ESL One Genting
In Genting, we were treated to a rematch of the TI7 grand finals as Team Liquid clashed with Newbee to determine the winner of the Minor. Unlike The Internationals grand finals, Newbee managed to overcome Liquid in a close 3-2 series. Both teams looking nigh untouchable throughout the tournament and their meeting in the finals looked like destiny. Fnatic, EG, Na`Vi, VGJ.Thunder, and Vici Gaming all performed quite well during the event, though that resulted in one surprising downside — many of the teams ended up playing each other in elimination matches as the number of competitors dropped.
Na`Vi’s current rise in Dota can no longer be disputed after ESL One Genting. While they lost to 2nd place finishers Team Liquid and the 3rd/4th placed EG, they stayed competitive in both series and took down the SEA juggernaut Mineski along the way. EG suffered a loss against Na`Vi in the first round but fought through the lower bracket and then took down a tournament favorite in Virtus.pro to secure themselves DPC points. The lane changes made on EG have looked smooth and Suma1l has transitioned to the offlane seamlessly. As things stand EG have also begun the road to recovery after a period where their claim to the throne of NA Dota was in jeopardy.
In the other group we saw the twin teams VG and VGJ.Thunder play each other in the first round which forced VG to the lower bracket. In a similar fashion to EG, they fought their way into the playoffs, but in order to do so they had to go through Fnatic in the 2nd round, a series which resulted in an incredible 90-minute game. A rematch with VGJ.Thunder was next, and once again it was a close 2-1 series. All of these Monster vs Monster matchups culminated in the semi-finals, a fight between juggernauts from both sides of the Atlantic and an historic rivalry: Team Liquid vs EG. Team Liquid cruised to a 2-0 victory on the way to another spot in the finals and even more DPC points. All in all, it was a great tournament for our teams in Genting.
When it comes to fighting games, there is no bigger event than the Evolution Championship Series, commonly referred to as EVO. There may be pro tours with bigger prize pools, but nothing captures the magic of the FGC quite like EVO, the largest open entry multi-game tournament in the world. EVO is ‘the big one’, the title that every aspiring noob and professional alike dreams of winning. This past weekend, Monster Energy’s Seonwoo ‘Infiltration’ Lee secured his 5th EVO championship at the historic, inaugural EVO Japan.
EVO Japan has been in the works for nearly a decade when whispers and rumors about a potential Japanese event began swirling through the community as early as 2010. While it took some time to materialize, it was worth the wait. Over 2200 players entered the Street Fighter V tournament and over 4900 total over all games in attendance, which marks this the largest event in Japanese fighting game history.
In first round pools, FGC legend and EVO 2017 SFV winner ‘Tokido’ was sent to losers’ bracket by an unknown online Cammy player named ‘Powell’. This upset exemplifies the level of competition at EVO Japan, where there were no free passes, not even in round 1 pools — everyone was a threat.
While the unknown players made their splash, Sunday’s Top 8 finals included some of the biggest names in fighting game history: Infiltration, Daigo, Tokido, MOV, and Itabashi. Those five names have been dominating the tournament scene for years through multiple fighting game titles and franchises. These FGC Titans were accompanied by the always game Hong Kong hero, Humanbomb, and rising Japanese stars John Takeuchi and StormKubo.
The finals saw a refreshing mix of living legends and rising talent. Infiltration’s first opponent in the top 8 finals was HumanBomb, known in SFV for his immaculately clean Chun Li play. However, it didn’t take long to realize that Infiltration’s Menat, a new character to the SF universe, was a puzzle HumanBomb couldn’t solve and he quickly fell 3-0. Infiltration’s Menat ran circles around everyone at this event utilizing pixel perfect spacing, and his patented in-and-out, squirrely play style seemed impossible for anyone to pindown. Nobody had the answer until young gun, John Takeuchi said, enough is enough.
In winners’ finals, John Takeuchi never let Infiltration get the momentum, suffocating Infiltration’s Menat, who while powerful in space control has very poor answers when cornered or on the defensive — where Takeuchi’s fast paced Rashid excels. Infiltration was overwhelmed and attempted a quick character change to Juri, a well-rounded character with better defense options like an invincible reversal, but it wasn’t enough. Infiltration suffered his first loss of the tournament 1-3 against the young stud.
The losers’ finals was a contest between two players perpetually vying for the title of ‘best Street Fighter player ever’: Infiltration’s Menat vs the BEAST, Daigo Umehara’s Guile. While these two heroes battled for the prestige of being called the first EVO Japan champion, Infiltration steamrolled Daigo 3-0 and showed the world that Menat can easily counter Guile’s patented tools. Daigo had fallen and the only one left in Infiltration’s path was the young superstar, eager to etch his name into the record books.
Having learned from their previous set, Infiltration wasted no time with Menat and went with his self-described ‘waifu’ Juri. This ultimately proved successful as Juri, a rather underused and community labeled ‘low tier’ character, changed the dynamic of the match. With Juri, Infiltration could match Takeuchi’s speed and relied on well-placed reversals to get himself out of Rashid's dangerous mix-ups. In a flurry of tornados, fireballs and fast paced scrambles, it seemed to end almost as quickly as it began. Infiltration reset the bracket 3-1, into another 3-1. The grand final was a dominant display of composure and experience that overwhelmed the young Takeuchi.
Infiltration had done it — download complete! Korea takes the first ever EVO Japan and Infiltration adds to his resume a 5th EVO title, moving him to 3rd all time for EVO wins, building his case for greatest of all time.