Yet another Street Fighter V US Premier event took place this past weekend, at the Dreamhack esports event in Austin, Texas. A massive points haul was up for grabs with the winner almost certainly guaranteeing themselves a slot at the 2017 Capcom Cup Final, provided they can dethrone a few of the Premier winners who have turned up to gate-keep first place.
Winner: Victor ‘Punk’ Woodley
There was a bit of a shock at the start of Dreamhack Austin when Punk, who is regarded as the best player in the US – if not the World – right now, was sent into loser’s bracket by Chris ‘CJ Truth’ Jayson. Punk was handing out literal teabags during the day, actual bags of tea with his face on them, and there was a bit of chat about him believing his own hype. Hubris, maybe? This loss was the catalyst to one of the most impressive runs since Martin ‘Marn’ Phan blew up the pool of death at NorCal Regionals last year. Punk defeated Vagabond, Xiao Hai, Daigo Umehara, Ricki Ortiz, Daryl ‘Snake Eyez’ Lewis, Justin Wong, Phenom, Xian and Tatsuya Haitani TWICE in the finals to take his second Premier event of the season.
It’s worth noting, in that run, up until the Grand Finals, he lost one game to Justin Wong. The rest didn’t take a single one off him. He’s the best in the world right now and without question the favourite to take Evo this year, in a similar style to Infiltration’s strong start to 2016. Could he be the first US Evo winner?
Match Of The Tournament: Victor ‘Punk’ Woodley v Tatsuya Haitani
A clash between two Capcom Pro Tour Premier winners in the Grand Final was sure to be a great scrap, but ended up being a great big full stop on Punk’s dominance. Coming in from the Loser’s bracket, he was going to have to win six matches against Haitani to take the tournament. Whenever it looked like he had been figured out, he changed things up, kept Haitani guessing and switched from gimmick-y setups to clean and precise footsies throughout the set. The final round is one of the most hype rounds since the release of Street Fighter V. Absolutely worth your time.
The Pro Tour stays in Texas this week, with a ranking event – Texas Showdown – taking place this coming weekend. Let’s take a look at the landscape heading into that event.
Myers gets his second top eight at a Premier event in the 2017 season. He’s gone 0-2 in each one, but has shown now that he can beat everyone except the very elite. Now, time to start working on beating those guys. A strong start to the year for Alex.
Daryl ‘Snake Eyez’ Lewis
A top eight is his best Premier finish to date, and with both of his characters – Akuma and of course, Zangief – getting some nice buffs to their weaknesses in the coming months, this is a good time for Snake Eyez to hit a run of form.
Everyone is banging on about Laura, Balrog, Guile and Urien for various different reasons, and yet Necalli is the top tier character from Season One who is still winning tournaments a year later. Looks like a lot of people saw the nerfs to DP and anti-air jabs and assumed Necalli was a bust, but he still has a lot of devastating tools. In the right hands, he’s very much a top tier character.
Previous 2017 Premier Winners
Xian and Haitani are amazing players and performed brilliantly at Dreamhack, but when they came up against Punk, the other Premier winner, he absolutely washed them. Xian even turned to his Season One character pick – FANG – who is regarded as the worst character in the game, just to have some sort of option against Punk’s onslaught. It didn’t go well. Punk is the alpha right now. He’s going to take some beating.
Bryant ‘Smug’ Huggins
When is Smug going to live up to his ridiculous potential? Without question one of the best players in the World, using a character who can destroy anyone if they make one mistake, surely he should be winning something soon, right? A great performance at SXSW and at events pre-CPT starting have given way to finishes outside the top 16 in other CPT events.
Du ‘NuckleDu’ Dang
We didn’t have to wait until Capcom Cup 2017 to see if Du would be dethroned as the best player in the World. There’s no question: it is Panda Global’s Punk who is running things right now.
Photo Credit: Dreamhack/Alex Chavez