This past weekend was a showcase for talent on a global scale and in the American fighting game scene with the lavish Red Bull Kumite and Texas Showdown events now in the books. Add in the PAX Arena invitational and Frogbyte? A buffet of rich delicious treats awaited any and all fighting game fans this past weekend. Let's get started shall we on this week's edition of FGC Recap.
PAX Arena, held at PAX East this past weekend, showcased a lot of big names within the scene including a few rising stars such as LI Joe and TA|Moons. Evil Geniuses was well-represented at the event with Ricki Ortiz and kBrad both making appearances along with the unpredictable Marn, Team Liquid's NuckleDu, FlashMetroid and TS|ArturoSanchez. Mike Ross and Yipes on commentary made even the most mundane of matches feel like marquee events. It was definitely scaled back compared to other events of the weekend but provided some great play. Here's Top 6 of the event for your viewing pleasure.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDZbQePkGVw
Ricki Ortiz showed, yet again, that her Chun-Li is one of the strongest on the planet but NuckleDu's Nash was ultimately too much for her to handle. I hate to think what's going to happen in a month when Guile enters the battle with NuckleDu. Consider yourself on notice, FGC.
Red Bull Kumite and Texas Showdown may have dominated the headlines for this past weekend but Frogbyte 2016 offered a chance to look at some of Europe's best along with some of the lesser known names. The usual suspects like Ryan Hart and ProblemX were present along with Cuongster, a slew of BX3.TP-Link team members and new faces in the scene. This personifies the messaging Capcom put forth for Street Fighter V in spades. Time to rise up. The event, a Capcom Pro Tour ranking one, provided an opportunity for points leading into Regional finals in the EU.https://youtu.be/sbpWU0HOYO4?t=1h34m41s
I highlighted Grand Finals because I loved the matchup of seeing Melty|Cuongster's Cammy versus BX3.TP-Link|Phenom's Necalli. What have we learned? Necalli's V-Trigger is disgusting and even against Cammy's mix-ups the Dark Hadou can win out. Great tournament overall complete with hyped up Italian commentary.
Some of the very best in the North American scene descended upon Houston, TX this past weekend to take part in the 2016 edition of Texas Showdown. The event not only featured Street Fighter V but also included past Capcom titles, Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct, Guilty Gear XRD: Revelator and Smash Bros. Melee/Wii U.
I wanted to address one of the problems that came out of this weekend regarding player anger and the way tournament organizers handled brackets. It isn't set in stone that the transition from pools to later brackets is handled a certain way but it is commonly accepted that the winners and losers of Pool 1 go against Pool 2's combatants and down the listing. Top to bottom. Texas Showdown did things a bit differently with Pool 16 facing off against Pool 1's entrants, Pool 15 against Pool 2 and so forth. Many players complained that these brackets (especially once things got towards Top 32) were not readily found. It isn't a major issue as the tournament still went off but there was definite confusion as to what the heck was going on and more than a few pros voiced their concerns including EG|PR-Balrog. Tournament organizers need to make these sorts of things immediately clear from start to finish or, perhaps, Capcom Pro Tour needs to lay out rules for such. Mostly a housekeeping sort of thing but still worth noting. On to the hype of Texas Showdown!
First up is Guilty Gear XRD: Revelator. Let's not discount that fact the TastySteve himself was in attendance and throwing down sick matches but some of the best the American scene has to offer in regards to Guilty Gear was all present including FaultyDefense, Oso, JustKensou, kid viper, Sylint, SecreT and more. The entirety of Top 8 was tremendous and worth a look but Grand Finals, in particular, lived up to the hype.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ck3dmnCQCnM
The video, with Losers Finals included before the last match of the evening, was tense enough but Oso's Elphelt versus FaultyDefense's Sin was among the best Guilty Gear play I've seen this year. It was the capstone to a decidedly amazing weekend of action within the scene. The level of play on display throughout the weekend was on par with some of the Japanese tournaments I've digested so far this year. EVO 2016 should be really interesting for Guilty Gear XRD: Revelator once main stage Top 8 rolls around.
Street Fighter V was the main attraction at Texas Showdown and yet again it came down to a Ken player versus PR-Balrog. Julio, much like Chris Tatarian before him was on fire through most of the weekend rolling through and making into Grand Finals on the Winner's side. PR-Balrog, following his setback at West Coast Warzone was looking for vengeance. He clawed his way back through the brackets and, ultimately, landed in Grand Finals for the second week in a row against a Ken player.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=269xalyjy5g
A strange thing happened after Eduardo (PR-Balrog) reset the bracket, determined to take this tournament from the shoto clutches of yet another Ken player. Julio, taking a moment to breathe, took a phone call. I'm not sure if he was getting a last minute coaching tip or lost his cool and answered at an inopportune time but it seemed to break PR-Balrog's rhythm a bit. He fought valiantly against Julio's onslaught of dragon-punches and V-Trigger madness but ultimately finished second place yet again. Julio, a definite rising star within the American scene, won his first major and capped off a stellar weekend full of character variety, all sorts of names new and old joining in on the fun and a great Capcom Pro Tour event. See you next year, Houston.
Red Bull Kumite
Where to start with Red Bull Kumite? This was, without a doubt, one of the best organized and presented events in the fighting game scene. Red Bull has the resources to pour into a weekend event like this but it wasn't just the quality stream or octagon ring that competitors stepped into that made it special. A single person sat and played through every single Survival Mode (all difficulties) to unlock EVERY SINGLE COLOR for every costume on every character before the tournament ever started. That is dedication. There were post-match interviews with those who lost for immediate reaction, lighting that was dynamic and amazing, entrance music that featured the very best anime opening and ending themes imaginable along with select cuts such as "Forces" from the Beserk OST. There was a level of theatrics to it all that can only be matched by something like CEO (Community Effort Orlando) or EVO.
Not every tournament should aspire to these heights as, frankly, a lot of time and money was poured into this event to make a true spectator's event but it shows that this scene when given the proper resources can shine brighter than any other potential eSport out there. This was smaller in scale than a DOTA or League of Legends major but it was ultimately one of the better events to hit the FGC in years. It seemed hard to top last year's RBK yet they did so in spades. Shout out to the tournament organizers and Red Bull for giving fight game fans a proper show. Logan-sama and F-Word on commentary certainly didn't hurt either.
The tournament itself was an invitational of 14 professionals ranging from America's elite to some of the Gods of Street Fighter along with an open 256 player bracket that would be whittled down to two players. FA|BigBird and France's own Alioune emerged from the gauntlet to challenge the world's best. The action all went down in Paris, France this past weekend and there are so many choice moments to choose from.
It is a rarity that the likes of MCZ|Daigo and Tokido would be the very first match to start off the final day of competition (Saturday consisted of the 256 player bracket to determine the last two spots).https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z2uvVGLEoQ
I wouldn't normally bother highlighting one of the first matches of the day but to have two of the very best ever face off? Unbelievable. The first round features some superlative footsies, both players jockeying back and forth until it comes down to a single sliver and a magic pixel left on both sides. The Hadouken and jump in results in a Double KO. We're off to a rollicking start yet it only got better with as Daigo, with his corner push and great reads, seemed to be seizing control at times until Tokido made use of the Tatsu TWICE as a frame trap after pushing himself back in the corner. There are things that don't happen normally and then there's this match. An explosive start to what would prove to be an amazing day of matches top to bottom.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bn_dSh-aj0U
Evil Geniuses teammates Justin Wong and Momochi came to blows in Losers Round 3 and Karin's victory seemed assured as Momochi's Ken was one the ropes. Momochi, a former EVO champion, showed why he's one of the best Ken players to ever pick up a fight stick. Justin Wong had just landed a Critical Art with Karin, the echoes of the rich girl's laughter still hanging in the air. The momentum seemed to be shifting then Momochi threw out the Hail Mary play. A full-screen V-Skill powered fireball that lands, a quick combo and a Critical Art finish that decimated Wong and clearly shook him for the rest of the match.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrHF15M5SAQ
Kazunoko, who hasn't really made an appearance yet this year in the tournament scene until Red Bull Kumite showed everyone why he's still one of the top players in the world. It was, however, a heartbreaker against Tokido as momentum continued to build throughout the day for the Ryu player. Kazunoko's Cammy and Tokido's Ryu had slugged it out until 20 seconds were left and both had little health. A misplaced Cannon Strike and a quick throw lead to an impactful victory and Kazunoko's tournament hopes ending there. His play throughout the day was impressive and we'll be seeing plenty more of him as the Capcom Pro Tour rolls on.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdOZSJSyBqA
Tokido's path to Grand Finals would have him face off against Infiltration twice. The first set, found above, was a hard fought one with plenty of trades between the two yet, ultimately, Infiltration would take Winner's Finals and send Tokido back to Loser's bracket to face off against Kazunoko (match featured earlier). His momentum was stifled temporarily until he started to adapt and changed a few things up, cutting through Kazunoko and back to face-off against Infiltration yet again. This would be the third tournament in a ROW that the two would meet in that event's Grand Finals. Spectacular.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FW6P9GLItiA
Tokido cleaned up his game against Infiltration yet it still wasn't enough compared to his execution and smart reads. Tokido was bordering on full-on rage at certain points yet. Each setback seemed to draw more fire from within the Japanese player's belly, spurring him onward. It was one hell of a finish to a weekend already overflowing with great matches. Who can stop Infiltration at this point?
To finish off this Recap I'd like to give a special shoutout to the real breakout star of Red Bull Kumite 2016. The ninteeen year old FA|BigBird who broke out of the 256 player pools to challenge the world's elite and, in the process, eliminated AverMedia|GamerBee (EVO 2015 Finalist) and RZR|Xian back to back as he worked his way through the bracket. His journey would end, ultimately, at fifth place which is stellar considering the absolute monsters he was beset on all sides by. Watch out for this kid. He's going to be big in the years to come.
That will do it for this week. The Capcom Pro Tour keeps on rolling and we'll be back with another edition of FGC Recap! Will lingering questions be answered regarding Infiltration, can kBrad ever win again and will Justin Wong reach that next level with Street Fighter V? Stay tuned.