Road to the Capcom Cup 2016 -- What is it and Who is Playing?
Despite the mixed reception and lower than expected sales of Street Fighter V, the competitive circuit has carried on unabated through the year -- delivering numerous series and tournaments of high-intensity fighting game action. Now we’re only a month away from the conclusion of the Capcom Pro Tour, culminating in the invitation-only Capcom Cup.
Throughout the year, officially sponsored tournaments (both online and offline) have been held all across the world, with most contributing circuit points towards a global leaderboard. Among these are the Premier tournaments, which will grant the first place player a direct invitation to the Capcom Cup. In previous years, coming second to someone who has already qualified would still get you an invitation, but as of 2016 that is no longer the case; so the competition for first place has been more fierce than ever.
The final Capcom Cup will consist of a 32 player double elimination tournament, with all rounds being Best of 5 (which was previously going to be Best of 3 until the Top 16, but was changed due to community feedback). A huge $250,000 base prize pool will be distributed between the top 8 players. This tournament will take place on the 3rd and 4th of December, with the first day being held at Esports Arena in Santa Ana, CA while the second day will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center. More information and ticket purchases can be found on the Capcom Pro Tour website.
Only one Premier tournament remains this year before the Cup: the Asia/Oceania Regional Finals, taking place from the 17th-19th of November in South Korea. All other spots will be granted from circuit points, and you can view the leaderboard on the official website.
With this event rapidly closing in, let’s take a look at a few of the top contenders to take it all and be claimed the best Street Fighter V player of 2016!
The arcade scene is one of very fierce competition in Japan, seeing some of the greatest and most predominant players in fighting game history emerging from it. Tokido is one of those, earning the name of “one of the Five Gods” of the scene. A long time Akuma player in Street Fighter IV, Tokido is perhaps best known for being the first to stand before the projector after winning with Akuma’s ultra and having the burning red symbol emblazoned on his back.
Since Akuma is yet to be released in SFV just yet, Tokido has instead made a name for himself on Ryu, playing a fairly aggressive style on the character compared to more measured performances by his counterpart Daigo. In fact, his play has been extremely high quality all year, leading some to consider him the best player in Street Fighter V at the moment.
He’s been prolific this year, appearing in a massive number of tournaments and consistently placing in the Top 4. While he didn’t make Top 8 at EVO 2016, he claimed 1st place in both CEO and SEA Major 2016 Premier tournaments, already receiving a spot in the Capcom Cup. Currently sitting at a comfortable 2nd on the leaderboard, Tokido is definitely a contender to watch.
While most of the other players on this list have a considerable history in competitive fighting games, NuckleDu is a relative rookie, only being active and notable in the scene from 2012 onwards. That is definitely not to his detriment, however, as he has qualified for the previous Capcom Cup through circuit points, and has this year won two Premiers to put himself at a solid 4th place in the standings.
Early in his Street Fighter V career, NuckleDu quickly became known for very aggressive Nash play, but has since switched up his roster by winning the Canada Cup using R. Mika, then claiming victory in the North American Regional Finals with Guile just a week later (video above). This kind of versatility makes NuckleDu well suited to adapting to his opponent’s comfort picks and will definitely make him scary to deal with.
As long as there have been competitive fighting games, Justin Wong has been involved in some way. Perhaps the most successful Marvel vs Capcom 2 player in history with a staggering seven first place finishes at EVO, Wong has maintained consistent success in a number of other fighting games including the Street Fighter series.
So far this season, he’s yet to win at a Premier tournament, but has placed 1st in a huge amount of Ranking tournaments nonetheless, putting him at third place on the leaderboard despite not yet automatically qualifying for the Capcom Cup.
His Karin play is very clean, with excellent spacing and timing that allows him to capitalise on the slightest enemy mistakes. It’ll be a treat to watch, if only to see a crowd of spectators mimic Karin’s iconic laugh on a Critical Art finish. Wong is always a delight to spectate, and we’ll see if the American hometown advantage lends him or NuckleDu any favours.
Originally making his claim to fame with repeated victories on Virtua Fighter 4, Fuudo made the switch to Street Fighter and erupted onto the scene with a clean win of EVO 2011. He didn’t draw much attention or seem all that high profile, but he nonetheless dismantled all contenders and took down the “Daigo Killer” Latif in what is possibly the fastest EVO grand final ever. Fuudo has remained a solid contender ever since.
Like Justin Wong, Fuudo hasn’t won a Premier tournament this year and is ranked entirely on high circuit points, but he’s been much higher profile in numerous tournaments up to (and including) EVO. He made it to the grand final this year through the Winner’s Bracket with incredibly dominant R. Mika play, routinely forcing his opponents into the corner and punishing any of their attempts to escape.
While he was ultimately beaten at EVO by Infiltration after he managed to reset the bracket, Fuudo has nonetheless remained consistently strong and is sure to bring his aggressive R. Mika play to bear at the Capcom Cup.
But speaking of Infiltration...
The winner of EVO 2016 after climbing back from the Loser’s Bracket, Infiltration was quickly labeled as the best Street Fighter V player in the world. His list of achievements in Street Fighter IV are equally impressive, with a decisive finish to win EVO 2012 alongside a collection of other tournament wins.
Perhaps his most remarkable feature in Street Fighter IV was Infiltration’s massive character pool, claiming to have no main character and instead playing a huge variety of fighters to match the situation. This has so far not been carried over to V, however, where Infiltration has stuck to Nash. Nonetheless, his Nash play is extremely calculating, with a near perfect defence and a “slippery” style of movement designed to catch foes off guard at the right moment.
While his rise to the top was rapid, there have been some rumblings that the rest of the contenders have started to catch up to Infiltration’s level. Whatever the case may be, he’s well loved by the fighting game community and has a dedicated fan base, so his matches are hopefully going to be just as entertaining as he is!
So far, I’ve discussed the top 5 on the leaderboard going into the Capcom Cup, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one more...
No single player in the fighting game community is as storied as the legendary Daigo Umehara -- perhaps no single player in any eSport, period! With books, documentaries, and even manga written about him, “The Beast” shares the title of the "Five Gods of Japan" with long-time rival and training partner Tokido. Whatever the tournament, you can be sure that Daigo is always one of the first people to look out for, and he can never be counted out.
Currently placed only 9th on the leaderboard, Daigo managed to clinch an invitation to the Capcom Cup through an incredibly clean victory at the EU Regional Finals in October. Clean is also the best way to describe his play style, as his Ryu play has become methodical after so many years on the scene. Few people seem to be able to learn and adapt to an opponent’s play styles mid-match as Daigo routinely does. For a great example of high level technical play, check out the set from EVO 2016 between Daigo and Tokido, one of the best Ryu mirror matches ever.
If it seems like I might be hyping Daigo up a bit too much, it’s probably best that I remind you that he executed the single most incredible play in eSports history:
"But that was over a decade ago", you might say! Not to worry, Daigo did it again more recently.
So while he may not be going into this tournament with the highest points seeding, you can never be too sure if The Beast will be unleashed.
Hopefully this has been an interesting look into the impending Capcom Cup of 2016. If you want to find out more, be sure to check the Capcom Pro Tour website, which includes the full leaderboard and Twitch viewing links. If you can’t attend the events, all of them will be streamed online and available after the tournament if you miss the action.
Looking forward to the Capcom Cup? Got a favorite player I didn’t cover? Want to complain about Street Fighter V and why we should go back to IV? Leave a comment and we’ll talk about it.