Collegiate Starleague’s first Street Fighter V circuit has finally reached its climax, and it was truly spectacular. This year’s Grand Finals were a great showing of the best in CSL and featured both established faces and new personalities. All of the teams that made it this far put on a great display and really showed what the highest level of collegiate (and beyond) Street Fighter V looks like.
Funnily enough, all of the teams that participated in this Grand Finals were on my personal favorites list to make it all the way. You never know what will happen, though--one player who appeared was a big surprise for me! It wasn’t because they were an underdog, but because they haven’t been seen in the fighting game scene for quite some time. More on that later, though--let's take a look at the actual matches.
The day started off with Sheridan College facing off against the University of Texas at Dallas, featuring SC’s Raijin (equipped with Akuma) and UTD’s DangrontheRangr (using Cammy). The match was full of scrambles, with both players constantly taking turns going into advantage and disadvantage. In the end, DangrontheRanger took it with a V-Trigger confirm, refusing to crack under the pressure of Akuma and his V-Trigger.
The next match featured one of my favorite players in the entire league: SC’s Silverupee and his godlike Ed. He faced off against Alexty, UTD’s Rashid player. The first round was a back-and-forth between the two players before Silverupee was eventually backed into the corner. He kept his composure and found his spot, making a comeback featuring his amazing pressure and eventually winning with a great gamble of a read: an invincible upper on Alexty’s wakeup.
The next match was all Silverupee: he got into Alexty’s head and ran his gameplan with a whole lot of mix, plenty of pressure, and a sick punish.
Next up was SC’s Kauky vs UTD’s Boop Bloop, which proved to be just as entertaining a match as the last. This time around, there was a lot more back-and-forth between the two players, but Kauky wasn’t letting this one go for SC. After getting backed into the corner, Kauky punished a failed shimmy attempt with a back throw, effectively reversing the roles. The punish that ended the match was nothing short of true character mastery.
The final match between Sheridan and UT Dallas featured DangrontheRangr and Silverupee. Silverupee took the match by playing on the defensive and always recognizing when to take his turn. He took it with that patented corner pressure that I’ve gushed about all season.
The next college matchup was the Wentworth Institute of Technology versus the University of Washington. This face-off was headlined by WIT’s Mika player Ingaling and UW’s Kolin player Yagel_My_Bagel. It was taken decisively by Yagel, who used some very strong reads as he froze Ingaling under the pressure.
WIT wasn’t going to go down that fast, though. Their Boxer player, Nellbomb, then entered the ring against Girlsyes and their Juri. This clip is for anyone who wants to know why it’s so scary to be on the other side of Boxer’s rush punch when he’s got meter.
The next matchup was one of the best for someone like me, an avid fan of the competitive Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 side of things: a prodigy from that game made an appearance here that I was not ready for. That player was the top team “Zero May Cry” player, Jibrill, playing for UW. He faced one of the premiere Street Fighter players, Burkish, who has been making even more of a name for himself than ever before with his Urien play.
The match began with a very intense first round that featured Jibrill playing Vega of all characters, fending off Burkish’s great pressure while showing some great tricks of his own. Both of these players commanded constant respect at the footsies range, but when the time to block and guess came around, there was nothing but fear, which Burkish demonstrated when he took match one. Not one to be put down, Jibrill showed that he had an answer to that pressure and took match two!
Things were neck-and-neck for a while. Fittingly enough, the final game’s first round ended with a magic pixel situation and was taken by a single jab from Jibrill.
The next round showed Burkish's answer in a strong way with an Aegis Reflector punish and confirm.
The final round was, once again, as close as ever, and things were looking hairy for both players. In the end, Burkish put Jibrill in a scary situation and won with Aegis pressure and the classic throw-after-mirror.
One amazing thing to note is that Jibrill was able to react to dashes even in lag. That’s that old Marvel vs Capcom 3 netcode training for ya!
The final match of these semifinals was between WIT’s Nellbomb and UW’s Yagel. It was another amazing match full of that SFV pressure we all love so much. Nell put an end to it and took the spot in the Grand Finals for WIT with a command grab, a meaty, and a dream.
Finally, we reached the Grand Finals with our two top teams: Sheridan College and Wentworth Institute of Technology. The first to bat were Burkish and Raijin, this time with Sakura instead of Akuma.
This match was definitely one of the most fun matches to watch during the entire night, and it really gave us a chance to see how great Raijin was with his Sakura. He played some excellent neutral with her normals and went in with her V-Trigger pressure; he even bet it all and landed a great super reversal. However, the reversal wasn’t enough to slow down Burkish, who capitalized in every advantaged situation. Things were actually getting very close, but due to a few misplaced jumps and a deer-in-the-headlights reaction to Urien’s classic mirror-into-walk-up-grab, Raijin lost it to Burkish.
The match between WIT’s Ingaling and SC’s Silverupee went a bit differently, as SC took this match in decisive fashion. Silverupee showed off his pressure and the great whiff punishing we know him for and took the match handily. When he reacted to Mika’s HK with a reversal online, I truly noticed that he was the one.
WIT’s Nellbomb against SC’s Kauky was one of the more footsie-heavy matches of the night and featured some great composure from Kauky, even when they got hit. No matter what the situation was, their defense stayed up against Boxer’s pressure and high damage.
They weren’t the only one that applied themselves in this match, though. Nellbomb stayed patient and constantly played the waiting game. In a way, it started to feel like a pseudo-Samurai Shodown match...right up until the big hit into explosive damage and pressure like what Nell delivered in match one. Wait a minute--that's Samsho as well!
Match two went the same way. Kauky looked like they were going to take it until they made a bet gone wrong when they tried to grab Boxer. They ended up eating a V-Trigger combo to the face.
The second round was looking to be in Kauky’s favor as well, but as we all know, when Boxer gets his turn, he’s going to hold on to it and make you fear for your life. With some very scary corner pressure, Nellbomb ended Kauky’s time in the finals and brought his team one step closer to victory.
It all came down to Burkish against Silverupee, and immediately Burkish showed that he wanted to end it as fast as possible. However, Silverupee made it known that he wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
Despite a lost round and some defiance from Rupee, Burkish scored some big hits and showed that he was determined to dominate this last match for his team.
Burkish took things in a quick final match and brought Wentworth the final win, making them the first Collegiate Starleague Street Fighter V champions!
Watching the finals was an absolute blast. I could give some crazy conclusion to this awesome Grand Finals, but I’d rather let Burkish speak for himself and the rest of his team.