At the beginning of the second day of the ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational, most of the attention was focused on a trio of legendary players. By the end of the day, the trio became a twosome.
Fighting game legend Alex Valle was eliminated at the end of Group B’s preliminary round on Tuesday, while fellow contemporaries Justin Wong and Umehara Daigo narrowly survived the stage. All three legends ended the day with 3-4 records, but Valle lost the three-way tiebreaker due to losing to both Daigo and Wong on Tuesday.
Valle, Wong, and Daigo have shared a long, storied history in fighting games, including two of the most influential moments in Street Fighter history: The then-untouchable Valle falling to Daigo in their first-ever meeting in 1998, and Daigo’s famous “Evo Moment #37” full parry against Wong in 2004. The three have since grown to become pillars and icons of the fighting game community over the past decade-plus.
On Tuesday, the trio battled to avoid becoming the most prominent players to get eliminated.
Valle and Wong both struggled early. Valle lost each of his first three matches, but recovered with victories over Darryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis and Leah “Gllty” Hayes. Meanwhile, Wong lost four of his first five matches and saw his name near the bottom of the standings for most of the day.
Near the end of the evening, Valle and Wong faced off in a match that was almost do-or-die for the former and actually do-or-die for the latter. Wong survived a big scare to take the battle by a 2-1 margin, then defeated Daigo in the his final match of the night to secure his spot in the next round and eliminate Valle.
Valle will be joined on the sidelines by Gllty, who finished the day in last place with an 0-7 record. Gllty had been one of the more controversial additions to the lineup as she had earned just two Capcom Pro Tour points last year. Although she failed to win a match, she did take games against both Daigo and Nagata “Eita” Hiroyuki and came within one round of defeating both players.
Daigo, who switched characters from Ryu to Guile before the event, avoided the threat of elimination thanks to a strong start. He won three of his first four matches, but cooled off considerably thereafter, losing each of his final three matches by 2-0 margins. His win over Valle earlier in the day kept him on the good side of the cutline, but his near-loss to Gllty showed that he still has work to do.
At the top of the standings, Eduardo “PR Balrog” Perez cruised to a 6-1 record to comfortably win Group B. His explosive Balrog melted opponents’ health bars with ease in each of his first six matches. His sole defeat came in his final match of the day, after he had secured the top spot.
That loss came at the hands of surprise second-place finisher Snake Eyez, who, on Zangief, struggled mightily during 2016. But his performance on Tuesday told a different tale. He used both a recently-strengthened Zangief and new-addition Akuma to secure a 5-2 record on the day, which was good enough to qualify directly for the semifinal stage.
Eita and Bruce “GamerBee” Hsiang finished on identical 4-3 records, but Eita earned the third-place finish in the group over Gamerbee thanks to his head-to-head victory near the end of the evening.
Eita, GamerBee, Wong, and Daigo will all compete in the quarterfinal stage of the group on April 21. The top two finishers from that round will advance to the TBS-aired semifinals later that night alongside PR Balrog and Snake Eyez.
Preliminary action in the ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational will continue on Wednesday with action in Group C. Ho Kun Xian, who won Final Round earlier this month, will headline the group alongside reigning CEO champion Taniguchi “Tokido” Hajime. Joshua “Wolfkrone” Philpot and Kenneth “K-Brad” Bradley, who have been engaged in a growing rivalry over the past few months, also feature in the group.