BX3’s Arman “Phenom” Hanjani did what no Western player was expected to do in Street Fighter V at DreamHack Summer in Sweden on Sunday: He won a Capcom Pro Tour Premier Event, piling up victories over some legendary Japanese players to claim his spot in Capcom Cup in December.
“I don’t know what to feel,” Phenom told Yahoo Esports after his stunning win Sunday.
Like many Street Fighter players, Phenom traveled more when Capcom upped the stakes for the 2015 Capcom Pro Tour. He missed a potential shot at qualifying for Capcom Cup 2015 last November at DreamHack Winter when he suffered a tough 3-2 loss against Razer’s Ho Kun Xian in winner’s finals. He went on to lose a demoralizing 3-0 set to Evo 2014 champion Olivier “Luffy” Hay in loser’s finals. For nearly seven months, Phenom had to swallow that loss.
But as one of Europe’s top players since Street Fighter V launched, he wouldn’t stay down for long.
Phenom started the CPT 2016 strong by taking second at the very first Ranking Event, Cannes Winter Clash, and winning CPT Ranking Event FrogByte two months later. But as we’ve come to see on the Pro Tour, the true test of a player’s skill is at a Premier Event against global competition. Most of Asia’s killer talent arrived in Jonkoping, Sweden to take yet another Premier Event away from Europe.
What makes Phenom’s DreamHack Summer win so impressive is that he never backed down from whoever was sitting across from him. He took a 2-0 set from Vega (Claw) main Reiketsu. He beat Kenryo “Mago” Hayashi, who was fresh off a win at CPT Ranking Event TWFighter Major 2016 in Taiwan.
Phenom refused to be bullied by anyone’s pressure. He woke up or challenged with Necalli’s Raging Light at will. He made the most of his offensive opportunities, especially in a thrilling set against Street Fighter legend Daigo “The Beast” Umehara.
In the first round of game 3, Phenom cornered Daigo and literally dunked him three times in a row with Necalli’s command grab before finishing him off after the dizzy. The two played to a 2-2 tie before Phenom made a questionable decision – he switched to M. Bison in the final game – that paid off. Phenom changed up the pace of the game and slayed “The Beast” by taking the final two rounds of the set. He stood up after the win, looking calm and collected, as the spectators and commentators popped off over what might be the greatest win of Phenom’s career.
His next challenge, Razer’s Ai “Fuudo” Keita, took a similar turm. He refused to let Fuudo dictate the match with R. Mika’s shenanigans. The two traded games back and forth, with Phenom coming out the victor in winner’s finals, sending him to grand finals, where he would eventually have to play Fuudo again in the run back. The grand finals set wasn’t as close as their first meeting, as Phenom closed out Fuudo with a command grab in the corner and a standing jab.
Phenom stood up, smiling as the reality of the situation set in. He mauled some of the best Street Fighter players to come out of Japan, including two former Evo champions. He defended European turf and washed away the sting of the loss late last year at the very same location. More importantly, he’s going to Capcom Cup.
Michael Martin covers Street Fighter V and the Capcom Pro Tour. Follow him on Twitter @Bizarro_Mike.