Victor “Punk” Woodley can be happy that his first day in the ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational looked very similar to his first day in last weekend’s Fighters Underground event. This time around, Punk will be looking for a much different ending.
Punk won Group A of the invitational’s preliminary round on Monday with a 6-1 record. This marks the second time in as many weeks that he has won a group stage after going 7-0 in his group at Fighters Underground. He went 0-2 during the playoff stage of that event, a feat he will hope to avoid repeating in Atlanta.
Punk advanced directly into the second stage of group play and is just two wins away from a spot in the finals. He will be joined in that second stage by former Evo and Capcom Cup champion Yusuke Momochi. Momochi and Bryant “Smug” Higgins both finished the day with 5-2 records, but Momochi earned the group’s second-place spot by virtue of a head-to-head victory over Smug.
Smug will have to play through the first stage of group play along with Lee “Infiltration” Seonwoo, Thomas “Brolynho” Proença, and Julio Fuentes, who finished fourth, fifth, and sixth respectively. These four will compete early in the evening on Friday, April 7 in a double-elimination tournament. The top two finishers in that stage will join Smug and Momochi later that evening in the second stage for another double-elimination tournament, which will air on TBS.
The qualification was especially sweet for Julio, who is coming back from a major elbow injury. Julio has suffered through a tendon issue in his elbow for the past couple of years, but the issue became serious late last year and impacted his ability to practice. ELEAGUE marked his first major event appearance since Capcom Cup in December.
For the day’s other two competitors, their ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational runs end nearly as soon as they began.
Ricki Ortiz and Martin “Marn” Phan were the two Group A players eliminated on the first day of preliminary round action in Atlanta. Ortiz finished last in the eight-player group with an 0-7 record. Marn finished with a 2-5 record alongside Julio, but Julio advanced thanks to a head-to-head victory over Marn to open the day’s action.
Ortiz struggled all day on Monday, winning just two games over the course of her seven matches. Three of her matches ended with her failing to score a single round, including a loss to group winner Punk and his side-character Nash.
The difference in Ortiz’s performances between the first and second season of the game has been night and day. Chun-Li, Ortiz’s main character, was arguably the strongest in the game during the first season. She won a Capcom Pro Tour event last year, finished eighth or better at 11 others, and earned a second-place finish at the season-ending Capcom Cup.
The balance changes that accompanied the launch of the game’s second season sent Chun-Li tumbling down the tier list, and Ortiz has struggled to find her groove ever since. She placed 33rd at Final Round, went 0-7 during group play at the Fighters Underground event at the SXSW festival, and went winless on Monday.
During the broadcast, Ortiz mentioned the possibility of using Cammy, a character she is adding to her arsenal, for certain matchups. The opportunity never arose on Monday, but it appears that we will see her Cammy sooner rather than later. After she was eliminated, she tweeted that she ready to “officially focus on [her] Cammy and leave Chun in the past.”
Marn was much more competitive, at least in the early going. He lost a competitive opener to Julio, then scored wins over both Ortiz and Momochi. But as dangerous as his Ibuki was throughout the day, he could not muster up another win, losing his final four matches by 0-2 margins.
In an interview following his final match, Marn jokingly said that he hated Brazil, the homeland of the player that had just defeated him, Brolynho. He maintained the joking persona throughout the interview, but his disappointment in his loss was clear.
“I tried to practice,” said Marn. “I came [to the United States] a month early, practiced with my friend Justin [Wong]… and it wasn’t enough. The only thing I can do is keep practicing, get better, stop letting myself down, stop letting other people down.”
Group B will begin play on Tuesday. That group will be headlined by a trio of fighting game legends: Umehara Daigo, Justin Wong, and Alex Valle.