A beatdown in Chi-Town
Frosty Faustings XI saw a major show of strength from Americaâ€™s finest fighting game talent across the board. From Guilty Gear to Dragon Ball FighterZ and more, the weekend was packed with nonstop action, including that of Street Fighter V. With players scrambling to adjust to significant changes brought on by the gameâ€™s most recent patch, fans were eager to see how the competition would play out â€“ and the pros didnâ€™t disappoint. Pools teemed with known killers like former Capcom Cup champion Du â€˜NuckleDuâ€™ Dang, powerful boxer player Brian â€˜Brian_Fâ€™ Foster, and even CFNâ€™s top-ranked Zangief, â€˜Mhike2stronk.â€™ With such a strong showing of high-level competitors, it comes as no surprise that a few greats were unseated as brackets moved along â€“ but young SFV pro Victor â€˜Punkâ€™ Woodley was not one of them. Punk managed to stay in winnersâ€™ side throughout pools until meeting Brian F in Top 16, where he lost a close set against his opponent to land in Losersâ€™ side of the Top 8 bracket. [caption id="attachment_107188" align="alignnone" width="600"] Credit: Capcom[/caption] Despite his loss against Brian, Punk wasnâ€™t fazed; instead, he felt impressed with his performance, going into Losersâ€™ side with a steady mindset. â€œI feel I played pretty good against Brian in Top 16,â€ Punk said of his loss. â€œHe just played really good, so overall, I was happy about how I played.â€
Go beyond the battle!
Punkâ€™s first match in Top 8 pitted him against Ibuki main and Chi-Town local Johnny â€˜Bananajinâ€™ In. Rather than sticking with his main character, Karin, Punk opted for Street Fighter mainstay Ryu, drawing massive speculation from onlookers and commentators alike. With Ryuâ€™s significant changes in the Season 4 patch, the iconic fighting game protag could be back on the path to greatness â€“ especially considering Punkâ€™s dominating performance with the character. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1HFcfLc2d0&t=108s Punk took the set against Bananajin in a convincing 2-0 run, finishing his enemy off with a clean standing light kick canceled into Critical Art. Despite Ryuâ€™s past destitution, Punk feels that the character has seen a â€œsignificantâ€ improvement with the patch, likewise finding his chances against Ibuki rather agreeable. â€œI actually like the Ibuki/Ryu matchup,â€ Punk said of his fight with Bananajin. â€œI think itâ€™s really fun, and actually pretty good for Ryu. I think Ryu has also gotten significantly better in this patch.â€
Muscle spirit vs the Kanzuki fortune
Punk went on to face Brian F once more in Losersâ€™ Semi Finals. The two engaged in a nail-biting runback, with Brian taking one game before Punk ended the set 2-1. While Punk claimed that he didnâ€™t change much about his game plan during their second meeting, he did admit to â€œbeing a little saferâ€ when Brian had V-Trigger before moving on to face Jonathan â€˜JBâ€™ Bautista in the Losersâ€™ Final. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPO58u2bRDI&t=702s After taking out one of SoCalâ€™s strongest Rashids, Punk was set to throw down in the Grand Final against R. Mika main Elchakotay Andrich, who had taken out NuckleDu and JB earlier in the bracket. Despite Chakotayâ€™s streak in Winnersâ€™ side, Punk managed to unseat his opponent with a convincing bracket reset â€“ taking the victory with a dominating 6-0 streak. While Punk feels that Mika stands to be a solid character in Season 4, he still thinks that Karin has the advantage, claiming that he should â€œneverâ€ lose to the wrestler. â€œI think Mika is really good this season, but I do think Karin has a slight edge versus Mika,â€ Punk said of the matchup. â€œIâ€™m really good in general fighting against her, as long as I feel like Iâ€™m playing good that day. I don't think I should ever lose to her.â€
Whatâ€™s next for SFV?
While SFVâ€™s Season 4 patch saw major improvements to some of the gameâ€™s weakest characters â€“ as well as overall adjustments to general mechanics like armour and invincibility â€“ the verdict is still out as to international competition. However, Punk speculates that top players will continue to shine, and feels that the Season 4 patch is the most balanced update in the gameâ€™s history. [caption id="attachment_107186" align="alignnone" width="600"] Credit: Capcom[/caption] â€œI think the Season 4 patch is actually the most balanced patch so far,â€ Punk stated. â€œItâ€™s really good, and Karin also got a lot stronger due to the upper tier characters getting nerfed. ...Iâ€™m not quite sure about the upcoming CPT. I think most familiar faces will still dominate, since I haven't really seen anything yet from anyone. Itâ€™s really hard to say who Iâ€™d think be a major threat this year.â€ Final Round marks the first Premier tournament in the upcoming Pro Tour, which kicks off on March 15, 2019. Although tier lists have yet to be officially solidified, SFVâ€™s new adjustments could make for an entirely different competitive environment; however, nothing is set in stone, and players still have a little over one month to practice their skills before taking to the Tour. Who will take the first Premier? What characters will dominate the competition? Only time will tell, and it is ticking quickly forward to the next event â€“ which could turn the title completely upside down.