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Intrigue brewing for the Street Fighter V NorCal Regionals

Martin "MaRN" Pham plans on joining the 60-person "death pool" at the Street Fighter V NorCal Regional this weekend, hoping to emerge victorious and into the main draw, like he did last year. ESPN.com

At this weekend's NorCal Regionals in Sacramento, California, the best Street Fighter V players from around the world will be in attendance -- with one notable absence and one dive off the deep end.

NorCal Regionals is a premiere North American fighting game tournament, and just like last year, it will be a Capcom Cup Pro Tour event. This means that players who place highly will earn points to attend Capcom Cup at the end of the year. While a host of games are on display this year, from Super Smash Bros. to Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, much of the focus will be on Street Fighter.

Evolution 2016 champion, Team Razer's Seonwoo "Infiltration" Lee, will not be coming because he doesn't feel ready to attend a Pro Tour level event. This could be because of his recent character switch to Juri and Rashid away from Nash.

Unlike most tournaments, there will be a separate pool for players who didn't register on time. It's what tournament organizer John Choi calls the "death pool." All players, regardless of skill level, who register on-site will be thrown into a massive pool at random.

Last year, 60 players entered the death pool, when normal pools usually consist of around 20 entrants. Martin "MaRN" Pham, now with Rise Nation, entered the death pool and came out on winners side.

"They battled it out, people really liked it because they had exciting matches right off the bat," Choi said to ESPN.

But now that MaRN is with Rise Nation, his team was sure to register him on time. But MaRN has no intention of playing things the right way. He plans to de-register himself just so he can battle through the death pool one more time.

"I want it to do it every year to where it'll eventually be called the MaRN pool," said MaRN to ESPN. MaRN does acknowledge that by avoiding regular pools he might be making the event easier on himself. But MaRN sees it as an opportunity to play more Street Fighter, which he feels is never a bad thing.

But MaRN's rashness in jumping into the death pool could have caused him some problems. There was a rumor floating that Echo Fox's Julio Fuentes didn't register on time and too would be thrown into the death pool. This would have given MaRN an opportunity for payback after Fuentes knocked him out of the ELeague Street Fighter V Invitational.

But the rumor turned out to be false as Fuentes confirmed to ESPN that he'll only be attending NorCal Regionals as a spectator citing tendonitis. Fuentes confirmed on Twitter that he will be taking a break to help with the recovery.

Unfortunately MaRN won't be getting his rematch at NorCal Regionals. He wanted to show everyone, including Fuentes, "how lucky he got."

Even though Infiltration will not be there, it doesn't mean there won't be good competition in the main draw. The top seed in the tournament will be Team Liquid's Du "NuckleDu" Dang, who won the Capcom Cup in December and has been playing well at Eleague's Street Fighter V invitational, where he only took one loss during preliminaries.

But right at NuckleDu's heels will be Team Grapht's Tatsuya "Haitani" Haitani who currently has the most CPT points in the 2017 season. Haitani had a strong 2016, with top placings at multiple tournaments.

Other notable attendees include Echo Fox's Yusuke "Momochi" Momochi, Justin "JWong" Wong, and Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi, Cygames' Eduardo "PR Balrog" Perez, and the legendary Daigo Umehara.