The Capcom Pro Tour broke ground last weekend by crowning its first Street Fighter V Online Ranking Event champion.
It wasn’t me. Not by a long shot. It was Miky “XsK Samurai” Chea, a long-time Ryu player from Central California, an often overlooked region because it sits right in the middle of NorCal and SoCal.
Location didn’t matter in the recent CPT Online Ranking Event (aside from certain connectivity issues), however, as XsK Samurai went through a fairly hard bracket to secure his spot at the North American Regional Ranking Finals in Seattle, WA this November.
Though he didn’t even know that’s what he was playing for.
“I thought it was for 10 or 12 points or something. I was like, ‘I won a flight to where?’” XsK Samurai told Yahoo Esports.
Back to Seattle
It was definitely for points — 128, to be exact. That was good enough to bump him into 27th place on the CPT Global Leaderboard and, astonishingly, 8th on the North American Leaderboard at 130 points (he earned 2 points for a 9th place finish at Northwest Majors – another tournament I didn’t win).
Not knowing what was at stake helped him get through the tournament, in which he faced stiff competition in the form of Dark Sided’s Frankie “Stupendous” Lee twice, Brentt “Brenttiscool” Franks, Panda Global’s Ryan “FilipinoChamp” Ramirez, Ryan “Fubarduck” Harvey, Hsien Chang, and finally, Ultra Arcade’s TakuyaSugi, an unknown Alex player from Texas. That line-up could be a top 16 in any other North American Street Fighter V tournament, online or otherwise.
“The obvious goal is to win,” XsK Samurai said. “My main goal is to improve. To do so well in an online tournament was a surprise. I just wanted to play.”
XsK Samurai has shown improvement in his tournament results over the course of the year. He began the CPT by finishing 33rd at Final Round in March and followed that up a week later with a 25th-place finish at NorCal Regionals. Since then, he’s finished 17th at West Coast Warzone, 9th at NWM, and 17th at CEO.
“I’ve been working to prove to other players I’m strong,” he said. “Ryu doesn’t really have any gimmicks. He has all the tools to win a match but you have to use every single tool to win. That’s what’s most exciting about Ryu.”
Few would disagree that Ryu is one of the best, if not the best, all-around character in the game. But sometimes you need a little bit of luck, and XsK Samurai got a lot of it during his match in loser’s finals against Hsien Chang. One small miscalculation changed everything.
Chang needed one confirm to combo into Critical Art with Necalli to finish XsK Samurai off and move on to grand finals. He got his chance and went with a combo that popped XsK Samurai into the air, which Chang should then have finished by juggling with Necalli’s Critical Art. But Chang mistimed the Critical Art and it missed, giving XsK Samurai the glimmer of hope he needed. He took advantage of the situation as the dropped combo clearly affected Chang’s approach in the final game of the five-game set.
“He hit me with a low forward and I saw him go for a standing fierce,” XsK Samurai said. “He popped me up and I mashed quick rise, hoping it would miss. It missed and I went on the offensive. He was playing exceptionally well, but he veered away from his gameplan in the last game. If he hadn’t missed that super, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now.”
This set up the unlikeliest of grand finals. XsK Samurai would have to play an Alex he wasn’t prepared for. In fact, he was playing ranked matches earlier against another Alex player and hoped he wouldn’t have to play any other Alex players due to a lack of knowledge with the match-up. He didn’t get his wish, but he made the most of it and put on an excellent show in grand finals against TakuyaSugi.
The finale and the future
The sign of a great Street Fighter V player is the ability to adapt. XsK Samurai and TakuyaSugi went back and forth over the course of two sets, both of which XsK Samurai won, 3-2. No lead was safe against XsK Samurai as he pulled off a series of incredible comebacks, much like he did against Hsien Chang. And when he needed to most, XsK Samurai ratched his play up a notch by adding unexpected throws and random hurricane kicks to his game.
As much as XsK Samurai wants to play a solid Ryu, sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty.
“I’ve been working on playing as clean as possible,” XsK Samurai said. “That’s what my brain is telling me. My heart is telling me to kick this guy’s ass. You have to go in. When you’re in the middle of that mental conflict, you have to balance it out, especially in this game. You need to know when to attack or back off.”
XsK Samurai was clutch, staving off TakuyaSugi with a Ryu overhead that earned him a trip to Seattle for the second time this year.
He won’t have an easy time at the Regional Finals, however, with players like Evil Geniuses’ Justin Wong and Ricki Ortiz (who recently qualified for the Regional Finals by winning Defend the North), EVB’s Chris Tatarian, and Echo Fox’s Julio Fuentes already qualified. But XsK Samurai has shown he can capitalize on the smallest windows of opportunity, so there’s always a chance he could fight his way into Capcom Cup.
Michael Martin will be at the CPT Regional Finals, but not because he qualified through a Ranking Event. Follow him on Twitter @Bizarro_Mike.