After an action-packed 2019 season, the days are ticking down faster than ever in preparation for Capcom Cup. From Final Round in February to CEO in June, this year’s Capcom Pro Tour has witnessed unforgettable moments full of intense competition, which came to a head at Southeast Asia Major in early October.

Known for bringing out some of Asia’s best talent, SEAM marks one of the fighting game community’s most intense tournaments of the season, as players jockey for position on the CPT’s Global Rankings. Throwing down in the famed island of Singapore, SEAM is more than just a Premier Event on the Tour: it also marks the Asian Regional Finals, boasting two massively important tournaments in the span of a single weekend.

SEAM 2019 Champions
Photo courtesy of Game Start

Stacked pools at SEAM’s Open Premier

Thus, SEAM kicked things off with its Open Premier, an event that any traveling player could enter for the chance at scoring a whopping 700 points in first place. However, this was no normal Premier: pools were stacked to the brim with top killers like Olivier “Luffy” Hays, RenJohnny” Sato, and even EVO 2019 champion Masato “Bonchan” Takahashi, among other top fighters.

Even the likes of Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi, known for his explosive EVO 2017 victory and hailed as one of SFV’s most consistent players, made an appearance at the Premier - but even the “murderface” himself wasn’t exempt from the madness, getting knocked into Losers’ side by notable Zangief main Hiroki “Kichipa-mu” Asano in Top 32, and ultimately eliminated by “Nauman” shortly thereafter.

Daigo “The Beast” Umehara likewise made a showing at SEAM, with himself and Bonchan expected to make massive waves at the event - but both of these Street Fighter legends were knocked out ahead of the Top 8 bracket, with Bonchan defeated by Kun Xian Ho and Fujimura Atsushi, while Daigo struggled against young blood John Takeuchi and UYU’s Li-Wei “Oil King” Lin.

Kichipa-mu’s Muscle Spirit

With some of Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition’s greatest talent out of the runnings, SEAM’s Top 8 bracket saw unexpected names take the lead, with players like Kichipa-mu and Yeh “HotDog29” Ho securing a spot in one of the season’s most intense tournaments to date. In fact, SEAM’s Top 8 saw a slew of character diversity, with two Dictators, Birdie, R. Mika, and Kichipa-mu’s Zangief making for a colorful final showdown.

In fact, Kichipa-mu’s Zangief wowed fans across the globe, taking out Kenryo “Mago” Hayashi in a solid 3-0 run to land himself in the Winners’ Final against Keita “Fuudo” Ai. This wasn’t Kichipa-mu’s first impressive performance on the CPT, though: the Zangief player similarly dropped jaws at EVO 2019 and PPL Masters, where he made it to Grand Finals against HotDog29 in an intense standoff.

However, Kichipa-mu’s Muscle Power wasn’t enough for Birdie’s chains, with Fuudo taking out the grappler 3-0 to secure his spot in Grand Finals - as well as a chance at finally taking his first Premier win of the 2019 season.

Fuudo’s first Premier victory of 2019

Thus, Kichipa-mu moved on to the Losers’ Final, where he met up with Capcom Cup 2018 champion Kanamori “Gachikun” Tsunehiro in a nail-biting series of games that had viewers on the edges of their seats. With both players appearing to have an equal chance at moving to Grand Finals, Gachikun tipped the scales in their final game with a well-timed punish, sending one of the season’s breakout players back home.

This wasn’t Gachikun’s first time in one of SEAM’s Grand Finals, though: in fact, he’d won the Event’s Regional Finals in 2018 against Tokido, making 2019 the second time he’s managed to score a spot in one of SEAM’s final showdowns (albeit, for a different tournament). With this in mind, both players were in prime position to take their first-ever Premier win of the season, with Fuudo having scored multiple top placements at majors throughout the year.

Despite Gachikun’s dominating run in Losers’ side, Fuudo managed to take the win against last year’s Regional Finals champ, all without letting him reset the bracket. In a huge moment of relief, the Mika-turned-Birdie main had finally scored his first Premier victory - but that wasn’t the last fans would be seeing of him that weekend, by far.

Nemo’s nail-biting scramble

Fuudo found himself in Top 8 once again for the CPT’s Asian Regional Finals the very next day, facing the likes of Fujimura’s Ibuki and Naoki “Nemo” Nemoto’s Urien. Much like the Premier’s Top 8 bracket, the Regional Finals saw equally impressive character diversity, with BAM 11 champion Masahiro “Machabo” Tominaga making a serious splash in the competition with his Necalli.

However, unlike the Open Premier, Tokido managed to fight his way up to Top 8 in Losers’ side for a nail-biting match against Nemo. Their second-game scramble stands as one of the weekend’s best highlights, with Tokido ultimately emerging the victor in spite of Nemo’s stellar defense.

“I’ll finish this in no time!”

That wasn’t the only notable moment from the weekend, either: Tokido found himself facing off with Fuudo in the Losers’ Final, resulting in a jaw-dropping Double KO in their third game. With Tokido having taken the previous round, he ended up winning the match, later taking the set 3-2 to land Fuudo in third place - just as he’d placed, last year.

This meant that Tokido would face off against Fujimura in the Grand Final, who is known for his near-mechanical precision with Ibuki that scored him a first-place win at Taipei Major earlier this year. Despite Tokido’s impressive run in Losers’ side, Fujimura didn’t allow him to reset the bracket, taking the win 3-2 after the “murderface” made a major comeback that appeared to give him the edge.

The season countdown

This marks Fujimura’s second major win of the season and Fuudo’s first (in the Open Tournament), netting him 700 points on the Global Leaderboard. With a weekend packed full of nonstop competition, Fujimura and Fuudo’s victories ended just the first of three Regional Finals events this month: with EGX’s European Regional Final and First Attack’s Latin America Regional Finals coming up fast, there are still two spots left to fill for Street Fighter’s World Warriors.

As Capcom Cup approaches, the stakes are getting higher than ever. Who will switch up the Global Rankings in the coming months? Who will take the upcoming Regional Finals to earn their place in the Top 32? Time is counting down quickly, and with just three months ahead of the Cup in December, players across the globe are gearing up for the season’s final showdown.