The Capcom Pro Tour marches on and the next destination will be in Austin, Texas for this weekend's DreamHack Austin. It's the next premier event on the schedule and all the top-ranked Street Fighter V players will be in attendance.
With a strong mix of international and domestic talent, there should be a player or play style to fit any fighting game fan's appetite. But only one can win. Here's a breakdown of the true contenders this weekend.
Team Liquid Du "NuckleDu" Dang
Last year's Capcom Cup champion remains the biggest target in Street Fighter V and enters DreamHack Austin as the preeminent favorite. NuckleDu's second-place performance at Northern California Regionals (NCR) showed a few cracks in the world champion's game, but it took three sets from Panda Global's Victor "Punk" Woodley to reveal it. That weakness was a relatively uncreative offensive game. If the opponent was willing to wait NuckleDu out, the rolodex of offensive options was limited to just forward roundhouse, throw, or standing strong. That said, NuckleDu's character choices of Rainbow Mika and Guile will continue to provide versatility for another long tournament run.
Panda Global's Victor "Punk" Woodley
Is it still premature to list Punk as one of the world's best players? Maybe. But, his victories at NCR and West Coast Warzone were dominant, and it didn't matter if it came from the loser's bracket. Punk was unstoppable during the first quarter of the 2017 and DreamHack Austin may just be another milestone for the Karin player. Whatever nerves and fears due to high expectations could be a thing in the past and he'll enter this premier event as arguably the tournament's favorite.
Team Razer's Kun "Xian" Ho
Xian is one of the game's scariest threats in the game, and he is on the list as one of the tournament's favorites because of his ridiculous play and new motivation to dominate. He may not be the most optimized Ibuki in Street Fighter V, but his world-class neutral game and overall fearlessness tab him as the best international player for this weekend's festivities. The lack of video of his play will only benefit a player that lives in the training room and he should feast on North American and international players alike.
The best of the rest
DreamHack Austin is be a loaded tournament. In addition to the top three players listed, there will be consistent top-8 threats like Zowie's Bruce "GamerBee" Hsiang, RedBull's Takahashi "Bonchan" Masato, Echo Fox' Yusuke "Momochi" Momochi, Qanba Douyu Zhuojun "Xiao Hai" Zeng, and Grapht's Haitani "Haitani" Tatsuya. These four players could very well be in the top running to take the entire tournament, but all share a few flaws. GamerBee's losses all stem from overly-aggressive players or players that fully optimize their characters (there will be plenty in the field), Haitani cannot get over the hump and take down a major tournament, Bonchan's value takes a hit due to his main character Nash, Momochi's constant character crisis is very new and raises red flags, and Xiao Hai needs to figure out Rainbow Mika.
As for the wild cards in the tournament, BX3's Arman "Phenom" Hanjani, CyGames Beast's Daigo "The Beast" Umehara, and Grapht's Fujimura "Yukadon" Atsushi lead the way. My personal pick to do well is China's other Cammy player, UYA FightClub Ou "UD" Hanjie. All of these players possess the ability to make a deep tournament run (and have done so on numerous occasions) and threaten the status quo.