After being sent to the loser’s bracket by Arman ‘Phenom’ Hanjani in the first round of the ELeague semifinals, the look on Victor “PunkDaGod” Woodley’s face showed signs of defeat. Somehow Punk managed to fight through Phenom and Ai ‘Fuudo’ Keita in the finals to become the 2017 ELeague champion.
In the beginning, it wasn’t looking good for Punk as his nerves were getting the best of him. He missed a lot of anti-air attacks and combo starters, resulting in him being sent to the loser’s bracket. As I was watching the tournament, I began to feel that this wasn’t the No. 1 player in the Northwest that we’re used to seeing. He even admitted during the rounds and after winning that the night wasn’t his best, but he managed to pull it off.
To be honest, he wasn’t my first choice to win, as he was too cocky, which can make you lose supporters. It’s normal to develop an ego as you mow through the competition, but at 18, he had an attitude of a 60-year-old and who had someone stepped on their lawn. But then it made sense. This was Punk the gamer, and last night we saw Victor Woodley as if it was the amateur bracket all over again. He became humanized in front of the world, making it easier to root for him as he held the American flag proudly on stage.
For the first time I can remember, he expressed humility, even after winning. as he said he felt bad and he played bad. Gamers respect one another even when there’s trash talk, but he earned mine as esports writer and competitive gamer.
In the end, as he raised the trophy in the air, the world knew that there was a new face running the Street Fighter V scene. With a title behind his name, the real work is keeping it. I believe he has what it takes to remain on top, but he has to go back to the drawing board and analyze his tapes from the league. If he wants to remain on top he has to have a backup plan to Karin. The next time he and Phenom meet, he has to be more focused than what fans saw in the finals.
Relive the dropped play that crown Punk this year’s ELeague champ below.