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July 10, 2020
Tom Anderson
Couch Warriors / CouchWarriors League

Well, 6 months down and 6 to go. 2020 may have turned out to be an inauspicious year to launch our new CouchWarriors League, but just like any FGC great, we’ve adapted. Online events have kept the CWL leaderboards ticking over during the pandemic months, and we’ve even seen new players gain big opportunities from this unusual focus on netplay. Certainly for those who live outside of the main metro regions this season is looking like their best chance to make a tilt at national recognition!

One important thing to remember when reading these standings. At the creation of CouchWarriors League, it was decided that all online events would award only half the points that a physical event of the same size/tier would offer. In any other year, this makes sense, accounting for latency and the other uncertainties which make online results less significant in the eyes of the community. In 2020, it means that the leaderboards are still dominated by players who got in and made their points at the very start of the year, with those who ran hot more recently working twice as hard to reel them in. This recap will try to point out cases where that divide has significantly impacted the standings for a game.

STREET FIGHTER V: CHAMPION EDITION

SFV Half Season Leaderboard

 

The race for Street Fighter glory proves to be a truly nation-wide affair this year. QLD and VIC are joined on the leaderboard by SA players from Cheese League, and Travis Styles is a one-man (ORDER) army for the state of WA. In fact, his placement on the ladder here does Travis an injustice – he has made a clear case for himself as the dominant player in the CWL ever since the switch to online made it possible for him to compete in monthlies.

 

Travis Styling

 

Apart from a stumble in the grappler-dominated May tournament, Travis has completely dominated these unified online events, mixing it up freely between Chun-Li and his lethal, disciplined Balrog. Xavier “DS|Somniac” Nardella has been his most consistent competition, able to force Travis onto Balrog and taking him close to defeat many times… but Travis’s focus and clutch factor has proven the difference maker.

 

 

In fact, if these online events had been awarding the full normal points rather than 50% of an offline event, Travis would be tied for first place on the leaderboard with Somniac! But at least there’s a way for Travis to show his strength outside of traveling to majors this year. If we stick with online tournaments and he keeps winning at this pace, his rise to the top will be hard to deny.

 

 

The rest of the field has some more work to do to re-establish themselves as threats, but if we return to physical ranbats there’s going to be many more points to share around and things would be wide open once again. Somniac has been grinding the new online tournament scene and is keeping his outlook confident heading into the back half of the season:

“We’ve all been living in strange times lately with a lot of adjustments to be made, but luckily there’s a consistent flow of online Couchwarriors ranking battle tournaments every month to look forward to. I’ve had some close games against Travis but overall my results haven’t been the best, looking to double down on the next month’s tournament and take out the big W so I can secure points for the end of the season and come out on top!”

 

 

TEKKEN 7

Tekken 7 Leaderboard

 

Tekken’s leaderboard hasn’t yet seen the online performers of recent months catch up to the offline winners from the first few months, although Kun-Mo “FAM|Gun_Mo” Yon is getting close. This is in part because the CWL online events for Tekken have been a lot more even, with many different players getting involved in the placings. Given another few months, we would see more and more of those online warriors rise up into the top 10.

 

 

It’ll take a while to catch up to ranbat kings Naveed “Kanga|ChandNY” Iqbal and Cheapies, however. So far neither have supplemented their points from January & February with finishes online, but if they do join the fray it should be easy enough to defend their spots well into the business end of the season. Barring some online majors to infuse points into the scene, I would expect to see those two stick around – but the pack of players trailing them better watch their backs!

 

 

Smash Melee

Melee Leaderboard

 

Smash Melee is a mature game with a skill ceiling somewhere outside the planet’s atmosphere. It makes sense that a game like this would feature exaggerated skill differences, even within the nation’s elite players.

Still, what Josh “DS|Sora” Lyras has been doing in the scene is ridiculous. With 5 CWL events he has been available to enter this year, he won the first 3 handily (including Phantom, an interstate major), dropped from the 4th while cruising in winners, and was only narrowly beaten last month in a fantastic grand finals upset by Miles “LGC|DonB” Dobney.

 

 

So with a single L on his record after 6 months, it makes sense that Sora is the favourite to take out the Melee title in CWL. His huge lead seems impossible to catch up to while events are worth half points, but right now it’s not clear that he has any real rivals even if that weren’t the case.

 

DS Sora (@LilTrickshot) | Twitter

The backdrop for this team photo is no accident.

 

However, recent innovations in Melee netplay may have long-reaching implications over the second half of the year, as locals can now run reasonable sets against international players and the potential to level up is higher than ever before. Hopefully DonB and other respected players can use the chance to take the next step and make Sora sweat a little.

 

 

Smash Ultimate

Ultimate Leaderboard

 

There are a few factors which make this Smash Ultimate leaderboard particularly weird to look at. Firstly, Phantom 2020.

 

The Smash scene was the only community to get a serious national major to fire prior to the pandemic shutting down all physical gatherings, and the double CWL points handed out there speak even louder considering we’ve had a total of 3 events in the months since, each offering half of what the January ranbats did. US-based Mario god Rasheen “MVG|Dark Wizzy” Rose jaunted over, swept Phantom and left our shores again; this sole finish has been good enough to leave him tied for 2nd halfway through the year. At least he’s probably not getting any more points this season… (unless?!?)

 

 

There is also a complete divide between our top offline players from the first part of the year and those putting up results in CWL Online monthlies; 8 of our top 10 haven’t garnered a single point since March, and Josh “Kanga|Ghost” Francis only grabbed a 3-point finish in April before falling silent. Sebastian “GZ|SebPro101” Poli-Tabone is the lone exception – but despite collecting the absolute maximum points available since CWL Online started in April, he’s only tied for 4th. The other points from those events have been shared across a raft of young, hungry online players – but the pickings are too slim for them to show up on the top 10 yet, despite the clear talent on display.

 


Quibbling about points awards aside, SebPro has legitimately been on a massive run of form since April, taking out several other online events and generally looking extremely solid. I would expect him to only challenge for the top spot faster if we came out of Isolation tomorrow; whenever the next Smash major lures the rest of our leaderboard to fight him will be an exciting stream to watch.

 

And that’s where we stand heading into the back half of the CouchWarriors League 2020! Even with fewer tournaments on overall, the CWL Online events mean that every state has its top players competing every week, and we get to regularly see interstate matchups between players who normally meet just once or twice a year!

Make sure you check out the streams for each game this month and watch the new Aus FGC hierarchy emerge!



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