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Qudans: The Tekken legend who retired and returned to greatness

South Korea’s Qudans fought battles with himself and the game to get back on top.

Qudans: The Tekken legend who retired and returned to greatness

South Korea’s Byung-moon “Qudans” Son is a legend. Even your favorite Tekken player thinks so. A former Evo champion, and the current Tekken 7 World Champion, Qudans is a product of “The Golden Era” of Tekken. He comes from a time where the fundamentals of the game were defined, and fierce Mishima battles were commonplace. Qudans has been playing Tekken since the franchises first release in the early 90’s. It is when Tekken Tag Tournament came out that he began taking the game more seriously and approaching it from a competitive standpoint. But it is with Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection that his iconic status would begin to grow, and he would cement himself in time as the best Devil Jin player in the world.

Very few people have dominated a game on a pro level, left at the height of their success, and then come back many years later to dominate once again. Qudans may very well be the Michael Jordan of Tekken. “My Tekken career started when I was 19 years old. I played Tekken Tag Tournament in Evo 2005 and won,” he stated. “After I retired, I went to the Korean army, university, and started a part time job. I didn’t play for five years.”

Retired hands, not a retired heart

Qudans’ retirement wasn’t entirely a choice of his own, but was somewhat made for him against his will. In 2007 he began to have trouble with his hands due to working out excessively. He pushed himself so hard that he lost 44 pounds in one month. As an avid stick user, a “weird” sensation feeling in his hands forced him to try to adapt by positioning them differently. It was to no avail though. In that same year he would compete in Electric Cancel 6 using a pad, still winning the event in both Tekken 5 and Tekken Tag Tournament. But due to the complications with his hands Qudans knew that this would be his “last big event,” as he described it.

Just because he was retired didn’t mean he wasn’t still passionate about the game. Qudans was still attending events over the years as a spectator to watch his friends compete. He eventually began to dream again, but wrestled with doubts. “I made a comeback when seeing my good old friend Knee play consecutively over the years,” he recalled. “It was Ji3moonace who highly recommended me to start playing again in 2012 for Tekken Tag Tournament 2. I was under a lot of pressure thinking what if I didn’t live up to people’s expectations.”

It wasn’t only the inner struggle that Qudans was battling, but also somewhat trying to learn Tekken all over again. “It was very difficult to make a comeback with the latest installments having a very different system and mechanic. My full time job also did not allow me to play as freely as before,” he said. “However, ever since Tekken 7 was released for console, I was able to play one to two hours each day while streaming and this was the biggest factor in helping me make my comeback.”

The comeback was real

Qudans certainly did make a comeback. In 2017 there were murmurings of his return to form, especially with the news of him winning Afreeca Tekken League 2017 over South Korean powerhouses like Knee, GoAttack and LowHigh. He would then set his sights on the 2017 Tekken World Tour, where many considered Echo Fox’s HyunJin ‘JDCR’ Kim to be the absolute favorite to win it all. Qudans still had his doubts going in. “I didn’t expect to win the Tekken World Tour. The reason was, there were so many good players who were sponsored, and I was only a normal full time social worker playing as a hobby,” he admitted. “Of course the amount of time they had for practice was much more than me. However, there were so many things to learn about the game even if I lost.”

Discovering semblances of his former self, Qudans had finally found the inner fortitude he needed to reach the finish line. “I made a lot of effort to overcome my weaknesses and lack of knowledge. This led me to gain the confidence and believe that I could win the Tekken World Tour in 2017,” he said. “The players who played against me were all from the same generation. I am very thankful for this experience, and it is one treasure in my life I shall always be grateful for.”

From ROX to UYU

Shortly after his Tekken World Tour finals victory, it was announced that ROX Gaming was signing Qudans to a sponsorship deal as a Tekken player, where he would be joining his longtime friend Knee. But as recently as last week, the fighting game community learned that the deal never came into fruition. Instead, Qudans officially signed with newly founded esports organization UYU, where Mark “MarkMan” Julio played a role in brokering the deal. “I found out about it later that Markman tweeted about it. He knew it would have put me on a spot, so I respect his decision for not mentioning my name in the tweet. I am very happy and thankful for all his support.”

Everyone knows that having ROX Gaming’s Knee and Chanel in your corner is not easily duplicated, but they are now Qudans’ rivals. He is not alone though, having UYU allies in JeonDDing, P.Ling, Fergus and others. “I know I will have to compete against them competitively, but we have all been very good friends for a long time already, with not many of us from the same generation remaining,” he holds. “Of course I will do my best when competing against them in tournaments and events, but I will always respect everyone in the end.”

“For me and my fans”

Last year Qudans had something to prove to himself and the world. That was his motivation. This year will be more of the same. “My last big victory was Electric Cancel 6 in 2007,” he recounted, also mentioning that he met MarkMan at that time as well. He continued, “Ten years after, I won Tekken World Tour 2017, and I feel it is a big event in my life for me and my fans. I know Tekken World Tour 2018 will not be easy, but I would like to try my best with my new team UYU and play competitively once again.”

Tekken World Tour 2018 kicks off on March 16-18 at Final Round in Atlanta, GA, but Qudans won’t be there. He’ll be making his UYU debut at Thaigger Uppercut in Bangkok, Thailand later this month.

Opportunities to ask questions of players of Qudans’ caliber don’t come too often, so before we wrapped things up I wanted to know why we don’t see as many Mishima players today as there were when he first started playing Tekken. He expounded, “Tekken 5 did not have as many Mishima players compared to Tekken Tag Tournament. Tekken 7 requires Mishima players to play with absolute precision and execution in whiff punishing with electrics and low mixups. Compared to other characters, Mishimas excel in a very offensive game so it is easy to fall into an aggressive attack play style. Because of this reason, it is hard to find Mishima players the higher you go in tournaments. Also, there are many easier moves from other characters that can stop Mishima character’s movements. Because of this, Mishima players need to be more careful in their movement and with a high level of execution needed, it is difficult to do due to the need of concentration and eventual fatigue. These are the reasons why I believe there are very few Mishima players these days.”

You can’t argue with that insight, ladies and gentlemen.

So, is Qudans the MJ of Tekken? It’s certainly hard not to believe so.

Follow Qudans and UYU on Twitter.

Aziz Peregrino-Brimah aka Zee the CEO | Founder / Editor-in-chief of TekkenGamer | Gaming has been a passion of Zee's since the early days of Atari and ColecoVision. His first experience with Tekken was in the early 90's, and it was Tekken 3 that sealed the deal. True story... As a teenager Zee once received his Winn-Dixie paycheck and spent it all at the arcade the same day. Needless to say, his mother wasn't pleased.


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