Kenryo “Mago” Hayashi has long been the highest-rated player without a sponsor on the Capcom Pro Tour. Last year saw him squeeze his Karin into the Capcom Cup bracket by a hair, winning the Asia Regional Finals to qualify. He later finished just outside of top 16 in the finals.
This year saw him took advantage of the points system, allowing him to qualify a lot sooner than November. Will the 2D God still be worshiped after the tournament?
No Laughing Matter
Mago has made serious strides in improving his game over the last year. He has become one of the most aggressive Karins on the planet. You’ll often see him using his footsies game to set up a full out onslaught during a match. His pressure is enough to make a lot of players crack, including some who usually would not usually be so inclined.
While Karin is one of the best characters in the cast — and has been for the entirety of the game’s lifespan — she still suffers some downsides in certain match-ups. Mago has opted to use that as incentive to train up a secondary in Rashid, and has brought him out throughout the year — including at OzHadou Nationals, where he used it to prevent ROF’s Birdie from making it to top 8. These are two solid characters that, despite having different toolsets, have one goal in mind: oppression.
This oppression has given Mago a large swath of success this season. In fifteen events on the circuit, he has managed to top 8 eight times. He also focused the entirety of this season on the CPT, not allowing himself to be distracted by invitational events in China, France, the United States, or Canada. He also opted not to attend Brooklyn Beatdown. The goal for him was clear: to get noticed by his play on the CPT, and to parlay that play into a chance at winning Capcom Cup. His focus more than rewarded him with that opportunity.
If there’s one thing that Mago struggles with, it’s his own defensive play. While we’d expect Mago to have a complete repertoire of tools, he has mainly relied on his offensive options to score his wins. In an offensive game such as Street Fighter V, it’s an understandable tactic. But the problem is that people forget that because this is an offensive game, having strong defense is almost paramount to winning. Once you get opened up by an opponent’s offense, it’s hard to stop the onslaught.
Mago thrives when he is applying the pressure, but cracks when the pressure is applied to him. This makes characters like Rashid and Ibuki difficult for him to deal with. It’s why, in the above video, we saw it go down to the wire against Tachikawa, and why he later folded to Moke’s Rashid at the same event.
And that brings me to the next point. Upon losing to Moke at OHN, that became his highest-placing finish on the CPT this year. While OHN had a solid lineup of players, having your sole second place finish be at a ranking event, and not being able to replicate that anywhere else, doesn’t exude confidence in your play. When you also factor in last year’s performance, which included two wins, a Ranking and Premier event, it makes you wonder if Hayashi has really done enough to put himself in position to win the big one.
Don’t start praying to Mago just yet. Let’s not forget that Tokido’s appointed “Last Boss” at Evo 2017 lost in pools to a Connecticut-based Necalli player, and never even made it out. Let’s also not forget that Mago is about to go up against players that are all too familiar with his style of play, and will know how to exploit his weaknesses.
Mago could crack top 16, but it’s hard to put him any higher than that, given what we’ve seen this year.
Check out our prior articles in the Capcom Cup 2017 Player Analysis series!