For months, players were confined to their selective regions due to the last year’s global situation. Unable to witness the meta of Street Fighter V play in an offline setting, the fighting game community has been waiting for the moment world warriors could cross fists again. Red Bull Kumite London answered the call, bringing back not only one of the most bombastic celebrations for the series but also some very big surprises.
The cage had been moved to a different location, but still retains the classic Red Bull Kumite feeling done by remodeling the local Red Bull Gaming Sphere venue. To complete the outfit, the custom-made trophy sat on the mantle ready for whoever would emerge alive.
With a host of stars including EVO champions and former Red Bull Kumite winners all flying in to compete, as well as a few extra surprises, the event did not disappoint. Here’s everything that went down.
Guilty Gear: Strive Exhibition
The first day started off the fighting festivities with high level demonstrations of the newest Arcsys title.
Samitto vs Ogawa (Chipp vs Zato)
Samitto's quick onslaught set the pace for the match, utilizing the Tension meter for Roman Cancels in order to extend Chipp's dazzling combos, but Ogawa's Zato started reversing the pressure by using reversal Overdrive moves. But as the set wore on, Samitto refused to fall for the same strategy, and smothered Ogawa with overheads and wall break combos, resulting in a speedy win.
Tyrant vs Theory Fighter (Millia vs Ky)
Instead of an exhibition, the Theory Fighter taught Tyrant the ins and outs of Guilty Gear Strive mechanics, including when to backdash in the middle of attack strings, anti-airing jumping attacks, and using Roman Cancel Drift to create mixup opportunities. The tutorials gave a deeper insight into the vast mechanics of the game and a great starting point to new eyes.
Alioune vs Ken Deep (Millia vs I-No)
Alioune's objective was to prevent his opponent from playing by looping through endless Millia pressure, but Kendeep's defensive choices with I-no kept him at bay. Intricate knowledge like using I-No's Overdrive attack as a punishing counter to Alioune’s overextension landed him the victory.
Wawa vs Shanks (Gio vs Ky/I-No)
After doing battle countless times in the world of Dragon Ball FighterZ, Wawa and Shanks have found themselves in Guilty Gear battlefield with their patented movement. Feeling the heat early in the set, Shanks flipped the script by getting aggressive with I-No and took Wawa to the limit with a final game and round. However, despite Wawa beginning to find his ground, it was Shanks that walked away as the winner.
Leffen vs Lost Soul (Millia vs Anji)
Usually, a match between a veteran like Lost Soul and a newcomer can only end well for the former, but Leffen is no stranger to quickly adapting after having spent hours in the betas. In fact, judging by the exhibition between the two, it seems like his Millia prepared for the release as he took Lost Soul’s Anji to the brink. But after a brief break in the action, Lost Soul defeated his opponent.
Sonicfox vs GO1 (Ramlethal vs Ramlethal)
It’s a runback from the beta and a mirror match of dominance between two longtime rivals hailing from the Dragon Ball FighterZ era. SonicFox wasn’t able to get much started, as the constant pressure and adjustments within seconds mid-match allowed GO1 to start off the new game rivalry with a victory.
Nage vs FAB (Faust vs Potemkin)
If Nage’s Faust was to take on FAB’s Potemkin, he’d have to be surgical with his approach as mistakes lead to a plethora of punishes. Another set taken to the final game, FAB avoided the item mixups from Nage’s Faust and finished the battle with a backbreaking command grab.
Temporary teams, tentative truce
True to the Red Bull Kumite nature, the players engaged in a randomly selected group selection process for the Street Fighter V bracket, drawing lettered volcanic rocks to determine their fate before sitting down on the sticks. Group A held Tokido, Hurricane, VegaPatch, and Bonchan. In Group B, the European/UK populous of Problem X, Takamura, Luffy, and Jones were to face off against each other in the cage instead of the online arena. Kawano, Smug, Phenom, and Punk rounded out Group C, while Idom, MisterCrimson, BoltStrike, and Gachikun finalized the bracket. But before the battles could begin, the groups faced off against each other in a quick preview of what was to come the next day.
The single-elimination format gave way to hype-filled moments including the return of Bonchan’s Sagat, the continuation of Punk and Mr. Crimson’s heated rivalry, and more. When the dust settled, it was Group C that emerged victorious, with Idom clenching the win for the pack. The friendly nature would end there – tomorrow’s encounters would be a solo affair, as only one would carry the Red Bull Kumite London trophy home.
Day 2: Street Fighter V
The tournament begins
The players wasted no time on Sunday shocking the world with top-shelf Street Fighter V action. The Group Stage sets started off fierce, with matches such as Bonchan taking on Tokido in a historical Red Bull Kumite runback, Kawano defeating Punk in a tense Kolin mirror match, and Phenom's brash but smart decision making turning the tide against Smug. Once the first batch ended, the elimination of players began. Tokido, Smug, Gachikun, Boltstrike, Vegapatch, Problem X, Jones, and Kawano were the first to go home. That left Bonchan to play against Takamura, Idom to face off against Phenom, Luffy to fight his friend Hurricane, and Punk to see MisterCrimson in the Top 8.
It would be no easier for the player who ventured forward, as it would be single elimination first-to-three matches in the Knockout Bracket and no losers side to pad their fall. The King proved to be too much for The Demon, as Bonchan took Takamura out of the tournament. A runback from Capcom Cup 2019’s Loser’s Finals ended similarly – Idom taking out Phenom once again in a close set. Luffy weathered the storm that is Hurricane and kept his momentum upward every round. Meanwhile, the conclusion to the Punk vs MisterCrimson saga ended in the favor of the latter.
An Idom vs Bonchan set sounded off the finals segment. Changed to a first-to-4 format, this allowed for a longer match between the Capcom Cup 2019 champion and the EVO 2019 winner. Despite switching to his standby Karin, Bonchan was unable to keep pace with Idom’s def decision-making. Idom sat in yet another major grand final waiting for his opponent.
Countrymen Luffy and MisterCrimson had to duel for the final representation of France in the grand finals of Red Bull Kumite. Using Mika, he was forced to make the right reads to get in against MisterCrimson and was able to take it to the last game. MisterCrimson kept up the wall of long limbs in response and stopped his approach, and now would have to take on Idom to claim the Red Bull Kumite crown.
For Idom, the final was a match he’d played dozens of times at his local home base. But MisterCrimson has prepared his Dhalsim for this Grand Finals moment with countless grinded Laura-based matches. In the longest set of the night, both players would be pushed to the limits of their play, finally putting all of their cards on the table. MisterCrimson took the first game with a rush of aggression, but Idom put the arena on silent when he answered back in the next match.
The set continued down to the wire every single round, with neither player willing to give any leverage until the final game of the tournament. MisterCrimson was able to save himself from Idom’s tournament point with a smart wakeup decision that turned the match in his favour. After applying a deadly mixup to Idom, he deleted his opponent’s health – and took Red Bull Kumite London 2021.
As a side effect from Red Bull giving the invited players speedy internet so they could practice together during their quartinine period, MisterCrimson revealed that he has leveled up drastically since his stay during the post-match interview.
“I’ve gotten better in one week than I have in months,” he said, crediting his win to the immense training sessions he was able to have with top level players from around the world.
This isn’t the end for Red Bull Kumite in 2021. Another event was teased for later in the year live on stream, and you can bet the world of Street Fighter V will come even more fired up when it happens.
In the meantime, congratulations to your new Red Bull Kumite champion, Mister Crimson!