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Combo Breaker 2022 Recap: The Summer of the FGC Starts Now

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22 Jun 2022

In the world of the Fighting Game Community (FGC) the memorial day weekend marks a return to real competition in the eyes of fans and players alike. For the first time in a long time we had Combo Breaker; one of the FCC's premier events and the first major tournament to feature live, face to face competition from across North America and the rest of the world. Thousands of hopefuls gathered to stake their claim to the title of “the best” and we got to see top players from around the globe compete in the largest in-person tournament of the year. 

In the days leading up to the event social media hype was at a fever pitch as we saw pros assemble to test their strength on the main stage. Along with that hype came a distinct tension in the air. For a newer fighting game title like Guilty Gear:Strive, Combo Breaker represents more than just a return to FGC normalcy but a proving ground, a place for rivalries to flourish and statements to be made. Region vs. Region, Player vs. Player; could those who found success during the online Covid era back it up when it mattered? Could Europe back up their claims and take the title away from established North American names? Could an unsponsored player, forged in the fires of online play, make a name for themselves? These were the questions on everyone's lips heading into the long weekend. 

Check out the Combo Breaker main page here for all the details: 

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Combo Breaker is a grassroots tournament based in Chicago featuring many fighting game titles both niche and popular but without question Guilty Gear was grabbing the spotlight this year. With over 1000 entrants and a prize pool of over $10,000 dollars both bragging rights and big money were on the line.

For a full breakdown of the numbers look here

The turnout from top players was immense. Featuring established pros like Panda Global’s Punk and Kizzie Kay to real tournament threats like SQ, TSM|Leffen, LZR|Supernoon, PAR|FlashMetroid and TempestNYC. The international contingent was not to be slept on either with players like Sommet|Orochi and Zando making the trip overseas. Finally, the stars had aligned for our first taste of international competition.

Moist Esports’ Hotashi was without a doubt a standout competitor going into the tournament. Hotashi boasts victories at both EVO and ArcRevo North America coming into this weekend and was looking to solidify his spot as the best in the world. The list of genuine tournament threats is too long to name but the bracket was fierce and whoever wanted to be crowned champion would have to run a gauntlet of talent to do it. 

Take a look at a full bracket overview at start.gg the FGC hub for all events: 

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As we got underway on Saturday sparks began to fly as prominent names were knocked out of the tournament far earlier than their projections. Tournament favorites like SQ and Daze took early exits at 25th and 33rd respectively. Sponsored FGC veterans like PG|Kizzie Kay and PAR|Flash Metroid both failed to crack top 8 going out tied for 17th. In fact none of the Panda Global players would see Top 8 as both Punk and Marlinpie would face off earlier than expected. TSM|Leffen and LZR|Supernoon were both eliminated at 33rd. 

It begs the question: Are these one offs? Upsets or flukes? Who can say. Regardless, we got to witness the full breadth of talent Guilty Gear: Strive has to offer and these players did not disappoint.

Sunday’s Top 8 is where the best performers from the tournament would play in one last bracket to snatch the crown. The title of Combo Breaker 2022 champion as well as a sizable share of the prize money was on the line. From the tension on the main stage to the cheers of the crowd we had everything on full display in a triumphant return for FGC esports. I won't get into spoilers here but the Top 8 matches were electric and I would suggest watching the full top 8 for yourself on the official Team Spooky Youtube channel. It’s guaranteed entertainment for veterans and newcomers alike. 

Link to Team Spooky here: 

Interested in staying up to date on the latest around Combo Breaker and other massive FGC events this summer? Consider giving a follow to Rick “The Hadou” Thiher for all your FGC info:

It would be easy to say that Combo Breaker 2022 was a tournament filled with upsets but it's important to keep in mind that this is the first taste of competition from both around North America and the World. Great performances from young talent like Umisho and Razzo as well as a strong international presence could be a sign of change on the horizon. Maybe some new talent is beginning to blossom and with it uprooting the old guard. Of course it's too early to tell and with more tournaments on the horizon the summer of the FGC is only just heating up. 

By Simon Mancuso

22 Jun 2022
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