European Street Fighter 5 got its first taste of Capcom Pro Tour action this past weekend in Madrid, Spain with the Sonic Boom IV event. A ranking event, which traditionally struggle to pull in talent from outside of the European region, but was attended by some major US names – Ricki Ortiz, Flash and Justin Wong – as well as some players we haven’t seen travel for a while, like Oil King and BigBird. The Spanish FGC was out in full support of the event and provided some great hype for the competitors, making for a really memorable tournament and a great start for this year’s tour in Europe.
Winner: Problem X
UK’s Problem X – who has qualified for the Capcom Cup for the past two seasons – gets his Capcom Pro Tour off to a strong start. Using his new main, Birdie, and M.Bison for specific matchups, he beat out some strong competitors to take first place – including Justin Wong. Problem has been regarded as the best UK player for some time but has had mixed results when travelling, so this is a really important win and something to build off for the rest of this second season of Street Fighter V.
The Grand Final, against Dubai’s BigBird, was one of the most thrilling back-and-forth SFV matches of the year so far. They played in Winner’s Final, with BigBird losing and making his way to the Grand Final and rematch with Problem, where he reset the bracket and forced Problem to adapt his approach and take the win. The sign of a truly top player, being able to work out your opponent’s tendencies and adjust on the fly to beat them in sets. With Birdie and Bison looking strong characters heading into the April rebalance, Problem looks to make a run at being Europe’s number one.
Moment Of The Tournament: Sven’s Big Win.
Sven Van De Wege is blind. He lives in the Netherlands, is a massive Street Fighter fan and has been playing games in the series all his life – entirely by their sound. He wanted to take part in a tournament and flew out with his girlfriend to Madrid to take part in Sonic Boom. With some help getting set up by the tournament staff (who did a great job in making the event accessible for Sven) he got ready to play the first of his pools matches. He put on the headphones, picked his main character – Ken – and started playing.
Sven played well, taking calculated risks based entirely on the audio cues and what I can only assume is an incredible understanding of the frame data – what is safe, unsafe and what is worth risking given a particular situation – to keep his opponent guessing, pulling off some smart mixups and making some great reads. When he won, the already hype Spanish crowd went crazy, realising they’d seen quite a special moment. Sven appeared to be quite emotional after recording his first ever tournament win – we all remember our first and this is definitely one Sven will have on his mind for a long time.
Eventually, Sven did what most tournament first-timers do and washed out in pools, but hey, most people go 0-2 at their first event. 1-2 isn’t too shabby at all! More importantly, however, was how he inspired players of all abilities with his performance. For every blow up the FGC has, there’s a moment like this that reminds you that this really is a fighting game COMMUNITY.
Event commentator and Ginx TV host caught up with Sven after his matches for a chat about his history with fighting games and what made him fly out to compete at Sonic Boom. Well worth your time.
The next event is the new Premier taking place in Paris, Ultimate Fighting Arena, next weekend. Heading into that, it’s time to take a look at who raised their stock at Sonic Boom and who needs to impress in Paris.
Big Bird didn’t travel a whole lot in 2016, but when he did, he impressed. His performance at Red Bull Kumite was one of the talking points of the event, and he posted consistent top 8 results at the events he did attend. Runner up at Sonic Boom nets him a healthy 100 CPT points and a great start to the season. He’s set to attend UFA in Paris next weekend.
ISDD was given a heroes welcome at Sonic Boom, with his ‘soldiers’ coming out to lend their support for the General. He did them proud, too with a fifth place overall finish and some really hype moments during his matches. A win against Cobelcog had the crowd going nuts and he took eventual runner-up Big Bird right to the wire in their match. With his stream going from strength to strength and some big wins already under his belt, this could be the start of a very big year for ISDD.
Yes, the character Birdie. He’s actually pretty good in Season 2, where he doesn’t have to worry as much about invincible Dragon Punches and has an EX Bull Charge that is -2 on block with high pushback. He absolutely dominates the neutral game and in the last few weeks, the character has won three tournaments, with Sonic Boom being the biggest. He’s flown under the radar, but people are starting to see that the Birdman is deadly in the right hands.
A rough showing at SXSW, followed by being one of the four players to go 0-7 during the E League qualifiers and then finishing outside the top 8 at an admittedly strong tournament, but where’s the Ricki that was runner-up at Capcom Cup? Or, is the question, where’s the Chun-Li she was using when she finished runner-up at Capcom Cup? Either way, a big performance at UFA next week would put all of this to rest.
Not a single Ryu player in the entire top 32. This is Street Fighter we’re playing, right?