Panda Global announced Wednesday that they have signed Street Fighter V player Victor "Punk" Woodley ahead of his bout in the inaugural ELeague Street Fighter V Invitational, hosted by broadcasting company Turner Broadcasting and sports talent agency WME|IMG. The Invitational begins March 27 and concludes on May 26.
"Victor first came onto our radar with his explosion at Red Bull Battlegrounds last year and we had a close eye on him since," Panda Global CEO Alan Bunney M.D. told ESPN in a statement. "With his recent performances and stand out personality, we think Punk is going to be one of the dark horses of 2017. Instead of going with an older name in the FGC, we're excited to support the new blood in the scene!"
The 18-year-old Philadelphian, known for a wide variety of characters in Street Fighter V, has had a successful winter even without a pro team sponsor. In November, he took third at Red Bull Battlegrounds, above legend Justin Wong, Kenneth "K-Brad" Bradley, and Ricki Ortiz.
He also took first at NEC 17 in December over Justin Wong and 2016 Capcom Cup champion Du "NuckleDu" Dang and first at Winter Brawl 11 in February over Christopher "ChrisG" Gonzalez and Joe "LI Joe" Ciaramelli.
His recent success earned him an invite to the 32-man Street Fighter V Invitational, which begins with preliminary rounds in March. Punk was placed within a difficult group A against the likes of Evolution 2016 champion Lee "Infiltration" Seon-woo, Julio Fuentes, Ricki Ortiz, Yusuke "Momochi" Momochi and others.
Punk will serve as Panda Global's only Street Fighter V primary player following the departure of Ryan "Filipino Champ" Ramirez to Splyce in February. The organization also holds players in other games such as Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and H1Z1.