Let's talk about the Filipino Champ and Sonic Fox Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite exhibition

Does this mean Sonic Fox is the best in the business, or is it too early to tell?

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • October 7, 2017 at 2:25 p.m. PDT

Thursday night in an area of the Bronx that you don't walk through alone after dark, Bum1six hosted another edition of House of Chaos from his apartment, and over 11,000 people tuned in.

Why so many? Because Marvel god Ryan "SPY|Filipino Champ" Ramirez and fighting game prodigy Dominique "FOX|Sonic Fox" McLean were playing in a Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite exhibition. Two first to ten sets would determine who the top dog was at this early stage in MvCI's lifespan.

To set the stage a bit, Champ is known as one of the absolute strongest players in recent Marvel vs. Capcom history, winning countless tournaments in MvC3, including an EVO victory in 2012. With three EVO championships, Fox has dominated the Mortal Kombat and Injustice scene for a few years now, to the point that it's really only news if he doesn't win.

Marvel Infinite had only been out for 17 days, but both competitors boasted big wins (Champ at SoCal Regionals and Fox at CEOtaku). Given their respective statuses, the community decided to pit the two against each other, though it's safe to say most likely expected to see Champ emerge victorious.

That's not at all what happened. The Marvel god (of which there are three recognized by the Marvel community) looked as though he were fairly helpless as his 19 year old opponent seemed to have free reign to move his characters about the screen in any manner he wanted, hitting his foe whenever he felt like it... which was often.

Most games were spent with Champ in the corner being juggled with combo after combo. Fox would take the first set 10-4, ending the whole thing with a perfect:

Click images for animated versions

Indeed "FChamp" began trending on Twitter immediately after the exhibition concluded, with users no doubt anxious to see what the defeated favorite had to say about the whole ordeal. Ramirez took the loss in stride, tweeting out, "Damn learned a lot need to work on my raccoon match up ggs to @SonicFox5000 I’ll get you next time ;) I adapted too late :("

So what do we make of this? Is Champ washed up? Is Fox the absolute best? I'd argue that Fox is probably the strongest player in the game right now, but despite the emotion and hype that come out of 10-4 and 10-7 victories, we really shouldn't jump to too many conclusions quite yet.

At this point in Infinite's life, the community is still in the early stages of understanding the flow, pace and meta. If history has told us anything, it's that things are going to change a lot over as little as the next few months.

I don't want to take anything away from McLean's win on Thursday, his ability to understand and exploit strong tactics might be unrivaled, but this victory doesn't quite carry the same weight as one that were to occur, say, a year or two down the road.

Sonic Fox's home turf is in the NetherRealm scene, where he's taken consecutive EVO titles for Injustice (2014), Mortal Kombat X (2015) and Mortal Kombat XL (2016). He's also proven to be a dominant force in other fighting game sub genres as he's had great success in games like Skullgirls, Virtua Fighter and Dead or Alive.

If we look back to the very early days of Street Fighter 5, Fox took F.A.N.G, (widely regarded as the game's worst character at the time) to top eight at the extremely stacked Final Round 2016.

The young prodigy has shown time and time again an ability to almost immediately figure out games faster than most others, and exploit sequences and strategies that others will only be able to adopt after taking notes and spending weeks practicing.

The innumerable tournament victories in NRS games prove that Fox's skills aren't limited to early strategies, though we did see him fail to repeat his success in Street Fighter 5 after his performance in the game's first major event.

Here's the first of the two sets from Bum. We're waiting for him to upload the second to his YouTube channel:

During their sets, Champ repeatedly showed inexperience against one of his opponent's characters in particular: Rocket Raccoon. Rocket is amongst the smallest characters in the game, and as such, his hurt boxes can be difficult to find amidst the chaos of an MvCI round. Time after time Champ missed opportunities or whiffed sure-fire attacks that would have hit a more standard-sized character.

He also fell victim to Fox's offensive barrages, that were widely characterized by set play. Fox had already developed a ton of prearranged maneuvers that essentially disregarded how his opponent tried to evade or block them.

Champ struggled without much success to find escapes or counters, but the 11,000+ rest of us watching on stream couldn't judge too harshly, as we didn't have the answers ourselves.

Fox might be the best all around player the fighting game community has right now, and I'm incredibly excited to see what the future holds for him.

He's proven he is faster than Champ at quick learning, (even with Champ's early access to Infinite) but I'm very much looking forward to seeing the rematch after both players have had ample time to really understand the game.

Ramirez is a champion, and will most certainly bounce back from this loss. McLean is also a champion, and if he sticks with Infinite, he does indeed have the potential to be the best.

Tips sent in by jme and Arrancar.
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