The FGC Weekly Roundup is back with another brief preview of events to come this weekend, the top stories in the fighting game community this week and maybe a bit of salt as well. Let's start with Dreamhack's first tournament on United States soil. That's right! We're goin' back to Texas for Dreamhack Austin.
Dreamhack, originally fired up way back in 1994, has always been a big and bold affair that features some of the best competitive play in the world. It has been, until this weekend, an exclusively international event but that's about to change as some of the best and brightest in eSports descend upon Austin, TX for Dreamhack Austin 2016. Three days worth of competition, LAN parties, cosplay competition, tech exhibition and more will all be going down in Austin this weekend (May 6-8). The major tournaments on deck include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Starcraft II, Street Fighter V and Super Smash Bros. Melee. Big money is on the line across the board but, specifically, the continuing story threads of a tournament season in full swing in both the Capcom Pro Tour and the Melee scene march onward.
The Northwest Majors last weekend provided a showcase for competitors new and old to have their time in the spotlight. Justin Wong took down the seemingly unstoppable Trinity of Ken players (EchoFox's Julio Fuentes, Brentt "brenttiscool" Franks and Chris Tatarian) with killer spacing and sick confirms. Long "LPN" Phi Nguyen, recently picked up by sponsor Circa eSports, also had a strong showing in Top 8 against the likes of Panda Global's Ryan "fchamp" Ramirez and then some. Some newer faces cracked into the later brackets that were refreshing to see such as Alex Myers (a long-time favorite of r/Kappa).
Dreamhack Austin presents a unique opportunity for Capcom Pro Tour points but, also, redemption for some. Evil Geniuses' Justin Wong appears to be at the top of his game but his other teammates, Eduardo and Ricki Ortiz, both have fallen short of victory in multiple tournaments this season. All respectable finishes, for sure, but the top of the mountain is a place that won't be held by just one player in America. It further reaffirms just how fluid this game is at the moment and how parity truly exists amongst the player base. Those who were not able to really make a name for themselves during the Street Fighter IV years are starting to work their way out of the shadows and all of them have chips on their shoulders.
The dark horse player to watch this week is a surprising one. Red Bull's SnakeEyez, a Zangief loyalist all his professional career, has had to make a big switch over to the recently added Alex. His showing at Northwest Majors (9th place) is the best he's done so far this season at ranked events. It is certainly disheartening to see his character of choice in such a bad place in comparison to the rest of the game's roster but being a professional is all about adaptability and overcoming adversity. Will the switchover to Alex give SnakeEyez the jolt he needs to start working up the CPT leaderboards?
Julio's recent appearance on Capcom Pro Tour Talk was not only illuminating but a clear window into the mind of a player who has been on the fringes for a long time and is finally able to make his move to the main stage. Will the dominance of Ken continue this weekend at DH Austin? Can his fellow Trinity members work past the gatekeeper that is Justin Wong's Karin? Will the newly sponsored LPN continue to work his magic with Birdie? The Marvel God, FChamp, has been playing well as of late. Can he take the next step forward and claim his spot amongst the world's best? So many questions remain as this tournament season continues to unfold.
Last week's action at EGLX 2016 renewed a longstanding rivalry within the Melee community, harkened the return of one of the game's biggest rising stars and featured stellar matches all around. Dreamhack Austin's Smash Championship should provide more of the same hype and, likely, salt that the community thrives on with a $10,000 prize pool to boot. The big names heading to Texas this weekend include TempoStorm|Axe, Duck, TSM|Leffen, Westballz, Wobbls, PG|eSAM, MVG|Mew2King, SFAT, MacD, Nintendude, S2J, Wizzrobe, C9|Mang0 and last week's winner, Liquid|HungryBox. Can he take it back to back weeks? Will Mew2King, who seems to be blazing back to relevance in the past few months, surprise us all? Leffen's presence isn't totally confirmed as of yet but he is registered for play and his US Visa issues have been cleared up through July at least.
Armada (EVO 2015 champion and winner of multiple majors last year) might still be on top of the mountain but his absence this weekend opens the door for others to keep grasping at the throne. This weekend could help establish a cadence for the rest of the season as a Mang0 v HungryBox Grand Finals again isn't out the question but so many others are lurking around every corner to take their spot. Mang0, without a single Major win this year, is definitely hungry for victory but his long-time rival stands in the way.
Mew2King might be the one to truly watch this weekend, though. His 3rd place finishes at Smash Summit 2 and EGLX showed a player on an upward trajectory. His wins over Armada and Mang0 in the brackets at EGLX show that he is a force to be reckoned with. Hungrybox will likely be his biggest gatekeeper this weekend. It should be an interesting weekend of Melee action for sure.
All the action this weekend can be found at DreamhackFighters starting Saturday at 8 AM PT/11 AM ET.
SFV Crash - Tokido vs Infiltrationhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPOec0vxt8M
Street Fighter V Crash returns this Sunday with the semi-final of the Crash tournament. Team Razer, comprised of Infiltration, Ai "Fuudo" Keita and Ho Kun Xian will face off against the Chinese team that includes Zeng "XiaoHai" Zhuojun and Su "Hakou" Daojun. Team Topanga is back with Tokido, Mago and Momochi will face off against Team Korea as well. Crash has provided great matches so far but two of the very best in the world right now, Tokido and Infiltration, will likely face off again.
Tokido has continued to chase Infiltration in his epic run so far this year and came close at Red Bull Kumite. Three majors down and consecutive second place finishes to Razer's Infiltration. The salt is real. Tokido will have his murder face on this weekend and while Dreamhack Austin will take up fight fan's days the nights will belong to the Asian events this weekend and Crash should be chief among them to pay attention to.
Can Tokido finally shake the demon that is Infiltration? Will we finally see someone best the player that Combofiend referred to recently as "someone who plays Nash in ways we didn't know he could be played." This could very well be the biggest moment of the entire weekend coming up. All the hype and potentially lethal salt can be seen at Street Fighter V Crash starting early Sunday at 1 AM ET/11 PM PST.
Thaiger Uppercut has been an Asian major to watch each and every year. The aforementioned SFV Crash event happening this weekend as well has left the door wide open for the newly emergent GO1 to claim a spot on the main stage in Japan for Street Fighter V. The player, known more for his domination in anime fighters (he won in four different tournaments at CEOtaku late last year), has started to assert himself within SF5. His win last week at KVO x TSB 2016 against the likes of TS|Sabin and Kazunoko.
GO1's road to potential victory is still a tough one major competitors such as Jiewa, GamerBee, Man, Gackt, Humanbomb, Gootecks, Dogura and Haitani all working towards Top 8 themselves. Year after year this tournament always delivers on quality and it could signal the rise of a new force within Japan to stand alongside the likes of Tokido, Mago, Daigo and the rest.
Every moment of the action can be found over at TeamSpooky. Friday's action is already in the books due to the time difference (tournament is in Thailand) but night owls out there should hit up Spooky's Twitch for late night tournament action. Brackets can be found at Challonge as per usual.
The Machine is Broken
TeamSecret's first Street Fighter acquisition, Poongko, seemed a bit a hasty at first sight. The tournament scene is still brand new for Street Fighter V and Poongko, formerly sponsored by crowdfunding via r/Kappa, has yet to really prove himself. His character of choice in Ultra Street Fighter IV, Seth, is nowhere to be found and his work with Cammy thus far this year has been lacklustre at best. He, much like others in the scene right now, are in the midst of a character crisis. This was made very clear late last month when the pro took to Twitter and brought up his struggles, his attempts to correct the situation and more.
He admitted that “I was not prepared for Red Bull Kumite and I want to develop myself before the next tournament I attend.” His match against Keoma at Red Bull Kumite definitely showed that Poongko's place within the scene right now is unclear. The angry days are behind him, supposedly, and he's no longer ripping his shirt off in frustration to "power up". His character identity, so vital to a professional in this scene, is in question. He went on to explain that he wants to really work with characters other than Cammy. He wants to know the roster as that seems to be the way of things this time around. Not all is gloom and doom, though. His earlier tournament finishes this year have been awful but at the recent Street Fighter V Crash tournament in 3v3 teams with Bruce "GamerBee" Hsiang and Jonny "HumanBomb" Cheng he showed some real emotion. He also played far better there than at any point so far this year.
The founder of Team Secret, Clement Ivanov, has been in touch with Poongko and fully supports his latest recruit. He told Yahoo eSports that, “If he thinks it’s best for him to take a break, we will discuss how long he would want. I wouldn’t want to shackle him into something he feels unhappy with." Perhaps Poongko just needs more time in the lab before he finds his true footing in Street Fighter V. You can't keep a truly talented individual such as Lee "Poongko" Chung Gon down for too long. This isn't the last we've seen of The Machine.
EVO Changes Rule on Coachinghttps://twitter.com/EvilMrWizard/status/727158501064069121?ref_src=twsr…;
Joey "MrWizard" Cuellar issued a statement this past Monday regarding a rule change as it relates to coaching. The topic has come up as of late due to an incident at Texas Showdown involving Julio phoning a friend during Grand Finals. The topic has been one that has been debated back and forth for years but no globally enforced rule has ever been put forth by an eSports organization or tournament organizer. This one only applies to Quarter Finals and later as players in pools can still get coaching if necessary.
The problem of interrupting play, disturbing momentum and potentially taking too long to get some last minute "tips" from another player or close confidant has been one that opponents of it have pointed out for a very long time. The real reason is likely due to time. The latter portions of tournaments, especially ones that are as crowded as Street Fighter V will be at EVO can take a while to get through. This rule helps to speed up the process in the latter rounds and, ultimately, there's no real evidence showing that "coaching" actually helps. Some view it as cheating in a way. I'm curious if you, dear readers, find the idea of it worth banning entirely or is it allowable as most other eSports and sports, in general, have coaches involved. Should the FGC be any different?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1tcpy_TXP8
That will do it for this week's edition of the FGC Weekly Roundup. I'll leave you with a personal favorite, Mai Neenja, and his series Halls of Hype. These compilations of the most hype moments of the past few weeks are always worth a watch. We'll be back next week with a full recap of all this weekend's events. Let us know in the comments below what you think about some of the most recent events of the week and whether or not coaching should or shouldn't be allowed. Hit me up on CFN (ScrivenerJeff) if you're itching for a fight. For now, though, I'll set you free.