The Street Fighter V competitive scene erupted as British Benjamin “Problem X” Simon came back from 0-3 down to win Red Bull Kumite 5-3. A truly impossible comeback. Esports.gg’s Logan Sama breaks down how on earth Problem X pulled it off, and spoke to the winner himself.
Problem X's phenomenal comeback at Red Bull Kumite will likely go down as the greatest comeback of 2021. The British player, who plays for Team Razer's Mousesports, became only the second non-Asian player to win the coveted title.
We break down his emphatic victory in minute detail and hear from the man himself with Logan Sama:
Red Bull Kumite Las Vegas
Offline tournament Street Fighter V returned to America on a grand scale this month as Red Bull Kumite made it’s North American debut in the city that never sleeps; Las Vegas! For the first time Kumite also expanded to other popular titles to include Tekken 7 and the newly released Guilty Gear -Strive- in the action.
Alongside a star studded line up of invitees, as is usual for the unique format of the Kumite, an open bracket last chance qualifier was held. We saw two more Americans in ChrisCCH and JB join London’s Grand Finalist iDom, Punk and Brian F to make up 5 of the 16.
This gave the USA their best ever chance at following Europe’s lead in London and wrestling the Kumite trophy from the grip of Asian dominance historically at the event. 4 randomly drawn groups played in to an 8 player single elimination format bracket to determine a champion.
Problem X is a British SFV player who represents Team Razer's Mousesports
Problem X stops NA's Punk and iDom
American hopes were destined to be dashed by Mousesport’s Benjamin ‘Problem X’ Simon who has history already with Las Vegas. He became the first British player to win a Street Fighter main event at the Evo Championships in 2018 defeating then world #1 ranked player Tokido in Grand Finals. And on his way to raising the Kumite trophy this time he bested the top 2 seeds for the event in iDom and Punk.
He met Korean Cammy expert UYU’s Sim ‘NL’ Gun in Grand Finals in a character match up Problem has huge experience in but things started out poorly. Problem quickly found himself 3-0 down in the first to 5 sethaving tried new character option Alex, then his current Cammy counter E.Honda and finally the character he made famous, M.Bison. We spoke to Problem about his mindset going in to this set and how he faced the adversity of a 3-0 deficit.
“I felt uncomfortable the way NL was closing distance. He was very aggressive and looked very sharp. So I was like ‘I don’t like how this feels right now’. I thought if I was gonna go out… I’m gonna go out with my guy (M.Bison)”
Problem X on picking M.BiSON in the GRAND FINALS of Red Bull Kumite
Despite losing the first match with Bison, Problem stuck it out and his years of character match up experience fighting against local rival Hurricane in London began to come in to play. Whilst NL was able to steam roll on occasion and look to make a quick kill, Problem began slowing down the pace and mitigating the situations in which he can take big damage.
Whilst one of the very basic tenets of playing Street Fighter is ‘anti-airing’ your opponent when they jump in using iconic special moves like the Dragon Punch, Cammy is designed to circumvent these standards with her ‘Cannon Strike’ dive kick. By changing the angle and timing of her jump arc it becomes very difficult to reliably stop her taking to the skies in many situations and players will often lose for reacting in the ‘correct’ way to Cammy jumping.
Problem X very astutely avoided trying to consistently anti air and instead would mix between blocking the jumps and backdashing away. His willingness to take a throw in situations where Cammy had an EX Bar to potentially bait an anti air attempt meant that most of the match ended up being played in the neutral at a much much slower pace than NL would have liked.
Securing most of his round wins through landing single hits using his high priority long ranged normals such as standing fierce punch and the Psycho Axe attack, Problem X was confident any time he was able to build a life lead. Rarely pushing the pace, he would diffuse the threat of Cammy’s air game whilst also punishing her with a succession of blows if she attempted to play against him on the ground.
Credit where credit is due, NL's Cannon Spike usage
One of the most interesting things about the match was NL’s approach to using his reversal ‘Cannon Spike’. Akin to a Dragon Punch from a traditional shoto character like Ryu or Ken, Cannon Spike can be invincible thus blasting through any offence the opponent may try. NL seemed to only utilise these wake up reversals in instances where Problem X was on the cusp of a momentum shift and not in situations where he was at risk of losing a round to a throw/hit mix up.
Problem X was quick to identify this with M.Bison and would play accordingly. Happy to bait out reversals from NL and take huge damage and stun punish combos in mid game situations but still comfortable to pressure in end of round exchanges.
After the set was levelled up at 3-3 the swing in momentum was hugely evident and NL seemed helpless to stop what was a runaway train in Problem X. Despite claiming a few rounds on the way NL was only a passenger as Problem proceeded to take his win streak to 5 and secure the Kumite trophy.
The previous winner Mister Crimson
was watching on from home and there is certainly scope for a clash of the champions in the future. But it was the always outspoken American Punk’s response
that fuelled social media after the event.
With possible plans for a 10 vs 10 showdown between EU and the USA on the horizon this rivalry will continue. The appetite for offline elite level Street Fighter V is at an all-time high having been starved of competition for nearly 2 years.
The Capcom Cup VIII announcement
heralds a February 2022 finals event, meaning all eyes now return to the Capcom Pro Tour for the next arc in the saga. All the while the Japanese gods watch on and train, awaiting the next battle.