The FGC Recap returns this week to a look back at the weekend that was in the fighting game community. Another big Capcom Pro Tour weekend along with a Smash major? So much fightan games for any one human being to handle. Let's GO!
Furia Tica 2016
Another weekend and another ranking event for more North American players to scrounge for points. Furia Tica 2016 (Costa Rican Fury 2016) was one of many Ranking Events within the Latin America region so far this year and, as many others before it, American players defined the Top 8 of the brackets.
Let's run down the killers on parade for Furia Tica this past weekend. EG|Justin Wong, EG|kBrad, EG|Ricki Ortiz, Echo Fox|Julio Fuentes, Naventic|Flash, Melty|Will2Pac, ON|Gabo and Nacer were among the known commodities out in force in sunny Costa Rica. The Latin American region has been good to the Evil Geniuses team as a whole with Justin Wong and Kenneth "kBrad" Bradley both picking up wins within the area but this weekend would belong to America's greatest player, the King of Chinatown.
Wong's dominance within the field is unquestioned at this point and this weekend served as a record-setting performance for EG's Karin loyalist with his sixth win of the 2016 Pro Tour season. Only Lee "Infiltration" See-Woon and Olivier "Luffy" Hay managed to reach that high watermark last season and, with the pace Justin is on, he could easily surpass that.
Wilfried "Will2Pac" Jean-Baptiste of France served as Justin's main competition the entire weekend, providing the North American player with his only loss in Winner's Finals. Will2Pac's Laura (and he doesn't ragequit for League Points like Wolfkrone either) has repeatedly proven to be dangerous in big spots and this weekend was no different. Never count out Wong with his back to the wall, though. He thundered back into the set with three straight to take the first set 3-1 then another three straight to in Grand Finals to secure the win along with 128 Capcom Pro Tour points. Justin's spot in the Latin America regional finals is already safe so Melty's Will2Pac will take that spot with his second place finish. Julio Fuentes finished in third with Ricki Ortiz following close behind in fourth. NVT's Peter "Flash" Susini tied for fifth place with ON| Gabriel "Gabo" Miranda and EG|kBrad tied for seventh with TC507| John "Kakarato" Salinas.
Justin's sixth win of the season has firmly placed him in a position to make the Capcom Cup finals with only seeding remaining in question. He's now second in the global standings behind Infiltration but ahead of Ai "Fuudo" Keita, though more than 800 points separate him from the Korean superstar. Julio Fuentes, meanwhile, netted 32 points and seems viable for a Capcom Cup berth despite not winning a Premier event. The top 10 players without a Premier automatic qualification will be placed into the Capcom Cup at the end of the season, and it seems a safe bet the Texas Showdown winner has likely punched his ticket already.
The newly qualified Will2Pac, for the Latin America region final, has murkier outlook despite this weekend's second place finish (64 points) pushing him into the Top 25 globally. He's still far outside a qualifying position, points-wise, and the split is even among the EU and Latin America region, so this Finals spot is critical for him. kBrad's seventh place finish left him atop the Latin America leaderboard, but he needs at least one more win in the region to lock things up as far as December goes. His EG teammate, Ricki Ortiz, is sitting at 189 points currently after taking home 16 points at Furia Tica 2016. Top 25 globally is always a good thing but another performance like she had at Defend the North 2016 will go a long way to securing her spot in the December finals for the Capcom Cup. Naventic's Flash is sitting at 80 points at the moment and looking in from the outside as far as a Capcom Cup spot goes. The Vega natural will need to work some magic in the coming weeks to possibly secure a spot in either North America or Latin America regional finals if he's got any shot of making the trip in December.
The rest of the EG crew (Ricki Ortiz, KBrad) will be heading to Philadelphia this coming weekend for BigEGaming's Summer Jam X. Other notable North American players such as Julio Fuentes, Arturo Sanchez, Chris Tatarian (looking to make good after his defeat at VSFighting 2016), SnakeEyez, LPN, NuckleDu, the FGC hero we deserve (LI Joe) will also be in attendance. All the action can be seen this coming weekend on TeamSp00ky starting 9 AM PDT on Saturday.
Online Qualifying Event #1 (Europe)
The Capcom Pro Tour online qualifiers continued this past weekend with the EU region checking in, and a host of some of the continent's best talent showed out including BX3|Phenom, Rize|Cobelcog, MD|MisterCrimson, RB|Luffy, PRLS|Packz, PxP|ProblemX, and more. The winner of the year's very first event, Cannes Winter Clash, MrCrimson dominated this weekend and solidified his position behind CCL in the EU leaderboards. He only ran into trouble against Cobelcog's Cammy though Crimson's offensive rushdown Dhalsim (a sentence that still feels strange to type considering the character's long history) which lead to a hopped up Grand Finals match between the two.
This was yet another weekend showing that the online environment is still different from the offline tournament scene. Norway's prodigal son, Phenom, faded as the tournament wore on while CCL, winner of VSFighting 2016, finished in 97th place. The EU picture is defined by three key players at this point as CCL remains in the lead, MrCrimson is now gaining on him (only four points behind) while ProblemX remains 63 points back. Former EVO champion, Luffy, continues to stay far away from a qualifying spot at this point yet six more EU ranking events remain. Perhaps the Red Bull athlete can change his fortunes along the way? CCL's top spot is a contentious one at best, and MrCrimson might be peaking at the right time to secure his place. The Capcom Cup Finals are going to be quite interesting this year. Due to MisterCrimson already qualifying earlier in the year Cobelcog, his foe in Grand Finals has earned a spot in the EU regional finals at CPT rules dictate. Crimson has, however, won extra seeding points towards the EU Regional Final and the Capcom Cup finals should he make it in later this year.
Well Played Cup 2016
The question that has been in the back of every player's minds for the past few months since Daigo Umehara's emergence into the tournament scene has been, "When's the week it happens?". Well Played Cup 2016 was nearly that week but, thanks to the 2D God himself, Mago, Daigo's hopes of taking a first place finish at a Ranking Event had to be put on hold. Mago's road to Grand Finals was fairly smooth barring a matchup with GO1's Chun-Li. His win is nothing surprising despite being only the second of the season. His consistency throughout the first year of SFV has been nothing short of spectacular.
Daigo, who isn't quite at the God-tier status he was a few years ago with SF4, is getting closer with each passing week. It's an ongoing project to solidify his base with SFV and his second place finish while holding Kazunoko and his demon in this iteration of the game, Haitani, was a marvel to behold. The Grand Finals were a bit of a blowout compared to the rest of the Beast's tournament matches, but he's nearly there. He hadn't beaten Haitani in SFV competitively before WPC 2016 and getting that monkey off his back has to be a relief. His spacing was superlative, making use of EX-Hadouken to punish Necalli's Culminated Power V-Skill from Haitani. He didn't reach into the bag of tricks for any of his wins, but you could see the momentum building with flashes of the utterly dominant player from a few years prior showing every match.
Daigo, now a global ambassador for Twitch and a member of Red Bull's super squad of FGC pros, has a busy slate of events coming up with OzHadou Nationals in Sydney on August 26-28th, East Coast Throwdown the first weekend of September followed by Lisbon Lockdown in Portugal the week after. He sits at 27th with 129 points as of this writing and still on the outside of a potential Capcom Cup berth. The next three events, spread across the globe, however, are all ranking events and are all prime opportunities for the Beast to hone his Ryu even further and, possibly, score some much needed CPT points. These will be the first events outside of Asia (aside from Premier tournaments)he's attended in the Capcom Pro Tour's three-year history. Even the The Beast needs to find a way to shovel in those vital CPT points.
China's Street Fighter scene isn't quite as well represented globally as Japan, South Korea or even Singapore. Zhuojun "Xiao Hai" Zheng, the Qanba Douyu sponsored player who has already qualified for the Capcom Cup thanks to his victory at G-League, is probably China's most well-known FGC export. He fought off a slew of "foreign invaders" from all across Asia earlier this year to take first place at one of Asia's early Premier events yet this past weekend at the Yangcheng Cup he floundered. His Cammy is certainly formidable but he, like so many others, has fallen to the might of Chun-Li.
China, much in the way the rest of the world is developing its strategic approach to Street Fighter V, is taking the woman with the lightning legs and doing real work with her. The top four spots in the tournament were two Chun-Li players, a Necalli and a Nash. Fairly typical of a finals situation at most tournaments these days and the defensive to offensive ebb and flow for Chun-Li is now commonplace among the top-tier talent in China. This was evident as the numbers were whittled down to the final four that included Red Bull's own Bonchan.
Tse "Tse444" Wa Ping and Lu "XiaoHu" Xi Oh squared off for those critical 128 Capcom Pro Tour points, and it couldn't have been a more textbook definition of what the Chun-Li meta is in today's Street Fighter. Players are relying far less on V-Reversal and leaning heavily into the combo/burst potential of her V-Trigger (that works so well off that damn slide of hers) and matches are determined, usually, by the person who can capitalize on small opportunities to flip from defense to offense. Tse444 won the day with an uncanny ability to feel his opponent's next moves, block with efficiency and then strike when even the smallest sliver of an opportunity presented itself. He even managed to beat Bonchan along the way to Grand Finals t0 ensure that China would, yet again, defend it's home turf. Tse444 has earned his way into the Asia regional finals and, possibly, a spot in the Capcom Cup finals. He'll have another event in Hong Kong, the E-Sports Festival, to build upon his win at Yangcheng Cup. Look for the action this coming weekend on Beastapac starting at 9 PM PDT on Friday. He'll be contending with the likes of Gamerbee, Daigo Umehara, Kazunoko, Xiao Hai, Itabashi Zangief, Stupendous, Eita, Saunic, Xian and much more. Good luck, Tse444.
Super Smash Con
Few games have the ability to draw enough people to a single place for an entire convention. Super Smash Bros. is one of those games and this past weekend in Chantilly, Virgina, the entire community came out to show their love for the series they love so dearly. Super Smash 64 Combo Exhibition? We got those. Brawl mayhem? Check. Melee on the level of EVO? You bet. Smash 4 that was bonkers? You better believe it, brother.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Mang0. HungryBox. The eternal rivals. The back and forth between these two is always so fun to watch but this past weekend was Mang0's. His Fox play was absurd, and the usually impeccable Jigglypuff from HBox was just not up to snuff. Perhaps after reaching the mountaintop at EVO 2016, the Team Liquid pro has throttled back some. Mang0, meanwhile, played out of his gourd the entire weekend. The biggest highlight of Grand Finals had to be a sick Rest punish from Mang0.
He quickly took the crown at SSC and impressed mightily in Team competition as well. Perhaps the best moments of Melee, however, came from Top 8 with Mew2King and SFAT.
Where do I begin with this one? SFAT, digging himself out of holes in numerous matches, found himself up against the wall against Mew2King. His Marth has always been tops in the world, and he proved why with multiple instances of why he's considered a God of Smash. His reads were godlike, and his punish capability with that frame data swirling about in his brain is second to none. Seven seconds into Game 5 and he already took a stock off SFAT. The pokes were ridiculous but, furthermore, the crowds assembled were shown why it pays to be frame perfect. One of the best matches of the entire weekend, by far, and worth your time.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
The scene for Smash4 felt a seismic shift after EVO 2016 with Ally showcasing a supposed mid to low-tier character taking it all with Mario cape work and f-air attacks. His match against Abadango was certainly a barn burner, but he fell to Void. Most expected ZeRo to make his triumphant return to the top of the heap this past weekend at Smash Con but Ally would not have it. Ally, who was recently signed to Cloud9, couldn't put it all together as he had at EVO leaving the door open. He turned right around, however, and dominated at the Rio eGames taking home Gold in Smash4 for Team Canada.
Nairo, who recently parted ways with Team Liquid, has a lot to prove despite being ranked second in the world for Smash 4 by Panda Global. He's been so consistent in the past that his recent run has been disappointing yet this weekend dispelled those fears. The rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated, folks. Zero Suit Samus up against Dabuz who's Rosalina is feared yet his Olimar is revered.
So much International competition came out for Smash4, yet it all came down to New York vs. New Jersey in Grand Finals. Nairo quickly ended Dabuz's Olimar shenanigans with a brutal Flip Kick to spike the spaceman "straight to Hell". Rosalina was out immediately and even counter picked with the Duck Hunt stage, yet Nairo persevered. Lylat Cruise was up next, and Dabuz went back to the well with Olimar to get on the board but next game spelled doom for him as Nairo tidily wrapped up Grand Finals sick spacing and well-timed reads. Though some may have felt that Nairo had, indeed, lost his shine this past weekend proved that the new free agent is still in top form. I fully expect him to have a new sponsor within a matter of weeks.