Phenom is the last of the high-level Necalli mains. While many have walked away from the character, Phenom has stuck with him, and has proven he can still hang with the best in the world. For the third straight year, Phenom has found himself ready to devour the competition at Capcom Cup. In 2016, he placed just outside of top 8; in 2017, he went 0-2. Will he return to form, or even better?
Where many others saw a ceiling with Necalli and abandoned ship, Phenom was able to stick with the character, and still perform at a high level. While his spacing game ultimately became a non-issue, Phenom was able to press forward, proving that he could still persist to find new ways to make the character work.
You can see that in his play, where his spacing and his corner pressure has become an increasing problem. When his neutral game got nerfed, it had to. But given the corner was where Phenom tended to excel, it’s unsurprising the character still works in his hands. He plays similar to Xiao Hai when he gets you to the corner, making you make bad decisions that he capitalizes on.
While Haitani did drop Necalli and was less successful, Phenom was able to keep his winning ways. With ten top 8s to his name in 2018, he has been one of the most successful Europeans on the circuit — outside of Problem X, of course.
While the bulk of his tournament success was in European ranking events (he won three) he also managed to finish top 3 at CEO behind Xiao Hai and Fujimura. This does show that there’s been gas left in his competitive tank.
But Not Quite Enough
But here’s the issue, his best results have only been in Europe. While he did well at CEO, outside of Red Bull Conquest, that seemed to be a flash in the pan for Phenom. Top 16 at Canada Cup is a strong result, given how tough it is to break through in that bracket every year, but is it enough? It’s not his third place finish at the same event two years ago. This makes it hard to really count on his durability these days, especially when you look at who he’s going up against and losing to. Losing to StormKUBO at Red Bull definitely shows issues in this match-up, whereas this was GamerBee’s pick of choice against the same player at NorCal Regionals. But then also losing to John Takeuchi not only shows that he struggles even against players who were unable to qualify for Capcom Cup outright, but Rashid specifically. Bad news for if he runs up against Oil King, Big Bird, or Gachikun.
While he may tentatively avoid all three Rashids by being on the opposite end of the bracket, he could ultimately be playing Problem X in the second round should he find himself in Winners Bracket that long. Given that he struggled against StormKUBO, how much more would he struggle against Problem X should he pick Abigail on him?
I feel like Phenom is a promising player that possibly needs to re-adjust. By re-adjust, I think unless something major happens in the Season 4 patch, he needs to find a new character that suits him well. Given that it’s hard to do so with so few days left, I don’t see Phenom making it that far.
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