Echo Fox's Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi took down Panda Global's Victor "Punk" Woodley 6-1 in the reset grand finals to win the Evolution Fighting Game Championships (Evo) Street Fighter V finals.
Tokido finally took down a next-generation Street Fighter Evo title (Street Fighter IV and V) and reintroduced himself as a dominant force in the competition. His run in the top eight was nothing short of legendary. He survived close set after close set and made incredibly difficult adjustments to keep himself out of harm's way. Akuma might not be considered a popular character choice or even viable compared to the very top tier of Street Fighter V, but Tokido's play made him look superior to everyone else.
The top eight was a variety-rich lineup, with all eight players selecting a different choice: Akuma, Karin, Cammy, Zangief, Rashid, Guile, Dhalsim and Chun-Li. It was refreshing to see so many play styles, from slow and methodical matches with Tokido's Akuma to fast scrambles from Naoki "Moke" Nakayama's Rashid. Each match told a different story, and regardless of the character choice, the players weaved their own individual narratives. For someone such as Team Liquid's Du "NuckleDu" Dang, it was the story of affirmation; the defending Capcom Cup champion would benefit from a Evo title to convince the world that he was still the greatest in the game. As for the eventual Evo champion, Punk needed the title to truly tell the world that he was the alpha. No matter what match you watched, it was a buffet of great Street Fighter V from some of the top players in the world.
Grand finals: Punk against Tokido
Punk was interviewed after his win in the winners finals and said Tokido was his biggest challenge. It was absolutely true. Tokido looked like the answer to the Punk question with relentless air pressure, great okizeme off knockdowns, and a fearless fireball game. Punk looked noticeably nervous when Tokido reset the bracket off a momentum-filled 3-1 first set.
Tokido continued his roll with the first two games (including a perfect round) and sent the young Punk into a head-scratching tilt. The last game was decisive. Tokido allowed Punk to make his own mistakes and took advantage of the passivity in his opponent's play for free jump-ins, dashes and fireball pressure.
Parity still exists
Street Fighter V tournament results continued to stay unpredictable with the conclusion of Evo. Outside of Punk's dominating Evo victory, it was difficult to predict the results. The top eight was a microcosm of the topsy-turvy nature of a massive entry tournament -- NuckleDu went winless in the top eight and surprising faces such as Moke, Splyce's Ryan "FilipinoChamp" Ramirez and Detonation Gaming's Hiromiki "Itabashi Zangief" Kumada entered the final day of the tournament. Tokido's victory was the cherry on the cake. His mastery of Akuma and Evo victory proved that tiers had little to do with player skill and that Street Fighter V had no predictable result.