The Finals: Styles Make Fights

Written by: Stephen "Sajam" Lyon
Twitter: @Sajam

       So this coming Friday is the playoff for the Street Fighter V Invitational on ELEAGUE! It’s been an absolutely wild season,  and I’m positive the finals will live up to the hype. Last week, I took the chance to talk a little bit about my predictions for the first round of matches in the playoffs, but now it’s time to talk about the rest of the bracket and my pick to win!

       As I mentioned last week, I had the winners’ finals of the tournament to be Punk against Fuudo. These are arguably the two favorites of the entire event meeting here, but there’s also a lot of history between the two. Back at the Capcom Pro Tour Northern California Regionals, Fuudo actually cited Punk as the strongest player in the world. Punk took this compliment well, immediately destroying and disrespecting Fuudo in the team tournament of the event. Then, he defeated Fuudo again in the losers’ finals of the tournament, 3-1. Fuudo has matched the in-game disrespect, by calling out Punk on his interview and saying he cares about nothing but defeating him in the playoffs.

       Even once you get past their words, the two players match up in an interesting way. Fuudo is legendary for his almost unmatchable ability to whiff-punish his opponents missed attacks, and alongside his incredible patience, it makes him almost impossible to defeat on the ground. Punk, however, has picked apart Fuudo badly on the ground each time they have played. His ability to move forward and react to every button Fuudo sticks out has given him a ton of issues. Traditionally, he has been the man to pick in a grounded match up, but I expect Punk to come out on top again and put himself in the grand finals of ELEAGUE.

       In losers’ bracket, I have a couple of heart-breakers for Zhi and the fans at home. I have Phenom pulling off the win against Daigo Umehara. The two have a history, and in that history, Phenom famously dunked Daigo with 5 consecutive command throws. On top of that, I feel as if Phenom comes into the playoffs as one of the absolute strongest competitors. I have the Beast, Daigo Umehara, finishing with 5th place at ELEAGUE.

       On the opposite side, I have PR Balrog losing to Wolfkrone. I mentioned last week that I felt that the winner between Punk and PR Balrog would win the entire event, and I still think that’s true. If PR Balrog runs into Wolfkrone, however, I’m not sure about his odds. The matchup between Laura and Balrog is incredibly difficult for Balrog. With Wolfkrone’s experience online, I expect him to be fully prepared to deal with the character.

       With that being said, this would set up a losers’ semis matchup of Phenom against Wolfkrone. Both of those players are constantly undersold on just how talented they are, so it would be very fitting if they make a deep run in this bracket. After his performance in Group D, I honestly believe Phenom will make it to the top 3 of this event for sure. Phenom upsetting Fuudo and moving on to the winners’ finals would not be that surprising to me either. So, I’m giving him the edge over Wolfkrone in this set.

       This sets up the top 3 of my imagined bracket: Punk waiting in the grand finals, while Phenom and Fuudo face off in losers’ side. Honestly, I could see this rematch going either way, but my prediction is that Fuudo clutches it out and moves on to the grand finals against Punk. I find it especially tough to predict though, because Phenom came out so strong in Group D, and Fuudo had a bit of a shaky tournament performance a week ago at BAM in Australia. No matter who wins between these two, in the end, I predict the Alpha Punk will get the win.

       As fun as doing my predictions was, I’m sure there’s no chance anything will play out as we expect. ELEAGUE has been full of surprises throughout the entire bracket. Even just a few weeks in Group D, we saw Xiao Hai conquer his demon by defeating Nuckledu in an unimaginable upset. Wolfkrone has been an absolute thorn in everybody he has played side so far, and I don’t expect that to change in finals. Even Daigo Umehara surprised after hit-or-miss tournament performances, showing up huge here at ELEAGUE and qualifying for the top 8. No matter what happens, I’m positive this Friday will be an amazing night of Street Fighter V!