The fact that Hx.Twitch.CYG BST|Daigo Umehara has found himself in the thick of Capcom Cup once more comes as no shock to anybody. The legendary player who has etched his name in to countless prestigious top 8s and championships has yet to miss a Capcom Cup since 2014 when the field was extended past eight players, and was also one of the invites to the Street Fighter 25th Anniversary event, which was the predecessor to Capcom Cup.
Suffice it to say, Daigo has done nearly everything. In fact, the one thing he hasn’t done is the one thing he and (potentially) 28 others have yet to do: win Capcom Cup.
No Need for Talk
Daigo doesn’t spend his time talking about his gameplay too much. He lets his play speak for itself. In fact, the typical fashion in which his play is analyzed is through an outside observer. But his gameplay warrants far more words than this article can contain.
Having switched to Guile last year after seeing Ryu’s stock plummet in the tier list, he has continued to focus his efforts on the character. He has since become one of the most devastating players of the character, and only continues to become increasingly efficient in dealing with the majority of situations in the game.
Having also switched to primarily using V-Trigger II in Season 3 — as opposed to NuckleDu, who still primarily relies on V-Trigger I — he has shown that he has taken a slow but calculated approach to the character as opposed to the aggression that NuckleDu typically exhibits. He’s more apt to wait for something to punish, or anticipate and counter. He is more interested in forcing people into making mistakes, and his V-Trigger usage makes it even more punishing when that happens.
Let’s Do This
Regardless of his play, you must be able to do this consistently within tournament to be able to consider yourself a true threat to the title. And he has been rather consistent in 2018. Not only has he done so, but he started off 2018 with a large exclamation point, finishing in third at Evo Japan — having only lost to HumanBomb and Infiltration.
But to look at the CPT schedule and see what he has done while focusing only on Premier events — the only person in the top 10 of points to have done so — is nothing short of phenomenal. When you have to perform your best against the largest and most stacked fields in the world, and you are able to do so, it shows your talent.
Had he put any sort of emphasis on Ranking events in 2018, we would probably be discussing multiple wins across a handful of tournaments. However, his four top 8s and eight top 16 placements speak for themselves. In a field full of killers, Daigo’s name is always near the top of the list — and sometimes at the very top, as evidenced in his win at VS Fighting 2018 in England.
The Loss Column
But while even hitting top 16 at Evo is no easy feat, for Daigo that may not be enough to really stake his claim. The problem may not be as much his placement — as several other strong players hit that placement — but his losses.
Yes, North America cheered like crazy when THE COOL KID93 beat him in top 32. But this was a result that can’t bode well for Daigo. This is especially true when you have to factor in that he has potential three Abigail players waiting for him in Las Vegas — all three whom are considered better overall than COOL KID. While this happened off stream, many who witnessed the match — myself included — could see an unsure Daigo trying to figure out how to escape the pressure being put on him by Abigail. This shows some severe issues in his approach with the match, and makes one question how much work he has put into it.
But that’s just the first of many issues, as you look at Caba having eliminated him just inside of top 16. While Caba’s lower ranking in the leaderboard can be explained by less travel this year, the fact that as one of the more consistent Guile players in the world, losing the mirror (as Caba also used Guile) is cause for concern. This is one of the more stable mirror matches in the entire game, so to struggle there makes you ask if there are uncertainties in Daigo’s play that desperately need to be addressed before he can go far in a Capcom Cup bracket, especially when there are two other Guile players guaranteed that could rear their ugly heads later in the bracket.
The Bracket Shakedown
And the biggest problem now for Daigo is that he does have one of those two characters standing in his way toward victory. Should the bracket fall in a certain way, his second round on winner’s side could very well put him up against StormKUBO, a formidable Abigail that is equally as oppressive as COOL KID, and has far more high-level match-up experience than him. He has amazingly (as far as I can find) managed to dance around him in the bracket. Even with Itabashi Zangief — who has switched to Abigail — the one time they faced off was at Evo Japan, where Itazan opted to use Zangief instead.
So with the dearth of visual footage of Daigo squaring off against Abigail, it will truly be interesting to see how much preparation he has made for that match-up. Given that StormKUBO will be facing NL — whom has had a difficult track record against the character as well — it’s a reasonable chance he and Daigo could very well be the second round match. And this, for me, at least, will be a do-or-die point for Daigo.
There are so many players that Daigo has struggled with, and they’re all in this bracket — outside of a few outliers, one of whom who could still actually find their way in via LCQ. Whether they’re characters or players, Daigo has some holes he has to plug up to actually take all of this.
Undoubtedly Daigo is likely at home trying to plug up as many as possible in time for a serious run at the title — but will that make the road to the Cup possible for him? Time will tell.
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