The FGC Recap returns to take a look back at the weekend that was in the FGC (Fighting Game Community). It was so full of worthwhile events and hype matches that I couldn’t even fit them all in the title of the article! Let’s get started with a trip across the pond to France for Kakutop League 4!
Kakutop League, originally organized in the spirit of the Japanese-style Topanga League, has entered the Street Fighter V era. France’s premier hypeman, Ken Bogard brought together 10 of Europe’s best (many of which have already had strong showings in CPT Premier Events so far) for a showdown between Group A and Group B. Once group sets were finished the finalists moved on to latter brackets to determine finals champion. The first group consisted of Alioune, YP|Valmaster, LLL|MBR, PxP|Problem X and BX3TPL|Duppsko. The second group had RB|Luffy, Melty|Will2Pac, CCL, Perilous|Packz and BX3TPL|Phenom.
The entire weekend came down to Phenom and Red Bull’s Luffy. The R. Mika character choice has been one that many find interesting considering Luffy’s past accomplishments in USF4 with Rose. The accusations of Mika being a “brain-dead” character aren’t warranted but once that corner carry happens? The vortex is REAL.
Phenom, who usually sticks to his guns with Bison, ultimately switched over to Necalli in an attempt to derail the wrasslin’ train that is Rainbow Mika. Luffy showed that the best players can take a character like Mika and show not only the raw power of the fighter but also get cerebral. Moments throughout the tournament against Phenom, Will2Pac and others showed that, perhaps, those who will use Mika best will know when to be patient. Phenom, despite playing quite well all weekend, simply couldn’t hold up against Luffy’s dogged pursuit. The Red Bull athlete’s overall record for the weekend was 20-3, and he won the Kakutop League 4 crown with the “greatest of ease” as Dr. Smuggles would say.
This wasn’t just good R. Mika but mastery of the fighter at a different level than what we usually see on the tournament circuit. Has Luffy, now on the road to EVO like the rest of his compatriots, sounded the horns of his impending onslaught? It will be interesting to see how his Mika holds up against some of the absolute best in the world, including fellow Red Bull teammate Daigo Umehara, at Stunfest this coming weekend.
The Canada Cup: Vancouver Series was meant as a replacement for the Master Series that, for years past, has featured some of the best matchups in Street Fighter. Those days are gone and, in their wake, tournament organizer Lap Chi Duong decided to focus on another game. He seems to be in on the secret that everyone else in the FGC already knows. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is still alive and always brings the hype. Capcom might not be able to continue updating/balancing the game, yet the players continue to carry the legacy of Mahvel forward into 2016 and beyond.
The Street Fighter V tournament at the Vancouver Series was, to be honest, relatively tame in comparison to the UMvC3 tournament and exhibitions. The three Evil Genius warriors (Justin Wong, Ricki Ortiz and kBrad) dominated as Kenneth “kBrad” Bradley took the top prize with his strong Cammy play. Justin, playing a combination of Alex and Guile, took second while Ricki rounded out the Top 3 with her steadily growing expertise with Nash. The real reason to tune in, though, was for all dat Mahvel hype.
It isn’t often that the roster of players all assembled in one place to play Marvel gets this stacked outside of Evolution each year. EVO champions and rising stars all converged on Vancouver to put on one hell of a show. It isn’t often that the true believers out there get to see Justin Wong throw down in a First To 15 set with KaneBlueRiver, but Canada Cup had it! Some of Canada’s best showed out as well including the man who would eventually take it all, Jibrill, in convincing fashion over the EVO 2015 champion, KBR.
Neo, at one point during Winners Quarters (featuring the always incredible movement and speed of EG|kBrad’s Devil May Cry trio and Noel Brown’s methodical strategy), exclaimed, “THIS IS MARVEL!”. The Northwest showed off their prowess this past weekend as well with Jibrill (from the Seattle area) and BeeBall both putting in real work throughout the course of the tournament. Jibrill, specifically, with Zero on point single-handedly cut a path of destruction through to Top 8 and beyond. He is one of the few people I’ve seen check the Chilean God of Marvel’s bad habits each and every time. Even when KBR had him on the ropes, he always managed to answer back. The march to Grand Finals saw a switch in teams as KBR went with a Vergil/Wolverine/Doctor Doom variant that, frankly, had no chance against Jibrill’s execution with the ZeroMayCry (Zero, Dante, and Vergil) setup. It’s one of the few times that KBR has even appeared visibly shaken by an opponent since he started dominating the UMvC3 over the past few years. What a weekend of Marvel! Moments like these are why the game still holds the coveted Sunday main stage spot at the year’s biggest tournament, EVO in Las Vegas, as it has for years now. Mahvel lives!
We eSports Now
The early days of Street Fighter V have been interesting as they come at a time when eSports, in general, is starting to make a transition. No matter the game there are larger companies and corporate entities looking to stake their claim in the wider landscape. Sony’s involvement behind the scenes with the development of SF5 and the Capcom Pro Tour means more money flowing into marketing, tournaments, and bigger prize pools. Red Bull Kumite set a high bar for production value when it comes to an FGC event and, aside from specific majors throughout the year, the grass-roots origins of the community still show. Whether the soul of the community will ultimately weather the coming storm of potential attention from outside investors/people looking to make money off fighting games in some way remains to be seen.
The ongoing Street Fighter V Crash, which has finally worked towards Top 4 over the past five weeks, has been an example of high-end production values applied to an FGC event. Each week’s broadcast is not only streamed online, but broadcast live on South Koren television as well. The above video, produced by Core-A Gaming, takes a look at the process and gives some behind the scenes info regarding the level of effort and dollars necessary to put on a big show such as this every week. The business side of things is fascinating and all but the real important information? Who made it to the Round of 4?
The Round of 8 Group A matches shook out with Team Topanga and Team Razer advancing onward to Top 4. Who would march forth into the last two spots to face off against, arguably, some of the best SF5 players on the planet? Team SOUTHEAST (HumanBomb, TS|Poongko, Avermedia|GamerBee) rolled rather easily against Moving Center and then again in Winner’s Finals against GPS. Bruce “GamerBee” Hsiang never even got to touch a fight-stick the entire night as his teammates Johnny “HumanBomb” Lai Cheng (on point) and Lee “Poongko” Chung Gon took care of business quite handily.
Team Moving Center had a much tougher road to Top 4 but did so on the back of 200Won’s R. Mika play. The vortex was strong for this former Tekken pro, and his use of Wingless Airplane was superlative. 200Won’s Mika was fascinating to watch as he moved with such efficiency and still with such high damage output. Nobody had an answer for him it seemed. Another excellent example of what R. Mika is capable of in the right hands. I hope we see more of 200Won outside of Street Fighter V Crash.
Top 4 of Crash is now set with Team Moving Center and SOUTHEast scheduled to clash with Team Topanga (Momochi, Tokido, and Mago) and Team Razer (Infiltration, Xian, and Fuudo). Crash takes the week of this coming weekend due to Stunfest and other premier events worldwide but will be back on the 27th to settle the score. Will we be granted the rematch between Tokido and Infiltration fight fans crave? Can Poongko re-establish himself as a dominant player again? So many potential story threads that will play out live at Street Fighter V Crash on Twitch.
Get Dunked On
Battle Arena Melbourne 8 was a chance for some of the local talent down Australia way to make their names known on the world stage. What occurred, however, was far from a celebration of Aussie Street Fighter talent but the single-minded path of destruction cut by the Dark Hadou wielding wild man known as Necalli. His pilot? MSJ|Haitani.
Haitani, one of four Japanese players to make the trip down to Melbourne this past weekend, played at a level often reserved for lunatics and EVO Champions. His Necalli was savage and somehow reserved at the same time.
Haitani differs from most players so far on the Pro Tour in that he makes use of that vital V-Trigger early and often. His run at BAM8, one among many where he’s always been within Top 8 even at two Premier events earlier this year, showcased Necalli play at the very highest level. The Haitani the world saw at Northwest Majors and Final Round has evolved and, in his stead,he has started to show the entire community how Necalli should be played.
That V-Trigger option makes Necalli the strongest character in the game and Haitani took full advantage of this with his phenomenal hit confirms and liberal uses of grabs and stomps. Every single rushdown counter by Ken players in the tournament (for example) were no match for the wild buttons of a V-Trigger powered Necalli. His fellow countryman, Momochi, started to show that his play with Ken is starting to level up as well. The former EVO and Capcom Pro Tour champion is an expert on Ken and knows the roster inside and out. His performance in Grand Finals was gutsy but, ultimately, he didn’t have the answers to topple Haitani’s superior execution.
His Ken is vastly different to the North American Trinity (Julio Fuentes, Brenttiscool, Chris Tatarian) who run in overdrive by comparison. He moves with an apparently methodical way to the shoto that is downright glacial compared to the usual blitzkrieg of offense that most players exhibit. Can this style win out in comparison? The next few weeks will feature key clashes of styles at Stunfest, Toryuken and more to see how things pan out. Interesting indeed!
The FGC Recap will be back next week with a full breakdown of Stunfest 2016, Toryuken and more! Stay tuned, World Warriors!