During the long run of Street Fighter 4, I considered the Topanga League matches to be the highest standard of play. Japan was well ahead of the rest and long sets bought out the best in them. Unfortunately, most people did not get to experience the event properly as they required online tickets. As a result, the 6th Topanga League was going to be the first taste for many, but in a different game where the Japans dominance has toned down a bit. Here is a quick recap and the lessons we learned so far from the prestigious Japanese tournament.
Haitani continues his reign of terror
MJS| Haitani kicked off his 6th Topanga League journey by running a train over BST| Daigo. Even in a day filled with 3-0 sweeps, it stood out due to how relentless his knockdown pressure was on the former champion. Up next he went up against Echo Fox’s newly acquire Tokido, who has shown a lot of tricky stuff with his Akuma. While Tokido put up a better fight than his former teammate, Haitaini still overpowered him with surprisingly good counters, securing the set 3-1. His biggest challenge was yet to come as AW|NEMO also went undefeated into Day 3. Nemo seemed to have the advantage early on with his Urien, setting up traps based on the early aggression that denied Necalli control. Haitani fought back with more calculated pressure on knockdown, not hesitating to use his meter to keep the momentum on his side, equalizing the set 2-2. The final game saw both trade rounds based on solid reads, but ultimately Haitani gained corner pressure on Nemo using his V trigger into the Critical Art, followed by a counter to secure the set 3-2. Which makes Haitani the only player to remain undefeated so far in the 6th Topanga League.
Momochi is peaking late
Unlike Haitaini, Momochi did not start off with a swift victory. In fact, it was quite the opposite as he lost 0-3 against Gachikun. Unaffected by the early loss, the former Capcom Cup champion went on to crush Nuki 3-0 and ran over Itabashi 3-1. It wasn’t until he faced Galtu in Day 3 that he faced some real resistance once again. Galtu won the first game using some tricky Devil Reverse setups, but Momochi turned it around with aggressive plays of his own, closing out two games in a row using his V Trigger to set up the counter into CA. Unfortunately, Momochi kind of threw the game after by dropping a combo off of a clean jump in, which allowed Galtu to utilize the EX Devil Reverse once again to get in and tie up the set 2-2. Galtu used the shift in momentum to quickly secure the first round of the final game, but Momcohi stabilized in the second round using his EX DP followed by three straight grabs coupled with perfect frame kills. The set then came to a rather anticlimactic end as Galtu dashed into a jump in from Momochi, which ultimately lead to a stun that was enough to wrap up the set 3-2. Due to the GD system, Momochi will still land at second place behind Galtu for the time being, however, make no mistake that going forward he will be the favorite from Group B.
Group C is a war zone
While Group C may not have the most popular players, it is definitely the most competitive one. On paper, Fuudo might look like the one leading the charge, but Eita came scarily close to snatching the first spot. Also surprising everyone YHC| Mochi landed the former EVO champion his first loss. Not to mention that Mago is still in the running to enter the top 3 in Group C since he made up for the thrashing at the hands of Fuudo by taking down Eita 3-2. It is a very exciting group where a lot of people have the potential to steal the top spot to get to the final stage. After that, the clash between 2nd-5th place players should be extremely competitive. Expect this slightly overlooked group to produce some of the better matches in the 6th Topanga League.
Daigo ‘The Beast’ Umehara is in a slump
Now hold on! Put down the pitchforks. Hear me out on this one before unleashing your verbal Satsui no Hado on me, I am the farthest thing in the world from a Daigo Umehara hater. He has cemented his legacy as the greatest ever to play in long sets after winning Topanga League 5A, Topanga World League 2, Topanga League 4A, Topanga World League 2014, Canada Cup Master Series and placing second in Topanga Asia League 2013 and Topanga League 2A. That is something no one has even come close to matching in this format, nonetheless, Street Fighter 5 is a different game and his performance so far pales in comparison to even his showing in Season 1. Many say it is because he continues to main Ryu, a character that has been weakened significantly. In my opinion, while that plays a part, his performance has been nowhere near where it used to be and it is clear he is having a hard time adapting to how the game is played now. In the 6th Topanga League, he has dropped crucial combos multiple times, missed key parries and gave away many sizable leads in situations a player at his level cannot afford to do so. Right now he stands at a 0-6 record, the worse he has ever had in Topanga League. Additionally, his losses are either 0-3 blowouts or reverse sweeps from a 2-0 / 2-1 situation. Hope the beast wakes up for the upcoming tournaments, because I yearn for Daigo that used to produce magic using Arcade stick.
You guys can check out all the matches from the 6th Topanga League over their official Japanese and English Channel. Though, keep in mind that you can only view the previous broadcasts once as a free user and in order to enjoy them again you will need premium membership.