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A Recap of Manila Cup 2017

The Philippine FGC in full force

Gab Lazaro

Manila Cup this year ended with a bang this past Sunday, and nine players were crowned champions. Through the hype, heart stopping moments and dominating performances, here’s our rundown of Manila Cup 2017.

Blazblue Central Fiction – Alden defends his throne

Imperium Pro Team’s Alden Jacob was under a lot of pressure coming into grand finals. Not only was he Manila Cup’s defending Blazblue Champion., his opposition this time came in the form of top Japanese player, Goichi “GO1” Kishida. The two met earlier in winner’s finals, where Alden swept him three games straight to send him to losers. Meeting up again for the championship, many expected a good match; the best of the Philippines versus a Japanese elite player.

Immediately right off the gate, it was clear that this wasn’t going to be the same match everyone witnessed in winner’s finals. GO1 demonstrated that he made adaptations since their previous encounter and reset the bracket, even after Alden’s gamble with a character switch. Alden however would steal the show, managing to change his pressure style to crack GO1’s amazing defense. In the end, Alden defended his title winning the reset three games to one.

King of Fighters XIV – GO1 takes first place amid Filipino opposition

For KOF XIV, grand finals came down to North Mall’s Renato taking on GO1 once again. GO1 had just come from his loss over Alden in Blazblue, and needless to say, he probably wasn’t happy. It seems that he took out his aggression on KOF, as he dominated most of the competition throughout the tournament.

His opponent Renato was an old school veteran of the scene. However despite his experience, it still wasn’t enough to take on someone like GO1. By the end, it seemed as the GO1 was just toying around with Renato.The Japanese player took all three games of the grand finals convincingly.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U – NerfDon takes the title with a dominating performance

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U grand finals was between Team Smash Fort’s Kendrick “Psiforce” Cheah with Ness and Dark Pit taking on Playbook Esports’ own Don “NerfDon” Giron on Lucina. Psiforce had been making a name for himself in recent times, with REV Major Philippines being his biggest win. By contrast, it has been a long time since Don himself won a major, and he was definitely hungry for a win.

NerfDon was clearly prepared for the matchup, as he managed to overwhelm Psiforce’s signature Ness during the first two games. This included a very impressive aerial counter in game two to catch Psiforce’s recovery attempt. Psiforce tried to adjust by switching out to Dark Pit, but the results didn’t change, and NerfDon took the championship with a 3-0 sweep.

Mortal Kombat XL – Promilkid triumphs through emotion

Mortal Kombat XL grand finals was a bout between Niño “Gempoid” Figueroa in loser’s taking on Imperium Pro Team’s James “Promilkid” Flores in winner’s. Unfortunately, last year’s defending champion, IPT’s Migo “Migosan” Macayan couldn’t make it to the event this time around due to personal circumstances. James, a good friend of Migo as well as his student in the game, dedicated his performance that day to him.

Throughout top 4, James made it clear that he was here to win through his dominating play style. His opponent Gempoid had been steadily improving over recent months, even winning a couple of tournaments, making him a definite contender for Manila Cup.

To Gempoid’s misfortune, James’ emotional fervor for the game was just too much for him to handle. In the end, James took grand finals with authority, ending the set three to one.

Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 – Anton still the Filipino player to beat

UMVC 3’s last major tournament ended with a team kill between two Imperium Pro Team Players, Garrett Baluyot and Anton Castilla.

Both names are widely respected in the local scene, with Garrett even getting recognized by top international players like Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez and Michael “Yipes” Mendoza. To his credit, Anton was the highest placing Philippine player in Manila Cup last year, just behind Echo Fox’s Justin Wong and Evil Geniuses’ Kenneth “K-Brad” Bradley.

The set started out quite evenly, with both players struggling to outdo each other during scrambles. Though Garrett got the lead early on, Anton made a switch to Chris G’s signature team of Morrigan, Doom and Vergil. The switch helped Anton keep Garrett’s wild tendencies under control, helping him to reset the bracket and take the title.

Injustice 2 – Champo wins set over fellow Gorgonaut

Similar to UMVC 3, Injustice 2 grand finals was another bout between teammates, Cosmic Gorgons’ Juan Miguel Champo on Robin and Ninno “HollywoodHaiku” Rodriguez using Cheetah. The two had met each other in pools, and Champo sent Ninno to loser’s after a pretty close set. With stakes much higher this time around, both players pulled no punches as they played for the championship.

Throughout their match, it was evident that the two were familiar with each other’s playstyle. However in the end Champo managed to outlast Ninno thanks to Robin’s battarang heavy neutral game giving him the win.

Guilty Gear – 310 effortlessly wins it

Guilty Gear grand finals was a battle between two Japanese gods: r/Kappa sponsored 310 on Venom taking on the now three time Manila Cup grand finalist, GO1 on Millia. While GO1 was definitely a strong competitor as evidenced by his performance in other games, 310 was a player who focused solely on Guilty Gear.

There’s a reason why he managed to break top 8 in Evo this year, and the difference in their level was clear in their encounter early on in pools. 310 promptly sent GO1 into the loser’s bracket with a convincing 2-0. It was clear 310 was the favorite as the two stepped up to the stage.

Their encounter this time around was not much different from their previous match on day one, and 310 was able dominate GO1 once again with Venom’s trademark ball pressure. An impressive performance to say the least, 310 takes grand finals cleanly three games to zero.

Tekken – AK Defends Filipino shores

The grand finals for Tekken was between two crowd favorites, Korean Eddy master r/Kappa's Sang-Hyun “Jeondding” Jeon going up against the child prodigy himself, Playbook Esports’ Alexandre “AK” Laverez.

AK was the one who sent Jeondding to loser's at the start of top 8. The Korean then went on an impressive run to meet up with AK once again in finals. This included an intense match with AK’s teammate Andreij “Doujin” Albar, which Jeondding managed to clutch out with an unbelievable come back. Many anticipated that it was going to be a good match.

Despite being able to reset the bracket, Jeondding would fall short of the championship. His insistence to play Lucky Chloe during the bracket reset proved to be his undoing. By the time he switched back to Eddy, AK had already gained enough momentum to carry him all the way to the championship, ending the set with a perfect three round sweep.

Street Fighter – Infiltration is back, completes the download

The main highlight of the event, Street Fighter V grand finals came down to Lee “Infiltration” Seon-woo on his Juri going up against Knamori “Gachikun” Tsunehori on Rashid.

Earlier in top 8, Gachikun was the one who actually sent Infiltration to loser’s bracket. He was able to utilize Rashid’s tools to overwhelm the Korean. Infiltration would have to run quite the gauntlet, most notably going up against two other Rashid players: Taiwan’s Li-Wei "Oil King" Lin and Japan’s Naoki "Moke" Nakayama. Now going up against Gachikun for grand finals, it was time for Infiltration to showcase the adjustments he’d made.

In a performance only a true master could pull off, Infiltration managed to run the entire set back, winning six games straight against the player who sent him to loser’s bracket. Infiltration made Juri, a bottom tier character, look nigh unstoppable with his near flawless decision making. Manila Cup serves as Infiltration’s first win this year, and he did it all while proving that he is indeed a Street Fighter God in his own right.

Manila Cup 2017 has once again delivered on the hype it promises the local FGC year after year. Beyond the matches that were held, Manila Cup was a testament to how much passion Filipinos have when it comes to esports and competitive gaming. We can only hope that Manila Cup 2018 can only get bigger.