And now for the main event!
It’s that time of year again. Evo always brings out the most aggressive campaigns from players in Street Fighter V, and with a multitude of Capcom Pro Tour points on the line, players will be gunning for top slots in the tournament. With top 8 putting you in prime position to make Capcom Cup (only MOV missed out on a Capcom Cup berth last year, out of the entire Evo top 8), it is imperative to bring your A game to Vegas.
Not only does it matter in the grand scope of the CPT, but becoming Evo champion comes with the greatest prestige. It was important enough to level tournament favorite Punk last year, when he fell to now-teammate Tokido. Punk himself said that Evo mattered more to him than ELEAGUE, or even Capcom Cup. This is telling of how the fighting game community views Evo as their opportunity for life-long fame and glory.
So, who has what it takes to take them all down this weekend?
Repeat performance pays.
When looking at players primed to do it all, you have to look at who has been the best on the CPT this year. Those players would definitely be the ones who have been on a tear, taking title after title. Without question, you’re looking at the maestros of their respective characters: Menat, Cammy, Akuma, Ibuki, and Guile.
With that said, the obvious choices would be to look at PG|Infiltration, who has been in a similar position as he was in 2016 when he took it home. He has a strong character in Menat, coupled with a pair of titles on the CPT this year. He also has plateaued a bit, with him losing in top 8 at CEO, and not making top 8 at VSFighting. This is similar to his performance at CEO prior to Evo 2016 — albeit not the same. He’s sure to have worked some things out that will put him in an advantageous position coming into Evo.
Further, Echo Fox|Tokido has continued to be the demon we have all come to know and love. With multiple CPT titles and a hefty ELEAGUE payday to boot, he is always a threat. NL has also been the most consistent and dominant Cammy on the tour this year, and could be the one that makes waves at Mandalay Bay on Sunday. His one issue has been dealing with Menat — recent streams have shown Infiltration tearing him limb from limb. If he either avoids Infiltration altogether or has an epiphany that leads to solving this problem match-up, then the title could be his.
Hx.Twitch.CYG BST|Daigo Umehara is also always a threat, but more so this year. After his dominating performance at VSFighting, you can tell Daigo is coming into form far earlier this season than last, where his streak happened after Evo. But you cannot overlook the runner-up to him in England, FUDOH|Fujimura, who has truly unlocked the most devastating Ibuki in existence, and has been hard to beat all year. He has far more top 8s than everyone else already mentioned, and could not only return to Evo top 8 after his breakout performance in 2016 (as Yukadon) but surpass it with a first place finish.
… Or does it?
However, last year saw Tokido take the championship. Having not captured a single tournament on the circuit prior to Evo last year, he proved emphatically the past is far less important the present. What matters is how you are in the moment, and how focused you have been in your preparation for Evo.
With that said, I’d like to present Qanba|Xiaohai as the sort of player who potentially could take it all. The Chinese Cammy has been on the uptake in the last two months, having shifted his focus to Street Fighter over The King of Fighters recently, and that focus shows. He took second at CEO — losing only to Fujimura — as well as at Abuget Cup, losing to Gachikun. This is in contrast to is early 2018 results where he could barely breach Top 16, showing how his renewed focus on the title could make him a huge threat.
Further, with that focus, you know he is paying attention to Fujimura and how he lost in Grand Finals to the man. Any time Xiaohai does his homework, whoever he is researching is in big trouble. Few players have the reads, reactions, and the mind-games to control their opponent like he does, and if he gives his all, he could easily take it.
Europe’s second Champion?
One can barely say Mousesports|Problem X is a dark horse pick anymore. The British player was already to be feared in 2017, and has continued his reign of terror this year. Having already won Northwest Majors and Headstomper, he is definitely Europe’s biggest shot at a title in Vegas his year. He also could make players play Russian Roulette with his cast of characters that he is likely to bring out. If he brings out M. Bison, Abigail, or anyone else he can play, he does it with the purpose of throwing off his opponents on what they prepared for, and to play to match-up advantages. This makes it really hard to prepare for the man, and he could literally be the problem that people have to solve this weekend.
A field full of killers.
There are many other players I’d like to mention, but it’d take a week to write — and read — an article on all the threats in this bracket. While it’d be hard to discredit players like Oil King, Verloren, GamerBee, Justin Wong, Itabashi Zangief, and MOV — the only player to make all Street Fighter V top 8s at Evo — these are the players I feel like should be the most feared in the brackets.
For all those standing in their way this year, consider yourselves warned.