Punk celebrates at Red Bull Kumite London
© Joe Brady / Red Bull Content Pool
esports

What to watch when Red Bull Kumite hits Las Vegas

Get set for two epic fight nights in Las Vegas with our preview of Red Bull Kumite.
By Brandon Brathwaite
11 min readPublished on
Red Bull Kumite has finally made its way to the United States. This time around, the event brings not only new titles, but a host of new talent vying to make statements within the octagon. The two tightly contested brackets in Guilty Gear -Strive- and TEKKEN 7 will make for an amazing lead-in to Street Fighter V: Champion Edition this year, with the former getting one of its first live events, and TEKKEN 7 on the path to give us the dream matches that were postponed during the past year.
This year’s Street Fighter V: Champion Edition competition has admittedly ended the attendance streaks of some longtime invited competitors like Tokido, Luffy, and Bonchan, but that has just given some newcomers their chance to shine.The depth of talent in the FGC now has a chance to be on display while still giving us Evo champions, Capcom Cup champions and the worthy contenders that we expect from Red Bull Kumite.
Here’s what to look out for when the cage closes and the battles begin on November 13 -14.

Watch Red Bull Kumite LIVE @ 1pm PST, Nov 13 & 14

Games
Day 1

World Competition Comes to Guilty Gear -Strive-

Up until now, the competition for Guilty Gear -Strive- has been confined to local and regional events, with some more experimental online events tossed in, testing the capabilities of the games online across the world. So, while we don't have much offline information, we do have something of a framework for the best players North America, Europe and Asia have to offer.
If we were to call out a couple players to keep an eye on, SonicFox and Daru Ino could be seen as the two that could run away with the tournament. SonicFox dominated the early NA LEVO tournaments, seemingly taking off as the region’s best. Lately, however, their time has been split across different games and as a result, the door has opened for other competitors to step up. Despite splitting their time with other games, however, SonicFox continued to be amongst the top competitors. Plus, doubters have pushed them to take the game seriously for Red Bull Kumite, a dangerous prospect for anyone who knows SonicFox’s history of quieting dissenters.
The stunning Tokyo site of Red Bull Kumite 2019
Red Bull Kumite's 2019 Tokyo Venue
Daru, a longtime Ino player, has been all-in on -Strive-, proving his worth in some tough situations. The most impressive showing was during a 15v15 Japan exhibition, where he was the lone survivor on his team, taking out seven opponents to win the event against some of the game's best in Asia. As the runner-up at Evo 2021 Online Asia, he remains one of the strongest the region has produced. But, as always, there's room for a potential upset.
That threat could come from Daru’s own region. Both BNBBN and Gobou have had elite showings in Japan, with the former placing third at Evo 2021 Online Asia, and even besting Daru himself before on the ICFC stage in Asia. Gobou, on the other hand, has shown that his recently acquired GoldLewis can hold its own against Daru in exhibitions. But it was his Zato that won the first major tournament in Japan. If the character makes its comeback, this may be his tournament.
SKYLL takes home the crown at Red Bull Gladiators
SKYLL takes home the crown at Red Bull Gladiators
While the Asia region is stacked with talent, we can’t overlook how the European talent is showing up for -Strive-. An early US East Coast vs Europe exhibition opened the floodgates for talk that EU might be better than NA in competition. One of the shining moments was Skyll going the distance against the mighty SonicFox. Later, Skyll would have his crowning moment, winning Red Bull Gladiators and earning his spot at Red Bull Kumite.
His fellow EU player is no slouch either. Uriel Legion, a longtime Guilty Gear player, had a shot at taking down Leffen at Evo 2021 Online EU and has continued to show strong results in the ARCREVO EMEA standings.
The wildcards of the event will be from NA, with ApologyMan and LCQ winner Diaphone repping for the host region. Their wildcard status shouldn’t be taken as a sign of weakness, though. Instead, this is the moment the two quickly have to bloom as big-time players. Apologyman has continued to have strong showings on the West Coast, winning a number of tournaments with Faust, a character many consider to be slightly lower tier.
Meanwhile, Diaphone, another Ino representative at the event, took down the Evo 2021 Online NA champion Hotashi on his way to secure his spot at Red Bull Kumite. Both are hitting their stride when it matters most and are capable of completely changing the trajectory of this tournament.
Hoa 'Anakin' Luu competes at the Red Bull Conquest Qualifier held at The Garage at Tech Square in Atlanta, Georgia, USA on September 8, 2018.
Hoa 'Anakin' Luu as seen in Conquest Road Trip

The Makings of Some Good-Ass TEKKEN

For anyone familiar with the flavor of some good-ass TEKKEN, the lineup for this Red Bull Kumite shouldn’t surprise you. Don't think the results will be anything run-of-the-mill, however. With the gap in offline competition, we may be in for some surprising results.
Knee, the TEKKEN world's most dominant player, will be in attendance at this event. The storied player has accomplished plenty in TEKKEN 7, looking nearly unstoppable in 2019 with the exception of running into the force that is Arslan Ash. If we’re to look at his performances in the online era, the argument can be made that he has fallen from grace. That would be a grave error. All it takes for a player of his caliber to make a statement is motivation and a lot of chatter on Twitter has provided plenty of incentive to remind others who he is.
The player that has the best chance to break up that dream statement and to snatch away the trophy is Gen. In contrast to Knee, he has come alive during this period of mostly online tournaments, winning back-to-back TEKKEN Online Challenges in Japan, along with securing himself as the Evo Online Champion for TEKKEN in the Asia East region.
But if Gen doesn't show up as the next player to turn this tournament on its head, there are others. Book had his thunder stolen from him by the pandemic. Had it not been for the halt in LAN competition, we may have been putting the Thai player in the category of favorites for Red Bull Kumite. He is the Evo Japan Champion for 2020, a feat he accomplished with the controversial first iteration of Leroy. Overpowered character or not, Book has been on the rise for some time and his victories at Evo 2021 Online - Asia South and the TEKKEN Online Challenge 2021 for Southeast Asia, have shown that he’s in top form.
The full roster of competitors for Red Bull Kumite in Las Vegas
The full roster of competitors for Red Bull Kumite in Las Vegas
Of course, it’s not a TEKKEN classic without Anakin in attendance. As Arslan and Knee battled for supremacy in 2019, Anakin was always the dark horse, laying in wait to upset the established order. The mostly online period of competition hasn’t allowed him to see as much success as the 2019 year, but he’s still in the thick of it in North America. Everybody knows when it's time to rep for the NA region internationally, you can count on Anakin to deliver.
A good Red Bull Kumite wouldn’t be itself without players that have the potential for a breakthrough performance and that honor falls on Super Akouma and Cuddle_Core. Both players have been tearing it up in the ICFC of their respective regions, winning multiple tournaments in the series. Neither player is new to having success in TEKKEN, but lately they've both proven they have what it takes to be consistent. One of them has a chance to ride their momentum to a crazy run, and right now the slight edge in that regard is Cuddle_Core's to make that happen.

A New Age Of Classic Red Bull Kumite

Saying that this year’s Red Bull Kumite for Street Fighter V: Champion Edition will be different is an understatement. For the first time in the history of the tournament series, none of the powerhouses of the Street Fighter IV era will be in attendance.
The contenders at this event couldn’t be anymore closely matched in skill and the current champion. The dynamic duo leading the charge for the title of Red Bull Kumite Champion are iDom and Punk. For the past year, the two have been trading first and second place spots during online events in NA east, and have historically been the most dominant SFV players the region has produced. Red Bull Kumite could be the place these two finally get matched up offline.
iDom competes at Red Bull Kumite London
iDom competes at Red Bull Kumite London
Before we get too ahead of ourselves here, they will have to contend with a serious problem in the bracket. Problem X. He has been ridiculously consistent in his finishes in Europe, winning multiple Saltmine League events, with the lowest finish in online events being a 4th place finish in June. The online era hasn’t slowed him down, but now the question is: can he transfer that success into wins at Red Bull Kumite?
Another regional duo that can really shake things up are Angry Bird and Big Bird. They've been monsters in the Middle East region for a while now, and as their region becomes more competitive, so have they. Street Fighter League, while being a team tournament, has shown that they have still maintained their elite level play in person. Don’t be surprised if one of these players makes a serious run at the event.
MenaRD and NL occupy a unique position in the field of 16 players. They are without a doubt capable of taking this entire event, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they may not be on the radar as the biggest threats of the event. However, both players come into Red Bull Kumite as the CPT 2021 Online Event winners of their respective regions, and if any of the players in Las Vegas don’t take them seriously, they'll definitely be .
If you’re a fan of the underdog story, you've got your pick at Red Bull Kumite. Keep an eye on Mono out of Puerto Rico. He has stuck to his guns as a FANG specialist and this year, the rewards for doing so are starting to come together. He locked in second place finishes at Evo Online 2021 LATAM Central and CPT 2021 Online Event for Central America East and just recently finished in the Top 8 of First Attack, one of the events that have led the way to returning to offline competition.
Oil King and Brian_F are the next standouts in the field. Both have been among the top competitors in their regions, but have not had their breakthrough performances quite yet. Oil King is the one that may be closest to breaking out, as his region has the tougher competition and is naturally a better training ground for an event of Red Bull Kumite’s stature.
Oil King at Red Bull Kumite 2018
Oil King at Red Bull Kumite 2018
While there are some truly hidden prospects left to discuss, the true wildcard of the event is Go1. It’s been a while since we’ve seen him compete on this scale for Street Fighter V: Champion Edition as he spent some time dominating the Dragon Ball Fighterz scene. If Go1 was truly training in the game to have a shot at being a part of the Japanese Street Fighter League, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him have a deep run here. But how much has Go1 caught up on the game now and how much will he be ready to show by the time he steps into the octagon?
The remaining players RonaldinhoBR, Yossan and Uzura represent Kumite’s commitment to highlighting players with star potential; the players you hear whispers of or see highlight clips of and, maybe, the ones that shock the world when given the opportunity. These aren’t charity slots either. RonaldinhoBR’s Nash won CPT Online 2021 for the often underrated Brazilian scene. Yossan, the Juri specialist, won FAV Cup Online with names like Itazan and Tachikawa in attendance. Uzura receives high praise from Daigo himself for what he has been able to show with his Ryu. We could be witnessing the next Big Bird story from any of these three players.
The lineup for TEKKEN 7 and Street Fighter V: Champion Edition still has stacked Last Chance qualifiers to secure and if the history of Red Bull Kumite has shown us anything, the LCQ is a damn good show to witness as well. With spectators returning, the octagon in place, and players ready to fight for glory, Red Bull Kumite Las Vegas is showing the world that the FGC is coming back stronger than ever.