The FGC Recap is back this week for a look back at the weekend that was in the tournament scene. Players vied for supremacy and Capcom Pro Tour points in Madrid, engaged in fisticuffs in New York and came together for the first of many Capcom Pro Tour online events. It was also a big weekend for Smash as well with Sumabato for The BIG HOUSE in Tokyo, Smash Factor 5 in Mexico and Revelation 2016 in Colorado. LET'S GO!!!
Sonic Boom: Summer Edition 2016https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpftWXFxemU
Sonic Boom: Summer Edition 2016 was just one of the many options fight fans had to choose from this weekend. It was an interesting tournament if only for the fact that not only did some of the top EU players make their way to Madrid for the event but numerous Japanese pro players also made the trip. Could the EU, yet again, reverse the downward trend they've started to find themselves in after brief glimmers of hope in Luffy, Cuongster and Will2Pac started doing work before EVO? The show was stolen by Japanese players throughout and it all came down to EVO finalist, Joe "MOV" Egami and Youdeal MJS | Tatsuya "Haitani" Haitani. The best Chun-Li in the world versus the Necalli expert.
MOV's performance at EVO was exceptional, characterized by mid-match adaptation and reads that were unearthly. This trend continued at Sonic Boom despite an early setback in Top 16. His road to Grand Finals was beset, on all sides, by Euro killers after being knocked down into Loser's side by Red Bull's Olivier "Luffy" Hay. He went on to dominate Chris "Cobelcog" McEntee, Benjamin "ProblemX" Simon, Younes "CCL" Lazaar and Nathan "MisterCrimson" Massol before stopping to bop Luffy 3-0 this time.
Here's the thing about Haitani. He's aggressive, a bit unpredictable and has no fear. He'll go for overheads that always seem to find the perfect timing window, attempt dive kicks that are patently unsafe and makes heavy use of dashing up to kick off the next string. This has paid off big for him so far this season with consistent tournament finishes and wins under his belt yet MOV proved, yet again, why he might be the most dangerous Chun-Li player not only in Street Fighter V but in the storied history of the game. His Chun-Li was so good during the Third Strike days that he even admitted he should probably be banned from tournament play. He's an expert, to say the least, yet his defensive style (especially with Chun's anti-air supremacy with Air-Legs and super safe standing jabs for ground work) was seemingly not enough to deal with the ruthless aggression of Haitani's dark hadou warrior, Necalli, at the start of Grand Finals.
Haitani jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on Winner's side but then it happened. Download complete. MOV showed why he's the best at what he does and adapted, tossing out what didn't work and inserting more fireballs into his gameplan. Not only did this help to keep some of that offensive rushdown at bay but it also gave MOV time to further rework his approach. No baited EX-Spinning Bird Kicks that so many folks toss out in tournament play and online (pay attention Bronze warriors. Chun-Li players do this ALL THE TIME in online play.) but also taking full advantage of crouching forward to produce short burst combos that did major work. The reset happens and, by that point, Haitani is done for. MOV rakes in 128 Capcom Pro Tour points, a spot in the European regional final and another step closer to the Capcom Cup in December. Luffy finished in third behind Haitani and the rest of the usual EU gang rounded out Top 8 with CCL in fourth, MisterCrimson and ProblemX tied for fifth. ProblemX and Packz tied for seventh. Another European event and another Japanese duo came in to rake in those precious CPT points.
Sumabato for the BIG HOUSE
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, otherwise known as Smash4, has begun to rival its older counterpart, Melee, in terms of stream views, player awareness and tournament entries. It was the second most crowded field at EVO 2016 this year and it has consistently grown ever since it's debut in 2014. Japan's scene has continued to grow as well with some of the best in from the land of the Rising Sun even making their way over to the West to compete. The upcoming BIG HOUSE 6, a midwest Major, will be one of the biggest of the Smash season and this past weekend the winner of Sumabato for the BIG HOUSE would secure an all-expenses paid trip to Chicago in October to represent their country.
The frontrunner going into this weekend's matches was, without a doubt, Furukawa "Komorikiri" Rei. He's currently ranked 2nd in the Umebura Smash 4 Power Rankings and 11th on Panda Global Rankings. He faced some seriously stiff competition in the form of Shuton's crowd-pleasing Olimar, Taiheita's spectacular Lucas and some of the absolute best Japan has to offer.https://twitter.com/TheBigHouseSSB/status/759763260878880769?ref_src=tw…;
Komokiri, who has yet to really crack the Western scene as of yet, has had great showings at EVO and pre-patch Genesis against some of the best in the world. His performance this past weekend, however, showed that he might be the dark horse pick to not only wreck brackets at BIG HOUSE 6 but possibly win it all. His Cloud is absurd yet his Sonic might be better. He dominated Shuton, much to the chagrin of the Biblethumpin' spectators offering up their energy, with relative ease in a 3-0 Grand Finals match.
The Crew Battle, always a highlight at any major or Smash4 event, showcased just how much talent actually resides within the smaller (compared to the West) scene in Japan. There are loads of killers that would likely give players such as ZeRo, Nairo, Ally, Anti, n0ne and more a true challenge should they ever get the chance to make their way over. T's superb Link did work against Ranai while Shuton's Olimar finished off Komorikiri (despite the earlier loss to him in Grand Finals). It will be interesting to see, moving forward, just how much the overall outlook of Smash4 will change as more players from the East manage to make their way stateside. Parity is always a good thing, folks. There will be another opportunity for many of the same folks who didn't quite make it this past weekend to qualify for a trip to BIG HOUSE 6 on August 28th at Master Hand. It is the last Melee monthly in Japan and should be interesting to see which of the big names that made a splash at EVO (Abadango namely) who could qualify and make the trip over.
Defend the North 2016https://twitter.com/HelloKittyRicki/status/760031039670591488
Defend the North's 2016 installment featured some of the best and brightest talents in North America all converging upon White Plains, New York for one weekend to see if the East Coast could truly stand up after it's showing at EVO with LI Joe netting a hard-earned fifth place finish. It showed us something else as well. Chun-Li has been near the top of the tier list since the release of Street Fighter V in February and it's surprising more haven't won with her (aside from CCL at FFM Rumble and Ericke Piquet da S. Maciel at SANA in Brazil). This was a banner weekend for Chun-Li, however, with MOV taking Sonic Boom and now Ricki Ortiz as the first NA regional player to do so with Chun-Li.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQjM2w1UVVg
Ricki's performance this weekend was a contrast in style to MOV's. Not only was Ricki far more defensive in her play with Standing Fierce and Tsuitotsuken serving as the foundation of her approach to push towards the corner and avoid longer-range counter-pokes. Once Ricki cornered her opponent, though, it was nothing but pedal to the metal aggression. Chun-Li is considered top-tier for a reason. She has options that other characters don't have along with the ones every other does, invincible reversals, ridiculous anti-airs (Air-Legs for days), projectiles (Tsuitotsuken), combos in the air, juggles, strong buttons and some of the strongest burst potential in the game. Chun-Li is downright scary in the right hands and Ricki Ortiz is one of those people.
Du "NuckleDu" Dang, her opponent in Grand Finals, attempted to bait out EX-Spinning Bird kick consistently but she never took the bait. Du's Mika was met with strong jabs, smart blocks and consistent slides into V-Trigger. Her defensive game only changed when Nash came out and she dropped the hammer, unleashing a flurry of offense that Du simply couldn't handle.
NuckleDu is showing flashes of the brilliance he displayed late in the life of SFIV, however. His work with Nash is starting to pay off as he's gotten far better at gaining the upper hand as far as spacing goes. He seems to be working in Infiltration's signature full-screen jab to control the walk-range of opponents and he did some real work against Julio Fuentes' Ken. The vortex was REAL, leaving Ken with little option other than to pray and wake up DP. It wouldn't be surprising to see NuckleDu take at least a few ranking events or maybe even one of the remaining Premier events if he keeps going at this pace.
This was, however, Ricki's show and she dropped a single set against NuckleDu while most simply could not make a dent in her seemingly impenetrable defense. She's been one of those players who has been consistent all year yet the Capcom Pro Tour doesn't reward consistency. It's all about wins and hoarding those points to hopefully get to the Capcom Cup. She is now sitting in third place on the North American regional standings and 22nd on the Global boards. There's some work to do yet to catch up to her EG compatriot, Justin Wong, and Julio Fuentes. The rest of the season will be a mad dash for points and it's just starting to get really interesting. Stay tuned, warriors.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2-bOlwxnnQ
MAHVEL BABY! Defend the North's ENTIRE Top 8 is just bonkers. ChrisG, fresh off his win at EVO 2016 continued to dominate but damn if he didn't have one hell of a match with long-time friend and rival, EG | kBrad. Morridoom v. Devil May Cry (My dude remains loyal to the Dante/Vergil/Trish combo). RayRay was stuntin' all over with (Sentinel/Doom/Magneto), gravity squeezin' and pleasin' his way into Top 8. Scamby aka Scambino with the Resident Evil trio (Chris Redfield/Nemesis/Wesker) with antics for days and ChrisD with the unlikely pairing of Chris Redfield, Dr. Doom and Strider.
Not only was it diverse but it was full of sick moments. The entire tournament, though it was only stocked with 47 folks, was a treat to watch. Yipes on commentary? Check. ChrisG with the scumbag tactics? Check. RayRay popoffs? Check. This is Marvel 3 alright. Mai Neenja, as per usual, compiled it all into a single hype video for your enjoyment.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1tgxaxWp5c
Killer Instinct. The game that is three seasons in and still growing year over year. No other fighter (from a Western studio anyway) is innovating at such a ridiculous rate. Ultra Arcade's Ken "Bass" Armas, fresh off taking second at EVO 2016, continues on his upward trajectory in one of many KI World Cup qualifiers. Bass, after securing victory at Defend the North with his superlative Spinal now sits atop the leaderboard with 3,471 points. He's in for the Cup in January of next year but as for DFN2016? Bass seemed untouchable for the duration with only Shin Tristran even offering a modicum of resistance with Thunder.
Smash Factor 5
Smash Factor 5, the biggest major in Mexico, was a humongous gathering for the Smash community this past weekend with some of the biggest names all in attendance (Melee and Smash4). The action was furious but ultimately it came down to Ganondorf v. Samus.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hlwrp2Y4dA
EMG | Edgard "n0ne" Sheleby with the FalconDorf combo faced off against the seasoned veteran, dT| Hugo "HugS" Gonzalez who also happens to be one of the best Samus players in the world. n0ne has impeccable DI (among the very best and he never gets the credit he deserves for it either) but that comes with maining a fan-favorite but, ultimately, lesser-used character like Ganondorf. He's also a master of the empty-jump reverse grab which requires some seriously crazy spacing to pull off. HugS, on the other hand, is a long-time Samus loyalist who has been having a tough go of it this year with some great finishes at locals (Xanadu Wednesdays mostly) but not really able to climb the ladder at majors (129th at EVO 2016 and 25th at CEO 2016) so far this year. So it was nice to see the wily veteran back in the mix at a national. The matchup certainly favors Ganondorf, on paper anyway, but HugS showed time and time again why he's one of the best OG Samus players on the planet. It all came down to the Dark Wizard everybody loves, Ganondorf, his powerful downspikes and ridiculous throw pressure. This player on the rise in 2016 will be a threat moving forward into BH6, Shine and beyond.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzL7xp9yDvI
Mexico's young phenom, SF HDG | MK Leo, is one of the best Marth players in Smash 4. His Cloud is pretty damn good as well but he made his name with Meta-Knight. MK, as a character, was abandoned after the glory days of Brawl, numerous top players feeling he was low-tier in comparison to other picks. MK Leo, though, has proven within his short pro career that he's a force to be reckoned with. He managed to net a fifth place finish at Get on My Level earlier this year with a blistering set against Nairo to send him to loser's and such a close call against the Smash 4 God, ZeR0, as well. Even EVO 2016 Melee winner, HungryBox, sees just how much he's leveled up. Once he gets an L1 Visa for travel abroad? Watch out.https://twitter.com/LiquidHbox/status/759977424851533824
Mr. R has been Mr. Consistency in 2016 with eighteen Top 8 finishes along with winning B.E.A.S.T. 6, Cannes Winter Clash 2016, OUTFOXX'D and Battle Arena Melbourne 8. The Iranian-born Sheik main resides in the Netherlands but he is traveling to nearly every major consistently and showing the world why he's in the Top 5 conversation for best in the world at Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. His style is undeniable, the creator of the Smash 4 metagame for Sheik and capable of combos that are unreal. He's the best EU player without a doubt and another Grand Finals this past weekend was not surprising to anyone in attendance or watching around the world.
MK Leo, however, has a history with Mr. R. He beat him at Smash Factor 4 to take the tournament in 2015. So, it all came down to the fifteen-year-old pro who has put Mexico's scene on the map and the best player in Europe. Would history repeat itself? Leo do what Leo do. His trip out of Loser's side to reset with Marth against Mr. R's Sheik saw the Leo on the offensive with Mr. R seemingly sitting back, attempting to possibly suss out his tech?
The reset happened, however, and out came Meta-Knight. Mr. R, for all his good work in the prior set, seemed lost later on and surely he felt it? Déjà vu. MK Leo's control over Meta-Knight is disturbing and the technical proficiency of his play was so fun to watch. He has movement and combos that simply don't seem possible yet he does. Get this kid a real sponsor and an L1 Visa before Genesis 4. Mr. R, despite his best efforts, fell to the might of Meta-Knight and MK Leo defends his home turf for the second year in a row.
TempoStorm's S2J along with other notables such as Lucky, Eikelemann headed out to Colorado this past weekend for Revelation 2016. Johnny "S2J" Kim, a Top 8 finalist at EVO 2016 in Melee, looked to build on that success at Rev2016. EE | Eikelmann sent S2J down into the Loser's side of Top 8 fairly early but that didn't stop the resilient Captain Falcon main from kneeing his way to Grand Finals against Joey "Lucky" Aldama. It was a close set in the Falcon/Fox matchup with S2J resetting the bracket 3-2 followed by another close set in similar fashion. S2J is making moves, folks.
Capcom Pro Tour Online Ranking Event #1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSQfHrIfnbQ
The first of numerous online ranking events that will allow winners to have a crack at the Capcom Cup via regional finals qualification happened this weekend as well. It was a first for the Capcom Pro Tour and it went very smoothly. Alex Valle and Level-Up productions handled streaming duties and, as per usual, it went down without a hitch. Grand Finals of the 256 man tournament came down to the best online Ryu player in North America (XsK Samurai) versus TakuyaSugi's horrifying Alex.
Numerous offline tournament players also participated including Ryan "FillipinoChamp" Ramirez who finished in seventh place. He noted, via Twitter, that the entire meta of online play in that setting is so different from the usual ebb and flow of offline events. The character diversity in Top 8 certainly proved that with an Alex, Rashid and Zangief all marking their mark. North America, aside from LI Joe, did not show out at EVO this year. Players are scrambling for points and doing what they can to secure their spot yet the talent gap is apparent between JP and NA players specifically. The cream of the crop of Asia is far above most in America aside from a select few. Things have changed, for sure, but as the CPT season has turned out so far, the more they stay the same. That doesn't mean NA players can't certainly surprise the elite Japanese or Asian region players because they certainly have this year but it says a lot that the big names like Justin Wong, PR Rog and more all shrunk away in the face of stiff international competition at the biggest stage thus far, EVO 2016.
The known competitors aside Eric "TakuyaSagi" Moore's Alex stole the whole show. He did some real work throughout the tournament with some sick reads, numerous blowout wins and clutch plays along the way. He chopped his way to Grand Finals against Mikey "XsK_Samurai" Chae and put up a pair of dominating wins only to be pushed to the limit in Game 5 for the reset by Samurai. Eventually, it all came down to a few shimmies and an overhead to seal the deal. XsK_Samurai has punched his ticket to the North America region finals but don't count out TakuyaSagi just yet. He'll back for the second NA event and, hopefully, start making his way out to offline events as well. Online warriors can become tournament champions and SFV will certainly help usher in a new wave of talent with these online ranking events. Next up will be Latin America's first online tournament on August 6th followed the next day by Asia/Oceania One on the 7th of August. Good luck, online warriors.
BONUS: Rage Volume 2https://youtu.be/MDQVX7UEpNs?t=1h14m45s
Yukadon, the Nash that knocked Infiltration down into Loser's side in Top 8 of EVO, showed out this past weekend at RAGE Volume 2 against Kazunoko. He's clearly learned the lessons from facing off against Infiltration twice as his Nash looks unstoppable right now. Kazunoko, despite having an absolutely rock-solid Cammy, seemed ill-equipped to handle Yukadon.
RAGE is also notable for featuring an exhibition match between Snake Eyez and Tokido in which the Red Bull stuck to his guns and won with Zangief against one of the best in the world. It also saw the runback for Fuudo against Infiltration. R. Mika is a monster in the hands of Fuudo and this time around he delivered on every mix-up and seemed to really have studied the tape post-EVO against the Korean sensation. A fun watch if you get some time and a great barometer for the Japanese pro scene in general. If only they weren't on so damned late but staying up until 3 AM is simply what this FGC correspondent must do to bring you the news that matters.
DOUBLE BONUS: Next Level Battle Circuit v.25https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJkTXDt_Qfo
Next Level Battle Circuit is a Wednesday night tradition at this point with some of the finest East Coast players all making their way to Henry Cen's establishment to duke it out every week. Thanks to Defend the North this past weekend some pros were still hanging around including Naventic's Flash who brought his tricky Vega into the mix.
It was, however, Dieminion's F.A.N.G who proved to be the biggest roadblock of the night as the master of the poison pill and Shadaloo second-in-command faced off against a battle-tested F3|Alucard who was utterly destroyed earlier in the night by a local Ken player, Jemin. That was one of the most savage beatdowns I've seen on NLBC in some time. He clawed his way back in with a mix of his main, Birdie, with his work in progress, Balrog. Dieminion showed some of the top-level play he's showcased in the past with SF4 and, hopefully, that can convert into CPT points as the year rolls on. Thanks to Team Sp00ky for broadcasting every week.
TRIPLE BONUS?!?! Wednesday Night Fights 3.1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irMxKAIIsaM
Alex Valle and company, from the eSports Arena in Southern California every week, bring forth some of the best talent the West Coast can offer. Mr. Street Fighter is always in the mix but you never know who's going to drop by. Gootecks showed off a solid R. Mika and Stupendous was planting trees and counting up boofs all night. Stupendous' Zangief is dangerous. He's a player to watch out for moving forward. The night, however, would belong to Alex Valle as he faced off against WNF regular, Commander Jesse and his surprisingly dangerous Dhalsim. Big ups to Uncle Valle.
That's it for this week, FGC family. We'll be back later in the week for the Roundup of all the news important to you and a preview of the weekend's upcoming events. Until then? Stay free, Internet.