The ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational moves into the second week of its five week $250,000 competition, with Group B on Friday. It will be aired on Twitch at 3 p.m. ET, and on TBS at 11 p.m.
Ahead of the tournament, Victor "Punk" Woodley, Keita "Fuudo" Ai, Yusuke "Momochi" Momochi, Arman "Phenom" Hanjani, Gustavo "801 Strider" Romero and the second ELEAGUE The Challenger winner, Jesse "Commander Jesse" Espinoza shared their feelings going into the prestigious tournament.
The attitude of the players was relaxed during the sit-down interview with players sharing jokes about their characters, their performances going into the big tournament, and what plans they had if they were to win the large prize pool.
Most of the players were surprisingly frugal, or "boring" as 801 Strider put it, with their prize money answers, looking to make investments, take trips and start businesses instead of spending frivolously. Punk, the ELEAGUE champion, already had the experience of winning that level of money and he said, "I didn't do anything with it." Fuudo had the most interesting answer, saying he would start a Japanese arcade bar for foreigners visiting Japan. Phenom made it clear that cryptocurrency would be in his future, and some gambling in Vegas. Momochi simply wants to get nice things for his dog.
Missing from the tournament are the Guile, Menat, Cammy and Akuma mains, with Fuudo's Mika being the closest thing to a top-tier. Of the characters considered lower on the tier lists, Commander Jeese, commonly known for his Dhalsim, is playing one of the lowest tiered characters, but he has a very positive attitude towards being in the tournament.
When asked if Jonathan "JB" Bautista, another ELEAGUE Challenger winner who did well in his Group A outing, inspired him to play at a high level, Commander Jeese said, "Me and my girlfriend were cheering for him, we were nervous for him and we were happy for him when he beat Mena, the Capcom Cup champion. I hope I can match his success and hold it down for SoCal, Dhalsim and for the Simquisition."
The other new name to the ELEAGUE stage, 801 Strider, comes into the tournament with a unique advantage, in that he has not competed at some of the high profile events before ELEAGUE, making his current playstyle a mystery to his fellow competitors. Strider made a splash last year after qualifying for the Capcom Cup with his clutch placing at Canada Cup.
His character, Laura, received some significant nerfs before the beginning of the Capcom Pro Tour season, but he seemed to not be bothered by them and carried a sense of confidence in his responses. "I still feel the same about my character," he said "She can still put opponents in some shitty situations."
Fuudo and Momochi, both Evo champions and legendary players in their own right, are holding ELEAGUE to a high standard in their minds. When asked to compare ELEAGUE to some of the important events of their career, they admitted that those around them didn't understand how big the event was outside of its large prize pool, but it mattered a lot to them.
Fuudo, who came in third at ELEAGUE last year, said, "With how big this event is, you still get nervous." Momochi added that the event is being talked about by many professional players and that players see it as a goal for themselves. "Players want to get into it for next year," said Momochi.
As for the how players feel about the competition, the players once again are split on who the main threats are. Strider, Fuudo and Momochi were the names that got the most responses among the group. Surprisingly, none of the other competitors named the ELEAGUE Champion Punk directly. Commander Jesse and Phenom acknowledged that everyone in the group was a potential problem.
While overall the players seemed calm throughout the interview, the ones who did the best at ELEAGUE last year are well aware of their positioning coming into this year. When Phenom and Punk were asked if they felt pressure going into the tournament, they both said that the pressure was less than last year.
"I haven't been performing well compared to last year so no one expects me to perform at ELEAGUE," said Punk. Phenom echoed Punk's thoughts and gave an example of a player who is in a more pressure coming into ELEAGUE, "If someone like say Tokido would have lost, that would have been real bad."
Despite, the observations of low-tier characters and past performances, when the players hit the stage, they still represent some of the best the game has to offer and their relaxed attitude may up their level of play this time around. Phenom, in his closing thoughts on the pressure and the group as a whole said, "This group hasn't performed as well as last year so there's less pressure. I think that makes this more interesting."
Catch all the action from the ELEAGUE SFV Invitational Group B matches which start at 3 p.m. ET Friday on Twitch, and 11 p.m. ET on TBS.
Photo courtesy of ELEAGUE