In the most intense final of recent memory, we now have an Evo 2022 winner
Evo 2022 is over for Street Fighter V and in an insanely intense final, Japanese prodigy, Kawano, won against America's great hope, iDom 3-2.
iDom was on a roll and had taken out so many legends including Daigo, Tokido, and Gachikun before eventually falling at the final hurdle to Kawano. This means that once again, North America failed to win an Evo in Street Fighter and another Japanese player has the spot.
A Top 8 to Remember
What makes Evo such a special event is just how hard it is to win. With a bracket that had about 1300 players, coming out as the last one standing is no mean feat and due to the prestige of the tournament, only the best of the best enter into the tournament.
Top 8 at Evo 2022 was stacked with the biggest names on the planet in the world of Street Fighter, and when you consider that Punk, MenaRD, Luffy, Xian, and so many other incredible players didn't make top 8, you know that it was not an easy road.
Top 8 featured four Japanese players on winners' side, while on the losers' side of things there were two North Americans, a European, and Oil King from Taiwan.
Things kicked off with Gachikun defeating Daigo and sending him to losers. The set was somewhat anti-climatic as Daigo seemed a tad too predictable, and Gachikun, known for his ability to switch between lame zoning and explosive aggression in an instant, was all over him. The match ended, and Daigo was sent to losers.
Next came Kawano against Tokido. Tokido opted for his Luke and Kawano stayed with his tried and trusted Kolin. Even though the character had suffered some nerfs over the last season or so, Kawano has stuck with her and has continued to win things with the character. Against Tokido, he didn't seem too bothered and easily beat the former Evo champion 3-0 also sending him to losers' in the process.
Top 8 Participants
Justakid, whose emotional run into top 8 included knocking out fellow young star, ChrisCCH, was up next against Taiwan's finest, Oil King. Oil King with his impeccable play took out Justakid 3-0 sending him packing from the tournament, but considering what had come before, Justakid left the tournament with great pride having made it so far.
Then came Mister Crimson vs iDom. Mister Crimson got the better of iDom at the Red Bull Kumite event in London last year, and this time, iDom was able to get his revenge, and it also gave us a glimpse of the Laura that went on to terrify everyone else.
The Clutchest of Games
The next set of games were heart-stopping affairs as Oil King took on Tokido. Tokido, this time, opted for Urien against Oil King's Rashid. Tokido started well and was able to contain Oil King's wild antics. He was soon 2-0, and it was looking like a straightforward victory. But that was not the case as Oil King switched back to Seth and started gaining ground. With some patient play and some ingenious reads, Oil King was soon level. But, Tokido is not an Evo winner for nothing as he was able to find a way to defeat Oil King's Seth and was rewarded by advancing to the next round, where he waited for the winner between Daigo and iDom.
In his interview with DashFight, iDom revealed that the person he was most worried about facing was Daigo, and in truth, iDom hasn't always had the best luck with one of Japan's most famous players. Now the two were to meet, and it was a chance to vanquish his demons. Daigo started in typical fashion, taking the first game with Guile. But soon, iDom's ability to steamroll opponents started to come through, and he made read after read, particularly on when Daigo threw out his Sonic Booms. In those instances, iDom got a free jump-in and was able to punish effectively. Though cornered, Daigo has always been a cool customer and he was still able to keep the set at 2-2. For the final game, iDom displayed his clutch factor and got an incredible win against Daigo.
With his personal demon vanquished, what was next was former Evo champion, Tokido. iDom made short work of him and moved on to losers' final. Meanwhile, Kawano made his way to Grand Final with a 3-1 win over Gachikun and it was now time for iDom to try to secure his place in Grand Final with a win over Gachikun. Still sticking to the Laura, iDom dominated Gachikun, ensuring he was unable to use his normal Rashid gimmicks. While Gachikun was able to take a game, there was little else he could do, and he lost.
The Grand Final was a spectacle and was perhaps one of the most memorable sets of Street Fighter in a long time. iDom stole the show, steamrolling a helpless Kawano, and before long, he had forced a bracket reset. But, Kawano is a man who is used to pressure. Pitted against some of the very best very regularly, Kawano knows how to deal with helpless-looking situations, and he has a knack for coming back in with a shout. Having lost the CPT last year to Daigo and falling miserably to Tokido in the latest Kemonomichi, Kawano has had to deal with a lot of Ls, and his resilience in coming back after those setbacks were instrumental here.
Taking it round by round, Kawano was slowly able to better cope with iDom's relentlessness, and soon he was finding gaps in the American's armor. It all came down to a final game, final round situation, and Kawano, showing nerves of steel, was able to get the win.
It was a phenomenal set by both players, and while iDom was sad, he can always look back at one of the greatest losers' bracket runs of all time.
Kawano is now an Evo winner, and following Nauman's win at Evo Japan 2021, we might be seeing the beginning of a new era for the Japanese scene.