It’s not a stretch to say this year’s Street Fighter V EVO World Championship is completely up for grabs. The game’s still relatively new, and this will be its first appearance at EVO. SFV’s simplified inputs and gamepad-friendly play have opened the gate for all kinds of new players, and the metagame is still fresh, a perfect scenario for upsets and surprises. So what should viewers new to the game keep an eye out for while watching? Let’s take a look!
Evo 2016 is an open tournament divided into three phases: Qualification Pools, the Semifinal Bracket, and the Tournament Finals. The Qualification Pools consist of eight or more players, depending on the size of the overall tournament. Each pool is a double elimination bracket, and the top two players advance to the Semifinals.
The Semifinal Bracket is again a double elimination bracket where a loss from your qualification pool carries over to the Semifinals. This means that one-half of players in this bracket will start on a “winners” side, and the other half will start on a “losers” side. The top eight players from the Semifinals advance to the Finals, where again losses carry over to form winning and losing sides. The Finals end when one final champion remains.
Street Fighter V-Specific Rules
SFV competitive play pits opponents against each other on the U.S. PlayStation 4 version of the game in standard Versus Mode with no player handicap and the round timer set to 99 seconds. If the timer runs out, the player with the most remaining life when time runs out is the victor of that round. The first player to win 2/3 rounds wins the game. The first player to win 2/3 games takes the match. Once the competition reaches the final 8 players, matches become the best 3/5 games won.
It may sound romantic, but footsies is the general concept of watching the negative space between the two characters and how the players control that space. Knowing what the maximum range your character can strike at is important, and great players will know exactly how close is close enough. It takes some getting used to, but watching this dance is one of the tensest parts of the game.
Watching the two meter bars at the bottom of the screen is a great way to predict what a player is going to do. SFV features a Super Combo Gauge and V-Guage. The Super bar is classic, and allows characters to use powered-up EX special moves at a cost of one bar each, or their Super attack at a cost of three bars. V-Gauge meter allows a character to activate one of two things; a V-Reversal, a very useful move that allows a character under pressure to escape while blocking, or V-Trigger, a character specific special move that varies heavily depending on the character.
Paying attention to the players’ meter can help explain why they’re playing the way they are. A player with full Super meter is likely looking for a combo opportunity for big damage, so the other player will likely be playing more defensively. A full V-Trigger can provide a character with both defensive and offensive options depending on the character.
Most players have a main character, one that they know everything about. Since this is EVO, you can expect everyone to be using their main. That said, counterpicking can and does happen. Certain matches can be more/less favorable for a character depending on who their opponent plays. If someone’s main is getting rekt back to back, keep a look out for the counterpick. Check out the above video for a classic example of this.
Ibuki and Balrog Wild card
Ibuki and Balrog were released only a few weeks ago, but both have been cleared for use in EVO. This means that players have had very little time to practice playing both as, and against them. Knowing your matchups is a critical part of competitive Street Fighter, and the short window of time players have had to adapt to these new additions is the perfect situation for some upsets.
Despite new DLC characters and the still developing meta, skill is skill, and the most talented players are usually guaranteed a top spot. So who’s who in the world of competitive SFV? Let’s take a look. Player names are followed my their main character of choice.
RZR|Infiltration – Nash
The world’s number one SFV player, and a safe bet to take the whole thing. Infiltration’s Nash has been dominant across every tournament this year, slowed only by the next guy on the list…
Tokido – Ryu
Likely the second-best SFV player, Tokido, aka Murderface, is hot off his win over Infiltration at CEO. Will he be able to repeat his performance at EVO?
RB|Daigo “The Beast” Umehara – Ryu
Perhaps the greatest competitive fighting game player of all time, Daigo Umehara is, much like his go-to character Ryu, the perfect distillation of dedication and commitment. That said, Daigo has entered the “Michael Jordan playing for the Washington Wizards” period of his career; he’s still an exceptional player, but we’re not expecting a championship from him.
RZR|Fuudo – R. Mika
The 2011 SFIV EVO champ, Fuudo is a consistent top finisher. His pressure-heavy R. Mika mix-ups are a far cry from his more methodical SFIV Fei Long play. Get you a player that can do both.
EG|Justin Wong – Karin
The top-ranked American player, and likely the greatest American fighting game pro of all time, Justin Wong is a true FGC veteran. To most minds, he’s the only American who stands a real chance of taking the gold.
BX3|Phenom – M. Bison
The only high-profile Norwegian player at EVO, Phenom is also the only pro player still using M. Bison. He’s a relative newcomer to this top level of play, but he’s already qualified for the Capcom Cup and expectations are high for this potential dark horse.
Others to watch:
MJS YD|Haitani – Necalli
EG|K-Brad – Cammy
PG|Filipino Champ – Dhalsim
Ricki Ortiz – Chun-Li
RB|Luffy – R. Mika
GGP|Kazunono – Cammy
RZR|Xian – F.A.N.G