It goes without saying that Red Bull’s & Cygames Beast’s Darryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis is having a banner year. The long-time Zangief main stuck to his guns despite his hesitance in Season 1 with the character, and the rewards for doing so were immense. With detractors doubting the character’s tournament viability, Lewis became the first Zangief main to take a CPT Premier event with the character, at CEO.
Now, will he be the first Zangief main to hoist the Capcom Cup — and test its durability by giving it a Spinning Piledriver?
Muscle with a Dash of Demon
We could argue for a long time about who is better between Itabashi Zangief and Snake Eyez with the Red Cyclone. While Itazan has stellar results going pure Zangief, he has yet to close out an event. Snake Eyez was able to win a major, but had to fall back on his Akuma secondary to achieve it. Does having a secondary make Snake Eyez a lesser Zangief player?
Not necessarily. We talked about Itazan’s struggles, and he does have issues in various match-ups that he will inevitably face on his road through a tournament. The problem is he doesn’t mitigate those difficult match-ups with another character, and thus suffers in a lack of wins for it.
Snake Eyez at least positions himself at a chance to win events. While he was able to shock the world with his top 8 performance at Evo 2014 in Ultra Street Fighter IV using purely Zangief, later results would see him gravitate toward using Evil Ryu to mitigate his bad match-ups. He carried this over in Street Fighter V with Akuma. As a result, those bad match-ups are marginalized. These are the marks of a champion, and Snake Eyez has made himself that this season.
Low Seed, Big Potential
One of the things to note is despite his CEO win, he is seeded lower than Itazan. But if you look at the events the two have played, it makes sense. Lewis stuck mostly to North American events, and this allowed him time to play Ranking events to get points to qualify. Itazan played fewer events, but placed high in several Premier events, as well as Evo, to get the leg up.
But if you look at his records, out of 11 CPT events he played — including Toryuken where he didn’t make it out of pools — Snake Eyez made it to top 8 of a staggering seven. This consistency is why when he’s prepared mentally to play, he is a dangerous man regardless of seeding.
Evo and Beyond
High expectations were on Lewis at Evo 2017 after his victory at CEO. However, he failed to make it out of his second round of pools due to a loss against Imstilldadaddy. While he did make a mistake at the end of the game that cost him the match, perhaps the bigger mistake was sticking to Zangief in a match-up that favors Guile in the first place.
Since then, he was able to make two top 8s, but his results have slipped some. He was unable to make top 16 at Brooklyn Beatdown, and went out just inside of top 64 at the North American Regional Finals Last Chance Qualifier. While the latter tournament was of lesser consequence since he was already qualified for Capcom Cup, Brooklyn Beatdown was definitely a thorn in his side. Losing to both Justin Wong and John Takeuchi, we saw no instance of his Akuma being played. While playing Zangief against Karin made sense, he most certainly could’ve considered Akuma against Takeuchi’s Rashid, and didn’t. Is it possible that he’s starting to go the way of Itazan, and rock Zangief exclusively again?
If he is doing that, it’s going to be detrimental to his success at Capcom Cup. With his Akuma on point, there is no doubt he can shake people in tournament. With just Zangief, he faces the same problems Itazan does with an upper half of the bracket that’s chock full of his most difficult match-ups — his very first opponent will be Oil King’s Rashid.
He needs to come with his both his characters intact to have a chance. Without that, he could see himself out quickly. With that, the sky is the limit.
Check out our prior articles in the Capcom Cup 2017 Player Analysis series!