Team Liquid's Du "NuckleDu" Dang tore through the DreamHack Montreal Street Fighter V event without losing a series and took down Echo Fox's Justin Wong on Sunday to claim the tournament title. His play was exemplary, and he showcased his versatility by playing a variety of characters at different stages of the tournament. But his generosity alone was worth a headline after he promised to donate all his tournament winnings -- the majority share of the event's whopping $10,000 prize pool -- to Hurricane Irma relief.
NuckleDu, a Tampa, Florida, native already has a philanthropic reputation in the fighting game community. During the Evolution Championship Series in July, NuckleDu sponsored several players and offered them free trips to Las Vegas to compete.
1st place at DreamHack Montreal! Donating all of my winnings towards hurricane Irma relief. Thank you for your support guys! pic.twitter.com/tNmBAwMEIE
- Du Dang (@LiquidNuckleDu) September 10, 2017
Continued character variety
Season 2 of the Capcom Cup continued to provide a varied character field for the top eight at major events. Ten characters were represented during the quarterfinals in Montreal: Birdie, Rainbow Mika, Guile, Karin, Cammy, Menat, M. Bison, Dhalsim, Urien and Rashid. The game, outside of specific character specialists, evolved into a counter-picking landscape when new characters (and buffs or nerfs to existing characters) were introduced with the new season.
Ryota "John Takeuchi" Takeuchi's top-eight finish kept the use of Rashid on the final day of tournaments going for yet another event. On the other side of the world for Manila Cup 2017, there were three Rashid players. This truly is a character to watch out for, because all regions possess a strong user of this master of turbulent winds.
If this is the trend leading up to the Capcom Cup, it's a positive sign for the competitive life and balance of a game with as much volatility as Street Fighter V. It will only benefit the overall community if more characters make cameo appearances in the final days of the biggest competitions.
The grand finals: NuckleDu against Justin Wong
Wong entered the grand finals from the losers bracket after getting beat by NuckleDu in the winners semifinals, but Wong looked ready for the challenge the second time around. Wong took early control of the set with his Karin play against NuckleDu's Guile and won the first two games with a perfect read on NuckleDu's fireball game.
NuckleDu slowed the pace down from there, though, and took throws instead of mix-up damage and limited the offensive pressure from Wong to tie it back up. With his tournament on the line, Wong turned to his pet pick, Menat, but NuckleDu's flawless switch from zoning to aggression was too much for Wong to overcome.
Wong's second-place finish gave the Echo Fox pro and fighting game legend a much-needed boost. Wong was in 14th place in the overall Capcom Cup standings going into the event, and his finish in Montreal can only help him climb.
But the story of the tournament, and the feel-good moment of the weekend, undoubtedly belonged to NuckleDu.