Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the writer, and do not reflect Shoryuken.com as a whole.
If there’s any immense pressure on anyone going into Capcom Cup, it would have to ride on the shoulders of Ryota “Kazunoko” Inoue. Despite this being a new game, people would expect the reigning champion to have a reasonable shot of repeating his championship run. GGP|Kazunoko has made his presence felt this season, and made his way into the fray to do just that. Now that he’s in via global points, does Inoue have what it takes to make two in a row?
When It Counts
Kazunoko has had a weaker season than most this year. While he has only won three events, one of them did happen to be Tokyo Button Mashers, which featured a bevy of top players such as YBK|Yukadon, Daigo Umehara, HM|Go1, MOV, and YouDeal.MJS|Haitani–all of which are joining Inoue in Anaheim. By all accounts, Kazunoko would be considered not the hot player, and thus not a favorite to win.
However, these sort of results are par for the course for Kazunoko. In 2015, he only won one event–CEO–before going on to win Capcom Cup. Kazunoko is the type of player that can win at will, and tends to will it when it matters. If any time is a time to will it, it’s now.
Kazunoko has to be one of the best at playing honest with Cammy, as she should be in this game. He has applied one of her biggest strengths in Street Fighter IV to the latest iteration by using her to assert pressure using frame traps. He is always fishing for the counter hit, and when he gets it, he instinctively goes in for the max damage.
He also does very well in the neutral game, using his dives to bait out things from his opponents that he can punish. This is a very vital thing to getting his damage in, and allowing him to get into Cammy’s wheelhouse.
Probably the most lingering question is exactly how he’ll deal with this pressure. He is the reigning champion. While expectations could be low due to his performance this season, the question remains what his expectations are this weekend, and whether he will be determined to be the first one to repeat. Should he place undue pressure on himself, it could be to his downfall.
However, if he’s coming into this tournament with no expectations, this could be interesting to watch. While he has always been viewed as a great player, Kazunoko hasn’t really had the expectation of champions before. This is the first time that he’s came in with these kind of expectations from the public. He needs to block it out to have any sort of reasonable shot.
Kazunoko has performed well this season. However, no one has repeated as champion yet, and unless he keeps himself calm under pressure, it won’t be happening this year as well. It’ll be interesting to see what happens, but I seriously expect him to go 3-2 this year.