The new Mortal Kombat movie may not feature the martial arts tournament the series is famous for -- but it does pay homage to its ancient traditions. Series co-creator and original scribe John Tobias has been setting the record straight on various social media topics, and he's graced us with an original timeline for the Mortal Kombat tournament and its famous winners!

The first Mortal Kombat video game lauded iconic Shokan sub-boss Goro as the undefeated champion for five-hundred years! Far from any garden variety loser: it was his success that put Earthrealm in the precarious position of nine defeats in the ancient tournament. Borrowing the pro wrestling parlance used by fans, John Tobias makes it clear Goro 'was no jobber'!

Thanks to opening attract screen text that described Goro's dominant reign, we've always known he claimed the title by defeating a revered Shaolin monk known as "Great" Kung Lao -- but who did the legendary hero beat to become champion?

An official comic book written and drawn by John Tobias told us it was Shang Tsung all along, and in a series of tweets he lays out a timeline of tournaments that occurred roughly every fifty years over the course of a millennium. That spaces each contest out a bit farther than the average standard generation of 20-30 years, but he notes the timeline, similar to what they conceived during development of the original game, is a "paper napkin approximation" subject to the specific dates of a story, such as the 1992 of the original game's Liu Kang victory.

  • 1000 -- Unspecified Winner representing Outworld
  • 1050 -- Unspecified Winner representing Outworld
  • 1100 -- Unspecified Winner representing Outworld
  • 1150 -- Shang Tsung representing Earthrealm
  • 1200 -- Shang Tsung representing Outworld
  • 1250 -- Great Kung Lao representing Earthrealm
  • 1300 -- Great Kung Lao representing Earthrealm
  • 1350 -- Great Kung Lao representing Earthrealm
  • 1400 -- Great Kung Lao representing Earthrealm
  • 1450 -- Great Kung Lao representing Earthrealm
  • 1500 -- Great Kung Lao representing Earthrealm
  • 1550 -- Prince Goro representing Outworld
  • 1600 -- Prince Goro representing Outworld
  • 1650 -- Prince Goro representing Outworld
  • 1700 -- Prince Goro representing Outworld
  • 1750 -- Prince Goro representing Outworld
  • 1800 -- Prince Goro representing Outworld
  • 1850 -- Prince Goro representing Outworld
  • 1900 -- Prince Goro representing Outworld
  • 1950 -- Prince Goro representing Outworld
  • [1992] -- Liu Kang representing Earthrealm

Tournament lineage became a topic of fascination last year when Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath sent Liu Kang to the ancient past of Great Kung Lao with a plan to rewrite history using the powers he claimed as Fire God and Keeper of Time. He also appeared in Liu Kang's arcade ending. Tobias acknowledges his original conception for the sequence events may no longer apply in the new canon.

The bald fighter can be seen defeating what looks like Shang Tsung in a mural in the recent feature film. He also defeated the sorcerer during live-action series Mortal Kombat: Conquest, which featured his tournament victory in the first episode. Great Kung Lao was also depicted in the original John Tobias collector's comics, licensed adaptations by Malibu Comics, and the Mortal Kombat II arcade ending of his descendent and namesake: Kung Lao

It would seem the next Shaolin tournament is still a few decades away, but fans will be able to decide a champion for 2021 when the 10th Annual Supreme Mortal Kombat Champion voting tournament gets under way very soon in the MK Online Fan Koliseum! You can also discuss more classic canon in the 2D Kombat Klassics forum and catch-up with the movie in the Media & Merchandise forum!