Punk Sparks US vs EU Street Fighter V Debate, Proposes 10v10 Money Match Between Regions
This past weekend in Las Vegas, Red Bull Kumite came to the United States for the first time. The event featured tournaments for three games and invited players from across the globe to compete. Street Fighter V (SFV) was still the main attraction, as 16 of the world’s top players fought for international supremacy. In the end, the UK’s Benjamin “Problem X” Simon took first place over South Korea’s Sim “NL” Gun. After the win, other players from Europe showed support for their champion and some proclaimed EU as the best region in SFV. This didn’t sit right with one of America’s superstar players, Victor “Punk” Woodley.
Punk Calls Out European Street Fighter Scene
Punk is known for being one of the most outspoken members of the fighting game community (FGC), especially when it comes to trash talk. On Monday following Red Bull Kumite Las Vegas, the world’s best player took to Twitter to express his thoughts on the EU Street Fighter scene lauding Problem X’s victory. Many suggested he was being “salty” for losing to Problem X 4-0 in the quarter-finals of the tournament. Punk instead claims EU is the only region in the FGC to brag about being the best whenever they win a tournament, even if “in reality, it’s not true.” He also let out a brash message telling them to cut all the noise. He then challenged the EU community to find their best player and raise $10,000 for a money match. Punk said he would happily fly out to Europe and “collect [his] paycheck.”
As expected, many players from the EU quickly responded. Red Bull Kumite London champion Nathan “Mister Crimson” Massol offered to play Punk for $1,000, saying he wouldn’t put up other people’s money. Punk replied that the amount wouldn’t be enough for him to fly overseas, but that he would lower it to $5,000. Crimson turned down the new proposal but offered to pay half of Punk’s travel costs just to run the match. He then reminded Punk that if he doesn’t make the trip, they can see each other at the upcoming Capcom Cup.
As more and more players jumped into the conversation, Punk began offering other American players to go over and fight money matches. EVO 2021 Online winner Claude Eric “Hurricane” Diboti said he would fight any US player other than Punk for $10,000. Punk then suggested that Capcom Cup champion Derek “iDom” Ruffen fly to Europe to take on Hurricane. He also suggested sending his Panda teammate Alan
“Nephew” Sun to “collect a quick bag.” Hurricane reiterated that there’s no beef, but that a money match needs to happen as soon as possible.
Rally the Troops
As more player names were added into the mix, Punk altered his challenge to a 10v10 money match between the best players from Europe and North America. This prompted the creation of many lists of competitors that people thought should participate. Interestingly, many European supporters included the “Birds” on their list of top EU representatives.
This refers to Adel “Big Bird” Anouche and Amjad “AngryBird” Alshalabi, who hails from the United Arab Emirates but made names for themselves at European tournaments.
In retort, American players concluded that if EU is claiming the Birds, then they can claim the Dominican Republic. That would mean Saul Leonardo “MenaRD” Mean is eligible for the US team. The former Capcom Cup champion was not opposed to joining the American’s side and is eager to help prove their superiority. Punk then shared a list of ten players from each region that he thought would make for the best matchup.
Punk assures that all of the US players on his list are willing to travel to Europe for the 10v10 money match. He states that once EU gathers their team together, they can start making arrangements to accommodate everyone’s schedule. It was at this point that SFV developer Capcom jumped in to express their interest. They offered to discuss ideas with Punk, creating the possibility that Capcom might officially sponsor a US vs EU event. What started out as a frustrated tweet sparked a rivalry between regions and has the entire Street Fighter community hoping for an intense showdown in the near future.
Who Has the Upper Hand?
It’s tough to determine who wins the tale of the tape between EU and the US in Street Fighter. Since the release of Street Fighter V, players from the US team (including MenaRD) have won two out of four Capcom Cups that have taken place. Retired American player Du “NuckleDu” Dang also was champion in 2016, meaning the region holds all but one Capcom Cup trophy for SFV. On the other hand, European players have won the last two Red Bull Kumite events while there has never been an American champion. Problem X is also the only player from either region to win EVO for SFV, a feat he accomplished in 2018. On paper, the two teams might be as evenly matched as can be.
Lost in all the commotion is how Japan stacks up against EU and the US in SFV. Japan has historically been the premier region for Street Fighter, with legends like Daigo “The Beast” Umehara and Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi at the forefront. They have won two of the four EVOs for SFV, and four of the first five Red Bull Kumite events. They also have the only non-American Capcom Cup champion in Tsunehiro “gachikun” Kanamori. It will be interesting to see if Japanese players offer their input on what the best region is, or if they will let EU and the US have their moment in the sun.