Fittingly, the first player to secure their spot in the ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational finals is the man who calls himself “The Alpha.”
Victor “Punk” Woodley turned in another dominant performance on Friday night to win Group A of the invitational event. He scored a 3-1 victory over Thomas “Brolynho” Proença to open the semifinal round, then defeated his friend and training partner Bryant “Smug” Huggins in a thrilling 3-2 set to secure his place in the finals.
Despite Punk’s history of success over Smug, his win did not come easy. Punk raced out to a 2-0 lead but Smug and his ever-dangerous Balrog fought back to tie the set at 2-2. Smug fought off three set points during his comeback, but he simply ran out of steam when he tried to fight off a fourth.
Despite the closeness of the set, Punk had things well at hand… at least, as he tells it.
“[The comeback] was for dramatic effect,” joked Punk after his victory. “For the viewers watching at home, I had to make it look good. I didn’t want it to be a blowout.”
Smug will be joined in the finals by Momochi Yusuke, who used a surprise Ibuki pick to defeat Punk in the losers’ final of the group by a 3-1 margin. Momochi’s Ken defeated Smug during the preliminary rounds, but his Ibuki lost a decisive 3-0 set earlier in Friday’s competition.
Punk and Momochi will compete for the ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational title and a share of the $250,000 prize pool on May 26. Punk will enter the eight-player bracket on the winners’ side, while Momochi will enter on the losers’ side. The pair also took the top two spots in the group during the preliminary round.
Smug finished third in the group, while Brolynho placed fourth.
Lee “Infiltration” Seon-Woo was one spot short of the TBS-aired final four by Brolynho, who has become a demon to the reigning Evo champion. Infiltration scored a 3-1 victory over Brolynho to open proceedings, but the two met later in the evening in an elimination match and Brolynho earned a 3-0 win.
Infiltration has now lost three times to the Brazilian star in four tournament meetings. He suffered a 2-0 defeat at the Brooklyn Beatdown last October and a 2-1 loss during last week’s preliminary round.
Julio Fuentes, who was eliminated in sixth place, announced that he will take an indefinite break from competition to allow his injured elbow to fully heal. The injury, which he has described as tendonosis, has impacted his ability to train and compete. He lost to both Smug and Brolynho on Friday and went a combined 2-7 over his two days of competition.
“I told [Echo Fox] I’m going to heal up because I’m not going to play the game I love without a healthy arm,” Julio said in an interview after he was eliminated. “I’m going to go back to the cave and heal up. I’ll still be studying the game, but I won’t be too active.”
ELEAGUE will go dark next week to allow players to compete at NorCal Regionals, next weekend’s Capcom Pro Tour Premier event. Group B’s quarterfinals and semifinals will take place on April 21.