Europe's Street Fighter champion emerges ahead of CEO 2016

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One of the biggest European events in the Pro Tour calendar and a couple of ranking events dominate ahead of one of the most important fighting game events of 2016. The shadow of EVO is looming and the Capcom Cup is starting to slowly take shape. As we all know by now, the FGC never takes a week off so here’s the breakdown of all of the goings on in the past fourteen days, and a quick look towards the coming weekend.

Phenom-enal performance

Norway’s Arman ‘Phenom’ Hananji made a strong claim to being Europe’s best Street Fighter V player with his big win at Dreamhack Summer this past weekend. He’d already established himself on the European CPT leaderboard with some top finishes in ranking events, but with this premier event win he is now the third name to have booked themselves a spot at the Capcom Cup—the first European player to do so, joining Momochi and Infiltration at the big year-end event.

After missing out on a Capcom Cup place by the slightest of margins last season, no one can deny that Phenom deserves his spot this year. Dreamhack was absolutely stacked with European and Japanese talent (despite a notable and disappointing lack of US talent). On his way through the tournament, Phenom bested EVO winner Fuudo (twice), Daigo Umehara and Mago fresh off of his recent tournament win the week before—a murderer’s row of elite Japanese players. This is something that US players have failed to do at premier events so far this season. All eyes turn to this weekend and CEO 2016.

The clearer regional divides have thrown up a few new names and faces

A couple of other ranking events took place in the past fortnight. The TWFighter Major 2016 in Taiwan was—as mentioned above—won by Mago, who remains unsponsored after the whole ‘Madcatz’ situation went down. It was one of the most talent-rich Asian events of the Pro Tour to date, with the top 16 reading a lot more like a top 16 towards the end of Street Fighter IV’s tournament lifespan—Tokido, Haitani, Daigo, Poongko, Kazunoku, the usual suspects—which makes Mago’s first win of the season all the more impressive. 128 CPT points on the Asia leaderboard make up for an otherwise slightly underwhelming start to his Pro Tour and also elevates him into the top 10 on the global leaderboard.

Moscow Fighting Arena 2016 happened on the same weekend, with Team Razer’s Xian travelling far from his native Singapore seeking those illustrious CPT points. It was a trip worth making as he took first place, triumphing over of a top eight featuring Will2Pac, Problem X, RMZ and others in a tournament that admittedly had a significantly weaker overall bracket than the event in Taiwan. That’s the nature of the Pro Tour, though—players can travel wherever they want and occasionally play the numbers game and win points in places where the competition isn’t quite as strong. The clearer regional divides have thrown up a few new names and faces, but the elite are still the elite, and Xian—who is persevering with the supposedly weak character FANG—is showing why he is considered one of them.

E3 and the future

Last week’s E3 event had some good and bad news for PC-based fighting fans. Tekken 7 was confirmed to be getting a PC release, making it the first Tekken game to appear on the platform, and shows that Namco Bandai are going to be aiming to create the largest possible player base as the Tekken competitive scene comes back to the forefront of the FGC. In less good news, NeverRealm Studios’ next game, the DC Universe scrapper Injustice 2, shows no signs of being released on PC. The PC port of Mortal Kombat X was extremely poor, so this might not be the worst news, but it is a shame nonetheless.

C-you next time!

One of the biggest US events of the year is happening this weekend—CEO 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Being a premier event with a Capcom Cup place up for grabs for the winner has attracted an all-time high number of entrants, including many of the best players from Japan and Europe.

CEO is also known for being one of the most exciting events of the Pro Tour. Last year, the event took place in a wrestling ring and competitors walked in like they were heading out to Wrestlemania. K-Brad’s ‘Stone Cold Steve Austin’ entrance went viral, but there was also the excellent Undertaker-esque entrance by Dieminion. This year, New Japan Pro Wrestling star Kenny Omega has entered the tournament and it is going to be fascinating to see where he finishes. He has a fairly legit Alex, after all.