Another Capcom Cup is in the books, and what a doozy it was. We crowned our first champion from the Latin America region, in what was a true Cinderella story that will likely be talked about for a long time to come. This event was one of the best Capcom has put on, and certainly has reminded us of why we play these games in the first place.
After huge snafus last year with Capcom Cup qualifiers and even issues with the event itself, it’s important to look back on the changes implemented by Capcom to this year’s Capcom Pro Tour, and see how effective their changes were. I would also like to once again address any issues that the tour had, and how it could change for the better going into 2018.
The Qualification System Worked
I was one of the biggest critics of this process last year when I wrote my post-Capcom Cup article. One of the biggest issues in 2016 was how many people dropped out due to visa issues. I had mentioned doing auto qualifiers the entire way through, and have someone on hand in Capcom’s office to help players with securing visas for Capcom Cup.
They opted to go a different direction by doing away with regional points qualifiers, but doing global leaderboard qualifiers, with regional finals winners getting an auto qualifier spot. I wasn’t sure how this it would pan out, but Capcom executed this perfectly. The regional qualifiers were scheduled enough in advance that problematic regions had ample time to secure their visas. The point system made it very clear for whoever was on the cusp to begin their visa application process if it was needed. As a result, while last year featured multiple players bowing out to visa issues, this year featured no such problems. This prevented last-minute scrambles on Capcom’s — as well as the players’ — side to get a full roster in Anaheim.
The last chance qualifier slot was definitely a great addition to the lineup. While there were a ton of players involved, grand finals came down to two players who had seriously good odds of taking Capcom Cup — Infiltration and Nemo. Nemo won, and proved how great this position could be by finishing third overall after a marathon session of matches in Anaheim.
Further, giving the regional qualifiers those slots allowed players who were hindered by travel the opportunity to showcase their talent to the world. While three of the four regional qualifiers were won by players who were already in on points, the one who wasn’t already qualified showed up and truly shined. If it weren’t for the Regional Qualifiers, DidimoKOF wouldn’t have had a chance to show how strong Brazil and Latin America was beyond Brolynho and MenaRD — both of whom were already well-established threats.
There was only one issue I had with this, though…
At Least Be 100% Forthright
This is not to say Capcom wasn’t forthright with the fact that regional qualifiers earned slots at Capcom Cup. But it wasn’t totally apparent just by skimming the rules. Even if you read the rules for a while, you wouldn’t know it unless you read their rules head-to-toe.
On the infographic posted at the top of the rules regarding the qualification process, Capcom explicitly stated that there would be one slot given automatically to the previous champion, one slot given to the last chance qualifier winner, and thirty slots determined by points. It’s only later in the rules that you find out that the regional qualifiers — if all four of them weren’t already qualified through points — could make for only twenty-six points-only qualifiers.
This left a player like NL — who worked very hard all season — confused as to where he needed to place at Canada Cup to secure a slot. If it had been made more clear from the beginning, he could have aimed for rank #30 on the CPT leaderboard, as it had been announced that Brolynho and MenaRD had opted out of attending the Latin America Regional Finals, thus ensuring he would be ousted at #31. Note that I have nothing against this process, so long as players on the bubble know coming in that they have to get to rank #26 or above to ensure they are in Capcom Cup. This was not made abundantly clear, and thus I feel like a more concise rewriting of the rules is in order.
Change the Champion Slot Ruling
I have no problem with offering a slot to the returning champion. Someone winning the biggest tournament of the year is not likely to drop off the face of the FGC after the win, and will likely be in pursuit of a title defense.
What should happen in the event that the champion chooses not to defend their title, as Du “NuckleDu” Dang did this year? Certainly not what happened this year. As a result of Capcom’s rules in place for the champion vacating his spot, the spot then fell to #84 ranked Ricki Ortiz, who had done next to nothing of note all season and — as a surprise to nobody — finished Capcom Cup 0-2. This made a slot that would normally generate hype do the exact opposite.
Banking on the champion grinding the circuit to stay on top of their game is not a bad gamble. Banking on second place last year doing the same is a horrible one. Seeing Ricki Ortiz struggle all year and then feel compelled to take NuckleDu’s slot not only was bad for her, but bad for Capcom and the FGC in general.
Ricki had not worked for the slot and — in all honesty — did not deserve it and only earned it by a technicality. This is a slot that should have gone to NL, who was next in line on the leaderboard to enter Capcom Cup. While it could be easy to say that NL might have gone 0-2 as well — given his training partner Verloren’s results — he certainly had a better chance of a win or two than Ricki, as he was sharp and had produced remarkable results this season.
Even Michael Martin’s video regarding Capcom Cup weekend used the word “unfortunately,” carefully positioned so it wasn’t mistaken that he was talking about NuckleDu’s withdrawal, but the addition of Ricki Ortiz. Whether this was Capcom’s official acknowledgement that they messed up in their rules or him attempting to empathize with the fans, one thing is clear: replacing a withdrawing champion should not be handled by looking at the past.
The Marathon Shortened
One of the smartest things Capcom did this year was abbreviate the tournament’s timespan by running on two streams, making matches go faster and keeping players alert throughout the day. Last year’s biggest complaints, spoken by both Infiltration and Luffy, was how long they had to wait between matches to play again due to every match being on stream.
While it made it tougher for spectators to watch — I had both my laptop and PS4 streaming and had a hard time panning between screens for matches — the competitors looked sharper this year than last. I feel like this format will be the one they should adhere to going forward, and I don’t think anyone will disagree with this.
Fix the Regional Disparities
Here’s the deal; unless you’re in Asia, Europe, or North America, or can regularly travel to these regions, you are out of luck when it comes to Premiers. Latin American players are relegated mainly to playing for regional points, unless you are as fortuitous as Brolynho or MenaRD to be sponsored by American teams that can help you travel. This needs to change.
After the success of MenaRD and DidimoKOF, I would be surprised if the CPT 2018 does not feature at least one Premier event in the Latin American region. These guys have shown that they deserve to be showcased on that level, and enticing all the top players to travel there will give these players exposure to the highest level of players and can only help their communities grow stronger.
Further, given some of the issues that Chinese players have with travel and internet, having just one Premier event in the mainland — and one in Hong Kong — is simply not enough. Banking on them making it out to Korea, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam to qualify even for Asia regional finals is foolhardy as well. There are still strong players in China that aren’t getting showcased due to Capcom turning a blind eye to them. I feel like a couple of Chinese ranking events could do wonders for the mainland scene.
On the subject of China, one of the biggest problems Capcom faced was at Dueling Dragons Dojo in Chengdu. There were TO issues where matches were getting misreported, and entire brackets being replayed as a result. I’m sure Capcom will be looking into that and addressing it, but from a spectator’s standpoint, D3 was a failure in that Capcom didn’t predict the logistical nightmare that streaming in China — known for internet censorship — would be.
There were multiple outages on their Twitch channel, including a stretch of the event where only audio was coming through. Twitch has notoriously been bandwidth-throttled in China for a while, and it was obvious that Capcom was oblivious to that. Further, lack of VPN access made it difficult for the people on the ground there to take to social media to discuss the issues happening.
For the streaming side, one solution could be having the English team positioned in Hong Kong watching the stream from Douyu — a known Chinese streaming service for gaming — and providing commentary there. This is something Capcom already does for their Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, and Cantonese restreams of CPT events, and is something they should definitely look into for their Chinese events.
Obviously, running an event in Mainland China can be logistical nightmare. Hosting it in a more remote area in Chengdu, as opposed to areas with larger scenes, such as Shanghai, Beijing, or Guangzhou, made this harder. Capcom worked with what they had on the ground there, but working with TOs and players in established scenes would be a much better idea.
There were also things that were completely outside of Capcom’s control in the logistics department, such as players like Harumy missing their pool due to immigration issues in the airport prior to even transferring to their flight to Chengdu. I have to applaud the tournament for how they handled this situation, in shuffling her into a different pool.
Fix Australia/New Zealand: Part Deux
I said this last year, and Capcom ignored it. I will restate it this year in the hopes that someone will listen. Australia and New Zealand are not part of Asia, and should not be treated as such. By combining them with the Asian leaderboard, you have essentially neutered any Oceanic representative from coming to Capcom Cup. They cannot play the online regional ranking events because they can barely connect among themselves, let alone Asia. They only have two events in their area on the CPT: OzHadou Nationals and Battle Arena Melbourne. Travel to Asian events is not only prohibitively expensive, but just as logistically difficult as an American traveling to Asian events.
They need to be split into their own Oceania region. Capcom can then run online ranking events for them, add a couple of ranking events that can be run by able TOs, and we could actually see what Oceania could do on the world stage, and given the same treatment as any other region: online ranking events, local ranking events, and even a regional one. We’re also further missing an entire region if we’re going by continent in Africa, which may have a more sparsely populated scene, but has players in South Africa and Morocco at the very least. These areas, as well as Oceania seem to slip deeply under the cracks when it comes to the CPT, and in order to truly represent every region, Capcom needs to pay more attention to them.
This year’s CPT was a huge success. That doesn’t mean it was without hiccups and issues that need to be remedied. Capcom did very well in addressing the major issues from last year, and they’re likely to continue to improve to make this event as close to perfect as possible.
It’s worth mentioning that this event has only been running since 2013. We can’t expect perfection in an event so young, and it’s hard to expect major league sports-style rules so fast. Given how short a time it’s been running, it’s amazing how well they are doing at fixing their rules every year to make it better. But given how important it is for Capcom Cup to be the standard bearer in how FGC esports series should be run, it is imperative that they aim for the excellence that the NBA, MLB, NHL, and NFL have strived for over the years. I believe that they are on that track right now, and we will continue to see such improvements.