Three things to watch for at G-League
Evo is just around the corner, but there is still a major prize to be won before then.
After a rare week off, the Capcom Pro Tour returns to action this weekend at G-League in Shanghai, China. While the Chinese mainland has hosted a few Pro Tour events in the past, this tournament marks the first time that the nation will host a Premier event.
G-League's Street Fighter V tournament is slightly smaller in scale than the one that will take place at Evo, with only 100 players registered compared to the over-5,000 who will compete in Las Vegas next weekend. But there will be plenty of quality on display in Shanghai, as each of the 16 groups feature at least one player who either qualified for Capcom Cup last year or would qualify for this year's edition if the season ended today.
There will be plenty of great play to watch when the action begins on Thursday at 10pm ET / 7pm PT on the Capcom Fighters Twitch channel. Here are the three biggest stories to follow this weekend:
Can Japan add yet another Pro Tour title to its trophy case?
The Asian portion of this season's Pro Tour has been dominated by Japan. Six different Japanese players have won this season, and all six will be in action in Shanghai.
The contingent is led by Taniguchi "Tokido" Hajime, who might be the favorite this weekend after he turned in a dominant performance at CEO two weeks ago. Tokido has placed in the top three of every Pro Tour event he has entered this season, and another such result would move him to first place in the Pro Tour global standings. This season's other Japanese Premier event winner, Stunfest champion Momochi Yusuke, will be looking to pick up some momentum before he attempts to win a second straight Evo title next week.
Reigning Capcom Cup champion Inoue "Kazunoko" Ryota will be looking to add a second 2016 Pro Tour win to his resume this weekend. Haitani Tatsuya, Hayashi "Mago" Kenryo, and Nagata "Eita" Hiroyuki, all of whom won Ranking events this season, will look to do the same.
Will the third time be the charm for Fuudo?
Tokido's run to a CEO title was entertaining not only because of the incredible skill he showed, but because of the story behind it. Tokido had lost to Lee "Infiltration" Seon-Woo in the grand final of the season's first two Premier events, then placed third in the next two before he finally claimed victory. The joy wasn't in seeing him win, but in seeing him finally take home what he had been so close to earning so many times.
Ai "Fuudo" Keita is hoping to have a similar celebration this weekend. The 2011 Evo champion reached the grand final of back-to-back Premier events—Stunfest and DreamHack Summer—but fell short of a title both times. He played incredibly well during that stretch, defeating Tokido at each tournament and picking up other victories over Umehara Daigo, Ho Kun Xian, and Haitani. If he's able to reach that level again this weekend, that elusive Premier win might be in the cards.
Can XiaoHai turn back the Japanese challenge?
Yes, there's plenty of excitement about the Japanese players in attendance. And yes, other international players will challenge for the title, including Singapore's Xian and Taiwan's Bruce "GamerBee" Hsiang. But host nation China isn't exactly chopped liver here. Three Chinese players qualified for Capcom Cup last year, and all three will be in attendance at G-League in hopes of making a return trip.
Zeng "XiaoHai" Zhuojun is perhaps the Chinese player with the best chance to take home the title this weekend. He went undefeated in last month's U-League, an eight-man round-robin invitational that included Daigo, Xian and Infiltration. Zeng "Jiewa" Xijie, who has a pair of top-three Pro Tour finishes this season, will be in attendance as well, as will fellow Capcom Cup veteran Su "Dakou" Haojun. They'll be joined by Xu "Abao" Yongkuan, who finished runner-up to XiaoHai at U-League last month.