CPT Asia East #2: Japanese Street Fighter Hits Different
In what was arguably one of the most exciting CPTs I've witnessed in recent times, the Japanese once again showed why they are considered elite
Okay, so I have made it a point to catch all the CPT action. However, I was a little late for this year's party, so I didn't start checking out the competition till the first North America West CPT. Since then, we have had the European West, Asia West, Central America, and so many others. Therefore, this weekend's action was my first taste of Japanese CPT action, and boy did it hit different. First off, it was quite clear that even Capcom gave the competition some preferential treatment as unlike other competitions, even the pools were streamed.
Also, I know I said 'Japanese' CPT, which isn't strictly the case as the competition covered East Asia. But, such was the dominance of Japan that it might well have been called the Japanese CPT. The top 16 had 15 Japanese players and one Korean, so it wasn't too hard to witness just how powerful the Japanese scene is. The first edition of the Asia East CPT was won by Daigo Umehara, winning in the grand final against Fuudo. So, most fans went into the weekend's action expecting one of Fuudo or Tokido to win. However, in what can be considered a bit of a surprise, Gachikun emerged as the winner. This seems a little unfair as Gachikun is by no means an underdog considering he is a Capcom champion himself, and neither Fuudo nor Tokido have won the championship.
The brackets were stacked with some insane talent, and the thought that only one of them could be the winner was almost impossible to believe.
As mentioned earlier, Gachikun won the tournament and will now be in the competition set to take place. He won against fellow former Capcom cup winner Momochi after the bracket was reset. So, what were the highpoints of the tournament, and what did we learn from it?
As mentioned earlier, Japanese Street Fighter hits different, and this competition was not lacking for hype matches. In fact, it sometimes felt like we were spoilt for choice. Personally, I really enjoyed the winners' final between Tokido and Gachikun. Tokido had been touted as a favorite to win the tournament, and for the most part, he looked invincible, easily overwhelming opponents with his Urien. This was interesting to note as Tokido is generally known for his excellent use of Akuma. Still, in recent times, including in the ongoing Japanese Street Fighter league, he has been using a lot of Urien, which is something he hasn't done since 3rd Strike. He came up against Gachikun's invincible Rashid. Things initially looked to be going in Tokido's favor as he raced to a 2-game lead. But, Gachikun soon got the hang of Tokido's timing and started to counter everything the legendary fighter had to offer. Gachikun dragged the set back to 2-2, and for the final game, Tokido burst out the Akuma. With the change of pace, Gachikun struggled to deal with Tokido for the first round, but the 2018 Capcom Cup winner is nothing if not resilient. So, with relative ease, he also got used to Tokido's Akuma's timing and was able to overcome him. The final round was a nervy affair with both fighters down to their last pixels of life, but Gachikun clutched it out and won the game, sending Tokido down to loser where he lost to Momochi.
Another insane match was the one between Otani and ITK. The latter is the best Dhasim I have ever seen, and his mastery of the character is phenomenal. That said, Otani was no slouch, and he is clearly an experienced Akuma user. The two performed out of their skins to provide a memorable match, with ITK's control of space particularly noteworthy as he used this to his advantage.
Everyone knows about Daigo, Momochi, Fuudo, and Tokido, but if this competition showed anything, it's that we might need to start rethinking the Japanese pantheon of players. Talented individuals like Otani, ITK (who is currently number 5 on CFN with Dhalsim, let that sink in), and Gachikun are all over Japan and are even toppling some of the established players. For instance, ITK completely destroyed Fuudo to win the set 3-0 and knock him out of the competition, while Otani beat out Nemo and Moke to make it to Top 16. These are players that deserve more recognition, and hopefully, over the coming months, we'll see them more often.
Verloren is arguably the best Cammy in the world. That's a bold statement, but watching him, and it is clear to see just how good he is. He was also the only Korean in a world of excellent Japanese players, making it to Top 8 and placing 7th in the competition. This is by no means an achievement to sniff at, and I hope I get to watch him play some more.
There are now 16 qualifiers for the Capcom Cup, with only three slots left available for grabs through qualification with one extra slot available for a fan-choice. With the caliber of players available at the Capcom Cup, I am getting extremely excited by the prospect.