Southern California Regionals capped off a weekend full of fighting game events. The longtime California major featured a triple main event to close out the show: Tekken 7, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite (MvCI) and Street Fighter V.
Each tournament represented an important stop in its respective competitive schedule. Southern California Regionals 2017 was a Tekken World Tour Master event, Capcom Pro Tour Premier Event, and the first ever major MvCI tournament debut.
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite
The stage was set for an explosive showcase of MvCI to the world -- the best players from the previous version of the series were in attendance (Echo Fox' Justin Wong sat out of the tournament due to early exposure to the game) and a long-awaited spotlight was once again on the mash up series. The top names in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 -- Splyce's Rene "RyanLV" Romero, Evil Geniuses' Christopher "ChrisG" Gonzalez, and Splyce's Ryan "FilipinoChamp" Ramirez -- attempted to stay on top of the mountain, but only FilipinoChamp made it onto the final day of the tournament. Instead of the bigger established names, it was a Top 8 with more amateur hopefuls and forgotten tech monsters of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 than well-known pros.
There was a great blend of styles represented during the Top 8. There were big bodies and slower teams from Gabriel "Jibrill" Lam and Robert "Sacktap" Capps, keep aways from Sergio "Taekua" Barocio, and optimal and advanced mix-up combinations from FilipinoChamp and Richard Nguyen. The creativity was rampant throughout, and although FilipinoChamp ultimately won the tournament, the star of the show was definitely the game's versatility and speed.
Street Fighter V
With so many Street Fighter V tournaments and exhibitions happening the same weekend, Southern California Regionals 2017 featured a lot more local talent. The Top 8 was still an international affair with five flags represented: South Korea, Mexico, United States, Dominican Republic and Japan. It featured a lineup of rising stars such as Rise's Saul "MenaRD" Mena, SonicBoxx' Jonathan "JB" Bautista, and Rise's Bryant "Smug" Huggins, as well as younger talent like YOUDEAL's Atsushi "Yukadon" Fujimura, Devil.R's Geon "NL" Sim and GFuel's Hyungsuk "Verloren" Kong.
The two surprises in the Top 8 were Southern California native, Jesse "Commander Jesse" Espinoza and Mexico's Javier "JaviRog" Diaz. While the mix of characters was numerous (six different characters), the choices were not too far from the norm. Cammy, Rashid, Balrog and Ibuki were frequent visitors in the Top 8 lists during the year's results and each made a cameo on the final day of Southern California Regionals.
The lone top threat from Japan, Yukadon, made relatively quick work of the field en route to a Premier Event victory. The Ibuki star combined stray hit conversions with smothering plus-frame pressure to dispatch each and every single bit of opposition. While the South Korean duo, NL and Verloren, was formidable and MenaRD's Birdie was a wall to deal with, Yukadon was a monster throughout the weekend.
Echo Fox dominated yet another grand finals with its two elite players, HyunJin "JDCR" Kim and Choi "Saint" Jinwoo. The two best Tekken players in the world showed throughout their play in the Top 8, why they're a cut above the cloth. Saint's unrelenting pressure and reads propelled him into the grand finals on the winner's side and JDCR's spacing and inhuman reaction on whiff punishes or low parries overwhelmed everyone in the bracket.
In the end, JDCR made short work with Dragunov on his teammate, Saint, in the bracket reset and grand finals. He was precise in his whiff-confirms and punishes, spacing, and overall tempo of the entire set. Saint looked lost against the pressure of JDCR and even tried an Eddy pick in the beginning of the set to offset the monstrous momentum of his opponent.
The show-stealers for the tournament were crowd-funded Jeon "JEOndding" Sanghyeon and NCSS' Jimmy "jimmyjtran" Tran. JEOndding's high-risk/high-reward style with both Eddy and Lucky Chloe provided fireworks for every match he played. On the other side, jimmyjtran was the highest-placing player not from South Korea. His Bryan was obnoxious, annoying, and most importantly, effective.