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SoCal Regionals: Asian heavyweights challenge NA's best in SFV

Evil Geniuses' Kenneth "KBrad" Bradley (left) is one of the West's top Street Fighter V players. Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports

SoCal Regionals is the next stop on the Capcom Pro Tour for Street Fighter V and it will continue the trend of ridiculously stacked tournament player pools. As it takes place on Oct. 15-16, it is one of the last Premier Events on the year's schedule and should serve as another showdown between the skills of North America and international talent. There will be over 360 hopefuls aiming for the crown and a qualifying spot at the Capcom Cup.

The West's elite ... and underdogs

The largest presence at the tournament will come from the players out of the Western hemisphere. North America will provide plenty of strength in the shape of Evil Geniuses' Justin Wong, Kenneth "KBrad" Bradley, Eduardo "PRRog" Perez-Frangie and Ricki Ortiz. In addition to arguably the best North American fighting game team, Team Liquid's Du "NuckleDu" Dang, Flipsid3's Antwan "Alucard" Ortiz, Evil Bizz' Chris Tatarian, Echo Fox' Julio Fuentes, and Circa eSports' Long "LPN" Nguyen. Each of these players have top eight experience at major tournaments and should be the favorites for long tournament runs.

Because the majority of the tournament competitors will be from North America, there will be plenty of dark horses within its ranks. Some of the surprise players that could do very well this weekend will be Jesse "CommanderJesse" Espinoza, Antonio "Kusanagi" Medrano, Jason "Jaycetheace" Nghe, and Kenneth Pope.

The dark horses may even do better than the proposed top contenders, since there is a lot of parity within the ranks of the West's best players. Outside of the likes of NuckleDu and Justin Wong, my picks to shake up the tournament foundation will be Pope, Kusanagi, and Jaycetheace.

The international powerhouses

It goes without saying that the front-runners to take down SoCal Regionals are not from Southern California. There will be representation from China, Japan, South Korea and even Taiwan and all the players should be massive favorites regardless of the opposition.

From Japan, the leader of the pack is Evil Geniuses' Yusuke "Momochi" Momochi. He's been the king of the region outside of Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi and will come with plenty of momentum. He's the clear-cut number one player, potentially, in the world for Street Fighter V and will want to wipe away his back-to-back second place finishes from memory with a victory in Southern California. After Momochi, Kenryo "Mago" Hayashi and Hail Mary's finest Hiroyuki "Eita" Nagata and Goichi "Go1" Kishida represent the best of the group.

Outside of Japan, the list of killers and challengers does not end. First, the two best players that could contend with Momochi are Zowie's Bruce "Gamerbee" Hsiang of Taiwan and Qanba's Zhuojun "Xiao Hai" Zeng. Gamerbee was one of the hottest players before taking a small break and could continue his ridiculous roll at the expense of tournament field. As for Xiao Hai, the best player from China, he could shut down all of his critics with a towering victory in SoCal Regionals and truly compete for the title of the world's best. In addition, there will be strong names such as Li-Wei "Oil King" Lin and Team Secret's South Korean representative Lee "Poongko" Chung Gon.

Overall, the field of players will be one of the finest representation of the game's strongest. My picks to take it all will be chalky -- Momochi, Gamerbee, and Xiao Hai present the best chance to win. On Oct. 16, the winner will make a strong statement to the world of Street Fighter V in the run up to the Capcom Cup, and drum up some powerful momentum for the season's grand finale.