Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the writer, and do not reflect Shoryuken.com as a whole.
So here we are. Capcom Cup has come and gone, and our lives are little more empty without the hype of this tournament series to fill our time. Granted, PlayStation Experience and Capcom Cup has given us far more to look forward to–such as Akuma on December 20th, balance changes, five completely new characters to the Street Fighter series, and Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. On top of that, the shift in power within the FGC by crowning our first American champion of of Capcom Cup in a mainline Street Fighter game gives us a lot of hope moving forward.
With that said, we now know that changes are looming in the organization of the Capcom Pro Tour. It was inevitable after the confusion that took place this year. It took a lot of research for anyone to make sense of who was in and out over the course of the season, and even a month before the grand finale. Several players that did qualify did not know whether they were in or out just a week or two before the event. This caused one player–Tse4444–to not apply for a visa in time, and thus miss the event altogether.
While everyone that showed up for Capcom Cup came to win–and provided amazing matches and upsets in the process–one can only imagine what could’ve happened should everyone who was initially qualified made it out. As it stood, there were three players who were unable to attend due to various issues. Last year, no one qualified missed the event, and in 2014, only one person missed out. This can partly be attributed to the confusion of the system.
Here are some ways Capcom Cup qualification could be handled, and one suggestion to Capcom regarding their entrants.
This is an option that Capcom is already considering. Instead of direct qualifiers, regional leaderboards, and regional qualifiers, all qualifiers would be entered by placing within the top 32 places on the global leaderboard. On paper this looks great, as results and consistent performance would inevitably be rewarded. However, this could cause problems that I don’t think Capcom is foreseeing.
Firstly, the visa issues that are already causing problems with players like Misterio or Tse4444 are still there. Players that are on the edge of qualification may not even start a visa application that they may not need until they are sure they need it. The application process is a drawn out one for many countries that could see players enter, and it can often be a costly one–doubly so, if you are not a sponsored player.
Let’s say that a player like Dakou, who had middling success this year, is close to qualification next year. If he doesn’t apply soon enough for his visa for Capcom Cup, then he could be sitting in Guangzhou watching the event instead of in California playing, leading to another last minute player swap, such as HuomaoTV|HumanBomb and AWS|CCL this year. And Capcom was lucky that their next direct option was available to play due to having a dual passport from Australia, as HumanBomb is from Hong Kong and could have required the same drawn-out visa process.
And even if this option does mitigate the visa requirements, it will be in the worst possible way. When considering this option, Capcom is threatening to neglect the Latin American region. This is a region with more restrictive travel than most, and far less sponsorship opportunities than North America, Europe, and Asia. When your region’s top performer–F3|Brolynho–only earns 305 global points, all in Latin America, and 32 players this year earned at least 202, odds are that there may be only one Latin American entrant in a field of mostly North Americans and Japanese. And given that Capcom is considering reducing their tournament involvement instead of expanding or maintaining their current level, it could potentially diminish to an entire region not being represented.
Return to 2015’s Format
This is, in my opinion, the best option. Give the winner of a qualifier event an invitation into Capcom Cup, and if they are already qualified, let the next available finisher, up to 4th place, gain entry. If the top 4 are qualified, then let it go to the leaderboard. By doing this, you leave far fewer question marks about who has qualified and can attend. You further mitigate these issues by scheduling Premier events in areas where people would require visas earlier in the season, thus giving these players ample time to muscle through the application process.
Several people argued with me over this season that going this way allows “scrubs who can’t close out a Premier event” into Capcom Cup, who thus have no shot of winning. This is erroneous on several levels. Firstly, the people who qualified on the leaderboard were, by default, “scrubs who can’t close out a Premier event.” Many of them would have qualified by way of a Premier event if 2016 had used 2015’s qualification process.
Secondly, the idea of “scrubs who can’t close out a Premier event,” was proven highly erroneous during Capcom Cup itself. Seven of the top 8 had not won a Premier event. One of the lowest on that totem pole–EG|Ricki Ortiz–came very close to winning the whole thing after putting on a stunning display of grit throughout the top 8. Claiming that failing to close out the Premier events means they can’t turn it on when necessary is foolhardy.
Further, going the way of global leaderboard only will only serve to add players who consistently place top eight, but do not ever win, into the mix. If your concern is getting proven winners into Capcom Cup, this is the best way to do so–as someone who wins one Premier event but doesn’t make any more top eights could face the possibility of not qualifying, versus someone who made 20 top eights.
Leave it As Is
This is probably the worst choice they could possibly make, and I think Capcom is aware of that. All the problems that we have already talked about aside, this rewarded far fewer players for their great performances this season.
One of the biggest examples I saw was brought up by AceKingOffsuit when explaining Dark Jiewa’s failure to qualify for Capcom Cup:
Tse4444: 1 win. 2 Top 8's. Qualified.
Jiewa: 1 win. 4 Top 3's. 8 Top 8's. 11 Top 16's. Not qualified.#CPT2016
— AceKingOffsuit (@acekingoffsuit) November 19, 2016
This issue was likely created because Jiewa spent his time traveling across regions. He had less points in a specific region, and thus unable to qualify via the regional leaderboards as opposed to Tse4444, who had only played in Asia. Does that explain it? Yes. Does that make it fair? No.
This season’s system did not fully reward effort and commitment, so I do find it telling that someone who had put in far less commitment also was unable to attend Capcom Cup when he had been added to the bracket by default.
Regardless of the path Capcom takes, they need to be doing something to make sure that attendance issues are taken care of. The more international this tournament series becomes, the more they are going to run into players who need visas to compete. This has been the biggest issue regarding attendance, and needs to be addressed by Capcom itself.
Nowhere in Capcom’s terms and conditions regarding Capcom Cup does it even mention visas. This needs to change, as players may be confused as to the process to get the visa, and may find themselves being unable to even afford the application process to go to America. As such, Capcom should specifically state in their rules that part of the expenses that they will pay to get to Capcom Cup includes visa applications. Further, there should be staff on hand to assist in the visa application process for players. This is not outside the realm of possibility, and as a company interested in hosting a global event, this should not be an afterthought.
I believe Capcom should be going back to the 2015 format, especially if they are looking to cut back the tournament schedule in 2017. But their involvement should not stop there. They need to be addressing visa issues head-on, to prevent issues of players not being able to attend.
Should players not attend due to emergencies or scheduling conflicts, that is unavoidable and can happen at times. But not being able to attend due to visa issues is inexcusable, and the fault lies mostly on Capcom for their convoluted system this year, and not having the oversight to help take the burden of procuring the visa off the players themselves.