Conclusions drawn from this tournament: Benimaru, Mai and Leona are still very popular but Robert dropped from existence. Kula, Yuri and Iori look stronger with tops nerfed and the changes to the system, and are probably part of the top tier now. A good Love Heart can be the most frustrating thing ever. Luong reminds me of ST Bison: extremely scary on offense but hopeless on defense. Billy is now a force to be reckoned. Clark too, but he seems to have trouble getting in in some matchups.
Generally speaking variety got better and the rebalance seems to be good like the ones before it. We still don't know how well the DLCs fare; no one used them here though I don't know if that's because they weren't allowed or they are just not as good as other regular characters.
Play as it suits you better. You can turtle in KOF, in '98 good Daimons, Ralfs or Changs are a pain to fight if used well on defense. KOF scrubs are generally not used to this playstyle so you will get complaints, but so do SF scrubs that complain about projectile zoning.