The ELEAGUE Street Fighter 5 (SFV) tournament really hit its stride yesterday, with the apparent ‘group of death’ delivering the best day of Street Fighter action to date. Well, tell you what – today’s Group D is the secret group of death. In fact, it’s hard to see if anyone in this group will go 0-7, like all the other groups to date. Group D looks like the most well-rounded group of the lot.
The sole UK representative in the tournament, Ryan Hart is a bona fide fighting game legend. He’s not just an amazing Street Fighter player, but has won tournaments worldwide in almost every fighting game you can think of, and has been doing this for years. He started to find his feet in Street Fighter V towards the end of Season one, qualifying for Capcom Cup and putting together some impressive results. Who will he bring to ELEAGUE, though? Ken, his solid Guile or his Akuma?
Ryan Hart talks about his prep for ELEAGUE on The BRIDGE
LPN is a multi-character master and a real technical wizard. There’s very little about the game – if anything – that LPN doesn’t know. What might scupper him is that he plays as Alex, who is one of the worst characters in the game right now. Expecting a fair buff in the rebalance coming at the end of April, sure, but right now, he’s not great. If LPN picks Alex, he’s in for a long night, but he’s definitely got at least an Akuma and a Birdie under his belt.
The real American hero, who made top eight at EVO 2016 and captured the hearts and minds of the new TV audience for competitive fighting games. Things went a bit quiet for LI Joe after that, but he’s had some impressive results recently after his favoured character – Urien – got a considerable buff in Season two. Definitely the sleeper in the group.
Headed into Capcom Cup, Xiao Hai was one of the in-form players. That was until he met NuckleDu, who beat him and went on to win the tournament. Xiao Hai might very well be the best Cammy player in the world and with her getting some nice buffs soon is setup to have a really good 2017 – is ELEAGUE where it starts?
The Capcom Cup winner and the best player in the World… until the start of Season two. In recent tournaments he’s come undone against fellow young stars Smug and Punk, who are both qualified for later ELEAGUE rounds. NuckleDu has two excellent characters in his locker, with Guile and Mika providing him decent cover for almost every matchup in the game. Du is likely looking to re-establish some Street Fighter dominance with a strong showing in his group.
Former EVO winner and king of using the PlayStation 1 pad, Luffy is one of Europe’s best. Winning a lot of tournaments in the region and putting on a decent performance around the world. Luffy’s Mika is a formidable force, but where does she stack up in a tournament featuring NuckleDu and Fuudo? He likely has enough to make it through the group stage.
Chris Tatarian is the other American Ken player in the tournament, who said on a podcast recently that should Ken receive any more nerfs he might look to another character. Now, although they’re not here yet, Ken is getting rebalanced a bit in the April patch. Will that be playing on his mind? Is this his last hurrah with his beloved Ken? Either way, he’s one of the best in the World on that character, worshipping at the altar of Momochi.
The third and final European player in the tournament and the one who has had the best start to 2017. One of the Street Fighter scenes young talents, alongside Punk, Smug and NuckleDu, Phenom finished in the top 16 at Final Round XX and got his first CPT points of the season on the board. The only Bison player in the tournament, a character that Japanese players have been saying is top tier, recently, as well as having a Necalli main, Phenom can beat anyone on his day and already has a few legendary names on his hitlist.
NuckleDu and Luffy to take the first two places, making Mika players worldwide extremely happy. LPN and Chris T to miss out, but this will definitely be a much closer group than any of the other three so far. I don’t expect anyone to wash out with the horrid 0-7 result out of this set of players. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if deciding on the players who qualify and the two that miss out goes right to the final round of matches. It’s going to be an exciting one tonight at the ELEAGUE studios in Atlanta.