Two-time Evo champion, Seon-woo “Infiltration” Lee, made a triumphant return to competitive play today by winning another Evo trophy, but not in the game you might expect.
Infiltration won Evo in 2012 and 2016 in Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter V respectively, and is still regarded as one of the top Street Fighter players in the world. However, he is currently on hiatus from the CPT due to allegations of domestic abuse against his ex-wife.
In his break from the CPT, Infiltration has been playing other games, most notably the latest version of SNK’s Samurai Shodown, which released in June this year.
It didn’t take Infiltration long to get back into the competitive mindset, as he shook off a loss to Reynald “Reynald” Tacsuan in the winners quarterfinals to rampage through the lower bracket, defeating Chia-Chen “ZJZ” Tseng in stunning fashion in losers quarterfinals, avenging his loss to Reynald in losers semifinals, and then stomping Evo legend, Justin “JWong” Wong 3-1 in the losers finals.
In the grand finals, Infiltration faced a familiar foe in Ryota “Kazunoko” Inoue, who is also more well-known as a Street Fighter player, having placed third at Evo 2017.
In the grand finals Infiltration got off to a quick start, racing out to a quick 2-0 lead. The methodical, counterattacking playstyle he was famous for in Street Fighter has translated well to Samurai Shodown, and he wore down Kazunoko with fantastic spacing, stellar defense, and high-damage pokes.
In game three, Kazunoko managed to take a round with a beautifully baited Fatal Flash.
However, the lack of Rage Guage in the final round proved costly, and he was unable to mount a comeback against Infiltration’s onslaught of pokes and throws.
Infiltration took the round and the game, to win the first set 3-0 and reset the bracket.
In the second set, Infiltration continued to frustrate Kazunoko with his hit-and-run style of play.
Even with a huge life lead and a big three-hit Rekka combo to bring Kazunoko close to death, he backed away again, baiting Kazunoko into using his Rage Explosion to try to mount a comeback. Instead, Infiltration calmly blocked Kazunoko’s first attack and counterattacked to take the round.
Game two went a little better for Kazunoko and he was able to get inside Infiltration’s defense to land some big hits.
He finally got on the board by ending the game with a massive super, although it took him two attempts to do it after Infiltration used his Rage Explosion to nullify the first one.
Game three started off with another close round, with both players trading the life lead as the clock counted down. A big dragon punch by Kazunoko pushed Infiltration into the corner, but as he was behind on life, Kazunoko was forced to rush in to try to finish Infiltration off.
A brilliant read by Infiltration, however, saw him use a wake up overhead, knowing that Kazunoko was probably trying to bait him into using a wake up dragon punch. The overhead hit and Infiltration followed it up with another Rekka combo to take the round.
In round three, Infiltration raced out to a huge life lead, forcing Kazunoko to pop his Rage Explosion. Surprisingly, he landed a guard break throw and followed it up with a massive Super, despite Infiltration having his own Rage Explosion available to stop it.
With Infiltration disarmed, Kazunoko almost completed the huge comeback, but at just one hit from death, Infiltration managed to get his sword back, popped his own Rage Explosion and finished off Kazunoko.
In game four, Kazunoko continued to struggle against Infiltration’s airtight defense and ferocious counterattacks, and found himself down on life early in both rounds.
He managed to hit a clutch Super in round two, disarming Infiltration and trapping him in the corner, but wasn’t able to take advantage of it, and Infiltration was able to retrieve his sword and escape.
Desperate to finish off Infiltration, Kazunoko went for another risky guard break throw but whiffed badly and, just like he had done so many times today, Infiltration counterattacked to secure the win, taking a 3-1 second set victory, and with it another Evo title.
For his victory, Infiltration took home US$28,374 in prize money. Kazunoko walked away with US$9,458.