Cyclops Osaka’s Ryo “Dogura” Nozaki seems to be one of the least-anticipated qualifiers for Capcom Cup 2017. Having made his name as a titan on the anime scene — carving his fame out taking Blazblue and Guilty Gear titles — he only had 11 tournaments logged in Street Fighter IV’s lifespan, and only a handful of results in Street Fighter V last year.
Given that, few would have expected to see him perform the way he has on the Capcom Pro Tour this year. Nonetheless, he has not only qualified, but catapulted into the top half of the seedings. Will we see Dogura not only dominate anime, but Street Fighter V in December?
A Year of Grinding
The first time I witnessed Dogura playing Street Fighter V personally was at Frosty Faustings IX in January of this year. While he was able to make top 8, it is worth mentioning that tournament didn’t bring out all the best players due to it not being a Capcom Pro Tour event, and that Dogura was there for the perpetual main event of Frosty — Guilty Gear. What I witnessed was more or less a cookie-cutter version of Urien, fundamental but not exceptional. I honestly assumed that he only joined just to try his hand at the game, and was relying more on fighting game fundamentals to bring him through the bracket than anything else.
What I didn’t realize at that point was his entry at Frosty was indicative of his preparation to make a run for Capcom Cup in 2017. He may have only had the basics at that point, but he was earnest in his effort to train the game and become a threat over this year. He has put in a lot of grinding, and it has clearly paid off. His Urien has become the best — not even one of the best. People will talk about Nemo until they’re blue in the face about how great he is, but his results don’t compare to Dogura’s. He may have been the inspiration all Urien players looked up to in the beginning, but Dogura has long since become the master.
Dogura’s choice of Urien fits him perfectly. Given his background in anime titles, it’s hard to find a character that embodies that sort of style in the Capcom universe. Given all the tools Urien has, he may be the next best thing.
And no one is using those tools better. While you will see Dogura use those crazy V-Skill combos, he has such great spacing and pressure that he relies on it far less than Nemo does. But the most telling is his use of V-Trigger compared to other Urien players.
While we’ve always known how well-rounded Aegis Reflector is in the game, it is Dogura that fully understands the characteristics of the V-Trigger, and abuses them. If you observe Nemo’s play, he primarily uses Aegis in hit-confirms or as a mix-up off of a block string. While Dogura also does this, he is far more flexible in his usage of the tool, milking it for every property it has.
If you observe his Winners Finals match with GO1 at Canada Cup, you’ll see this in full effect. Knowing the projectile reflection property of the move, and that GO1 had Ibuki’s V-Trigger at the ready, Dogura threw out a mirror, then backdashed, forward dashed, and walked back slightly. He allowed GO1 to hit him, giving him the belief that he had successfully confirmed into V-Trigger. What GO1 didn’t realize was that Dogura had just used Aegis — as well as his movement — as a trap. The confirm was a red herring; the pushback from the hit confirm put Dogura in a position where when Ibuki’s bomb came out, it would hit the mirror, and subsequently hit GO1, giving Dogura the advantage in a very high-level play that few Uriens would actually be able to set up.
These are the things that you just simply don’t see other Uriens do — and if they do, they don’t do it consistently. All through the Canada Cup top 8, Dogura was using his V-Trigger in a myriad of ways, which allowed him to take full advantage of even the slightest spacing errors from his opponents.
Hotter than Hell
Let’s face it, it’s hard not to look at the Canada Cup champion and think, “This guy’s got all the momentum.” After NuckleDu’s performance last year was parlayed into the Capcom Cup title, it’s tough to ignore this. And as much as I don’t want to base his results off of what happened to the circuit last year, you have to really examine his last month and realize that we could be looking at the same story this year.
While he only reached three top 8s at all prior to October — and one of those was an online regional qualifier — he has cranked his results up beyond 11 on the dial in the final month of the CPT. Taking two Premier events across the season is a difficult feat. Taking two in the final month,where everyone is scrambling for points, speaks volumes more than taking two spread apart a six month span. Just winning TWFighter Major is a feat to be acknowledged, as some of Asia’s best were there to stand in Dogura’s way. In that event, there were a plethora of qualifiers for Capcom Cup in that event, and he stood on top against solid players in Kazunoko, Mago, and Haitani.
But if you were to ignore TWFighter Major and call it a fluke, how do you argue against his results at Canada Cup? Around 65% of the Capcom Cup field were in attendance, and nearly every player that was on the bubble showed up for it. If Dogura was indeed a fluke, this field would have devoured him. Even more telling was that the top 8 of the event featured no players that were not qualified for Capcom Cup, and Dogura emerged victorious.
At this point it is impossible to argue against him. He is now the hot player in the circuit by far, and he has given his opponents only a month of lead time to download him prior to Capcom Cup. This is the same position NuckleDu found himself in last year. While his results were better than Dogura’s over the course of the season, people really saw his ultimate form at Canada Cup and beyond. It’s highly possible that we’re looking at a similar story for Dogura right now.
The only negative that you could look at for Dogura is something that you could’ve chided Tokido on prior to 2016. While Dogura has made a concerted effort to make Capcom Cup, he has not abandoned his main games in Guilty Gear and Blazblue to do so. Playing multiple games typically waters down your results in all titles you are playing. You can look at Tokido as the model for that, as he was able to make top 8s in multiple titles at Evo, he was not winning any of them.
This hasn’t seemed to faze Dogura at all. Looking at his results at Canada Cup, he finished first in Guilty Gear, second in Blazblue, and first in Street Fighter V. Granted, Guilty Gear and Blazblue had weaker fields in Toronto, but the exhaustion of playing multiple titles for so long could’ve finally gotten to him. While he seems to handle it well, it remains a cause for concern that too many games could ultimately be his downfall.
However, come December, you know that he will have one single title to play at Capcom Cup. Given his performance lately, you know that he’ll be focused on Street Fighter V solely in California.
I don’t like making bold predictions. Last year, I made a few and had to eat my words. But it is insanely hard to bet against Dogura right now.
He has some concerns to worry about. Sure he bested GO1 — but GO1 is not the best Ibuki, and is known more for his Chun-Li and Menat at this point. What if it was Yukadon in his place? What happens when he has to face Tokido? What happens when he has to best Punk, who has a history of cleaning house with the likes of Nemo?
Regardless, he is the most complete Urien on the circuit, and he has become that from being very linear in January. He also has the momentum, and has given people very little time to crunch the numbers on his play. Anything can happen, but he is my dark horse pick for winning the whole thing.
Check out our prior articles in the Capcom Cup 2017 Player Analysis series!