NuckleDu takes down Tokido to win Red Bull Battlegrounds

Team Liquid's Du "NuckleDu" Dang won the 2016 Canada Cup in a field of elite Eastern and Western talent. He was the first American player to win a Capcom Pro Tour Premier Event. Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY Sports

Team Liquid's Du "NuckleDu" Dang took down Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi to win the Capcom Pro Tour's North American Regional Finals, Red Bull Battlegrounds, continuing his streak of dominance in Street Fighter V. Because NuckleDu already qualified for the Capcom Cup, his victory opened up another spot in the Capcom Pro Tour standings.

NuckleDu lost his first round to Tokido and had to face him again in the grand finals. He needed to win six games, but he managed to reset the bracket quickly with a combination of unusual Sonic Boom timings and surprise Sobat kicks for complete neutral control. The next set had similar momentum: a fight for neutral control with projectiles as the main weapon. NuckleDu's anti-airs were the big difference, as he chose the correct one nearly every time. Tokido's impeccable spacing and pressure game was on display, but NuckleDu proved too difficult an opponent to crack. In another one-sided drubbing, NuckleDu established himself as a threat to any Street Fighter competitor.

While there were still the usual suspects, Chun-Li, Ryu, Cammy, and Karin, there was a healthy dose of character representation with Balrog, Birdie, Guile and Urien. On paper, the top eight was a fantastic representation of North American talent. There were established tournament veterans: Justin Wong, Kenneth "KBrad" Bradley, and Ricki Ortiz, consistent performer Antwan "Alucard" Ortiz, but also a surprise newcomer on the final day, Victor "Punk" Woodley.

Punk was only an online name before the North American Regional Finals, but quickly amassed an impressive body count for his third place finish. The high point of his run was his victory over Justin Wong in a quick 3-0 set. He was efficient in hit-confirming every button and checking all of Wong's advances. Because of his defense, his forward movement and pressure game was unpunished. Punk's standing mixups were the ultimate back-breaker and shut down any comeback potential from the more experienced Street Fighter player.