Last weekend's Battle Arena Melbourne Street Fighter V tournament was gruelling for the high-level Street Fighter V talent it drew to Australia. The event was so stacked, even a legendary fighting game competitor like Daigo Umehara failed to make much of an impact, but no one expected The Beast's most challenging opponent to be himself.
Thanks to a perfect run through his initial pool, Daigo was sitting pretty on the winners side of the top-32 bracket for the Capcom Pro Tour event. His first match after leaving the group stage came against fellow Japanese player Ryo "Dogura" Nozaki, himself an established name known for his skill in a wide variety of non-Capcom games. Both players had recently switched characters -- Daigo from Ryu to Guile and Dogura from Necalli to Urien -- and the bout was shaping up to showcase what they have learned with their new, arguably stronger mains.
In the final round, both players stuck to what had gotten them there in the first place. Despite falling behind in health, Daigo continued his careful play, locking Dogura down with copious Sonic Booms. But as is often the case, all it took for Dogura to reclaim momentum was a carefully placed plasma wall and throw, juggling Daigo back into the corner. By activating another wall, Dogura provided himself some cover from Daigo's fireball game.
In addition to increasing Urien's combo potential, the returning Street Fighter III character's Aegis Reflector is naturally capable of reflecting projectiles, putting Daigo in a perilous predicament as he tried to fight his way out of the corner. It's this property that ultimately led to his defeat, as a mistimed Sonic Boom was sent hurtling back at Guile, depleting the rest of his health and forcing Daigo into the losers bracket.
It's difficult to say exactly what Daigo was trying to do. Unlike regular projectiles, Aegis Reflector doesn't dissipate after being hit by a requisite number of fireballs. It's possible he was trying to get a jump on the move's regularly-timed deactivation, or perhaps hoping to catch Dogura on the wrong side of the defensive barrier.
In any case, Daigo responded to the embarrassing defeat in good humour, even as other Japanese competitors like Masato "Bonchan" Takahashi (who ended up winning the Street Fighter V tournament), Kenryo "Mago" Hayashi, and Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi laughed their asses off in the crowd.
Apart from the humorous ending, the set was a great representation of each character's strengths, wielded by two of the world's most talented fighting game competitors. As a transplant from the more oppressive style of Guilty Gear and BlazBlue, Dogura's Urien play was an intense display of shoulder charge pressure and smart Aegis Reflector usage. Daigo, on the other hand, played to his character's defensive strengths, zoning his opponent out as best he could and forming a veritable barricade with Guile's various normals and specials.
Shortly after heading to the lower bracket, Daigo lost to high-level troll Martin "Marn" Phan, ending his Australian visit at a disappointing 17th place. Dogura dropped to eventual runner-up Hyung-suk "Verloren" Gong and Tokido to finish just outside top eight.
For a full look at this intense match as well as the larger Battle Arena Melbourne bracket, be sure to check out Capcom's official YouTube channel.