All or nothing for Samurai and Brian_F at Red Bull Battle Grounds

Miky "Samurai" Chea -- Photo: Robert Paul Photo: Robert Paul

The end of the Capcom Pro Tour season is approaching; the chance to participate in the final showdown at the Capcom Cup for some is nearing its deadline.

Outside of the last chance qualifier open bracket at Capcom Cup, Red Bull Battle Grounds, the North American regional finals, is the one major event remaining on the schedule for the year and it will only provide one slot to the Capcom Pro Tour finals. Should the winner be a player already qualified to the cup, the 31st spot this weekend will be Naoto "Sako" Sako.

However, the contenders that are looking to take the spot include Brian "Brian_F" Foster, Derek "iDom" Ruffin, and any of the players not named Darryl "Snake Eyez" Lewis from the open qualifier to the North American final. It takes a special kind of mind to look upon this weekend and be optimistic.

One of those open qualifier hopefuls, Miky "Samurai" Chea (45th in the standings) is preparing his mindset for one of the toughest weekends of the tournament schedule. He's one of the scientists in the field of Street Fighter V. He, alongside Brian_F, are two of the best players in terms of deploying advanced strategies and optimization in their play -- it would be exciting to see if Chea can potentially make it to the final eight bracket in Boston.

Despite accruing 456 circuit points with his amazing play on Akuma, it wasn't enough to be a part of the elite 32 at Capcom Cup. He emulated top Akuma players, Sako and Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi to further his own play and credited a rewiring of his mind and approach to the game as his potential key to victory.

"One of the things I've been working on is health and rest," Chea said. "I tend to not rest enough with my busy schedule so I made a bigger effort in resting my body. I'm also experimenting with diet and exercise. So far it's been successful in keeping my mental game in shape. Overall, I think my training and rest will show this weekend. I'm really looking forward to the competition."

One of the better bets to take down the tournament is Brian_F. He represented some of the new talent that broke out during Street Fighter V and could continue his stellar season into the final month of the tour. He finished the year in 39th with 575 points. His reputation as a technician in the training room, despite the low opinion from the public of his character Balrog in terms of difficulty, stands out. For a game with plenty of cut-and-paste combos and setplay, Brian_F is a creative light bulb that deserves a chance to prolong the year.

"While I'm not new to the competitive scene; I've never competed at this level in the past, I've begun to develop habits that I've found correlated to my success," Foster said. "I've spend time visualizing my victory, feeling the mental connection between the actions and decisions I will make during a match to execute a win, and I listen to music before matches to calm my nerves."

His music of choice? "Real egotistical stuff." He mentioned Kendrick Lamar, Run the Jewels, Kanye West, and Gesaffelstein as palettes to really build his own ego up. Because of the artist's bigger-than-life lyrics, he pumps himself up to the point that he feels unstoppable. He's the newcomer to the top level and he needs a little help to continue to play with the giants, but Brian_F will not deter and he's got the mindset to prove it.

"I've played these matchups so much to the point where decisions are automatic. If there are any unfamiliar situations, you can lose before the match even begins," Foster said. "Once that's established, you can feel the opponents habits and tendencies. The goal is to reach the point where you know you're going to win. That level of empathy with the player where you can feel what they're feeling, so you know exactly how to exploit it. That's the ultimate goal with fighting games, empathizing. With that you know exactly how to take down your opponent."