Yesterday, we spoke with the top eight finalists of the ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational about how they are preparing for the final event, and what has helped take them this far.
Note: Some of the players’ words were edited for clarity but the intent was maintained as well as possible. Momochi, Fujimura, Dogura, and Daigo’s answers were given through a translator.
Daily Esports to Problem X: Bison is a character not often seen in the top cut of major tournaments, let alone one like this with some of the best players in the world. What about Bison do you think has helped you make it this far?
Problem X: Well, with the assistance of Abigail, especially in particular matchups. The way that the game has changed from the past couple of patches, with the removal of throw loops, etc., Bison has gotten slightly weaker in some matchups, but it has helped him as well because he can’t get mauled as much as he could before. Playing Abigail against Smug was definitely a key factor, and the fact that Bison is not a popular character at a high level in any region, you have a lot of mid-level Bison players, but no one has really fleshed out the character I would say the way I have so I have an advantage in that department.
DE to Dogura and Momochi: You two are the only matchup to start top eight with both players from the same region. Do you feel that this will help or hurt you in your matches further down the bracket?
Momochi: I just realized now that the first matchup in top eight is against two Japanese players so I haven’t really been thinking about it. I don’t think it will impact me very much.
Dogura: Well there are five Japanese players, so for sure you are going to run into one at some point in top eight, so I haven’t been thinking much about it specifically. But since it is Momochi I have been asking him if he is going to use Cody or Kolin, and he shuts me down every time.
DE to Tokido and Punk: You guys seem to have a Goku-and-Vegeta-esque rivalry, where you always end up facing each other in these high-stakes events. How do you both feel going up against each other again?
Tokido: I don’t really feel like our rivalry is like Goku and Vegeta at all. He is still very, very young. This youngster, we kind of put him through a tough time last year, so I want to see how much he has come through that, and I want to see how that comes out in his play this year this time.
Punk: I feel like it is just another opponent I have to face so I don’t think there is a rivalry really. For a rivalry, we have to beat each other, and there is no me beating him so I don’t think there is a rivalry. I just feel like I have to play good, and hopefully I do better than my previous performances, and hope that it is a really good match.
DE: So you would say it is more Yugi and Kaiba than Goku and Vegeta?
Punk: I guess, I just feel like there is no rivalry because there is no winning for me. I have to get a win first.
DE to the group: All of you having made it to top eight, has your preparation for your matches changed at all since the beginning of the tournament?
Punk: I haven’t really changed how I prep for the tournament much from when I was here a few weeks ago. I am going in the same way I went it last time. Pretty much the same thing.
Problem X: My preparation has changed slightly because when you are in the group stage you have five other players to consider, so you have to kind of have a standard gameplan to start with, and then you deviate based on how they play in the match. Whereas, when I know exactly who I am playing, I can study their tendencies more. So I have been watching a lot more of Daigo playing, and also playing against my character in any footage I could find. I have had to study a lot of Tokido because you assume, if you look at the results, that might be the favorite in the first match who would play if he was to win. Since you know who you are going to play, you can study for those players in particular, where in the group it is kind of a toss-up.
Tokido: Last time it was Round Robin so I practiced against five characters, but this time it is a tournament, so I focus on my first opponent. That is my preparation.
Momochi: So this time Cody has come out so that is really big for me. Of course I know who my first opponent is going to be, but I have been focusing on how to make Cody really effective and make him a winning character in this top eight. So basically, with practicing my Cody, I have leveled up my Kolin as well. Because Cody is kind of a hard character to win with right now, so I think if I can move well with Cody that would be great.
Fujimura: So this time I am coming up from loser’s bracket so I know I am going to have to fight a lot of different people. That part isn’t different from the round robin, but since I know who my first opponent is, Smug, I have practiced the Boxer (Balrog) matchup a lot in training mode and kind of figured some things out.
Smug: The round robin I don’t find much different from the tournament here because I prepare the same way. I still practice each matchup, and I start off in loser’s bracket as well and I have to play Fujimura. I saw him when he won CEO, and he won a lot more tournaments like Stunfest, so I have also prepared for the Ibuki matchup.
Dogura: Basically, instead of worrying about my first opponent, I have been fighting the fear of if he is going to use Cody or not this whole time. I know a lot about Cody. I know all his moves, I know everything about Cody…
…in my mind. I just haven’t fought a good one. But I know about Cody.
Daigo: Unlike the round robin format, I didn’t prepare for any loser’s bracket opponents, so if I happen to fall into loser’s bracket then I might be gone very quickly…
…that might be it. That is my preparation.
Live coverage of the ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational begins at 6:00pm EST on Twitch, followed by the playoffs where these competitors will face off for the $250,000 prize pool, so tune in to TBS at 11PM EST to find out who is crowned champion.