Last year, Fuudo was known to be the highest-rank player to not win a major on the Capcom Pro Tour. In my analysis of his second appearance in Capcom Cup, I stated that the odds of him winning the event “looks grim.”
Unsurprisingly, Fuudo bowed out of the tournament just within the top 16. It was just a matter of being clutch, and from the beginning of Street Fighter V to Capcom Cup 2017, Fuudo had exhibited a lack of clutch factor. In fact, up until this year, he had won no events outside of locals in the game.
But this year saw him finally etch a notch onto his belt, winning Esports Festival Hong Kong and helping to catapult him into a safe fourth seed in Capcom Cup 2018. With that win, has anything changed going into December?
Same Old Fuudo
One thing hasn’t changed much — Fuudo still remains the shining example of optimal R. Mika play on the circuit. Few would even try to refute this. His setups are still as nasty as they’ve been since the dawn of the game.
I feel like he’s still re-writing the book on how to play the character. Not only is his spacing game immaculate now, but he has been re-inventing what we thought we know about her V-Triggers. Just seeing his crazy setup on Dogura at Canada Cup using V-Trigger II shows how much work Fuudo is still putting into his character.
Further, any fear that the character may hold him back in some matches has been quelled by his usage of Birdie, a character he unleashed to help propel him to his win in Hong Kong. Typically maining two grapplers wouldn’t quite work, but Fuudo has been able to use his utility Birdie in a different way with different ranges than he would his Mika. While it does leave Luffy as the only Mika left in Capcom Cup as a “pure” Mika main, what it does give Fuudo is extra options with which to slay opponents.
Brand New Trophy
With his Esports Festival Hong Kong win, he has finally gotten the proverbial monkey off of his back. Having failed to capture any title on the Capcom Pro Tour for two years, this was an important statement for him to make. Yes, he could still win. Yes, he could do it at the Premier level, in a bracket where not a single soul in the top 8 finished outside of Capcom Cup.
But not only did he take a title on the circuit this year, but he also stayed very consistent within top 8s over the season; when making top 8, Fuudo never finished in the bottom half of the top 8 results. Everything was fourth or above in this area. Compared to last year, and you can see a far more resilient Fuudo than in the years since his win at Evo 2011. This alone is a tough feat to mount.
Who Can He Lose To?
So, let’s play the hypothetical now. CYG BST|Fuudo could easily make top 8 off of his consistency this year. Now who stands in way when he gets there, and further, is he capable of beating them?
The first major threat he might see in top 8 — should they both qualify on Winners side — would be none other than Tokido. This is a person he put into Losers bracket at Evo 2018, only to be beaten in the runback in Losers Finals. If memory serves me correctly, Tokido has the winning record against Fuudo overall in Street Fighter V, with Evo being one blip on the radar evidencing that Fuudo can best him, but is it by a wide enough margin?
Should he get past him, there’s still Problem X, NL, and even Daigo waiting in the wings as high echelon players he could see in Winners Finals. Problem X is the reason Tokido got his runback in Losers Finals at Evo, and Daigo could always be a thorn in his side — and also being one person he has yet to face on the tour. He also has been going back and forth with NL, but with NL having a slight edge on Fuudo statistically, his top 8 could be a crapshoot.
Taking away the hypothetical, he would still have to fight his way through Xiaohai to even get within spitting range of top 8. While Fuudo may have had an edge against him early on, the nudges from NuckleDu last year has seen a more confident Xiaohai against his main. So while Fuudo himself is capable, the bracket may have a few things to say to the contrary.
I seriously think this is Fuudo’s most prime year to make a run at the title. One of the biggest hindrances will be Cammy — just in his second match alone, should he beat MenaRD, he will either have to fight Xiaohai or CJ Truth. Both of them have R. Mika experience, and both of them cut their teeth on the character by facing the ever-grimy NuckleDu.
This match-up has been his Achilles’ Heel the entire season. If he doesn’t find an answer soon, I would expect his road through top 8 to be via the Losers Bracket. He would still be a threat, but it would be hard to be as big of a threat if it ends up this way.
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