Season 4 of Gfinity Challenger Series Delivered By Domino's is barely in the rear view mirror, and the Gfinity Elite Draft is coming this weekend, which can only mean one thing; the Elite Series is not far away now. And for European players of Street Fighter and Rocket League, this weekend is what they have been working towards for months. Whether it be a young player competing in Challenger hoping to make their grand debut in Elite Series competition, or a veteran of Elite Series seasons past looking for a new home and a chance to challenge for Gfinity's top prizes once more, our ten franchises will be spoiled for choice when it comes to drafting talent and augmenting their squads this weekend.
And none more so than in Street Fighter V.
The fact we're having to do a separate article specifically for the SFV draft prospects should tell you all you need to know about how deep the talent pool runs in the European FGC scene. And once again, a lot of credit must go to WireMan – an Elite Series veteran himself with Reason and Vitality, he is once again doing great work in shining a light on the vast array of prospective new and returning Elite Series Delivered By Domino's stars. The marker was laid down by the all-dominant Nordavind side in Season 3, with Momi and Phenom setting the bar unbelievably high; who looks like they could play their part in taking the crown off the reigning Elite Series SFV champions? It's time to find out as we play our own Gfinity SFV Draft.
Quite frankly, it would be promotional malpractice not to put the charismatic Frenchman as our #1 draft pick. Debuting in the Elite Series Delivered By Domino's in Season 3, Will2Pac made an immediate impact not just with his explosive Laura play, but with his finger-wagging antics and undeniable charisma. He of the famous 'No! No! No!' pop-off, he lead the charge for ARES as they made it all the way to the semi-finals. Anyone who drafts this guy won't just be getting incredible hype and energy; they'll be getting a highly-regarded veteran of the European FGC with a real penchant for exploding into life when the chips are down – few people are better at coming through clutch when their health meter runs low than this guy.
We would say don't sleep on Will, but how anyone could is beyond us.
A former Method player from Elite Series Season 2, it's been an interesting route back to Elite Series contention for Verdoyance. Having flown under the radar somewhat in Season 2, with his one major win coming over Epsilon's Keftaroz, he nonetheless earned respect as one of, if not the very first, Fang players in Elite Series competition. Mixing between them and Birdie, he unfortunately went undrafted for Elite Series Season 3. Responding to this setback, he has since switched characters to Blanka and came back firing on all cylinders in Challenger Series Season 4, finishing 3rd overall just behind his former teammate NastyNas and arguably playing at an even better standard than Elite Series Season 2. Should he make it back to the Elite Series – and the stats more than prove that he should – it will be a great demonstration that the door is never closed on Elite Series competition, and any tough season can be overcome.
Speaking of players who flew under the radar in previous Elite Series seasons, blink and you'll have missed Manxas' cameo in Season 3. A draft pick with Epsilon, he featured in only one set across the season, in a losing effort to ImStillDaDaddy. It seems that since then however, Manxas got a taste of Elite Series competition and is hungry for more – and his form backs that up. A strong SFV Summer Series campaign was backed up by an equally impressive Challenger Series Delivered By Domino's Season 4, where he featured regular in finals and lead the table in the latter before eventually finishing 7th. Given the majority of the top-10 contained current and former Elite Series veterans, this spoke volumes of Manxas' improvement this past summer. A Ken main with a patient, counter-attacking style based on waiting for openings and making the most of them, he is more than ready for another shot at the big time.
It was a tough debut season for UNILAD Esports in SFV competition, but adopting the 'people's champions' roster meant they didn't lack for fan support. And in AngryMojoSan they uncovered a genuine shining light – like Boltstrike the previous season, Undacuva's talent for picking up breakout stars came through once again. Big set wins over Akainu (who would go on to make the Grand Final with FNATIC) and Broski did not go unnoticed. And alongside VegaPatch, who would win the Breakout Player award for Season 3, AngryMojoSan enjoyed a strong rookie season. Having recently been released for Season 4, the popular German player has arguably the best Akuma in the EU scene, and is renown for his relentless work ethic and graft. And when folks like Boltstrike, Undacuva and Ki113r_7 have nothing but good words to say about their former team-mate, it's a wise choice to trust their judgement.
The one player on this list never to compete in Elite Series before, that's not to say Naught is some unknown youngster – far from it. Described by Wireman as 'the UK's best-kept secret', the British player is a regular on the tournament circuit, touring from city to city and accumulating prize money and praise along the way. His main character is Urien, a relatively uncommon character choice in Elite Series – perhaps due to a bug that caused them to be banned from selection for Challenger Series Season 3. Nevertheless, Naught uses his Urien as part of a very intelligent style with just the right amount of unpredictability in his game to keep opponents guessing. And that style has yielded plenty of success, including a 6th place final ranking in Challenger Series Delivered By Domino's Season 4 – the highest-ranking player in Challenger Series this season to never be drafted into Elite Series before.
Don't expect things to stay that way much longer.
So there's our top 5 draft picks for a prospective Elite Series SFV team, and in truth this was an incredibly tough list to narrow down to five. Honourable mentions and players to also watch for include OneStepLayered, KymPrecision, JonesArcade, Shivs and Ki113r_7 (our favourite schoolteacher!) amongst a wealth of others.
Who will make it onto the Elite Series stage this coming season? There's only one way to find out – the Elite Series Draft for SFV and Rocket League is this Friday, 28th September
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