Capcom Cup 2016 plenty of the usual suspects in the tournament. However, one of the most amazing things was seeing some of the newer players that made their way into the fray, and how well they performed. When Latin American representative DR Ray shows up and upsets heavy favorite Tokido in the thick of the biggest and most stacked tournament of the season, you know that the balance of power is changing and the whole world is a threat.
With that said, there are a plethora of players that didn’t make the cut that I feel have a reasonable shot of doing so next year. I’d like to give some of my predictions for who will make it to Capcom Cup 2017 out of the players that didn’t make it this year.
PandaTV | Xijie “Jiewa” Zeng (China)
Zeng had a stellar year this year, and was hands down the most successful Chinese player on the circuit outside of Xiaohai. His Ken play has marked him as one of the leading Ken players, putting himself well above the Trinity and closer to the ranks of EG | Momochi and GW | Eita, having been able to topple Tokido at Never Give Up.
The one thing that hindered Jiewa from actually making the cut this year was the way the qualification system was set up. Zeng, having traveled the four corners of the earth, never focused his efforts into making it through one region’s leaderboard, and despite so many high finishes, he was unable to accrue enough points to make it on the global leaderboard. Should the qualification system change, Zeng should be a shoe-in for 2017’s event. If it doesn’t, let’s hope he gives a more concerted effort to qualify via some regional leaderboard as a fallback option.
/r/kappa | XYZZY (South Korea)
XYZZY gained a rabid following over the latter half of the year. Maintaining unknown status up until Evolution 2016, with his only major appearance prior to that having been a lackluster performance at Street Fighter V Crash, the Birdie main was able to gain notoriety by getting sponsored by the subreddit made famous from their knack of sponsoring players who ultimate move on to large sponsorship deals.
While he has done exceedingly well since, he has yet to make top 8 at a major. However, he has one major asset in his corner beyond his /r/kappa association, and that is former /r/kappa alum, Razer | Infiltration. Being under the tutelage of one of the world’s best and having the opportunity to travel to more events can only serve him well in the coming year. Should he stay as hungry as his main always is, he should be a force to be reckoned with in 2017.
/r/kappa | John Takeuchi (Japan)
John Takeuchi was the other half of /r/kappa’s sponsorship drive last year and was just on the cusp of reaching Capcom Cup this year. Takeuchi was just a few points off the mark of making it on the North American leaderboard, and had multiple top 8s and one tournament win to boot.
Like XYZZY, Takeuchi started his season a few clicks too late to clinch a berth into the bracket this year. Unlike XYZZY, however, he still almost made it. This kid has a long career ahead of him, a good head on his shoulders, and is far less prone to pressure than you’d imagine at his age. If he doesn’t make it into Capcom Cup next year, then I would be prone to call the format rigged, unless he loses the majority of the season to being grounded.
Qanba | Abao (China)
What credibility would my list have without including the highest player on SRK’s rankings that didn’t qualify for Capcom Cup? Abao had a great year that went mostly ignored over this season. Easily the anchor of GZ Dojo at Street Fighter V Crash, he has a very patient Ryu, with the ability to go for the throat when necessary.
Sadly, the amount of tournaments he played was what hindered him this year. He was barely seen on the CPT circuit this year, and should he get out more. Why wouldn’t Qanba send him out more this year? I could easily see him being in Capcom Cup.
Eduardo “PR Balrog” Perez-Frangie (USA)
PR Balrog had a rough go of it this year. He is perennially a threat to make Capcom Cup, and this year felt like he was never even a blip on that radar.
But the fact was he was never really in his element. He spent the first half of the year not having it click with Necalli, then the latter half trying to make it work with namesake Balrog, while still maintaining his Necalli for what he deemed bad matchups. As we’ve seen with PR Balrog in the past, the more he diversifies his cast choices, the worse off he is.
In 2017, despite his return to the free agent market, I have a feeling we’ll see Eduardo return to form. He’ll have the entire season to fine tune his Balrog, and should he be able to make this character work in Season 2, we’ll see him back in the line-up next year.
ANBU | Punk (USA)
This punk literally came out of nowhere in the latter stages of this season. The Karin main had a slew of top four finishes starting at the end of August. He capped off his season with a victory at NEC17, and was two players off of punching his ticket for Capcom Cup at Red Bull Battlegrounds.
He’s an absolute prodigy, already has two pocket characters to toy around with, and has the ability to topple some of the best of the world. I easily see Punk making it through the Capcom Pro Tour with amazing success next year.
While this is only the short list of players to look out for, these are the players that I definitely feel have the gumption to make it through the grind that is the 2017 Capcom Pro Tour season. And I’m sure I’m leaving out a lot of fan favorites, yet I feel like factoring in only six is a safe bet. I have a hard time thinking there will be much divergence from the 2016 cast of characters at Capcom Cup, so we’ll likely only see as many as five to ten make it that wasn’t there this year.