Street Fighter V Grand Finals Recap: Gfinity Elite Series Delivered by Domino's Season 4
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Street Fighter V Grand Finals Recap: Gfinity Elite Series Delivered by Domino's Season 4

Stephen Marfleet
10 December 2018

At the start of the day, the question on everyone’s mind was who would come out on top in what many predicted would be a exceL versus Nordavind final. However, with the Season 4 title on the line, there were sure to be a few surprises along the way as six teams fought it out for the Gfinity Elite Series Delivered by Domino’s title.

Quarter-Finals

Hashtag United vs Vitality

Game 1

Verdoyance took on Naught in the first game of the day as his Blanka took on Naught’s Urien. The Vitality man got off to a fast start with Blanka forcing Urien to the corner before dealing some serious damage. Naught did well to fight back by activating and using Urien’s mirrors, but Veroyance closed out the round with a fast jump followed by a back throw.

Naught started the second round stronger, landing a series of forward throws to push Verdoyance to the corner. Verdoyance jumped out of trouble, turning the tables to put Naught in the corner, and after activating, he brought himself back into the round. Naught activated and looked to use the mirrors once more, but a backdash from Blanka finished off Urien to take the first game for Vitality.

Game 2

Linkexelo stepped up for the second game of the day, as his Necalli faced JokerJokez's Dhalsim. JokerJokez started well with a few nice punishes, putting together a few solid combos as the round went on. Despite an activation from Linkexelo, JokerJokez closed out the round with few alarms.

The second round started better for Linkexelo as he landed a command grab after dashing in. A few more command grabs put JokerJokez in trouble, and Necalli had too much for Dhalsim to handle as the game went to a third round.

Two successive dashes from Linkexelo at the very start of the round put him in control, and after pushing JokerJokez to the corner, the Vitality man looked unstoppable. After claiming the stun, Linkexelo then finished off his opponent to secure a perfect KO.

Game 3

DarkMoonHado needed to turn the tide for Hashtag, and his Cammy faced TKR’s Chun-Li. The Hashtag man began well, but TKR was able to activate and inflict big damage with Chun-Li’s kicks. TKR then got the stun and closed out the first round.

Sensing a clean sweep, TKR went on the attack in the second round, and he landed a series of kicks to leave DarkMoonHado with a lot to do. Even after coming back with a few aerial attacks, there was nothing DarkMoonHado could do to stop TKR, and Vitality had set point after just three games.

Game 4

TKR remained in the hot seat for Game 4, as he took on JokerJokez for a chance to secure the series. The Frenchman played an aggressive game as he tried to put JokerJokez on the back foot, and TKR looked dominant as he closed the space between the characters to land a number of kicks to take the round.

Pushing Dhalsim to the corner at the start of Round 2, TKR went for the kill as he put together a fantastic combo to leave JokerJokez up against it. However, the Hashtag man recovered brilliantly to land a series of fireballs, and ultimately he closed out the round using Dhalsim’s impressive range, and the fourth game of the series went to a deciding third round.

TKR was more reserved in the third round, but soon he moved in to push JokerJokez to the corner. Dhalsim managed to teleport out of trouble, and after avoiding the rushing tactics from TKR, he managed to land a low kick to take the round, keeping Hashtag’s hopes alive.

Game 5

Naught faced Linkexelo in the fifth game of the day, and it was the Vitality man who made the better start as he got Necalli’s command grab going early on in the round. Despite his early dominance, Linkexelo couldn’t make the early pressure count, and after using a clever activation to get out of the corner, Naught finished off the round with an amazing combo.

It had seemed like Hashtag were effectively out of the series, but Naught played brilliantly in the second round to take a huge life lead over Linkexelo. Even after Linkexelo activated, he couldn’t land a significant blow, and Naught then closed out the round to make it 3-2 in the series.

Game 6

Linkexelo stayed on for Game 6 as he took on JokerJokez for the second time in the day, although this time he opted for Ibuki. The character change didn’t help his fortunes though, as Necalli ran through Ibkui with a series of throws to claim the stun after just 19 seconds allowing him to finish with another perfect KO.

JokerJokez managed to land a few hits at the start of the second round, and he played a much smarter game to put the onus back on Linkexelo. However, after missing a crush counter, Linkexelo made his opponent pay by activating and finishing the round with critical art.

Fnatic vs Method

Game 1

The first game of the second quarter-final saw a great matchup for rhyming fans as Shakz took on Packz in a Laura vs Ibuki showdown. Packz started the better, as his excellent spacing allowed him to keep clear of Laura’s hits while affording him the chance to dash in and land a series of attacks. However, Shakz kept his composure, and it took just one mistake from Packz to let Laura in and finish him off after getting the stun.

The second round started similarly to the first with a good whiff punish from Packz, but once again Shakz dashed in a command grab. Shakz couldn’t convert though, and Packz learnt from the previous round to keep his distance before taking his chance to get the stun and send the game to a third round.

Shakz started the final round well with a counter hit, and after forcing Packz to the corner, he was able to land some serious damage. Unable to get another stun, Shakz had to wait for his chance, but he made no mistake as Fnatic took the first game.

Game 2

ImStillDaDaddy’s Guile was up next for Method, but the casters noted he may struggle against a team with a lot of practice against a Guile main in the form of Akainu. He faced Kilzyou’s Karin, and it was the Season 4 draftee Kilzyou who made the stronger start after jumping in on ImStillDaDaddy. Kilzyou quickly pushed ImStillDaDaddy to the corner and got the stun, but a huge flash kick from Guile pushed Karin back. The Fnatic man eventually closed out the round with a delayed back throw, and ImStillDaDaddy was up against it going into the second round.

Kilzyou started well again as he landed a series of kicks, but an EX fireball from ImStillDaDaddy helped him get out of the corner. The tide turned, and ImStillDaDaddy then managed to force Kilzyou to the corner, and after a few throws stunned his opponent, the Method man finished off Karin with a back throw.

For the third consecutive round, Kilzyou started well to force ImStillDaDaddy to the corner. A solid anti-air from Karin kept ImStillDaDaddy in the corner as he tried to jump out, and another walk-up throw to a big chunk of Guile’s health away. ImStillDaDaddy decided to change it up, and after activating, he landed several flash kicks. Kilzyou showed great composure, and he finished the round with critical art to give Fnatic a 2-0 lead in the series.

Game 3

Akainu was up next for Fnatic as his Guile took on Broski’s Dhalsim. The matchup arguably worked against Akainu, as Dhalsim’s style meant that Guile couldn’t get his sonic booms going. Akainu played well, and forced Broski to the corner after activating and landing a few kicks. Even after escaping, Broski missed a few chances to land hits, and Akainu took the first round.

Broski showed better control in the second round, and he took a significant life lead as the round went on. Akainu roared back as he landed a flash kick, but the life lead was too much for him to drag back as Broski landed a few fireballs to finish off Guile.

The third round was extremely close, and Akainu looked to have finished off Broski, but his critical art was stopped at the last moment. After taking a small life lead, Broski played well to trade damage with Akainu, and he closed out the round to make it 2-1 in the series.

Game 4

Broski faced Kilzyou in the fourth game of the series, and Kilzyou forced Dhalsim to the corner in the early part of the round. However, Broski responded well, landing a few fire breaths and pushing Kilzyou to the corner. Kilzyou looked to get out of trouble by activating, but Broski was able to finish off the round with a meaty sliding kick.

As he had done all evening, Kilzyou started the second round extremely quickly, and Broski had few answers as he was unable to maintain the distance between Broski and Karin. After some continued corner pressure, Kilzyou was able to get the stun and back throw his opponent to take the second round.

Another fast start from Kilzyou stopped Broski from getting his long-range game going, as he instead tried to teleport out of trouble. The change in tactics worked, as he was able to land a few fireballs on Karin, sapping her health to almost zero. More intelligent play from Broski allowed him to trade blows to finish the round, levelling the series at two games apiece.

Game 5

Akainu faced Broski again in the fifth game of the series, and it was the Fnatic man who made the better start as he landed a series of solid whiff punishes. However, Broski played extremely well to bring himself back into the round, and Akainu could live with Dhalsim fire, with a fireball ultimately deciding the round.

Needing to turn things around for Fnatic, Akainu did well to surge into a life lead in the second round, switching the emphasis for Broski. An amazing comeback was just around the corner, as Broski chipped away at Akainu’s health to bring himself back into contention, and a huge v-reversal from Dhalsim completed the turnaround, meaning Method lead for the first time in the series.

Game 6

Shakz took on Packz once again in the next game, and both characters traded blows as the life for each player was whittled away. Packz eventually came out on top after landing a throw to leave Method with set point.

Packz started the all-important second round with a good whiff punish to put Shakz under pressure, but the Fnatic man responded well with a few throws of his own to put Ibuki in the corner. Despite pressure from Packz, a late v-reversal from Shakz allowed him to finish off Ibuki and take the game to a third round.

Another whiff punish followed by a throw got Shakz off to a good start in the final round, but after dashing in, Packz was able to get the v-reversal to put Laura in the corner. Packz went for the crush counter, but Shakz was able to hit his way out to leave the round delicately poised. The round was finished off when Shakz caught Packz pressing buttons, and the series went to a Game 7 decider.

Game 7

The teams’ big hitters Akainu and ImStillDaDaddy went head-to-head in the final game, and looking to avoid a mirror match, ImStillDaDaddy went for Blanka to the surprise of the crowd in the Gfinity Esports Arena. Akainu began stronger as he landed a few sonic booms before ImStillDaDaddy walked into a jab. A big flash kick put ImStillDaDaddy under pressure, and the damage was too much for him to come back from as Akainu took the round.

In the second round, a good read on Akainu’s sonic boom allowed ImStillDaDaddy to jump in and inflict damage on Guile. Akainu then started to make some headway, and ImStillDaDaddy missed a few anti-airs as the round went on. After pushing ImStillDaDaddy to the corner, Akainu had critical art on deck but couldn’t find the chance to deploy it. ImStillDaDaddy came back well, but an EX boom finished off Blanka, and Fnatic headed to the semi-finals.

SEMI-FINALS

exceL vs Fnatic

Game 1

Infexious’s Necalli took on Akainu in the first game of the semi-final, and Akainu had the better of the early exchanges, pushing Necalli to the corner. Infexious fought back well with a few cross-cuts, and Akainu was forced to get his sonic booms going to keep Necalli at bay. Akainu then landed a few kicks and sonic booms to take the life lead, and a low kick was eventually enough to finish off his opponent.

A good back throw from Akainu put Infexious under pressure at the start of the second round, but a quick response from Necalli followed to get out of trouble. Akainu then landed a big flash kick before activating and throwing Infexious four times in a row to seal the win.

Game 2

Brian went for Blanka in his only match of the series as he took on Shakz, and it was the Fnatic man who made the early inroads by jumping in. Brian did well to escape the corner pressure, but Shakz controlled the rest of the round with a combination of throws to take the round.

Shakz started the second round with an EX punish followed by a command grab reset, and Brian looked in trouble. However, Brian jumped out of danger before activating and landing several big hits. The round eventually went to Shakz, as he baited Brian when it seemed as though his opponent was on top, and Fnatic took a 2-0 lead in the series.

Game 3

The unbeaten Hurricane faced Kilzyou in the third match, with the exceL man’s Cammy facing Karin. Hurricane started in ominous form, but a great anti-air from Kilzyou helped him get back into the round. However, Hurricane had too much for Kilzyou to handle, and a back throw finished off Karin to seal the first round.

Hurricane had Kilzyou in trouble in the second round, with the Fnatic man unable to deal with his dashing game. Kilzyou recovered well though, and unlike the previous round, he didn’t pass up the opportunity to get the stun and all but finish off Hurricane.

The third round started similarly to the second with Hurricane on top, but once again Kilzyou came back well as he back threw Cammy to the corner. Hurricane pulled out a great hit to get out of trouble, and Cammy’s critical art put Kilzyou on the brink of defeat. Kilzyou had the chance to get back into the game, but without critical art on deck, he didn’t have enough to finish off Cammy, and exceL made it 2-1 in the series.

Game 4

Infexious was back for exceL in Game 4, this time opting for Zeku against Kilzyou’s Karin. The exceL man peppered Kilzyou with a series of kicks, and despite getting back thrown twice, Infexious had enough to finish off the round with relative ease.

The second round started in similar fashion, as Infexious looked to dominate after throwing Karin to the corner. Another throw followed by an a dash was enough for Infexious to finish off Kilzyou, and the series was all square at two games each.

Game 5

Akainu faced Hurricane in the fifth game of the series, and it was Guile who dominated early on with the combination of sonic booms and flash kicks halving Cammy’s health before he had even been touched. Hurricane then began to show his class, as a few back throws allowed him to open up Akainu, and a few more hits gave him the stun. Akainu then looked to be in control as he landed a flash kick, but Hurricane wouldn’t be denied as he finished off Guile with a stunning kick to take the first round in extraordinary style.

The next round started similarly, with  Akainu initially controlling the space with Guile’s sonic booms before Hurricane came back with solid neutrals. Akainu was on the ropes as Hurricane went in for the kill, but a good throw from Guile kept his opponent in check. Akainu’s efforts were in vain, as Cammy rushed in before Akainu could land a flash kick, and exceL had set point in the series.

Game 6

The unstoppable Hurricane was up again for exceL, with Kilzyou facing a huge battle to keep Fnatic in the Elite Series. The play was fairly scrappy to begin with, as both players missed chances for conversions. Hurricane’s skills began to shine through as the round went on, and he was able to close out the round with a jab after landing a few anti-airs.

With the series on the line, Hurricane started well by pushing Kilzyou to the corner, the Fnatic man was unable to deal with Cammy’s movement throughout the round. Hurricane’s critical art was stopped at the crucial moment by Kilzyou, and the small change in momentum was enough for Kilzyou to land a few kicks to take the round.

Hurricane started the final round with a few back throws, leaving Kilzyou in trouble in the corner. Kilzyou fought back admirably, but this time his critical art wouldn’t be denied, and Hurricane ensured exceL would be heading to the final.

Nordavind vs Vitality

Game 1

Phenom’s Necalli faced Verdoyance’s Blanka in the first game of the second semi-final, and Phenom began the round in intimidating fashion, as he pushed Verdoyance to the corner before landing an EX command grab to get the stun and seal a perfect KO.

Even after landing a hit in the second round, Verdoyance remained in trouble as another EX command grab forced him to the corner once more. A dive kick from Necalli then put Verdoyance under pressure, and he read his opponent perfectly to finish off the round.

Game 2

Next up, Salty Kid’s R. Mika took on Linkexelo’s Necalli, and the Nordavind man was looking to keep his 100% record in Season 4 going. Salty Kid was hoping his experience against Phenom’s Necalli would pay off, and a few early throws had Linkexelo worried about the matchup. However, he responded fantastically to push Salty Kid to the corner and get the stun to see out the round.

Linkexelo continued the second round similarly, as he tried to bully Salty Kid to the corner once more. After activating, Salty Kid played well to stay in contention, but Linkexelo had too much power for him, and the round was finished off with another command grab from Necalli.

Game 3

Momi faced TKR in the third game of the series, with TKR confident that the matchup of his Chun-Li against Cammy would work in his favour having beaten DarkMoonHado’s Cammy earlier in the day. Despite starting rustily, Momi played well to put TKR on the back foot, but the Frenchman was too fast and Chun-Li’s kicks ultimately finished off Cammy.

TKR had the momentum in the second round, and another barrage of kicks forced Momi to the corner. The round was over almost as soon as it began, with the lackadaisical Momi kicked and thrown by TKR, and Vitality took a 2-1 lead in the series.

Game 4

Linkexelo took on Phenom in a Necalli mirror match in the fourth game, and Phenom started on top as he pushed Linkexelo to the corner. Phenom’s pacing in the game was superb, as he slowed and quickened the pace perfectly throughout before finishing the round with critical art.

Another quick start from Phenom followed in Round 2, and the Nordavind man looked in complete control in the neutral. After activating, Linkexelo did well to land critical art and get himself back into the round, but Phenom was too strong and managed to finish off the round to level the series.

Game 5

TKR faced Momi again in Game 5, and the Nordavind man made the much better start as he almost managed to get the stun early in the round. However, TKR activated and roared back into the round, finishing off Momi with critical art.

Chun-Li went on the offensive again in the next round, but Momi did well to land a throw to keep his opponent at bay. Despite having the corner pressure, Momi couldn’t find a way through TKR’s defence, and the Vitality man’s use of Chun-Li’s lightning legs was too much for Momi to handle.

Game 6

Facing a potential first defeat in the Elite Series, Salty Kid knew he had it all to do against an in-form TKR. Salty Kid started well with a series of throws, but TKR promptly retaliated with a counter hit. However, Salty Kid put together an incredible combo to force the pressure back on TKR, getting the stun to see out the round.

TKR began the second round with a great anti-air and followed up with a super kick combo. Salty Kid responded well to drag the round back for Nordavind, and as the round went on he established his dominance before finishing off TKR with a solid throw.

Game 7

Verdoyance stepped up for Vitality as they looked to inflict Nordavind’s first ever defeat, and Momi had the responsibility for the Norwegians. The Vitality man made an interesting change as he opted for Birdie, a surprise given that Momi was well versed in the character as it is mained by team captain Veggey. Momi found himself in trouble early on as Verdoyance forced Cammy to the corner. Despite fighting back well, Birdie had too much for Momi to handle and Vitality were on the brink of a place in the final.

An anti-air got Verdoyance off to a good start in the second round, and he followed up with an EX command grab to put Momi in serious trouble. Verdoyance tried jumping in, but couldn’t get the conversion, and Momi came back strong with a critical art. An excellent bait from Verdoyance then drew Momi in and allowed him to get the command grab, and Nordavind fell to their first ever Elite Series defeat as Vitality headed to the final to play exceL.

GRAND FINAL

exceL vs Vitality

Game 1

Brian faced Verdoyance in the first game of the final, with the exceL main opting for Menat as Verdoyance went back to Blanka. Verdoyance started well as he forced Brian to the corner, but Brian did well to jump out and activate. Verdoyance then weathered the storm from Menat’s v-trigger, and he raced into a huge life lead before finishing off Menat.

Verdoyance’s movement seemed to be throwing off Brian as he struggled to read Blanka, which was no mean feat considering Blanka is one of the exceL man’s mains. Brian fought back well though, as he threw Verdoyance and used Menat’s orbs to great effect. It looked to be all over when Verdoyance activated and forced Brian to the corner, but somehow he managed to land a hit to take the game to a deciding round.

A fast start from Verdoyance pushed Menat to the corner again, and Brian had no answers as he found himself stunned inside the first 15 seconds of the round. Despite not having enough to kill, Verdoyance’s form was impeccable, and he managed to finish off with a perfect KO to take the first game of the final.

Game 2

Linkexelo took on Infexious in the second game as we saw the second Necalli mirror match of the day. The Frenchman started faster as he pushed Infexious to the corner and took a significant life lead. Infexious worked his way back in after taking advantage of a dash from Linkexelo, and after getting the stun, Infexious was able to close out the round.

Both players traded blows early in the second round, but Linkexelo looked the stronger as time went on with Infexious playing too slowly to do any damage. Infexious then activated and tried to force his way back in, but the damage was already done and the game went to a third round.

Another great start from Linkexelo pushed Infexious to the corner, and incredibly he managed to get the stun to storm into a huge lead. The round was over in no time as Infexious had no response to the pressure from Linkexelo, and Vitality took a 2-0 lead in the series.

Game 3

Vitality’s in-form man TKR was up for the third game as he faced the unbeaten Hurricane, and with both players looking in imperious form, something had to give. Both players landed hits early on, with Hurricane getting a few backthrows and TKR putting the pressure back on his opponent with a kick combo. TKR then found himself in the corner, and after getting the stun, Hurricane finished him off with ease.

Hurricane started strongly in the second round, as his movement was causing problems for TKR. Another backthrow after activating from Hurricane put TKR in trouble, but an incredible read from TKR allowed him to deploy critical art. However, Hurricane was solid, and keeping calm after the attack from TKR, he back threw Chun-Li to the corner to finish off the round.

Game 4

Hurricane was up again for exceL as he faced Verdoyance, with the Vitality man switching back to Birdie. The exceL man was completely dominant in the first round, forcing Verdoyance to the corner to get the stun and close out a perfect KO.

With Hurricane looking unbeatable, Veroyance started the second round with a nice whiff punish to boost his confidence. Hurricane then spent his meter, and Verdoyance took advantage with a command grab. Another throw from Hurricane got Cammy out of trouble, and all of a sudden the momentum was back with the exceL man. With Cammy then in the corner, Verdoyance waited to rush in, but Hurricane kept his cool and landed an aerial kick to finish off Birdie.

Game 5

TKR was back to face Hurricane again for the fifth game, and the Frenchman knew that exceL would be up against it if he could somehow find a way to win against Hurricane in his last game of the day. The blows went back and forth in an even round, but Hurricane eventually closed out the round after reading TKR’s intentions with Cammy in the corner, and the first round went to exceL.

Hurricane started well in the second round as he looked to dominate TKR, and the round was over quickly as he unloaded critical art before throwing Chun-Li to seal the win. The victory also meant that Hurricane ended the season unbeaten with a 10-0 record.

Game 6

Brian went for Rashid as he looked to clinch the title for exceL, and he faced Verdoyance as the Vitality man looked to keep his side’s hopes alive. Verdoyance took a big life lead after some solid play in the neutral, and he despite a great fightback from Brian, Verdoyance saw off Rashid with a decent jab.

The second round started better for Brian as he forced Verdoyance to the corner and came close to getting the stun. Verdoyance managed to escape, and a good anti-air put Rashid in trouble. A great hit combo from Verdoyance then gave him the stun, and Blanka finished off the round to take the series to the wire.

Game 7

TKR faced Infexious in the final game of the season, with both desperate to bring home the trophy for their side. Infexious went with Necalli once again, but it was TKR who made the better start as he forced him to the corner. Chun-Li’s EX legs then did serious damage to Infexious, but he risked the round as he went for the stun, and Infexious was able to break out. Despite the setback, TKR held his nerve to close out the round and give Vitality tournament point.

The Vitality man started the second round well, but Infexious fought back with a good crush counter hit. Another crush counter hit followed, and Infexious had a huge life lead over his opponent. TKR did well to jump out the corner and put Infexious on the back foot after activating and landing a lightning leg combo. Infexious tried to jump out of the corner, but an anti-air kept him penned in, and shortly after TKR honed in to get the stun before sealing the win in style with critical art to hand the Season 4 Elite Series title to Vitality.

Despite being written off as outsiders at the start of the day, Vitality proved the doubters wrong to claim their first Street Fighter V title at the second time of asking. Vitality’s stunning win against all the odds was even more impressive considering they had the added burden of playing a quarter-final earlier in the day. Commiserations went to Hurricane as he unfortunately ended the day on the losing side despite being unbeaten throughout the season.

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