Problem X with a comeback for the ages

Another victory in Las Vegas

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That Red Bull Kumite grand final win by Problem X was something-and-a-half to say the very least.

I had no plans to compile stats of the tournament until later in the week, but because of how intense the playoff rounds were, I took some notes on the grand final. Of course, this led me down the rabbit hole once Problem X came back from a 3-0 deficit.

For starters, Problem X became the all-time winningest player in the Red Bull Kumite series, in the Street Fighter V era. He is 14-7, three wins clear of the next player who is Tokido (11-10).

Problem X became the fourth player to reach double digits in wins, joining Tokido, Fujimura (10-0) and Nemo (10-3). Of the four, three are champions.

The obvious thing to say is that Problem X won because he switched to M. Bison. But he did lose a game with that character. He lost a game with three different characters!

Before the turnaround, he lost five rounds in a row. Problem X had not lost five rounds in a row in the Red Bull Kumite since the 2018 grand final when he lost six in a row to Fujimura. If you want to get super technical about things, he also lost the first round he played in the 2019 event to Daigo Umehara, so that would be seven in a row.

This grand final started 3-0 NL. And then NL won Game 4 Round 1. It could have been even worse. So what happened that kicked off the turnaround?

I re-watched Game 4 Round 2 and it looked like typical Problem X. Control the space, look for a crush counter, punish what was available. The way it played it out, it seemed as though Problem X was up 3-0, not down.

What seemed like just another round became obvious in review. In Game 4 Round 2 he never got sent to the corner. NL was in and out of the corner once. I define being in the corner statwise as you have to be there for at least 1 full second and he was there for just about that long. Other than that moment, it was a fight for the center by both players that Problem X took control of.

So that was my starting point for looking at the turnaround. Who was the first player to get sent to the corner, and what was the result of the round?

In the first eight rounds played, Problem X was the first to get sent to the corner in six of those rounds. He was 1-5 in those rounds. NL was sent to the corner just once and still won the round.

In the ninth round played and onward — 12 rounds total — Problem X got sent to the corner five times, he was 3-2 in those rounds. NL was sent to the corner five times, Problem X was 5-0 in those rounds. Problem X won the other 2 rounds where it was completely played in the center.

Game 4 Round 2 was where the turnaround officially began, but you could see the genesis of it in the round prior. In Game 3 Round 1, which I reviewed and determined that both characters stayed out of the corner the whole time, you could see that Problem X was fighting for position and winning the center. The only issue for him was that NL had a large lead.

I also looked at the meter since that was readily available, and this blew my mind. In the 20 rounds played, Problem X started with less meter than NL in only four of the rounds, and was 3-1 against NL in those rounds. The other round were split evenly between the two players, but I couldn’t believe that Problem X was always in a position to start things off with a meter advantage.

It should be noted NL won the first four rounds where both players started with the same amount of meter.

The last quick stat also made me do a double take. The average round time in the first eight rounds was 56 seconds. In the 12 rounds after, the average round time was 45 seconds.

Problem X’s average round time in the Red Bull Kumite entering this weekend was 52.5 seconds. I would have thought the slower rounds would work. He instead turned it up.

Finally, he got a perfect as part of his comeback, becoming only the second player to get a perfect in the grand final of a Red Bull Kumite Street Fighter V event. The other was Gachikun, who got it in the 2017 grand final against Nemo.

Seven of the 20 rounds went past 52 seconds. Problem X was 4-3 in those rounds.