CouchWarriors League Recap: Street Fighter V November

On the last Street Fighter day for CouchWarriors League 2020 contenders grappled for the last invites to the Season Finale.

This strange, abbreviated but intense 14-event season of CouchWarriors League SFV came to a head on Saturday with the final CWL Online for the year.

Doubled ranking points meant stakes were high, with the ladderboard leaders desperately holding onto the cash bounties attached to their top 3 spots. Even those well outside the top 3 were playing for keeps, since reaching the Grand Final here would be enough to earn another shot at the money in next month’s Season Finale.

The competition has been fierce all year long, but now the finals atmosphere was palpable as players busted out pocket picks and some elite ringers showed up to snare qualification.

The man with the biggest target on his head going into the weekend was Xavier “DS|Somniac” Nardella, whose 2020 has been as solid as any in his decorated career. After placing in every single CWL Online tournament, Somniac had the best chance of securing a top 3 overall finish for the season.

But only one of those events saw him actually finish first overall; if he continued his unfortunate pattern of falling to the in-form player of the month, the huge number of points on offer could cost him a lot. 

The silver lining for Som? Ervin-Jason “pahnda” Garanovic, who had snatched the overall points lead last month after back-to-back tournament wins, did not register this month to defend his spot. If Darksided’s marquee player could put up just one more good run, then the first place prize for the season would be his.

There were few easy matchups in this elite 18-player field, but Somniac’s campaign started well. A first-up win against Alex Crew led into an impressive 2-0 over 2019 “BAM Path To EVO” champion Yuvin “GG|Rumours” Manadeniya.

Som tried to carry that big-scalp momentum into Winners Semis, where he would renew a rivalry with well-known tournament organiser Schenkhan. Just the night before, Schenkhan had handed Somniac a trophy for becoming champion of his “UNGA: Down Under” tournament series. But this time as a player, Schenkhan handed him a big old L. 

His strong Guile fundamentals halted Som’s momentum and dropped him into a dangerous Losers bracket already full of top 8 talent. Also forced to attempt a Losers run was Christian “ORDER|ROF” Dedalija, who entered with enough points to leapfrog into the top 3 despite a frustrating year.

But after overcoming Wollongong’s Julian “Issedia” Petersen, his shot at the money was immediately derailed by Fraser “FREESER” Johnson – who is fast becoming ROF’s tournament demon.

In a weaker field, or on stronger form, a competitor of ROF’s proven calibre would have still mounted a challenge from Losers side. But this time he only managed to advance one more round before crashing out at the formidable hands of Peter “Rupps” Barron.

Rupps was another player with their mind on the money, as he was looking for any points finish to steal third overall ranking from the absent Travis Styles. Always a threat to upset throughout the year, his actual results have been a bit less consistent than fellow travelers like Somniac, and it looked like that could cost him after a nailbiting loss to perennial championship threat Kevin “GG|Bksama” Nguyen.

That round cemented Bksama as the prime candidate from among the dark-horse entrants trying to snipe Season Finale qualification off this one event. That would require at least second place in this bracket, with first place securing a guaranteed invite for December. The Genuine Gaming star made it look simple as he dismantled first FREESER and then Schenkhan to lock himself in for Grand Finals with the bracket advantage.

That left only a bloody melee to determine his final opponent, as the big names quickly whittled eachother down on the Losers side. Somniac survived a close challenge from Rupps, whose 5th place finish was still good enough to secure 3rd overall for the year.

A strong performance by Berk “TB” Demir saw him eliminate Rumours and Michael “AwildLLAMA” Kalugin before being stopped by FREESER; he too then fell victim to Somniac. The Darksided veteran had secured the cash prize for 1st overall as soon as he eliminated Rupps. Now, he was out for revenge.

The return set against Schenkhan was no easier than the first, as he came within a mixup of putting the Darksided Dictator in an 0-2 hole! But Somniac’s notorious ability to adapt and grind out long sets finally kicked in, and he battled back to win with a determined 3-2. It seemed Bksama would have to overcome his old rival after all to guaranteed his spot in the Finale! 

In the end, that much-anticipated confrontation couldn’t quite live up to the hype or high stakes in play. Somniac seemed to have a decent shot at the reset, especially considering he had bullied Bksama 3-0 en route to that UNGA championship the night before.

But whether it was fatigue from the bruising Losers gauntlet or simply Bksama making the next adaptation in their personal matchup, this result swung completely back the other way. 

Bksama made Urien look every inch the top tier as he completed a full six-round sweep of Grand Finals and locked himself in for the biggest points payday of the entire season. His one day effort eclipsed an entire year of grinding from rivals like FREESER, Schenkhan and AwildLLAMA, rocketing him to 6th overall – but in the end, they all earned the same invite to the Season Finale. 

In fact, it was the absent Pahnda who was the real beneficiary of Bk’s sterling performance! With the 20-point prize for first going to a CWL debutant and the 16-point prize for second being taken by Somniac (who was already near-guaranteed to leapfrog him), the stars had aligned to secure Eranovic $150 as 2nd place overall, despite missing the most lucrative tournament of the year!

Somniac and Rupps joined him on the podium, taking home $300 and $50 respectively to keep them warm until they can try to add to it in December.

And so, here are the final standings for CouchWarriors League 2020 – SFV Division, showing the 16 players who have earned their spot in the Season Finale. Conveniently we have no tie for 16th place, with John “ZEDDD” Le holding onto his 1-point lead over the next few names in the ranks to give us a clean cut.

This year’s reduced number of tournaments and uneven distribution of points means there’s more to this Top 16 than meets the eye; I’ve included season totals for Top 8 finishes and event victories to better illustrate some players performance.

Regardless, as a top slice of Australian SFV talent you could hardly ask for more – the Finale is going to be an absolute treat to watch as the deserving finalists duke it out for the remaining $500 prize.

ProducerJosh Swift
Thomas Anderson
Thomas Anderson
A man in love with the stories of esports, Tom "TheWanderingBard" Anderson is a full-time writer and caster who has explored scenes from DOTA2 to CS:GO. He joins Snowball to highlight Australia's fighting game community, showcasing its hugely talented group of players and and expanding tournament calendar.

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