Beast of the East
12 October 2016

Since its inception, the South East Asia Major (SEAM) by Beast of the East has attracted the biggest talents in the fighting game community (FGC) towards the region. From legends to new challengers, everyone’s looking to make a name for themselves in this prestigious event.

Now on its fourth year, there was no shortage of moments to keep spectators on the edge of their seats. 

Here are our favorite highlights from SEAM 2016:

Old game, new tricks

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a game experiencing a sharp decline in viewership and tournament entrants over the past years. Though numbers may be falling, the quality of competition is still rising. The people who have chosen to stick with the game have continued to polish their skills to a mirror shine. The metagame has long been established, but even so there are people who continue to experiment with characters and playstyles. Though many fail, the few that succeed become some of the most exciting players to watch.  Every so often, one of these players shows up on a big tournament. All of a sudden the game feels fresh once again. People get hype and start shouting “Mahvel Lives!”

Joseph Spencer “Birdee” Garrido from Guam surprised everyone at SEAM with his unorthodox team of Akuma/Viewtiful Joe/Haggar. Birdee’s run in Marvel made the crowd take notice as he did combos and setups that nobody has ever seen before. Players he took out include known Japanese player Genki “ABEGEN” Abe and local top Filipino players Anton and Carlo Castilla from Imperium Pro Team.

He may have not have won the tournament, but Birdee was able to capture the hearts of the spectators both onsite and on the stream. The future of UMVC3 remains uncertain with newer fighting games getting released and updated. It may only be a matter of time before the game is entirely left behind. However, players like Birdee give the scene hope that there may still be a place for them in the ever diversifying FGC.

Successor in the Works

Apart from the CPT Premier tournament, SEAM also played host to the Street Fighter V Amateur tournament. Hosted by PlayStation 4, the event aimed to showcase some of the younger and newer players in the scene. Included in the stipulations for entrants was that they should not be sponsored by any known organization and must be below 30 years of age. While there were many talented players in the bracket, a lone Korean going by the handle Xyzzy stole the show with his phenomenal Birdie play.

Xyzzy may be a familiar name if you play Street Fighter V (SFV) online. He currently sits at the number two spot on the world leaderboards. Videos of him going up against some of the greats like Daigo, Poongko and Momochi have spread on YouTube and different forums. While his play was impressive, it remained to be seen whether he’d be able to be consistent in an offline scenario.

Over the course of the weekend, he proved that he wasn’t just an online warrior as he went on a tear through his brackets. Coming along with him on his tournament runs was his mentor, Evolution 2016 champion Lee “Infiltration” Seon-woo. The coaching from one of the world’s best players accompanied by his impressive skills proved to be invaluable to Xyzzy. He placed second in the Amateur Cup and ended with a top 16 placing in the CPT Premier tournament. Among the players he defeated included American Dhalsim player Gllty, Youdeal’s Yukadon (thirdrd at Evolution 2016), and Qanba Douyou’s Xiao Hai who took the championship at the recently concluded ESL One Brooklyn Beatdown.

Laban, Pilipinas!

SEAM 2016 saw the largest contingent of Filipino players coming out to play at an international tournament. Players from Imperium Pro Team and Playbook Elite, as well as a handful of unsponsored players, flew out to Singapore to test their skills and represent the country. 

Imperium Pro Team’s Michael “Manza” Manzana went up against Alienware’s Naoki “Nemo” Nemoto. Manza is an up and coming young talent in the Philippine SFV scene, while Nemo is considered by many to be a Japanese god in fighting games. Nemo may have come out on top in the end, but not after Manza managed to win a game and draw their match to last game last round.

Playbook Elite’s Noob, Drakke and Shinji occupied three of the top four spots in the SEA-only tournament for Guilty Gear. Their performance established that the country is one of the the strongest in the region for anime fighters.

For UMVC 3  Anton Castilla ended up with a third place finish. This is the second time Anton fell short of reaching grand finals. At this point, it’s safe to assume that he’s going to pull out all stops to make sure there isn’t a third time.

Imperium Pro Team’s Andrew “Dru” Martinez and Playbook Elite’s Don Gim managed to get out of their pools and make it to top 32. Both players are considered to be the top two locally. Even though the just fell short of top 16, both put on a good display of what the Philippines can offer when it comes to Street Fighter. Don even managed to take out last year’s Manila Cup champion, Takenori “TONPY” Shimomura.

Dream come true

One lone Filipino was able to take home a championship for the country. Imperium Pro Team’s Alden Jacob came to Singapore riding a great deal of momentum. He had just won Manila Cup for BlazBlue last month, and now with the updated version of the game, his main character Mu-12 had been significantly buffed. This put him in prime position to win the tournament.

Alden looked unstoppable as he powered through the competition and made it to the winner’s side of grand finals. Stepping in front of him as his final obstacle was none other than Andrew “Jiyuna” Fidelis. The Japanese-based American proved to be a formidable foe, as he managed to reset the bracket, beating Alden three games in a row. Alden however, remained composed and eventually adapted to Jiyuna’s play style. 

After a series of grueling exchanges, Alden took the set with a 3-0 of his own and won the championship.

Alden found it hard to contain his emotions. After shaking hands with Jiyuna, he broke down in tears. All the countless hours of practice have finally netted him his long sought international trophy.

“All the past three years of practicing and playing came like a flashback after I won.” Alden explains.

He was calmed down by his teammates and the other Filipinos onsite, all cheering his name as he stepped down the stage.

This victory makes Alden the second Filipino fighting game player to ever win two internationally acclaimed tournaments. He joins his teammate Robert “Blickwinkel” Andrada, who won SEAM BlazBlue in 2014 and again in Manila Cup 2015.   

Year after year

The South East Asia Major is considered by many to be the “EVO of Asia”. This year, it continues its tradition of being one of the most exciting fighting game events in the region. Many have made it a point to come back every year, and each time it’s gotten better and more competitive. As the fighting games community continues to grow,, SEAM continues to fill an important slot in every fighting game fan’s tournament calendar.