The 2019 Capcom Pro Tour has been packed with non-stop action and hype competition, and this weekend was no different. Community Effort Orlando brought with it a slew of unforgettable moments, from ringside wrestling to fighting game fisticuffs - as well as a major upset that saw the defeat of one of this season’s most consistent players.
The Conclusion of Street Fighter League S1
While CEO sits on the CPT schedule as a Premier Event, that wasn’t the only fight going down on the sunny beaches of Daytona, Florida, by far: the Street Fighter League: Pro-US 2019 Mid-Season Finals also took place that weekend, pitting the League’s top four teams against each other for a heated finale on Friday, June 28.
Teams Inferno, Storm, Gale, and Frost went head-to-head to determine the “true champion” of the Street Fighter League after ten grueling weeks of intense battles. Although Team Storm’s iDom had an upper hand with Laura in the first match of the evening, NuckleDu’s G quickly turned the tides of war, going on to defeat Samurai and take the win for team Gale in the final battle.
Things came down to the wire between Team Inferno and Team Gale in the Grand Finals, with Gale’s Shine finally able to use his stellar Ibuki: but that wasn’t enough to stop Inferno’s blazing wildfire, despite Gale’s ban on Punk’s Karin. The final match threw down between Inferno’s JB and Gale’s Shine, with the two delivering a nail-biting battle that resulted in Inferno’s victory, after JB managed to clutch out the win with a final blow.
This means that Inferno and Gale will move on to the second season of the Street Fighter League - and a possible shot at competing in the Street Fighter League World Finals in December.
Let me zap you!
With the League’s first season in the books, the Premier Event rolled onwards, seeing some equally hype moments and jaw-dropping growth from hard working players. XO Academy’s very own Mahreen was one such player, set to face off against Ryo “Dogura” Nozaki in Day 1 pools, after taking out “El Jeffe” in her very first match.
Although the thought of going up against a fighting game legend like Dogura would be intimidating for any player, Mahreen secured the victory, and not by chance: her offensive use of Laura saw dominating pressure and on-point punishes for Dogura’s slip-ups, which prompted him to opt for M. Bison in their second game. While Dogura managed to take a round off of Mahreen during their second bout, she came prepared, sealing the deal after punishing Bison’s raw slide - a win that resulted in an emotional reaction on stream.
Knocking out the Alpha
Dogura wasn’t the only one struggling in Pools, either: Victor “Punk” Woodley, who has dominated the Capcom Pro Tour thus far, was taken out in Winners’ by Naoto Sako, and later eliminated completely by Bryant “Smug” Huggins in Losers’. Punk has managed to secure three Premiers this season, making second place at NorCal regionals only to his storied rival, Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi. With Punk getting knocked out of the runnings at this massive event, things were looking grim for American players as the brackets progressed: but one American managed to make his way out of the fray - and made a huge showing, in the process.
Kevin “Dual Kevin” Barrios made a strong showing in the Street Fighter League Pro-US 2019 tournament series with Team Frost, buffing up his Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition skills after a storied history in the Versus series. Following his Top 8 performance at Texas Showdown, Dual Kevin shocked fans and competitors alike by making it to CEO’s Top 24, setting him up to face none other than Daigo “The Beast” Umehara.
Kevin’s fight against Daigo was nothing short of nail-biting: Kevin managed to take a game from “The Beast,” setting them up for a final match that had viewers on the edge of their seats. It seemed like Kevin could have won the round, with both players at just a smidge of health: but Daigo punished Kevin with a well-timed boom, sending him to Losers’ in the process.
Midwest? More like “Midbest!”
However, this development didn’t knock Kevin out of the running, by far: in fact, he made it all the way to Sunday’s Top 8, standing against an otherwise all-Japanese bracket of strong competitors. Kevin’s entrance into the ring saw the participation of a huge group of hype men, backing him up as the lone American as he stepped into the ring.
Kevin’s subsequent bout with Ryusei saw an emotional rainbow of reactions from American players, with the likes of RobTV moved to tears. Ryusei started off strong, taking the first two games in what could have been a convincing win: but Kevin wasn’t finished yet, making an incredible comeback that went down to final game, final round, ultimately clutching out the victory to deafening applause.
Bonchan’s battle for CEO supremacy
Kevin’s stunning performance in Top 8 wasn’t the only storyline in CEO’s Sunday finals, either: last year’s victor, Fujimura Atsushi, went on to secure a seat in Grand Finals, once again, after being knocked into Losers’ by Sanghyeon “JeonDDing” Jeon in pools. There, he met with Red Bull’s Masato “Bonchan” Takahashi, who’d defeated BAM champion Masahiro “Machabo” Tominaga to land in Winners’ side of the Finals.
The two faced off in a battle that had commentators and spectators alike screaming at the top of their lungs, with Fujimura resetting the bracket in what seemed to be his road to yet another championship win. However, Bonchan wasn’t backing down, getting two games on Fujimura before their fight climaxed. Fujimura’s Ibuki went in with a neckbreaker in the fourth game after the reset, whitling Bonchan’s health down to the magic pixel: but Bonchan was still alive despite the attack, taking out Ibuki’s toes with a well-timed sweep to seal the deal.
Gearing up for a Super Premier
After placing third at Taipei Major, Bonchan’s performance comes as no surprise, with his win sending a cascade of applause throughout Daytona’s famed Ocean Center. Considering this victory under his new championship belt, Bonchan has two more Premier events to look forward to just ahead of the CPT’s first ever Super Premier: the 2019 Evolution Championship Series.
With a whopping 1,000 points on the line, the world’s largest fighting game tournament promises to bring even more action in August. Will Benjamin “Problem X” Simon take another win for the UK on the heels of his 2018 victory? Will Punk continue his dominating roll in the Tour? How will Bonchan fare, considering his latest win at CEO? Not even Menat can say for sure, but one thing is certain: you won’t want to miss it!