Hx.CYG BST|Daigo Umehara has walked a tough road this year. Having started off the season attempting to stay the course on his tried and tested Ryu play, he realized that the character nerfs were not conducive to getting the results he needed.
He thus made a difficult choice to switch to Guile. When he switches away from his most beloved character, you can tell he means business. Well, business is booming, as his Guile play has put him into Capcom Cup yet again. Now will the Beast finally claim the title he came so close to grabbing in 2015?
While Daigo’s switch to Guile may have come as a shock to many in the FGC, deep down it makes sense. If you look back to even the origins of competitive play, Guile and Ryu are classic contemporaries. Despite the difference in controls, the two characters aren’t so different, fundamentally. Both play solid footsies, both control the ground and the air very well.
Essentially, Daigo was able to take what he already does well with Ryu, and amplify that with Guile. He has always had a great zoning game, and throws fireballs well. He also has great reads and reactions, and Guile has great tools for countering jumps. But he takes some of Ryu’s difficulties, including pressure, and mitigates them. This allows Daigo to play every aspect of the game in his own terms, which gives him control of matches.
Sending People Home to be Family Men
Despite having to adapt to a new character — with his admission that he learns slowly — Daigo has not slowed down this year. It is true that he won one fewer tournament this season, three victories instead of four. It’s also true that he attended the same number of tournaments this year. However, it is his list of notable wins that suggests he is still on song.
Esports Festival Hong Kong featured wins over Gachikun, Kazunoko and NL. Abuget Cup saw him beat GO1 and Oil King. Fight Club NRW might have been his weakest win, but saw him defeating European qualifiers Phenom and Problem X. This makes him a dangerous man, beating some of the best in the Capcom Cup field.
It’s also worth noting that every single tournament win he’s posted this year has been from the winner’s bracket. It’s obvious that when Daigo is focused, there is no one that can really stand against him.
The Break Principle
I mentioned this last year in reference to Infiltration, and this is something that worried me about Daigo. After he had ensured his entry into Capcom Cup, he announced that he would pulling away from tournaments for a while. When we next saw him at a bloodthirsty bracket at Canada Cup, he finished 25th, losing to LPN and 801 Strider. Especially given that Laura can struggle to get in on Guile if executed properly, this shows that although Daigo has continued to train online, he is struggling right now.
It’s often shown that if you take a break like this, your tournament prowess could deteriorate. Despite decades of experience, it seems that Daigo waned some over the course of a couple months. This can’t be any more true in a volatile game such as Street Fighter V, where you must keep sharp or get caught off guard.
The Beast Masters
The question then becomes when Daigo loses during a full tournament schedule, who is he losing to? At TWFighter Major, he lost to Dogura and Kichipa-mu. At Japan Cup, he lost to Nemo and NL. At Battle Arena Melbourne, he lost to Marn and yet again to Dogura. He lost to Mo-joe and MenaRD at CEO.
The first three tournaments mentioned showed a glaring hole: Urien. Having struggled against both Nemo and Dogura shows this matchup to be a weakness. We haven’t had any questions answered on his capabilities in this matchup lately. But given that Dogura is currently the hot player going into Capcom Cup, should they face off in Anaheim, my money would be on Dogura.
Daigo Umehara is always capable, and his switch to Guile has put him into a good position. With the departure of NuckleDu, he is the strongest Guile in the mix.
With that said, he’s a little off his game as of late, so we’re now waiting to see whether he shows up to California with full focus. If he does, expect him to make a serious run at the tournament.
Check out our prior articles in the Capcom Cup 2017 Player Analysis series!