With the finality of the Capcom Cup, the Pro Tour entered the offseason with its best year yet in terms of mainstream exposure and prize pools. In addition, Street Fighter V finished its first season at the end of the year and introduced a second season to the fighting game community. Before the new season begins, let's highlight the moments that truly defined the excitement of the tour:
5. South East Asia Majors: Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi is the most consistent player in Street Fighter V.
For the majority of 2016, Street Fighter V was dominated by two players: Tokido and Team Razer's Lee "Infiltration" Seon-woo. The former crushed through competitions with superior technology and understanding of the game's mechanics. One such competition, the South East Asia Majors (SEAM), was his loudest message to the fighting game community that he was the man to beat. Since its inception, SEAM was considered the Evolution Fighting Game Championships (Evo) of Asia. As such, the yearly tournament was stacked to the brim with killers, both known and unknown, from Asia. In the grand finals against arguably the world's best Ken player, Yusuke "Momochi" Momochi, Tokido displayed his entire arsenal with Ryu and prevented a grand finals reset to take down the entire tournament without a single set loss. Tokido was the standard for a champion and he made that clear with his dominating SEAM win.
4. Dreamhack Summer: First player outside of Asia to win a Premier Event.
The Capcom Cup Pro Tour's halfway point was the Premier Event, Dreamhack Summer in Jönköping, Sweden. Up until that point, no player outside of Asia was a Premier Event winner. With Dreamhack Summer in Sweden and many of the best European and North American talent on hand, it was arguably one of the best chances for a change of the guard. Enter BX3.TP-Link's Arman "Phenom" Hanjani and his fearless approach to both Street Fighter and his character, Necalli. He was part of the youth movement in Europe to replace the established names such as Ryan Hart or Red Bull's Olivier "Louffy" Hay and came into the event with some fanfare. His play in the top eight was a glimpse into what was necessary to be a winner against the international sharks in the community. He constantly jumped in, woke up with reversals, and command grabbed to take down his legendary opponents, Red Bull and Twitch's Daigo "The Beast" Umehara and Team Razer's Keita "Fuudo" Ai. The victory was Europe's first and only Premier Event during the 2016 Capcom Pro Tour and the first one from another region outside of Asia.
3. Japan Cup: Bruce "Gamerbee" Hsiang's historic run.
Japan Cup was a Premier Event in the heart of the toughest region for fighting games and normally, it would be the reason for its inclusion on this list, but not for Zowie's Gamerbee. Gamerbee's victory continued a historical run, the best stretch for any player during Street Fighter V, of six straight weeks with a top-three finish at a Capcom Pro Tour event. Japan Cup was the first of two back-to-back Premier Event victories for the Taiwanese fighter (the last was at EGX in Birmingham, England) and arguably his toughest tournament. Most importantly, Gamerbee established himself as an elite global threat and a tier one player.
2. Evolution Fighting Game Championships: Infiltration's dominance on full display.
Evo was the toughest open tournament on the Capcom Pro Tour with thousands of registered players in the tournament. For Infiltration, it was his biggest message to the masses that he was the king of Street Fighter V. He came into the tournament as the favorite and crushed all the expectations with a dominating showing throughout all three days. His Nash was elusive and impossible to plan against and he repeatedly made legends in the fighting game world look like amateurs. Infiltration's top eight run could only be described as "child's play." No event up to that point showcased a player that was head-and-shoulders above the rest as Infiltration only lost one set during that weekend. Although Fuudo reset the grand finals, the adjustment and subsequent destruction from Infiltration was domination at its finest form.
1. Capcom Cup: Du "NuckleDu" Dang crowned the first Street Fighter V World Champion.
If Infiltration's run through Evo was domination, NuckleDu's play throughout Capcom Cup was unfair. Let's strip away the fact that NuckleDu was from North America -- or that he played Guile and Rainbow Mika -- and focus on who he overcame to become the first Street Fighter V World Champion: WinterFox' Mikey "XsK Samurai" Chea, Team Razer's Kun "Xian" Ho, Qanba Douyu's Zhuojun "Xiao Hai" Zeng, Joe "MOV" Egami and Evil Geniuses' Ricki Ortiz. Not only did he beat the competition, he made it look entirely too easy. NuckleDu entered the Capcom Cup finals a favorite, but victory over his stacked competition was still an incredibly difficult feat. NuckleDu proved that he was easily the king of the game and played a level beyond what was comprehensible for his opponents.