The latest instalment of Capcom’s flagship franchise, Street Fighter 5 has been on a bit of a roller coaster since releasing last year. Various issues plagued the game at launch, and while a handful of patches have corrected these setbacks, stigma still looms. That said, the developers have continued to wholeheartedly throw their support behind the competitive community, and have provided an additional $US50,000 ($64,668) to the Evo 2017 prize pool.
Problems aside, Street Fighter 5‘s early legacy has been marked by a truly global competitive community.
It can typically be expected for Japan to dominate high-level play in pretty much any fighting game, but a number of impressive players from across the globe have come out of the woodwork to prove anyone can succeed with enough dedication. The most surprising of these players is Victor “Punk” Woodley. Appearing almost out of nowhere late in 2016, this young American competitor has quickly made a name for himself by defeating some of the greatest players in the world. This past autumn, he persevered through a gruelling bracket to win Eleague’s inaugural Street Fighter 5 event, earning $US150,000 ($194,003) in the process. Look for him to make waves early on.
Another hopeful from the United States is Du “NuckleDu” Dang, who became the first American player to win Capcom Cup with his victory over Ricki Ortiz last year. While at times it’s seemed like he might buckle under the weight of a character crisis, Dang has proven he has what it takes to win, both with projectile monster Guile and tricky wrestler R. Mika.
But that doesn’t mean all the talent has been relocated to the western hemisphere. Japanese competitor Masato “Bonchan” Takahashi has remained a global favourite despite a poor performance at Evo 2016 thanks to his dedication to playing Nash after many jumped ship. Kun “Xian” Ho of Singapore finally found his groove after switching away from zany newcomer F.A.N.G., finding new life with Ibuki and her confusing ninja skills. Tatsuya Haitani, long thought of as one of Japan’s Street Fighter gods, has quietly levelled up over the past few months, and might utilise the bestial Necalli in a dark horse run towards the finals.
Truth be told, Street Fighter 5 is a bit of a toss-up this year. Evo 2016 champion Seon-woo “Infiltration” Lee has dropped off after winning, and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if he and his fellow finalists were absent from this year’s main stage. Street Fighter 5 is still in its infancy, and we’re sure to see fireworks as players show off their latest strategies at Evo 2017.
Other notable players: Bryant “Smug” Huggins, Ryota “Kazunoko” Inoue, Arturo “Sabin” Sanchez, Chung-gon “Poongko” Lee, Daigo Umehara, Xijie “Jiewa” Zeng, Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi, Goichi “GO1” Kishida, Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez, Brian “Brian F” Foster, Naoto Sako, Nemoto “Nemo” Naoki, Atsushi “yukadon” Fujimura, Keita “Fuudo” Ai, Yusuke Momochi, Putthivath “XsK_Samurai” Chea, Alex Myers, Ricki Ortiz, Han-byeol “xyzzy” Lee, Joe “LI Joe” Ciaramelli, Jonny “Humanbomb” Cheng, Joshua “Wolfkrone” Philpot, Chrisotpher “NYChrisG” Gonzalez, Adel “Big Bird” Anouche, Zhuojun “Xiaohai” Zeng, Darryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis, Leah “gllty” Hayes, Li-wei “Oil King” Lin, Arman “Phenom” Hanjani, Hiromiki “Itabashi Zangief” Kumada, Justin Wong, Derek “iDom” Ruffin, Bruce “GamerBee” Hsiang, Kenneth “K-Brad” Bradley, Eduardo “PR Balrog” Perez, Long “LPN” Nguyen, Ryota “John” Takeuchi, Devon “Mikeand1ke” Petties, Kevin “Dieminion” Landon, Marcus “THE COOL KID93” Redmond, Alex Valle
Every year, the Evolution Championship Series descends on Las Vegas, bringing with it the largest collection of fighting game players in the world. Evo serves as a reflection of the best the fighting game community has to offer, and players who manage to become champions in the sweltering Las Vegas desert are regarded as having reached the pinnacle of their craft. This year’s festivities are shaping up to be mighty special.
Las Vegas, Nevada to test their mettle starting on Friday, July 14, all with the hopes of making the main arena stage on Sunday, July 16. (The tournament runs from Saturday, July 15 to Monday, July 17 for those following along in Australia.)
Due to the sheer size of the event, even diehard fighting game fans find it difficult to keep up with the goings-on at Evo every year. As such, we have put together a breakdown of the games and notable players involved.