This article is part of our Street Fighter Recap series.
The top 16 for Street Fighter V at Combo Breaker 2017 took the stage on May 28th at The Mega Center in St. Charles, Illinois. Once players filtered through the last set of brackets, the top eight consisted of Brian "Brian F" Foster, Du "NuckleDu" Dang", Darryl "Snake Eyez" Lewis, Justin Wong, Naoto "Sako" Sako, Bryant "Smug" Huggin, Ryan "Filipino Champ" Ramirez, and Christopher "NYChrisG" Gonzalez. After some dramatic matches from everyone, the Grand Final came down to Snake Eyez and NuckleDu. The reigning Capcom Pro Tour champion, NuckleDu, won it all in the end with his signature Guile play.
Here's how some of the action played out.
Snake Eyez' unbelievable performance
Darryl "Snake Eyez" Lewis put on quite the Zangief show in the top eight on Sunday. He scored a double perfect against Justin Wong's Karin in the winners' semifinal with some clutch Spinning Piledrivers. That was just the start, though. Coming back from a 0-2 deficit against Du "NuckleDu" Dang's Guile, he tied the match at two sets a piece before sending the 2016 CPT champion to the losers' final with a well-timed lariat.
He would get a rematch against NuckleDu in the Grand Final, losing the first set as Zangief before switching to his secondary Akuma for a better matchup against Guile. NuckleDu handled it all the same, resetting the bracket for one final match. Snake Eyez went back to Zangief for the home stretch, looking good in the first set, taking it soundly with a series of Spinning Piledrivers and avoiding the Sonic Boom zoning. NuckleDu would come back to win the tournament, but Snake Eyez continues showing the world that his Zangief is on the verge of winning a premier tournament.
American competitors dominating the scene
There's always a lot of comparative analysis when it comes to American versus Asian players, but if Combo Breaker was any indicator, the scene has been developing with ferocity in the United States. Every contestant in the winners' top 16 was American, and once the losers' bracket was settled, only one Asian player remained in Naoto "Sako" Sako (Akuma/Chun Li), though he would be eliminated by Florida's Brian "Brian F" Foster (Balrog).
The fights between Bryant "Smug" Huggin (Balrog) and Kenryo "Mago" Hayashi (Karin), and Ryan "Filipino Champ" Ramirez (Dhalsim) and Ryo "Dogura" Nozaki (Urien) were especially convincing. Both Smug and Filipino Champ outplayed their opponents in every way, sending them packing from the losers' bracket without the need of a third set of rounds.