Scarz.HORI|Naoto Sako has long been the standard of excellence in execution across fighting games. He has long sought out the most technical characters and broken them wide open, using every possible trick to his advantage. Akuma’s creativity seemed a natural match for him Season 2, and has once again found himself in the thick of things for Capcom Cup.
As the #29 seed for Capcom Cup, Sako squeezed in at the cusp. Will he parlay that low seed into a win?
Selling Your Soul for the Win
Last year saw Sako take a strong Chun-Li into battle. Her combo abilities suited the execution specialist well, and he was able to make her work. However, execution alone couldn’t help Sako in the bracket last year, as he finished outside of top 16.
With the nerfs on Chun-Li in Season 2, Sako migrated to Akuma this season, taking his execution talents to the dark side. The character is forever creative, and has a lot of situational combos, all of which Sako is capable of performing. He also has years of experience playing characters like this, making him incredibly dangerous at every point.
On top of these, we’ve seen him experiment throughout the year, even on the circuit, with new characters like Abigail and Menat with differing levels of effectiveness.
Where Are the Results?
For all the experimentation, we haven’t seen much in the way of results from this master. His low seed is suggestive of the problems he’s faced on the circuit this year. It took him a whopping twelve events to even be on the cusp of Capcom Cup, and despite five top 8s, that was obviously not the strong finish he’d want in the season to exude confidence in Anaheim.
Beyond top 8s, he was only able to secure three top 16 spots, and while one of those was at Evo 2017, his play has been streaky at best. He does well one week, then derails and his play makes it hard to believe we’re looking at Sako. He often seems to hit walls when he comes across players who are higher seeds than he is. This bodes even worse for Sako, given his low seed guarantees the players he’s playing against right out of the gate will be among the strongest. This is going to be a hard road no matter what for Sako.
It feels like age may finally be getting to our god of execution. He has become a family man. It’s obvious where his priorities are going to lie, and he comes from an older generation where making a living off playing video games was unthinkable.
While he’s fought hard to get into Capcom Cup, he’s probably not fully concerned with hoisting the trophy, but will at least give it a college try. I would expect him to finish no higher than 17th at this event, much like he did last year.
Check out our prior articles in the Capcom Cup 2017 Player Analysis series!
Additional source: XusesGB