This week's FGC Recap takes a look back at the weekend that was in the FGC, spanning the globe from Toronto to France and even down Peruvian way, and bringing you all the salt and all the hype the scene has to offer. We'll get things started with a jaunt back to the Great White North for the second week in a row to Toryuken where CPT points were on the line. Let's go!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMt170LfeVo
The Vancouver Series of the Canada Cup last week saw the Evil Geniuses trio of kBrad, Justin Wong, and Ricki Ortiz dominates the SFV competition though it was more about the Mahvel than anything else. Toryuken, on the other hand, served as a Capcom Pro Tour Ranking event and with those precious points on the line, some of the top tier talents in North America showed out. The above video is of Top 8 competition where EG's Justin Wong took the top spot yet again. He's riding so high at this point that he looks nigh unstoppable. The true tests are yet to come for the lone CPT points leader now as ComboBreaker, CEO and EVO lay ahead but four ranking events in a row? That's a huge accomplishment. The only real losses incurred this time came against PG|FChamp, 3-2.
Panda Global's Ryan "fChamp" Ramirez has been proving week in and week out with consecutive Top 8 appearances that in the right hands, Dhalsim, can be devastating. His equal measures of offense and smart reads mean that fChamp is the best Dhalsim player on the planet. TS|Sabin and his Diamond League antics are wonderful, yet he continues to struggle in tournament play, drowning in pools for the past month at each event he's attended. He placed third along with Ricki Ortiz, EchoFox's Julio Fuentes and Justin, this time, around yet he was the only player to push Wong truly to his limits in his matchup. Dhalsim's matchup with Wong's character of choice, the Kanzuki waifu known as Karin, isn't a strong one. PG|fChamp makes it work each and every time, and it feels as though he's on the verge of taking a tournament victory. That would propel him from 15th place on the CPT leaderboards into the top ten easily and secure a spot, at the very least, in a regional final.
Get On My Level 2016
Toryuken, held at the Good Game Con in Toronto, shared the stage with another tournament, though. The strong reactions from the large crowd and viewership on Twitch showed one thing. Get On My Level lived up to its name this year and provided some of the best moments in competitive Smash Bros. play so far this season. The roar of the crowd grew loud enough several times to cause pause amongst the assembled spectators and players on the SF5 main stage. Let's take a look at Canada's premier Melee/Smash4 event, Get On My Level 2016.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJzMTOpV4_8
The Gods assembled this past weekend for the biggest Canadian major around. Armada, EVO 2015 champion, was in attendance along with Mang0, Mew2King, HungryBox, Leffen, Lucky, Duck, WestBallz, Wizzrobe and more. Established players, rising stars and hometown heroes alike all had their moments to shine. The story of the tournament, though? The return of the hottest name in the Melee scene, Team Solo Mid's Leffen.
His woes with P1 Visas are well documented, and the #FreeLeffen movement online has even resulted in an immensely successful petition to the White House. His reprieve allowed him to make a brief appearance at EGLX weeks ago though he seemed rusty. He was making mistakes, and it was obvious he wasn't the same Leffen from 2015. That all changed this weekend with performances on both days that were phenomenal.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1K4mWXjiosg
Mang0 gave TSM's Leffen the only real challenge of his entire run through GOML, which was, for the most part, full of ridiculously hype matches that featured all the scene's greats yet nobody played on the same level as Leffen's Fox McCloud. The Grand Finals setup was prime for a truly epic brawl with a classic showdown between Falco and Fox. Mang0 started applying some laser pressure, making good use of Falco's toolset though Leffen seemed unfazed by it all. He continued to roll on and secured his spot in the conversation for 2016 as a force to be reckoned with again. He beat every major talent put in front of him and never dropped a set the entire tourney. What a run by Leffen! EVO is going to be epic in regards to Melee and who might make it to that main stage on Sunday.
The entire Melee tournament was packed with matches worth watching and including all of Top 8 which saw the Canadian crusader, eMG|n0ne falling just short thanks to some superlative play by Lucky. Even Armada fell at the hands of Lucky this past weekend and more as numerous big names fell 3-0 in certain spots. Mang0's work in Grand Finals, despite the loss, was interesting. It felt as though he were experimenting a bit. He's still a threat moving forward as are all the Gods that fell this weekend at the feet of Leffen. Get ready, folks, the next few months will be very interesting for Melee.
Canada represented itself well this past weekend at GOML thanks to numerous performances across the board by strong local Toronto players along with Ally winning every single event he entered. He won Smash4 singles, doubles and Brawl singles. That is unheard of at most tournaments. A single player winning that big? Canada's scene has always been quietly strong but this past weekend at GOML proved there are legitimate threats even to the supposed Gods of Smash4 such as ZeRo, Larry Lurr, mKLeo, and aNTI. The biggest win, without a doubt, came in Smash Bros. for Wii U singles where there is one name that has been dominant since the early days, ZeRo.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7W7ET0idq8
Team Solo Mid's ZeR0, who has been a wrecking ball within the Smash4 scene ever since it started, was eventually put in the position where it all came down to a single stock left. Ally continued to fight, taking some big risks that ultimately paid off with a grab into up Smash that netted him the tournament victory. The scene was electric, leaving Ally in tears at the match's conclusion and a nation of fellow Smashers all cheering his name. This may be one of my personal favorite moments of the year so far, and it goes to show just how dynamic this community can be.
Misterio Takes Lima Salty 3https://youtu.be/u3fEawoOVuA?t=2h34m17s
Lima Salty 3, blasting out from Peru this past weekend, proved to be a fairly small affair compared to Toryuken or Stunfest, yet it still had some players to keep an eye on moving forward. Justin Wong may have already qualified in the Latin America region thanks to his win at JAMFestival, but the rest of the regional leaderboard has been up for grabs since then and Felipe "Misterio" Patricio Torres Corvacho took full advantage of this. He, like many of his compatriots, all juggle Street Fighter V with King of Fighters. The South American loyalism to that KoF series is nearly slavish, but many of the world's best (aside from China) all come from the Latin America region. It should be no surprise that the KoF pro approaches Capcom's fighter a bit differently.
His character of choice, Karin, has numerous examples of the Tour already of how to play her and Misterio's offers a different take on the Kanzuki Zaibatsu boss. He provides a stark contrast to Mago's style (far more defensive and measured) and even EG's Justin Wong with emphasis on mid-screen domination and V-meter building with an aggressive and frenetic style that is fun to watch. I hope we see more of Misterio on the world stage.
Stunfest 2016, held in Rennes, France this past weekend, is the first Premier event of the season for Europe. What does that mean? The usual scramble for points is the same, but the winner of Stunfest gets an automatic qualifying spot in the Capcom Cup Finals. This was, to say the least, a gigantic tournament with numerous implications. One of the biggest, though, was whether Europe could weather the incoming storm of Japanese deities invading France for the weekend. This was a tournament in which big names like ProblemX, Mister Crimson, Valmaster and Packz all had high hopes yet for the second year running no European player made it to Top 8 as both Packz and Crimson tied for ninth place. It was also an event plagued with mishaps from power failures to network issues and long wait times between sets of matches with strangely scheduled breaks. It did, however, feature Logan-Sama and F-W0rd on commentary and the world is a far better place with those two running audio for Street Fighter V. It was also a tournament seemingly destined for either the return of Daigo Umehara (recently sponsored by Red Bull) or the rise of Tokido (who has been defeated at the hands of Infiltration twice already this season). Neither shook out as another Evil Geniuses member, Momochi Yusuke rose to the challenge and scored a Capcom Cup finals berth with his phenomenal play of Ken.
It was a compelling Top 8, for certain, but not for the reasons that many thought it would be. Last year's Ultra Street Fighter IV champion Daigo "The Beast" Umehara was making his entrance into the scene for the first time this year and expectations were high. He's a Red Bull athlete now; he's the most decorated fighting game pro in history, and he even has his manga. How could you not expect greatness? He made it to Top 8 yet was soundly bounced out 3-0 by Majestic's Haitani. Team Razer's Xian (with the cleanest F.A.N.G in the scene) decidedly bopped Thaiger Uppercut winner, Eita, as well 3-0 to leave both Daigo and Haitani in a tie for seventh place.
Tokido would have been the likely prediction to take it all this past weekend. No one saw Fuudo's Rainbow Mika coming, though. If ever there was a bigger surprise in a big Premier tournament full of names so very familiar to us all it was Fuudo's cerebral mastery of the character many refer to as Random Mika. She is frenetic and hard to predict with mix-ups that are deadly and a vortex game that is unreal should the player wielding her know how to use it. Fuudo clearly knows what he's doing and made a run through Top 8 that was phenomenal. Winner's semi-finals saw him squaring off against EG|Momochi and his footsies were impeccable, his timing superb and his game on-point. Winner's Finals pitted Fuudo against the likely favorite in Tokido and despite a stick malfunction that could have added a bit of strangeness into the mix, Fuudo continued his winning ways leaving him in Grand Finals to await his eventual opponent, Momochi.
Momochi, the former Capcom Cup 2014 winner and winner of EVO 2015 for USF4, is one of the foremost experts on Ken. Some might say he's elevated to godlike status with how good he was playing the past few years but SFV is a new game entirely, and he's had to gain his footing beneath him. Stunfest is a perfect example of a player who has finally started to fire on all cylinders. He may have lost to Fuudo in Winner's semis, yet he apparently learned from that and went on to play an exemplary set to reset and eventually take it over Fuudo. It wasn't that that Momochi was just back but, rather, had finally found his groove with this iteration of Ken Masters. The same sort of smart spacing and ample damage output shows that Ken has layers to him heretofore unseen as of yet. His win is the fourth Ken to take the top spot in six weeks so far this season. Ken is God-tier at this point, people. He's especially marvelous when piloted by Momochi. It will be fascinating to see how the North American blitzkrieg style exhibited by the Trinity (Chris T, Brenttiscool, and EchoFox|Julio) can do against a more level-headed approach to the shoto from Momochi.
It was the capstone to what was ultimately a banner weekend for team Evil Geniuses in the FGC. Both Momochi and Justin Wong took first place and re-established that EG is a force to be reckoned with in the professional scene despite the outstanding success so far of Team Razer and Red Bull's success so far this year. The road to EVO continues this coming weekend at ComboBreaker the 27th-29th of May followed by CEO (Community Effort Orlando) and then the big show in Vegas, Evolution 2016.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jY7OFwl_k1U
We'll be back next week with a full breakdown of what happened at ComboBreaker and more! I'll leave you with a quick look at an exception Stunfest 2016 highlight compilation put together, as always, by the incomparable XuxesGB. Stay free, Internet.