Infiltration wins Final Round, is the first player to qualify for Capcom Cup 2016
There may be a different game on the Capcom Pro Tour this year, but familiar faces stood tall at the end of the day.
Team Razer's Lee "Infiltration" Seon-Woo picked up where he left off in 2015 by winning the Street Fighter V tournament at Final Round, the first Premier event of the 2016 Capcom Pro Tour. In doing so, he became the first player to qualify for Capcom Cup 2016.
Infiltration secured the victory with a 3-1 win over Mad Catz's Taniguchi "Tokido" Hajime in the tournament's grand final. Hayashi "Mago" Kenryo, also of Mad Catz, finished third, while Haitani Tetsuya finished fourth to complete an international sweep of the top four places.
In contrast to the Cannes Winter Clash, the first CPT event of the year, the last players standing at Final Round were all familiar to those who followed last year's tour, which was contested in Ultra Street Fighter IV. Infiltration was one of two players who won six events last season, while Mago and Tokido each won Premier events. All three participated in Capcom Cup last year, while Haitani fell a few points short of qualifying.
One of the most talked-about topics coming into the weekend was how American players would compare to their Asian counterparts. Street Fighter V had a near-simultaneous global launch and no arcade release, so players from the United States have had the same amount of time to play the game as their Asian counterparts.
Still, no American could come up with an answer for Infiltration's Nash play. There was no shortage of big-name American players thought to have a chance at winning, including Darryl "Snake Eyez" Lewis, Ryan "Filipino Champ" Ramirez, and Arturo "Sabin" Sanchez. While Snake Eyez and Filipino Champ both reached the last 16 of the tournament, Sabin failed to crack the top 64 of the event.
International players ruled the day, but not all of them ran rampant over American competition. Singapore's Kun Xian Ho and Japan's Takahashi "Bonchan" Masato and Momochi Yusuke, all of whom won Premier events on last year's tour, failed to crack the top 32. Chinese stars Su "Dakou" Haojun and Zeng "Xiaohai" Zhuojun also bowed out in 33rd place.
Still, the win marked the 21st straight CPT Premier event in which a player from the United States failed to win, a run which began after Snake Eyez won The Fall Classic in September 2014. Twenty of those events have been won by Asian players, with Brazilian Keoma Pachec's win at Brazil Game Show last September the only blemish on that run.
The top four finishers were all well-established on the international ˆ scene. But the four players who finished directly behind them were not regulars at CPT award ceremonies last year.
Brentt "Brenttiscool" Franks, one of two Americans to tie for fifth place, is a regular at the weekly Wednesday Night Fights tournament, but he did not finish in the top four of any CPT event last year. The other fifth-place finisher, Nando Tovar, had a strong ninth-place finish at last year's SoCal Regionals.
Seventh-place finisher Kishida "Go1" Goichi of Japan made his mark in multiple "anime" fighters, including the Melty Blood series. He isn't known as a Street Fighter player. The same is true for the other seventh-place finisher; 18-year-old Dominique "SonicFox" McLean. SonicFox has been successful at multiple games, most prominently as the unquestioned best Mortal Kombat player in the world for the past year—a claim furthered by his win in the Mortal Kombat XL tournament at Final Round—but some thought he would be unable to find success in a game with a much larger pool of competition.
SonicFox's run to a top eight finish was nearly derailed in bizarre fashion on Sunday. He faced Joshua "Wolfkrone" Philpot in the winners round of 64. Wolfkrone won the first game convincingly, but SonicFox recovered early in the second game. During the final round of game two, one player appeared to hit the home button on their PS4 controller, which interrupted the game. The pause was initially ruled to be SonicFox's fault, which meant that Wolfkrone was awarded the round and a 2-0 win. SonicFox insisted, however, that he did not hit the button. Tournament organizers reviewed match footage and determined that Wolfkrone was actually the one at fault, which made the match 1-1 instead of a 2-0 win. A half-hour after the revised decision, Wolfkrone and SonicFox played the decisive game, which SonicFox won.
Wolfkrone’s controller malfunction was overshadowed later in the day by a series of stick failures. Infiltration, Xian, and Ai "Fuudo" Keita, all of whom are sponsored by Razer, lost games on Sunday due to stick malfunctions. While Infiltration still won the set in which his controller had issues, Xian and Fuudo lost theirs. This comes months after Momochi's Razer stick failed during the grand finals at Evo 2015.
The stick issues were addressed by Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan in a Facebook post. He announced that the players were using prototype sticks, as Razer does not currently sell any PS4 sticks. He announced that the company "will suspend any new FGC sponsorships until the PS4 sticks are ready for production," but that "existing support for our players remains unaffected." Whether Razer’s players will continue to use the prototype sticks was unclear.
The Capcom Pro Tour continues this weekend with NorCal Regionals in Sacramento. Like Final Round, the winner of the event will qualify directly into Capcom Cup.