Liquid|NuckleDu was easily one of the favorites going into Capcom Cup 2107, due to his consistency on the Capcom Pro Tour this season. However, the 2016 champion has bowed out (for reasons that are currently not publicly known) — this blew the door wide open, as last year’s runner up EG|Ricki Ortiz steps in to fill his slot.
Not much has been seen of Ricki this year. How will she stack up in this year’s competition?
After being one of the strongest Chun-Lis in the world last year, Ricki found herself struggling in 2017 after the changes to the character in Season 2. After Ricki finished outside of top 32 at Final Round XX, she expressed her concerns with the character’s viability in an interview with Red Bull, later going as far to say that she would look into learning Cammy if she continued to feel unconfident with Chun.
While we saw glimpses of her Cammy at ELEAGUE and Toryuken, the character never really took hold, and she continued to gut it out with Chun. But the lack of confidence was obviously still there, as we saw her fall out early in far more events than her status at the end of 2016 would allude to.
One thing that you can remark on was the nerfs to Chun-Li’s instant air legs, a tool that Ricki was notably adept at using. Ricki and Humanbomb both used this tool well in 2016, and while Humanbomb adjusted to the changes, Ricki saw herself get punished often for her usage of it. But probably the most-damning of nerfs was to her standing light kick — her best anti-air by a long shot. While Ricki has had experience with Chun-Li — and her bevy of situational anti-airs — in Street Fighter IV, the changes to standing light kick made players lean even more on situational anti-airs than ever before. What was worse was that these situational anti-airs were far less reliable than ever. When you look at it this way, it’s no wonder Ricki’s confidence waned: she really was at a loss for how to play this character, and yet couldn’t find anyone that fit her playstyle.
The Tale of the Tape
While we saw far less of Ricki than we have in previous years, what we did was enough to make people worry about her coming in to Anaheim this weekend. In the entirety of the CPT this year, she didn’t make a single top 8 in ten attempts. When she finished just on the cusp at DreamHack Austin, she offered a glimmer of hope that she would return to her former glory, but the rest of the year turned out to be a wash.
With many lower echelon placings, she further saw a lot of confidence drop at Toryuken, where she was eliminated in pools by two Toronto locals: VastEnd and L.E.S. While anyone who has followed Toronto players would know that there’s no shame in losing to these two — VastEnd would later upstage Punk at Canada Cup, while L.E.S. would go on to take a laundry list of names such as Justin Wong — for Ricki, it further set a slide in her confidence. This was a confidence level already shattered by posting a 0-7 record at ELEAGUE, in a pool that featured a Julio Fuentes bouncing back from injury.
After Defend the North, we saw Ricki take a break. While a break typically looks bad, for her, it seemed necessary. Whether she was dealing with personal issues or trying to work out the holes in her game, it was needed. While the season was at that point becoming a wash for her, time would tell how she would bounce back.
We got our answer at Canada Cup, where she was able to find her way out of pools, but narrowly finished outside of top 16. As bleak as this would look for someone who finished second last year at Capcom Cup, for her — given her struggles on the tour this season — it totally looks like the breath of fresh air she needed.
However, her losses in Toronto came at the hands of Problem X — one player poised to be a major problem at Capcom Cup — and NL, who just narrowly finished outside of the event.
As much as I’d like to find a reason to put faith in Ricki to be another hope for America to take it all again, it’s really hard to. She may have worked some things out recently that would put her in a better spot come Anaheim, but it’s really hard to know until we actually see her in action. But facing facts, she didn’t even come close to earning this spot into the event: if this were to go by points, it would have gone to the #31-ranked NL, not the #84-ranked Ricki Ortiz. Further, you can’t discount what these strings of losses can do to you mentally, when you know what you’re usually capable of.
Between her character and her results this year, I would be surprised to find her going anything but 0-2 in this event. Anything can happen, so she could easily surprise me. But hopefully Season 3 gives her a new lease on life in the game, and she shows her true mettle in 2018.
Check out our prior articles in the Capcom Cup 2017 Player Analysis series!
Additional source: Masked Gaming Entertainment