Street Fighter V
Echo Fox' Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi beat Cygames' Daigo "The Beast" Umehara in the grand finals, 3-1, to claim victory in Street Fighter V at the Norcal Regionals on Sunday.
Both Tokido and Daigo Umehara played sublime. Daigo, especially, ran a gauntlet through the loser's side of the top eight. With every game and opponent, Daigo Umehara's incredibly patient Guile clutched out rounds and provided highlights. It wasn't too long ago that Daigo bested Tokido in a first-to-10 set 10-5, but this was tournament Tokido. Tournament Tokido was different; he pressured opponents and made them desperate with plus-frame block strings, slow and methodical ground game, and the best corner game in the world.
Panda Global's Lee "Infiltration" Seon-woo's recent run ended with the brilliant play of Daigo. Infiltration entered Norcal Regionals as arguably the favorite to take down another premier event with his combination of Menat and Juri, but it was not in the cards. What did win out was the type of elite ground game, patient play and tempo, and hit-and-run style that made Infiltration the monster he was. The top eight was a display of exactly those three factors as most of the matches were played to the final seconds of the round.
The international dream-killer, Du "NuckleDu" Dang lived up to his reputation as one of the few players from the USA that played shoulder-to-shoulder with every elite competitor. His Cammy, while not fully optimized, demonstrated the same fearlessness and reactions as NuckleDu's other characters. NuckleDu continued to be on the short list of best players in the world.
Still, is character variety becoming an issue? The top eight, without counting secondary characters, featured five unique characters (Akuma, Guile, Menat, Abigal, and Cammy), but the top 32 had a lot of Cammy, Menat, Akuma, and Rashid. There were 11 characters that were not even used when it came down to the final stretch of the tournament. The simple answer to the question? No.
While this may be a talking point to encourage future changes to the game and for expectations for tournament trends, Street Fighter V is a game of trends. With players emphasizing their earnings over character loyalties, the variety will depend on competitive results and patch notes. Tokido and his pursuit to perfect Akuma is no longer the normal sight in the fighting game world, so this subject is largely a moot point.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Cyclops Osaka's Goichi "Go1" Kishida took down Ponos' Naoki "moke" Nakayama in the grand finals of Dragon Ball FighterZ for his second straight major tournament win on international grounds at the Norcal Regionals.
Simply, Go1 is out of this world. He knows the mix-up potential of all his opposition, when to reflect, when to Dragon Rush, and when to counter attack. In Japan, the two that posed the most threat to Go1's skill in the game was moke and Kazuyuki "KojiKOG" Koji and the former showed every bit of it during the winner's finals and grand finals. Moke's offensive ability is second-to-none, but he was thwarted time-and-time again against Go1 and only managed one win out of their six games.
During Final Round, the difference in play between the Japanese competitors and the domestic challengers was evident -- Japan emphasized space control, defense, and was not shy with spending meters and resources to do as much damage as possible. For the players from the USA, it was offensive mix-up and pressure with as little space to breathe as possible; defense optional. Although Norcal Regionals was a smaller-sized tournament in comparison to Final Round, the differences were evident again. Outside of Evil Geniuses' Christopher "ChrisG" Gonzalez's signature defensive style, every Japanese player made sure that defense was the way to offense. Whether it was successful guard switches, breaking Dragon Rushes, or layered up-tech options with assist calls, their defense was a joy to watch.
On the side of the USA, Steve "Supernoon" Carbajal and ChrisG were definite bright spots. Supernoon's movement and absolute filth from Kid Buu made him one of the players to watch and ChrisG's consistency continues to amaze. Their set in the loser's semifinals represented the potential of a closing gap between regions in terms of skill.