After battling their way through the group stage, the eight finalists of the ELEAGUE Street Fighter V 2018 Invitational will face-off in the playoffs tomorrow for their shot at the $250,000 prize pool. Each finalist fought their way through a six-player round-robin and elimination bracket during the group stage, and losses in the elimination bracket will carry over into the playoffs. The player pool includes five Japanese players, two Americans, and a single representative from the UK.
Echo Fox|Tokido vs. Echo Fox|Punk
This is a rematch of one of the most memorable Street Fighter V matches of 2017, but Punk is ready to put his 0-6 loss in the Evo Grand Finals behind him for good. Since that match Tokido has consistently been at the top of international events while Punk’s stock has slowly dropped. But Punk is still the reigning ELEAGUE Champion and will have to overcome this demon to defend his title.
“I don’t really think about it anymore. That’s last year, this is a different year so I just try to forget about it,” Punk said, when I asked him about learning from the loss. “But everyone asks me the question so much that I have no choice but to think about it. I just try to put it in the past because stuff happens. Sometimes you get bodied, sometimes you win.”
Tokido is regarded as the best Akuma in the world, while Punk has added Cammy and Chun-Li to his roster of tournament characters, alongside his signature Karin. In an interview before the playoffs Punk said that for him to have an actual rivalry with Tokido, he’ll need to beat him first.
CYG BST|Daigo vs. Mouseesports|Problem X
While Guile vs. Bison is historically one of the hardest match-ups in the entire Street Fighter series, the Dictator has some new tricks in Street Fighter V. Several Japanese players have noted that Problem X seems to exceed the level of any Japanese Bison players, and Problem acknowledged that he has been pushing the character to the limit. He was able to score a 2-1 win over NuckleDu’s Guile in Group C but Daigo’s slow style could bring a much different look to the match. Problem X said he has been able to prepare for the Guile match-up with other European players, but struggled to find Akuma and Ibuki players to practice for Tokido and Fujimura.
As the world’s most popular Street Fighter player, Daigo will have no shortage of fighting gamers cheering him on. But when asked why a newcomer to Street Fighter might root for him in the playoffs, Daigo — who has been playing competitively since the late ’90s — said he that he wants his performance to inspire people his age.
“I’m the oldest of all and I want to show everyone who’s as old as I am, I can still fight,” Umehara said, via translator.
Echo Fox| Momochi vs. CYG|Dogura
This match is a tough one to predict, because of Momochi’s character choices. During an interview before the tournament Dogura said he was worried about whether Momochi would play Cody or Kolin in their match and each time he asked, Momochi refused to answer. Dogura said he’s been preparing for Kolin but has yet to play against a strong Cody. Dogura lost to Wolfgang’s Blanka at CEO 2018, so his fear of Season 3 characters might be justified.
Momochi admitted that his focus in Street Fighter V has been on developing his Cody, but the character remains hard to win with. During their recent meeting in the Rage Esports All-Star League Momochi beat Dogura with Kolin, so he can always go back if a Cody pick doesn’t work out.
FUDOH|Fujimura vs. RISE|Smug
Fujimura is the probably the hottest Street Fighter V player in the world right now with major wins at CEO and Stunfest. He’s also one of the few top players using Ibuki, but Smug’s Balrog is even more rare. Smug is the closest thing to a wild card in the playoff bracket, and he’s been playing Shine and other New York players to get himself ready. While Fujimura is certainly the favorite here, a lack of experience with Balrog could create a chance for an upset.
The ELEAGUE Street Fighter V 2018 Invitational Playoffs will take place tomorrow night, July 13, at 6:00 p.m. ET on Twitch, with a rebroadcast on TBS at 11:00 p.m. ET. You can watch the stream at Twitch.TV/ELEAGUETV and check out the playoff bracket at https://www.eleague.com/street-fighter-v-2018/schedule.
Prizes will be distributed as follows:
5th (x2) $5,000
7th (x2) $3,000