Last year, ESL One in New York gave fans one of the most intense tournaments of the year with the introduction of the "Brooklyn Beatdown," a Street Fighter V addition to the event.
When the dust settled, it came down to a grand finals match between Zhuojun "Xiao Hai" Zeng's Cammy, and Yusuke "Momochi" Momochi's Ken, with Xiao Hai edging out a victory in the final round of the last set.
On Sept. 16, several familiar faces are making a return for Brooklyn Beatdown at the Barclays Center in New York, each with their sights set on claiming a piece of the $50,000 prize pool for a Top 16 finish.
Let's take a look at what we might expect this weekend.
The rise of Punk
Victor "Punk" Woodley wasn't exactly a household name during the 2016 season. After his third place finish at Red Bull Battle Grounds in November, however, he has the attention of everyone in the fighting game community, including Panda Global, the team he now plays for. Momentum is on Punk's side going into Brooklyn Beatdown Round 2, with a recent first place finish at East Coast Throwdown coming after a match with Naoki "Nemo" Nemoto, one of the best Urien players coming out of Japan.
But you can't bring up Punk without mentioning his disastrous grand finals appearance during the Evolution Championship Series 2017, in which Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi decimated his psyche, taking advantage of Punk's nerves throughout the series.
Tokido and his Akuma will be present at ESL One New York, setting up for a possible redemption story for the fast-rising Punk. While results this year have been in favor of Punk, it's going to be interesting to see what will happen should these two Street Fighter V rivals meet again at Brooklyn Beatdown Round 2.
New roster, new meta
Last year, characters like Ryu, Ken, Necalli, Nash, Chun Li and Cammy handled most of the competition with ease. After some balance patches and the addition of new characters, Street Fighter V in 2017 has a much different look.
We've seen players like Bryant "Smug" Huggin and Brian "Brian_F" Foster put Balrog back on the map with some oppressive combos and relentless aggression. We've already mentioned what Tokido did with Akuma at Evo, but the character was also an important part of Darryl "Snake Eyez" Lewis' arsenal during his first place run at Community Effort Orlando in June when Zangief needed a better matchup. Ibuki has enjoyed some continued success thanks in part to former F.A.N.G. mastermind, Kung Xian "Xian" Ho, and his first place finish in at Thaiger Uppercut in Bangkok, Thailand. The return of Seonwoo "Infiltration" Lee this season has been on the back of Juri, one of the more underused characters on the roster, who helped him win Manila Cup 2017.
The top eight at Evo should be an excellent indicator of where we are right now with Street Fighter V. Every player brought a different character into competition, meaning there were no mirror-matches. Expect that trend to continue this weekend.
This is not a Capcom Pro Tour event
It might be a surprise to find that the Brooklyn Beatdown is not a part of the Capcom Pro Tour. Not yet, anyway.
What makes this event attractive to so many professional players isn't just the $20,000 prize for first place, but the title on the line, the stage in New York, and the fact that there are only 256 players allowed to enter. By comparison, Evo had 2,622 registered fighters, meaning that pools took an eternity to finish. Such a small number of entrants guarantees a higher quality esports experience for consumers and players alike. Top pros such as Justin Wong, Smug, Punk, Tokido, Nemo, Ryan "Filipino Champ" Ramirez and more are already confirmed for the event.
Be sure to catch the action on Twitch to see who will be champion of Brooklyn Beatdown Round 2.