Rise up. That's the Street Fighter V mantra. A select few players certainly did so at day two of the Evolution Championship Series (Evo).
Saturday was one of the best days of the game's competitive life so far. It combined high drama and overwhelming emotion into one beautiful road to the top eight. Now that the players are set, here are some highlights from those who rose to the challenge:
Team Razer's Lee "Infiltration" Seon-woo is still the favorite to take down the Evo title. There's been so much written about him and his amazing Capcom Pro Tour year, but nothing could compare to the amount of pressure on his shoulders to do well at Evo. Ultimately, he exceeded expectations. He was fantastic throughout the day and crushed the competition.
Atsushi "Yukadon" Fujimura is the young, fearless, and ultra-aggressive Nash player from Japan making plenty of waves with his tournament run. He first attracted attention with his remarkable second-place finish in Japan's Ranking Tournament, Tokyo Button Mashers. That run started the hype. At Evo, his list of vanquished opponents included several very notable names, like Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi, Alienware's Naoki "Nemo" Nemoto and Panda Global's Ryan "FilipinoChamp" Ramirez. No one could figure out his offensive patterns or series of mix-ups. He'll be a crowd favorite on the Mandalay Bay stage.
Team Razer's Keita "Fuudo" Ai was featured in the Street Fighter V preview, and for good reason: Fuudo is a problem for any would-be champion. The boy who lived managed to sneak his way to the top eight of the largest fighting game tournament with his immaculate and ground-heavy Rainbow Mika. His strengths lie in his ground game, spacing and uncanny ability to anti-air. Overall, he controls the neutral and the space in front of him well and earned his reputation as a walking wall. Fuudo took down many Western players; chief among them were Red Bull's Olivier "Luffy" Hay, Joe "LI Joe" Ciaramelli and Evil Geniuses' Ricki Ortiz. While it could be said that his road was less dangerous than other top-placers, the man still earned his top-eight berth.
Joe "LI Joe" Ciaramelli, the Long Islander and lone U.S. hope, put on the show of his entire fighting game life. After his hit-confirm into critical art, he lifted his arms in jubilation as his friends mobbed him all the way to the ground of the stage. There's been little from L.I. Joe's history as far as tournament success, but he pulled off a stunning effort and created one of the greatest moments for the Capcom Pro Tour so far.