If we were to talk about recent success stories within Street Fighter V, a few names immediately spring to mind. While PG|Punk and Liquid|Nuckledu are immediate names on that list, YOUDEAL’s Fujimura “Yukadon” Atsushi should be right up there on the list. He was first pinged last year as Tokido’s training partner to face Infiltration’s Nash, and quickly rose to prominence on his own accord by not only finishing third at Evolution 2016, but also finishing in the top 8 at Capcom Cup 2016.
While he was unable to replicate his results at Evo 2017 — finishing just outside of top 16 — he has stepped on the gas recently thanks to a change away from his signature Nash pick. Last year, the hot player on the circuit was Nuckledu. This year, it’s Yukadon. Will he do what his predecessor did this year at Capcom Cup — win the whole thing?
On the Scene
Yukadon carved out the foundation of his notoriety on his pristine Nash play. Even when the world started to catch on to the character’s weaknesses, Evo saw Yukadon, Infiltration, and LI Joe make the top 8 with the character, and he was still able to dominate his competition by adapting alongside them.
In Season 2, he joined the ranks of Nash mains who decided the changes to the character made continuing playing him untenable. His first tournament appearance in 2017 saw him pick Ibuki, and he hasn’t looked back. While Nash played with a unique balance of aggression and passivity, Ibuki is far more aggressive by design, and Yukadon has made it work well. While Razer|Xian first drew blood with the ninja, it is Yukadon that has been the most consistent Ibuki player over the year. That’s not to say that he’s been consistent compared to other players within the top 5 currently — his tournament results have been all over the place — but he has managed to take three premier events on the Capcom Pro Tour. While Xian has won four events, three of these came from ranking events and not premiers. Making your way through one premier event is an arduous task. Taking three titles home in premier events in one year shows amazing strength.
Consistency is Key
The biggest problem is despite his results in majors, his consistency, or lack thereof, has been notable. While he has made four top 8s and won three events out of those four, the sample size of events he had to play to get those results is far less consistent than other players. To get four top 8s, Yukadon had to play twelve events. This is far less success than his peers have had. While his results are strong, they just aren’t as strong as players like Punk, Tokido, or Nuckledu.
While this could possibly be construed as issues with the character — Ibuki can typically only be as good as getting your setups started consistently — the fact is that out of seven CPT events, Xian has only missed the top 8 once — and that was at Evo. It could be a learning curve issue, and Yukadon is just now catching up.
Fighting Against His Peers
However, as he catches up, the rest of the players on the circuit are too. While he’s doing well right now, he’s also still losing to several key players he may have to face at Capcom Cup. While at Northern Arena Knockout, he ran through every player with ease, up until he faced Echo Fox|Momochi, who double-eliminated him on the way to the title. At Hong Kong Esports Festival, he was put into losers bracket by Gachikun, then eliminated by Fuudo. At Brooklyn Beatdown, he fell to Fuudo yet again, as well as Punk.
At Dueling Dragons Dojo, he started to show that he is working on some of the flaws in his performances. He took down several of those tough match-ups on his way to the title, including Fuudo and Gachikun. It doesn’t answer every question about his ability to face his bracket demons, but it’s a start.
Last One Out Gets the Glory
Over the last few weeks, Yukadon has been on, and he’s looked unstoppable. Despite losing to Momochi at Northern Arena, he has went on to take two premiers in a row in stacked brackets. Who did this last year? Why, it was none other but the reigning champion Nuckledu.
While this doesn’t guarantee success, Yukadon is peaking at the right time to make a serious run at Capcom Cup. He’s not only playing hot, but he has found just the right balance of dirty mixups and a strong spacing game. And doing so in such a short amount of time before Capcom Cup means players will now be scrambling to solve him. Will they be able to do it in time? It’s possible, but they will have far more problems to deal with than just simply Yukadon.
Yukadon is hard to bet on. The only thing that makes me bank on him taking home the cup in December is that he is the hot player. It may not be as late as Nuckledu streaked last year, but it is notable enough to warrant a serious discussion about his potential.
I would anticipate him making top 8 so long as he is either able to vanquish the demons that have tormented him this season, or the bracket shifts enough that he can avoid them altogether. He does have a solid chance of winning it all, but it will depend on if he maintains the momentum from here until Capcom Cup.
Check out our prior Capcom Cup 2017 Player Analysis for Echo Fox|Tokido.