Aug 29 2016 - 11:29 pm

Daigo and NuckleDu both score back-to-back Capcom Pro Tour wins

The busiest weekend of the Capcom Pro Tour season is in the books, and the race to qualify for Capcom Cup 2016 is finally starting to take shape
Steve Jurek
Dot Esports

The busiest weekend of the Capcom Pro Tour season is in the books, and the race to qualify for Capcom Cup 2016 is finally starting to take shape.

Nobody officially secured a place in Capcom Cup 2016 over the weekend, but qualification for the $250,000 season finale is all but assured for two of the weekend’s winners. A legendary Beast fought his way to a second straight victory—and a likely Capcom Cup berth—in Australia, while one of North America’s most popular players was able to Du the same in Texas. Elsewhere, a trio of players earned their first-ever Pro Tour victories and gave their qualification hopes much-needed boosts.

Here’s what happened during a busy weekend of Capcom Pro Tour action, and what it means going forward.

OzHadou Nationals 14

Umehara Daigo claimed victory in the Street Fighter V tournament at OzHadou Nationals in Sydney, Australia on Sunday. The win was his third consecutive top-two finish and his second straight Pro Tour victory after his triumph at E-Sports Festival Hong Kong last weekend.

It seems silly to think that Umehara Daigo wouldn’t be in this year’s Capcom Cup. Yet that’s where we were three weeks ago when Daigo had just 73 Capcom Pro Tour points to his name. Daigo’s problems were twofold: he wasn’t attending many tour events, and he wasn’t getting valuable first- and second-place finishes at the events he did attend.

It’s safe to say that Daigo has addressed both of those problems.

The win brought his season total to 393 points, which could be enough to qualify for Capcom Cup 2016. Even if his current total is not quite enough for qualification, Daigo is scheduled to compete at East Coast Throwdown in New Jersey and Lockdown 2016 in Portugal over the next two weeks, and he will be heavily favored at both events.

With just 122 points, runner-up Bruce “Gamerbee” Hsiang still has lots of work to do to earn a spot in this year’s Capcom Cup. But with two top-three finishes in the past two weeks, he appears to be rounding into form at the right time. With Daigo spending the next couple of weeks overseas, the next two weeks could be Gamerbee’s best chance to jump back into the thick of the qualification race.

Kumada “Itabashi Zangief” Hiromiki placed third, which was good enough to earn a spot in the Asian regional final as both Daigo and Gamerbee had already qualified. That may be his most likely path to Capcom Cup as he remains well outside of qualifying position.

Fourth-place finisher Kenneth “K-Brad” Bradley can call this weekend a win. The 16 points he earned at OzHadou didn’t significantly strengthen his position, but it did keep him within striking distance of the global qualification places. And with Felipe “Misterio” Torres’ failing to crack the top eight in Rio this weekend, K-Brad remains in qualifying position through the Latin American leaderboard.

Absolute Battle 7

Daigo wasn’t the only player to pick up back-to-back wins over the last two weeks.

One week after taking top honors at Summer Jam X, Du “NuckleDu” Dang claimed victory at Absolute Battle 7 in Dallas, Texas on Sunday. The win brought NuckleDu to 436 points on the season, good enough for seventh place in the global standings and likely enough to secure passage into Capcom Cup 2016.

After a loss in pool play to Rian “I.C.E.” Eddins, NuckleDu rattled off 11 straight victories in the losers’ bracket to take the tournament. The first seven of those wins came by either 2-0 or 3-0 margins, but his final victories were all thrillers. He eliminated Alex Myers 3-2 to eliminate him in fourth place, then knocked out Darryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis in third by the same margin to reach the grand final. Once there, he scored a pair of 3-2 victories over Antwan “alucarD” Ortiz to take the title.

AlucarD needed a win to get into the race for Capcom Cup qualification, and he came painfully close to getting that victory. In the first grand final set, he held a 2-0 lead and won the first round of game three before NuckleDu stormed back. alucarD had a 2-1 lead in the second set as well, but he could not seal the deal. Still, he earned a place in the North American regional final for his efforts as NuckleDu had already qualified.

Snake Eyez recorded his best performance of the season at Absolute Battle, but he still has just 40 points on the season and remains outside of the top 60 in the global standings. He is running out of time to play his way into the Capcom Cup field.

Ryan “FChamp” Ramirez had a weekend to forget. He failed to make it out of pool play after a pair of losses to eventual 13th-place finisher Angel “Windalfr” Ortega. He remains within striking distance of North American qualification, but he will need to regain his early season form to get there. Of the 142 points FChamp has earned this season, just four have come after June 1.

European Online Qualifier #2

Sean “ImStillDaDaddy” Dench opened the weekend by winning the season’s second European online event. Not only was the victory was his first ever triumph in a Pro Tour event, but it also marked his first ever top-four finish in the three-year history of the Pro Tour.

ImStillDaDaddy will need to follow his online success with offline success if he hopes to qualify for this year’s Capcom Cup. He had just five points to his name at the beginning of the weekend, so he remains well outside of qualifying position despite his victory. He did qualify for the European regional final, but winning that tournament will be no small task.

Runner-up Christ “Akainu” Onema is nearly 40 points behind ImStillDaDaddy, but might be the more dangerous player at the moment. The Frenchman appears to be coming into his own, as his second-place finish this weekend came just three weeks after his third-place run at VSFighting. Still, with just five Ranking events left in Europe, time is not on Akainu’s side.

Olivier “Luffy” Hay’s fourth-place finish was a microcosm of his season: a good performance that did little to improve his chances at qualifying for this year’s Capcom Cup. He has reached the top 16 in eight European events this season, more than any other player on the continent. But with no wins, his consistency has not been enough to keep pace with European leaders Younes “CCL” Lazaar and Nathan “Mister Crimson” Massol. Luffy can change his fortunes drastically with a win, but he’s running out of time to get that vital victory.

Fight in Rio

Thomas “Brolynho” Proenca boosted his Capcom Cup qualification hopes with a win at Fight in Rio in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Sunday. Brolynho’s victory moved him into fifth place in the Latin American standings and earned him a place in the Latin American regional final.

Ninth-place finisher Misterio earned just two points at the event. He remains in third place in the Latin American standings, but with Latin American leader Justin Wong all but certain to qualify through the global leaderboard, Misterio’s current position is good enough to qualify for Capcom Cup 2016.

Argentina Pro Gaming Series

Chile’s Alvaro “Baek” Acosta won the Argentina Pro Gaming Series title in Buenos Aires on Sunday to earn a spot in the Latin American regional final. Baek earned his first Pro Tour points of the season, as did thirteen other players. None of the top sixteen finishers at the event had more than two points prior to the weekend.

Jan 23 2017 - 3:29 pm

Our predictions for the Evo 2017 lineup

These are the ten games we think will make it to Las Vegas... and the four that won't
Steve Jurek
Dot Esports

Ladies and gentlemen, we are about to officially enter Evo season.

Organizers for Evo, the largest fighting game event in the world, will reveal the event's 2017 lineup on Tuesday at 9pm ET. Thousands of fans will be watching intently to see if their favorite game will be played on the fighting game world's biggest stage. There is a bit of uncertainty about this year's lineup, as several new games—including King of Fighters XIV, BlazBlue: Central Fiction, and Injustice 2—all have strong cases to be part of the Evo 2017 lineup, and the nine games that were part of Evo 2016 all have strong arguments to return to the event.

Earlier this month, lead Evo organizer Joey Cuellar asked which seven games fans would like to see at Evo 2017. This led many to believe that only seven games will be featured at this year's event. While that's certainly a possibility, Evo staff have a tendency to try and do things bigger than they did the year before. I feel that this year will be no different, as I believe a record-setting ten games will make the final list.

Here are the 10 games I believe will make the cut for the Evo 2017 lineup, along with a few that won't.

Will make the cut

Street Fighter V

After a launch year that included poor reviews, missed sales targets, and an embarrassing rootkit fiasco, it is safe to say that 2016 was not a great year for Street Fighter V. However, there was one area in which the game was unquestionably successful: tournament turnout. A record-setting 5,100 players took part in last year's Evo tournament, which is more than the number of players who participated in the second- and third-largest tournaments in the event's history combined. Despite its freshman struggles, Street Fighter V's status as an Evo game is as safe as can be.

Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. for WiiU

The increasing prominence of Smash games at traditional fighting game events has not been without controversy, but it's a trend that isn't going away anytime soon. Last year's two Smash games were the second- and third-largest events in Evo history. Over 2,600 players entered last year's WiiU tournament, while over 2,300 entered the Melee event. With support like that, it's impossible to imagine a 2017 lineup without either game.

Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3

To steal a line from a popular fighting game talk show: Marvel lives! The Marvel community did everything they could over the past two years to reignite interest in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, and Capcom's December announcement of Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite poured gasoline on that spark. There's no doubt that we'll see at least one more Evo with the insanity that is Marvel 3.

Injustice 2

Injustice 2's May 16 release date will surely make Evo organizers a bit nervous. With just two months between the game's release and Evo 2017, the game's entertainment value will hinge largely how well-balanced the game's cast is at launch. A poor initial balance could lead to a repeat of the original Injustice's Evo debut in 2013, an event in which three of the top six finishers played Superman. Still, those fears won't be enough to dissuade Evo organizers from including the game in the 2017 lineup.

Tekken 7: Fated Retribution

It's strange to think that Tekken 7, a game that hasn't seen an official North American release, can be making a third straight Evo appearance. Yet here we are. Bandai Namco, the Tekken series' publisher, has done well to drum up interest in the game with its regional King of the Iron Fist tours. That effort will pay dividends on Tuesday, and they'll pay dividends once players can finally get their hands on the game. Speaking of...

 BONUS PREDICTION: Tekken 7 console release date will be revealed

Tekken publisher Bandai Namco has promised to announce a console release date for its much-anticipated fighter some time this week. The company has been coy about exactly when that announcement will come, but Tuesday's Evo lineup reveal show seems to be the most likely choice. With popular figure Mark "Markman" Julio - who has appeared on the reveal show in each of the past two years - now working with both Evo and Tekken in official capacities, this appears to be a no-brainer.

King of Fighters XIV

The King of Fighters series is always a favorite among international Evo viewers, so it would be incredibly shocking to see the recently-released King of Fighters XIV left out of the 2017 lineup. 

Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- and BlazBlue: Central Fiction

Evo has historically had one unwritten rule for "anime" games: they only get one spot in the lineup. That rule was broken in 2015 when both Guilty Gear Xrd and Persona 4 Arena Ultimax were included in the event, but only Xrd returned last year. I feel that this year will see that rule broken again, as the BlazBlue series has a strong new entrant in Central Fiction to join Guilty Gear Xrd's still-strong -Revelator- update.

Killer Instinct

This may be the toughest call on the list. With the amount of developer and community support shown for the game four years after release, Killer Instinct is the type of game you want to see succeed. Microsoft is now backing the competitive scene in a big way as evidenced by the upcoming $30,000 Killer Instinct World Cup in March. I feel that momentum should be enough to see the game make the cut again despite being the game that had the fewest entrants at Evo 2016.

Will not make the cut

Pokken Tournament

It's tough to imagine a game going from over 1,100 entrants at Evo 2016 to not even in the 2017 lineup, but that's the fate that I believe Pokken Tournament will face on Tuesday. The game's community has shown up to events in force, but so have many other communities. Pokken felt like an odd choice last year, but with so many other games in contention,this year it feels like the odd one out. 

Mortal Kombat XL

There is precedence for Evo including two different NetherRealm Studio games at one Evo - both Mortal Kombat 9 and the original Injustice were a part of Evo 2013. But with so much crossover between players from the two series, along with the abundance of potential choices at Evo's disposal, I think that we've seen the last of Mortal Kombat XL at Evo.

Ultra Street Fighter II and ARMS

The Nintendo Switch will likely have at least two fighting games available by the time Evo rolls around, but don't expect to hear the name of either game on Tuesday. Many tournament players love Super Street Fighter II Turbo, but its re-release as an "HD Remix" was not particularly well-received by most of that group. It's doubtful they would be more receptive to Ultra Street Fighter II, a game that appears to be an HD remix of HD Remix. And as fun as it would be to see players like Justin Wong and Daigo duke it out with motion controls, there are far too many 'legit' fighting games in the running for a spot in the lineup to take a flyer on ARMS.

Jan 23 2017 - 8:37 pm

Armada takes out Genesis 4 Melee crown

His win at Genesis 4 helps solidify his claim as the best Melee player of all time.
Xing Li
Dot Esports

We've seen this story before. Adam "Armada" Lindgren vs. Joseph "Mang0" Marquez for the Genesis Super Smash Bros. Melee title.

Once again, Armada emerged victorious.

Both players are idolized in the Smash community for their stunning success over the years. But if any venue has been the site of their personal rivalry, it's Genesis, where the two have met in the finals again and again. There were other talented players in the field, but this is the matchup most fans wanted to see at Genesis 4.

Armada had the easier path to the final by virtue of his 3-1 victory over Mang0, which sent his rival to the loser's bracket. Armada had a relatively easy time, absolutely controlling stages and strangling life from his opponents. His run seemed relatively routine until he ran into Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman.

Mew2King was on-point with grabs and air attacks on his signature Marth. Many times, Armada was stalling on Peach, trying to get into winning situations. Mew2King had a lead and momentum.

But Peach is hard to finish off and Armada's stalling got him to a deciding fifth game. Even then, Mew2King had chances, but missed key inputs. Small mistakes compound against a talent like Armada, and he punished Mew2King relentlessly.

In the loser's bracket, Mang0 survived by grit and guile, coming back from numerous deficits. First, it was against William "Leffen" Hjelte, where Mang0 mounted an insane comeback to tie the set at two games apiece. But Leffen came out strong in the deciding game and quickly took a two-stock (life) lead. Down to his last stock, Mang0 found his way back to the middle of the stage and went ham, somehow ending Leffen's run. The comeback ignited the crowd, with fans hugging and high-fiving at what they just witnessed.

Things wouldn't get easier. Juan "Hungrybox" Manuel Debiedma, valiantly playing with a broken finger, used Jigglypuff's burst to take big stock leads. But Mang0 continued to control the center of the stage to take Hungrybox down. He then beat Mew2King—reeling from his loss to Armada—to set up the finals rematch.

Fans wanted to see a show, but it was a different one than they might have expected. Though these two have gone back and forth in extremely close sets over the years, Armada has been on a tear for the last several months. And the final against Mang0 was no different. Instead of a close, tightly-fought match, fans got a coronation.

Armada had an answer for everything Mang0 threw at him. He floated around and seemed to take no damage. It was perhaps his most convincing win of the day.

Melee has been ruled by the Six Gods (which includes all the aforementioned players) for years now. But Armada is beginning to separate himself from the pack. He stands alone at the top at the beginning of 2017—if he ends the year in the same position, he could cement himself as the greatest Melee player of all time.