Capcom Cup 2018 Analysis: Has Luffy prepared enough to make a serious run this year?

By on December 4, 2018 at 12:00 pm
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Luffy’s name is always on the tip of everyone’s tongue on the Capcom Pro Tour. The 2014 Evo champion is always a threat not only to make the Capcom Cup finals, but also to hit top 8. The problem is, he has yet to capitalize on it and actually do so. Has he found the inner fortitude this year to do so?

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Never Giving Mika Up

Over the course of the last couple of years, few people have stuck wholeheartedly with R. Mika. NuckleDu had never spent his entire time playing the character — first starting with Nash, then moving to his mixture of Guile and Mika. Fuudo had long been a bastion of character loyalty, before 2018 suddenly found him using Birdie, at times.

Luffy may be one of only a few players left that remained loyal to his initial character of choice. While MoJoe and ElChakotay have been flirting with the higher levels of competitive play with the character for a while now, Luffy truly is the highest echelon player who relies solely on R. Mika as his weapon of choice. This type of reliance requires him to be fully focused on finding every flaw and strength, and adjusting his playstyle to hide those character weaknesses that other people can just drop by switching.

While counter-picking has become the rule and not the exception, it’s refreshing to see someone stick to their guns so long.

A Binder Full of Results

One thing Luffy has been well-known for through the years is his ability to always be earning points. There is hardly a weekend where Luffy hasn’t made it far enough in a bracket to make points. Eight top 8s speaks in and of itself, with two of these being a Ranking and a Premier win.

But for anyone that had doubts that Luffy could compete on a global stage anymore, he proved he could emphatically with a stunning fifth place performance at Evo 2018. Where he had not reprised his top 8 role at the tournament since his win in 2014, he finally capitalized and found himself in the thick of it once more, stopping short a streaking THE COOL KID93 before falling short to the eventual runner-up — and unmistakably best player in the world — Tokido.

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The Travel Problem, Part III

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it every time I’ve talked about Luffy. His biggest problem has been his lack of travel. Guess what? A year hasn’t changed the same issue that’s been discussed about him since 2016.

While focusing on Europe has secured his slot in Capcom Cup, it does not prepare him for Capcom Cup. I’ve routinely said that Europe is one of (if not the) overall weakest regions for Street Fighter, and while there are great players in Europe, that has not changed in one year. Problem X has rectified this issue by going out through the course of 2018, and what a difference that has made in his play. One would think that Luffy would’ve followed suit. But alas, we see Luffy mostly stationary.

When he has traveled, he has had far less prominent results than his British counterpart. Outside of Evo, he placed in the top 24 at Combo Breaker and outside of top 32 at CEO. While his Evo win is impressive, Luffy needs to be able to achieve more where the biggest international presence lies, and he fails to.

Even his premier win at EU Regional Finals is mired by the fact that there hardly any international presence in the top 32. In fact, the only Capcom Cup qualified player who made the top 8 with him was Big Bird — in the top 32, only Phenom, Problem X, and Angry Bird added their names to the list — all EU regional players. This was a bracket Asian or North American representation could have blasted through, meaning the field of high-echelon players were sparse.

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Final Thoughts

This all means exactly what I said it meant last year. Luffy is a strong player, but most of the time he is unable to stretch himself outside of his comfort zone to pull off monumental wins. Europe is his comfort zone, and he is more than confident and beating up Europe’s best — even the highly touted Problem X, due to his familiarity with him.

Again, Luffy is about to be dumped into a shark tank filled with Asian, North American, and Latin American players who are familiar with him– either by playing him, or by seeing his videos. He is far less familiar with them, outside of videos. He clearly hasn’t prepared by either playing them outright, or fully preparing for everything they can throw at them.

So sadly, I feel like expecting him to make top 8 — let alone win — is foolhardy. If he’s ever going to make a serious go at taking it all once more, it is imperative that 2019 becomes the wake-up call to start traveling.


CAPCOM CUP 2018 ANALYSIS SERIES

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Corey "Missing Person" Lanier is a full-time writer, and one half of the "So Smart" team that did commentary for Street Fighter V Crash. A former English teacher, he has spent 5 years living between China and South Korea before moving to Canada. When he's not busy writing, he enjoys streaming, playing mafia and elevating his Super Turbo game. He also believes Sailor Moon S is the best fighting game on the planet, and if you don't believe him, see him in Sailor Moon!