Darryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis is an immensely talented Street Fighter player. It’s been this way since his Zangief blew the world away in Street Fighter IV by winning disadvantageous match ups consistently. After a year of SFV, Snake Eyez has found the winning formula and is back to playing at his peak level.
Losses against Victor “Punk” Woodley and Du “NuckleDu Dang in past tournaments were delaying the inevitable. As he inched closer to a major win, the play of both his Zangief and Akuma continued to improve. At Community Effort Orlando, the months of runner-up’s and close losses culminated into a steady performance that earned him the CEO belt.
Additionally, Snake Eyez exorcised some of his demons by squeaking out a 3-2 victory over Punk. Punk has been everyone’s demon, winning a majority of the Capcom Pro Tour events in 2017. Snake Eyez has had his shots in the past but came up short against Punk’s unbelievable spacing game. As Zangief is forced to do, Snake Eyez has been finding new ways to get in and get big damage with the Russian grappler.
Finding a way against Xiao Hai
Aside from beating Punk, Snake Eyez had to earn his pay through other monsters. XiaoHai gave Snake Eyez all he could handle before being sent to loser’s bracket. In one of the most patient SFV sets ever, Snake Eyez had to work hard to bait and not get trapped in by XiaoHai’s Cammy, strong footsie game. The average time on their rounds was much higher than most Street Fighter matches.
Both grinding out every opening and hit to maximum damage. The battle of attrition was ended with well-timed wake-up critical arts. Occasionally, Snake Eyez would catch XiaoHai overextending just slightly, and punish him to his death. It was one of those sets that the audience had no feel of who had the upper hand. Each hit seemed to turn the momentum, but as Snake Eyez has been known to do, he clutched it out to push him closer to his first CPT win in 2017.
Unfortunately for XiaoHai, despite playing extremely disciplined against Snake Eyez, the wearing down of Zangief got to him in the end. XiaoHai gave Snake Eyez the biggest run for his money, forcing him to stay patient and come back from a 2-1 deficit. Punk, on the other hand, pushed the pace and fell into Snake Eyez trap. However, Punk whiffed punished extremely hard and forced Snake Eyez to think critically about his button presses in neutral.
The Best in the West
After another American victory, the top of the Capcom Pro Tour rankings has an unfamiliar look to it. Three American born players currently reside at the top, with Snake Eyez moving up with his CEO win. Punk still sits as “the alpha” in SFV, but the competition from his own statesman is opening the field to new names taking home trophies. NuckleDu, who was widely considered as the best player in 2016, is making another case for 2017, even with a lackluster CEO performance.
The resurgence of Snake Eyez must have the other two on edge. His pedigree speaks for itself and he’s making players play his game similarly to his Zangief in USFV4, which was a handful to deal with. The slow, break down process Snake Eyez deploys makes a player question everything about their approach. The only problem is his character might not have the necessary tools to continue to adapt. No question Snake Eyez gets the most out of Zangief, but is that enough to keep these results up?
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