Europe’s first Premier of the 2017 Capcom Pro Tour season kicked off this past weekend in Paris at the new event on the CPT calendar, Ultimate Fighting Arena, and it was a fantastic couple of days of Street Fighter V action. A well attended event, with the best players in Europe as well as some of the elite players from Japan, the US and a few other International talents turning up to try and get those maximum CPT points and an almost guaranteed slot in the Capcom Cup.
Winner: Haitani “Haitani” Satsuya
Japan’s Haitani has been a top level player since Third Strike, having great success in that game as well as Street Fighter IV and it doesn’t seem like slowing down here in SFV. He qualified for Capcom Cup last year and took fourth place. He’s already well on his way to qualifying for this year’s event. It almost didn’t go as planned, however. It definitely didn’t go smoothly!
In his match against Ryan ”Filipino Champ” Ramirez in Loser’s Final, he was down 0-2 in games, FChamp was on match point and Haitani was left with one pixel of health remaining, before clutching out the round with an incredible critical art. Rejuvenated by this victory, it kick-started a nine game winning spree – three took him past FChamp and into Grand Finals. FOUR back to back games against Hiromiki “Itabashi Zangief” Kumada, the man who sent him into the loser’s bracket, reset the bracket and gave the Japanese Zangief player plenty to think about. A one off round gave Itazan a bit of momentum but it was immediately snuffed out, with Haitani calmly taking the two games he needed to give him his first CPT SFV Premier win and stick him right in the top part of the current Pro Tour leaderboard.
Match of the Tournament: Filipino Champ on Dhalsim vs Itabashi Zangief on Zangief
Dhalsim v Zangief is one of – if not the – most lopsided matchups in the history of Street Fighter. Dhalsim’s projectiles and signature stretchy limbs can keep Zangief at range, where he is pretty useless. ‘Gief, of course, wants to get up close and personal and begin hitting his damaging Spinning Pile-driver. A patient and precise Dhalsim is a nightmare match for a Zangief player.
It’s not unfair to say that Filipino Champ and Itabashi Zangief are the best Sim and ‘Gief players in the world right now, and their set was one of the finest in Street Fighter V’s relatively short lifespan. Both players were tested, trying to force their game plan on one another, because in this matchup there’s just such a clear cut strategy for each character to win the fight, it was fascinating to see how they adapted to one another and tried new approaches.
Genuinely one of the finest Street Fighter V matches to date. It’s definitely worth a watch!
The next event is NorCal Regionals, which likely won’t be attended by many players who played at this event. However, here’s the players who gained and lost the most by the end of Ultimate Fighting Arena.
Sure, he didn’t take first place, but in his first European CPT event he put on an incredible performance with Dhalsim, a character who need to work so, so hard to win matches. For the most part, he was flawless, with some amazing control of the neutral game just stopping most players even getting started in their matches. He made a very strong case to being the best Dhalsim player in the world at this event – it’ll take one hell of a player to prove him wrong at this point.
Without question the most exciting player in Street Fighter V right now. Itazan knows that he’s going to take hits as Zangief. He knows ‘Gief has the most health in the game and can take a beating, using this to his advantage as he slowly closes the gap on his opponent and then GRAB – Spinning Piledriver. Once he’s got that initial SPD, it becomes a guessing game – are you going to jump, press a button, tech a throw, backdash? What are you going to do to get away from the Zangief mixer? Nothing, because Itazan has some of the sickest reads you’ll see. He almost always guesses right, hitting another SPD and starting that mixer up once again. This Zangief only needs to get in once, and Itabashi Zangief loves gambling it all for that one in.
Apparently nerfed in Season two, Phenom, Xiaobao, Gamerbee and winner Haitani showed that Necalli is still one of the best characters in the game. Dragon Punch, a ‘sort of’ fireball, a command grab, an anti-air jab that didn’t get removed, a dive kick and in V-Trigger some pretty significant speed means he’s never to be underestimated. He has every single tool a character needs to be successful.
Kenneth “K-Brad” Bradley
A very public loss to arch rival Joshua “Wolfkrone” Philpot at E League and finishing outside the top 32 at UFA spells the end of a disappointing fortnight for K-Brad. Cammy’s getting buffed at the end of April, so I don’t imagine we’ll see him in this category again in the future. If anything, we might see him in the other.
European Street Fighter Players
No European players made the top eight at the first Premier event in the region. The Grand Final was contested by two Japanese players. Very disappointing. The turf wasn’t defended. Must try harder.
The Supposed Top Tier Of Urien, Laura and Balrog
Not a single one of these supposed extremely strong characters in the Top 16. Are they being figured out by the top players? For sure most of the best players will have been drilling match ups against those three and maybe their trickiest stuff has been sussed? It is going to be very interesting when that second balance patch drops at the end of April.