Every fighting game has a natural balance to its roster. The best try to find as much parity as possible, and allow for match-ups or situations where certain underdogs can shine, but there is always some kind of pecking order. And while this is usually an issue up for long-winded community debate, right now in Tekken 7, there is no question: Leroy reigns supreme.
While he's only been in Tekken 7 since last December, Leroy made major waves this last weekend at Evo Japan 2020. Going into the tournament, there was an understanding that the fighter was good, even great. Community figures were guessing it was possible to see two to four Leroy players in the top eight, as high-level competitors were ditching their mains for the trendy new character.
I'm not sure many could have predicted the actual outcome. Six of the top eight players at Evo Japan 2020 were Leroy players. The character absolutely dominated the tournament.
Understanding why Leroy is so powerful doesn't require too much digging into frame data or other factors that usually dictate how effective a fighting game character can be. There are numbers that can quantify this, but in essence, Leroy is simply better at Tekken than a majority of the cast. He has good options with little to no downside, and any weakness he had going into Evo Japan was highly outweighed by his strengths. A good parry, solid combo strings, massive damage potential, and a one-time use "magic stick" that loomed over every opponent as an imminent, unseeable threat.
Pro players like Chanel, Kkokkoma, and Chikurin were already sounding the alarm on this character. ArslanAsh, who won both Evo and Evo Japan last year in Tekken 7, swapped over to the character.
By the time top eight play rolled around, only two competitors remained standing against an onslaught of newfound Leroy mains: Ulsan, a well-known Tekken player who was resolutely determined to stop the Leroy invasion, and Mikio, a relatively lesser-known Julia main who quickly became the hero of the day.
Both ran the gauntlet, fighting Leroy player after Leroy player. It was so exhausting that at one point, after winning two games in a row, Mikio stood up triumphantly as though he had won the set. He had not.
Mikio would go on to lose that best-of-five set, and while Ulsan fell in the loser's semifinals, Mikio fought his way back to a rematch with Book, a former Jin player now running Leroy. Though Mikio's Julia put on an impressive display, letting loose with some smart Bow & Arrow strikes, the power of Leroy could not be stopped. Mikio was denied his upset, and the order of Tekken 7 was cemented in a single tournament.
Despite happening over the weekend, there is already a balance patch set for Tekken 7, announced earlier today. But despite easily half of the listed changes being attributed to Leroy, high-level players are wary of whether this will actually change anything.
Seems like we're in for at least another few months of Leroy dominating the competitive scene. Hoping there are also some meaningful stealth changes here, but I think that's a terrible practice that needs to stop. Disappointed either way. pic.twitter.com/PjaFIWAxoo- TBS | Arya (@AryaTayebi) January 27, 2020
These Leroy nerfs are really light- AXL | Fergus (@Fergus_TK) January 27, 2020
B1+2 and d1+2 the problem moves are the same
Ff22 same frames and pushback
Jab string same
D2 itself unchanged
Still a top 3 char probably lol
This is real patch note? lol- qudans (@qudans1987) January 27, 2020
I read the patch notes.
The only thing I can guarantee is that Leroy will still be strong: the patch is just a little more tired, and the performance is not different when time passes and skill is accumulated. pic.twitter.com/9az9GQaxu0
There have been, throughout history, a number of characters that have absolutely dominated their respective games. Akuma was infamously banned in competition for Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, and characters like Chun-Li have seen some of their strongest iterations sit at the top of the roster in games like 3rd Strike. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 had its four "god-tier" characters. Even Super Smash Bros. saw its share of Meta Knights and Bayonettas owning the scene. And though Tekken has had its share of strong fighters too, Leroy already seems to be one of its toughest yet.
Meanwhile, over in Street Fighter 5 at Evo Japan, every player in the top eight used a different character and a Sakura, though traditionally overlooked, took the top spot. Seems like the big V-Skill update ahead of the upcoming Champion Edition has done wonders for Street Fighter 5's fighter parity.