekken series director Katsuhiro Harada couldn't help but ask "Panda? Really?" as he presented the trophy.
It was indeed a thing that happened. And now, for the next year at least, Tekken fans must welcome their new furry overlord.