Team Liquid's Du "NuckleDu" Dang is your Combo Breaker Street Fighter V champion after defeating Cygames and Red Bull's Darryl "SnakeEyez" Lewis in St. Charles, Illinois.
The defending Capcom Cup champion made a definitive statement to all those watching Combo Breaker by saying, "I'm still here." NuckleDu needed to win this tournament. His path to a championship was clear without key nemesis, Panda Global's Victor "Punk" Woodley, in the way, but the Florida native struggled at times throughout the top eight. Despite the usual dominance from his Guile and Rainbow Mika, he ran into a few execution and composure issues. It was clear that NuckleDu was ahead of the field, but the gap was not as distant as it was in Season 1.
The United States was the majority population of yet another Premier Event top eight and the trend may just be a fixture throughout the tour. With only one international player present on the final day of Combo Breaker, Scarz' Naoto Sako from Japan, the Street Fighter community entered uncharted territory.
While many of the American names were familiar to the fighting game audiences, one bright spot shone above the rest: Brian "Brian_F" Foster. The relative newcomer Balrog player flexed his muscles and showcased his signature safe and optimal play. Brian_F was one of the few content creators for Balrog's setups and safe options and made sure that he was more than just a talker. It may be too soon to declare that Brian_F is a prime-time player, but this was certainly one of his best steps forward.
The top eight was a return of the established current generation Street Fighters in Evil Geniuses' Chris "Chris G" Gonzalez, Echo Fox' Justin Wong and Splyce's Ryan "Filipinochamp" Ramirez. These three names were among the most consistent finishers in the fighting game community for the better part of the last decade. It was refreshing to see the older guard take it to the young guns of the Street Fighter V era. While all three are still in their fighting game prime, this is a reminder that this game can still be played with strong fundamentals.
Grand Finals: SnakeEyez against NuckleDu
SnakeEyez entered the grand finals on the winner's side after a risky choice to use Zangief against NuckleDu's Guile paid off; he also benefited from a very rare drop from NuckleDu in winner's finals (failed flash kick into critical art) that cost him the set. Everything looked like it was going SnakeEyez' direction. And then, NuckleDu reset the grand finals in quick fashion. His Guile was razor-sharp in precision and his boom timings put all of SnakeEyez' offense in check.
In the reset, SnakeEyez struck back. One read and one snowball victory led to another and he was up 2-0. But NuckleDu was undeterred from the goal. He buckled down, be it Akuma or Zangief, and kept up his offensive reads and great boom timings to take down his first Premier Event of the season.