Epic Rivals: Knee vs JDCR

Jul 15 2020 5 min read

Knee vs JDCR has been cemented as one of the greatest rivalries in FGC history.

The day was July 9, 2017. The location, Power Mac Center Spotlight, Makati, Philippines. Weather condition, hype, or the meteorological equivalent. 

On that day, the Fighting Game Community got to witness one of the greatest matches in Tekken 7 history. Jae-Min "Knee" Bae faced Kim "JDCR" Hyunjin in the Tekken 7 Grand Finals at REV Major 2017. The Master Tier event was a stop for Tekken World Tour 2017 and took place just a week before EVO 2017. 

Both great players, they'd shown the world just how strong the South Korean Tekken scene was several times in the past, so everyone expected their A-game. Knee, considered to be one of the greatest Tekken players in the world thanks to his proficiency with a wide variety of characters and a track record of success. Just the year before, he had finished second at EVO 2016 after climbing his way through the Losers Bracket during the Top 8.

JDCR is no slouch either, taking first place at Final Round 20, Combo Breaker 2017, and Thaiger Uppercut 2017. He also managed to secure second place at CEO and Battle Arena Melbourne 9 the same year before the big Philippines event. Besides their burning passion for winning, both players shared something else. A feud that was so cold, it was hard not to notice. 

According to accounts from members of the Korean FGC, their rivalry was fierce and stemmed from a falling out they had some time during their Tekken 6 days. Apparently, during a Death Match against one another, JDCR refused to take the 2nd player spot throughout their sets. Death Matches are challenges between pro players in which they continue to play against each other until one of them is either promoted or demoted. Further enraging Knee was JDCR's refusal to give him a chance at avenging his loss in said Death Match. This led to a public outburst by Knee, with words he instantly regretted, and though he apologized for how he'd handled the situation, it appeared both parties never really got over it.

Fast forward to July 2017, and we see both Knee and JDCR competing in REV Major 2017, doing what they do best. From a total of 163 players, the rivals made it into the Semifinals without a hitch and faced off in the Winners Final. The match was an exciting preview of more to come, with Knee taking the first two games. Unfortunately for him, JDCR bounced right back with a reverse sweep. Sent to the Losers Finals, Knee had a hard time against YAMASA's Takehiko "Take" Abe from Japan. After a little back and forth, Knee secured the last two games and headed for his rematch against JDCR in the Grand Finals. 

The rematch

During their previous matchup, Knee had picked Feng while JDCR used Dragunov, and although they both had a wide variety of characters they could have switched to, neither of them did so during the match. Now in the Grand Finals with more to lose, Knee still stuck with Feng and JDCR, Dragunov. Heihachi could've made a better pick for the latter, but it was as if the two had promised each other that they would maintain a single character to the end.

Playing on the Winners side, JDCR could afford to take risks, but Knee couldn't. So as the match began, Knee launched a powerful offensive, baiting and punishing JDCR whenever he could. However, his opponent wasn't going down without a fight. Each game was close, often leading to a decisive fifth round, with some of them ending in a tension-filled time out. Both players gave no quarter, but in the beginning, Knee seemed to control the flow of the match. 

Losing the first game, JDCR gradually began to adapt his playstyle to Knee's. While he managed to win the second game by a hair's breadth, it was during their third game that he had acquired more options for Knee's barrage. Knee played the lone wolf all through, but JDCR exchanged words with his friend and fellow pro player, Mu-jong "Kkokkoma" Kim. Whether it was this or something else that did it, JDCR began to take back some of the control, leading to a nail-biting final round that eventually denied Knee a Bracket Reset. With that, he lost the match and the tournament, crowning JDCR, the REV Major 2017 champion. 

As hype as the match was, what came next seemed to be the cherry on top. Both players got up to leave when Knee approached JDCR and extended his hand with a smile. The crowd went wild as the significance of this gesture wasn't lost on them as JDCR shook hands with Knee. Whatever the reason for their feud, all the crowd cared about was that these two legendary players had seemingly bonded over one of the toughest fights they'd had so far. Steve "Tasty Steve" Scott, one of the event's commentators, even went as far as likening the gesture to Charles Xavier of the X-Men shaking hands with Magneto. 

That year JDCR went on to win 10 major Tekken events and placed no lower than third in the others he didn't win. Byeong Mun "Qudans" Son, another South Korean legend, went on to win the Tekken World Tour Finals 2017 after a 10-year hiatus from the game. Meanwhile, JDCR sat in third-place behind his Echo Fox teammate, Jinwoo "Saint" Choi, with Knee stuck in the 13th-16th position. 

This loss served as the wakeup call he needed, as Knee almost mimicked JDCR's performance the next year in the tournament series. Winning eight major events, including EVO Japan 2018, Knee dropped no lower than third-place that year, and this was at the Tekken World Tour Finals 2018. Unlike the previous year, South Korea dominated the Top 4, with Jeong "Rangchu" Hyeon-ho winning the event, Qudans finishing second, and JDCR taking Knee's position from the previous year, 13th-16th.

While they don't dominate the scene the way they did in 2017 and 2018, Knee and JDCR are still two of the most prominent Tekken players in the world. 


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