With the inaugural ELEAGUE Street Fighter V tournament kicking off yesterday we’re now into a few weeks of Street Fighter action featuring some of the World’s best players. Tonight (9PM UK) is the turn of qualifying group B, which is perhaps the most intriguing group of them all. Four bona fide Street Fighter legends are in this group, alongside some great players from last CPT Season and some young and exciting talent.
A super-aggressive Dhalsim player who makes most people she plays look absolutely helpless, but when it comes to the very elite of Street Fighter players hasn’t quite had that marquee win to date – she’s yet to crack a top 8 at a SFV major. However, she’s an incredibly entertaining player, taking a character that is traditionally best played defensively and instead is constantly on the front foot, forcing her opponents to deal with some tricky offensive tactics.
Red Bull’s Snake Eyez is well known for being a Zangief main, but has been busting out Ryu and Akuma picks in some of ‘Gief’s less than favourable matchups as of late. However, with Zangief getting a few buffs in Season 2 (and a few more, including new moves, coming in the April update) it might be time Snake Eyez sticks with his true love and puts in a strong performance. Snake Eyez is yet to make a big impact in Street Fighter V – could this be the start of something?
Gamerbee had a great run in mid-2016 when he won back to back Premier events, but had a disappointing Capcom Cup, finishing outside of the top 16 and then outside of the top 32 at Final Round XX, the first event of the 2017 season. His main, Necalli, did get a few nerfs in the Season 2 balance patch, so there’s every possibility that he is still finding his way with the changes – a point compounded when he chose Cammy for a few of his games during the SXSW Fighter’s Underground event.
The first of three legit US Street Fighter legends in group B, Alex Valle has been playing Rashid in Street Fighter V, a character that suits his patented ‘rushdown’ style, and the Season 2 balance patch was pretty kind to his chosen character. Normally busy being the mastermind behind Wednesday Night Fights, Valle is a dark horse in this group – you simply can’t count out a player of his pedigree. Expect to see a dab or two if he strings together some big wins!
THE Justin Wong, Marvel and Street Fighter supremo, has stuck with Karin as his main in Season 2 and has delivered consistent results in Street Fighter V competition for over a year now. Karin didn’t get much work in the Season 2 balance patch and in the hands of a player like Wong she’s extremely solid – amazing footsies and mixups, as well as decent damage output – means it is tough to see a situation where Justin Wong fails to qualify for the next stage.
Eita was one of the top 8 at EVO 2016 with his wild and reckless Ken play. If Momochi is the technical master – clean and with ridiculous hit confirms – Eita is the opposite, throwing out some risky stuff and gambling with big damage as much as possible. This makes him very exciting to watch. He’s also been trying out some Akuma, who has even higher damage output, but even less health than Ken! Because of this, Eita matches are always contested on a knife edge.
Balrog is arguably the best character in Street Fighter V right now, possessing what can only really be described as a ‘touch of death’ once he hit confirms into his V-Trigger. Once used, Balrog can output damage that just evaporates a health bar. In the hands of longtime Balrog main, the fittingly named PR Balrog has his beloved character back after starting Street Fighter V with Necalli. A Balrog player can turn a match around in their favour with one big combo, so PR Balrog is definitely a contender in this tournament.
The beast finds himself in the same group as classic rivals Justin Wong and Alex Valle, so there’s potential for some really hype encounters during this group. Daigo stubbornly stuck with Ryu at Final Round XX, even after Ryu getting hit pretty hard by the Season 2 patch, and it didn’t really work out. So, Daigo has confirmed he will be playing as Guile during E-League – a character he described on his stream as ‘perfect’. Interesting note: This Street Fighter tournament doesn’t have a single Ryu main in it, since Daigo’s switch. What’s up with that, Capcom?
Prediction: Justin Wong and Daigo Umehara are the favourites for the group. There is upset potential surrounding some of their competitors, but the two players are legends of the game, and should be looking to make it out of the group stages in an event like this.