Haitani has thrice found his way into Capcom Cup since the dawn of Street Fighter V. While his Necalli has always been the horse he rode into the fray, many found the character as much a liability as a strength for the player, and as such, Haitani’s runs were never too deep.
This year will see him fully focused on a brand new main in Akuma. But will that new main translate into improved performance?
The Main Problem
Let’s face it, Necalli quickly dropped in the tier lists as time went on. In a game where rampant pressure reigned supreme, a character who had stubby normals combined with iffy spacing tools definitely was definitely found to be lacking.
This caused Necalli to see problems within the meta, and caused players such as GamerBee and Haitani both to struggle within the deeper phases of brackets. Both players would soon find their way to greener pastures… with Haitani, this translated into a shift to Akuma.
While his pick of Necalli made sense based off his old Street Fighter III main of Makoto, his willingness to shift to a character with huge amounts of burst damage and mixup potential made perfect sense if he was interested in making a serious go on the circuit this year. And this change to Akuma has caused his results to be far more consistent.
The Remaining Problems
While his results have been more consistent, his remaining problem is one I also found with Luffy, but in a different angle. While he has done well in making top 8s, and even winning a CPT Premier event, it may not be enough evidence to claim he has gotten to the point where he can take down the toughest bracket in the world.
While I would definitely call the EU Regional Finals bracket the weakest Premier bracket on the circuit this year, the Latin American Regional Finals bracket may be the second weakest. This is not to knock the Latin American region — which I view as increasingly strong — the players there are overall not accustomed to playing against the best players in the world; even Europe has more experience on this front. So when you take down a Premier with your most fierce opponent being Mago, it calls into question how your chances fare in a far more stacked bracket.
Mago has been consistent as a player for a long time, but has been at the lowest echelon of top players, and hasn’t won a single event since August 2016, even a ranking event. So when this is your top competition, it becomes easier for you to capitalize and take a title.
But when it comes down to playing against everyone else in the hunt for the title, he has fared worse. Given this was his only tournament win, and only two other times was he able to breach the top 4, this is a major concern for him.
It sounds very easy to dismiss Haitani. He’s still a formidable opponent that no one should sleep on. However, his Akuma play isn’t particularly remarkable — what he’s doing, Tokido is doing better — and his results haven’t been stellar enough to call him a major threat.
While Bonchan hasn’t posted a win on the year, he has done historically better in stronger fields this season, and definitely has strong characters to overtake Haitani’s Akuma with. While it’ll be a hard guess either way, don’t be surprised if Haitani is fighting from Losers Bracket right out of the gate.
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