Tournament season kept on rolling this past weekend with the Cannes Winter Clash. Players from around the world met at Palais Des Cannes in Cannes, France for the first sanctioned Capcom Pro Tour 2015 event. The tourney, with three separate streams for viewers to partake, featured some top-notch play, a big surprise from the /r/Kappa sponsored grouping of players (Infiltration and Poongko), Dieminion showing just how consistent he is, and Sako putting on a Evil Ryu clinic in Ultra Street Fighter IV . Notable players who made it out to France for the event: HORI|Sako (one of the five Japanese Gods of fighting games), /r/Kappa|Infiltration, /r/Kappa|Poongko, Ryan Hart, MD|Luffy (on his home turf!), GL|Valmaster, Dieminion, Qanba|Xiao Hai, Tonpy, CC|Problem X, Rize|Pro Fluke, and many more. Brackets for all the events at Winter Clash can be found at Challonge! as per usual.
The highlights definitely came out of Ultra Street Fighter IV competition this weekend and the festivities began with a 2v2 tournament. Dieminion and teammate Tonpy made a strong showing in the 2v2 brackets. It all came down to Top World (Dieminion & Tonpy) versus /r/Kappa (Infiltration & Poongko).
This wouldn’t be the last time over the weekend that Infiltration or Poongko both made some noise. Both /r/kappa sponsored Korean players made VERY strong showings at the Winter Clash this year. The 5v5 ITC (International Team Cup) matches for USF4 also provided some interesting showdowns including Team World (Poongko, Infiltration, Dieminion, Xiao Hai and Sako) vs. Team France (Cuongster, Will2Pac, Luffy, Renegad and Valmaster).
However, nothing would compare to the moments of hype and salt that arose from the solo brackets of USF4.
Don’t Pull a “Xiao Hai”
All the hype surrounding top level play always leaves room for some lessons learned. QANBA| Xiao Hai (Cammy) learned one when he faced off against GL| Valmaster (Chun-Li) another great showdown in the Loser’s Brackets Quarter-Finals. Here’s something for all you would-be pros or stream monsters out there interested in getting “good” at Street Fighter. Rule 1: If you have a health lead, don’t press buttons. You will usually regret it. Xiao Hai came to regret it. Two consecutive games were stolen by Valmaster due to simple judgment errors made by Xiao Hai.
Final round of the first game, Valmaster launches Xiao Hai airborne and into the corner for an Ultra Combo conversion but then doesn’t make good on it due to missed inputs. Ouch. The seasoned veteran doesn’t stop though, and manages to bait Xiao Hai with a delayed back+MK upon hitting the ground. Cammy’s defenses are wide open due to a failed crouch-tech guard and then it’s all over.
Second game rolls around and the final round is upon us. The same situation crops up again. Xiao Hai has the health lead and is set to win with only five seconds to go. Valmaster broaches the issue again and forces the mistake, eliciting the counter-tech out of Xiao Hai. SAME RESULT. The camera pans to a very salty Qanba| Xiao Hai. Seriously kids, if you have a health lead don’t do as Xiao Hai did. Take the win. Don’t let it slip through your fingers like that.
A Frenchman versus a God
First up? Top Four play in the Losers Bracket featuring HORI| Sako shows why his Evil Ryu is so ferocious versus Jehosan’s Cammy (decked out in a dapper scarf). There is a reason Sakonoko-san is considered one of the Five Gods of Fighting Games. Jehosan wasn’t free, though. He put up a good fight against Sakonoko but ultimately just couldn’t pull it together. His play throughout the solo brackets was quite good and worth mentioning. Jehosan is relatively unknown outside the local circuits in France, but man did he make a good showing on an international stage.
She Bopped Him Thrice
Losers Bracket Finals came down to HORI|Sako and /r/Kappa|Infiltration. It was a back-and-forth affair full of counters, combos and great moments. One stood out above the rest, though. Sako did as Sako does pushing the envelope and it resulted in a play that takes cojones to do. THREE TIMES IN A ROW Sako’s Elena (one of his mains as opposed to Evil Ryu) goes for the overhead bonk on the noggin to Infiltration’s Hakan. Three overheads in a row end up stifling Infiltration’s run at another tournament win.
This Is Ecstasy
Are you familiar with the trainwreck/spectacle that is /r/Kappa|Poongko? He is like a fire that burns so very bright, a man who can play at the highest levels possible, yet has fallen short numerous times. He, much like Icarus, has flown too close to the Sun numerous times to be burned. But this past weekend he proved /r/Kappa right in their sponsorship. He showcased a level of skill that is Top Five quality and did, as Poongko does, pop off in legendary fashion. The text in the Twitter post above, in case you were curious, translates to “This is ecstasy”. It’s a meme-worthy photo for sure, but it also encapsulates a moment in time that shows just how high the peaks of the FGC can be. His play was superlative and his reaction was over the top. He, in fact, popped off and ripped his /r/Kappa shirt off, right in front of EVO 2014 champion MD|Luffy and his wife (much to her horror).
It was bold.
It was brash.
It was elation at its finest.
IT WAS HYPE!
How did we get to that point, though? It was looking to be an all /r/Kappa Grand Finals before Sakonoko had something to say about it. The Japanese God of Fighting Games caught Infiltration’s Hakan sleeping. Seriously. Why not just do the standing block to stop the overheads? THREE OF THEM? REALLY? The entire weekend of hype, flagrant French commentary, and general saltiness culminated in this match.
Sako’s mains of Elena/Gen ultimately gave way to Evil Ryu. Sako demonstrated why he is who he is and pulled out some fierce combos that would have decimated any other competitor that day. Poongko, however, felt the spirit. He summoned the very energy of the Earth itself, drawing them into his own Tanden Engine and delivered a knockout blow that sealed the win. /r/Kappa|Poongko not only took home the prize but scored some Capcom Pro Tour points as well (128 earned for his 1st place finish). Official standings as of this week can be found here.
I know this was a USF4-centric recap but frankly, the best moments of the past weekend came out of the Street Fighter pools. The King of Fighters XIII finals between Fox and XiaoHai were epic and well worth a look. I would comment on Smash but compared to the fireworks of APEX 2015 they were middling.
That’ll do it for this week’s FGC Recap. What moments of hype/salt would you like featured in future installments? The tournament season rolls on with the Abuget Cup and Nine States Tournament coming in rapid succession followed by a big one: Final Round 18 (a tournament sure to be packed with a lot of killers, thirsty boyz, and so much salt). Capcom Pro Tour qualifiers will be happening, top-shelf talent will be out in force, and it should make for an interesting couple of weeks. Back next week for more. This FGC Recap brought to by noted Scrublord and Justin Wong fanboy, Jeff Pannell. Find him on Twitter (@ScrivenerJeff). Be sure to follow @APGNation for more news, reviews and eSports/FGC commentary.