Benjamin “Problem X” Simon barely made it into Capcom Cup last year. Having been on the low end of the leaderboard, his qualification was relegated to getting in via the European leaderboard. At Capcom Cup 2016, he only managed to let out a whimper instead of a roar — losing to Xiaohai and Mister Crimson in his only two sets, while only managing to win two games.
What a difference a year makes, as Mousesports|Problem X now finds himself nestled in a very comfortable #6 rank on the CPT standings. Exactly what has changed so drastically in his game? Is it enough to carry him to the top?
All Warmed Up
Last year, we saw Problem X only run Alex at Capcom Cup. While he started the year strong with M. Bison, the latter half of 2016 saw him only using Alex. While the character was able to bring him to Capcom Cup, he wasn’t closing out tournaments either. You can’t fault him for picking the character he was most familiar with at the time, but ultimately the character pick was costly at Capcom Cup. His tools and his unsafe aggression just simply proved no match to more stable characters like Cammy and Laura.
Do note what has happened since he returned to M. Bison in Season 2: while you can’t discount that Bison’s meaty pressure became far stronger with the loss of safe normal DPs, the character was less inconsistent in Season 1 than Alex, and it is only more true now. Out on the pro circuit, nobody is doing it better with Bison than Problem X. While there will be some argument overall as to who is the best Bison player right now, Problem X is definitely showing that Bison fits his tag well — becoming problematic enough to take two Premier events and three Ranking events over the course of the season. Given that the last known instance of him running anyone else was in May, it seems like his character crisis is over.
If anyone wanted to look at one of the most slept-on characters in Season 2, Bison would arguably be in the running. While he does not have the mobility of previous titles — while still suffering from the lack of a solid reversal that has plagued him since Super Street Fighter II Turbo — he now hits like a tank. He also — as mentioned above — was one of the biggest beneficiaries to losing invincible normal DPs, as his meaty pressure has some of the best ranges in the game, that can now only be stopped via V-Reversal or EX bars. This forces you to take everything he has and anticipate punishing something unsafe, while hoping he doesn’t mix it up with a shimmy, or take the risk on an EX DP that could simply be blocked.
It is enough of a change that we’ve seen top players struggling against the character. Previously lesser-known Canadian players like L.E.S and Sin have taken out the likes of K-Brad, Justin Wong, Alex Myers, and LPN at Toryuken and DreamHack Montréal. We’ve seen Problem X himself dispatching players like Jiewa, Gachikun, and Phenom with the character. It’s also enough that we’ve seen Problem X get that sponsorship from Mousesports, which has only added fuel to his fire.
It’s fair to say that M. Bison is not top tier by any stretch of the imagination. However, given the way the season has played out, it’s no wonder that the meta has shifted to the point that the character is wreaking havoc. Problem X is reaping the benefits of this shift in meta, and if players don’t catch up by the end of the CPT season, he could be having the last — maniacal — laugh.
The Skill Disparity
We have already discussed who “Lord” Problem has beaten to win his Premier events, and it’s a solid list of players. However, when you look at events in Europe, there hasn’t been that huge swath of international players challenging the locals. And it seems to be partly an unknown factor that gets to him, as he lost at Evo to Ever — whom I’ve never heard of — and was eliminated by Jibrill — who is primarily a Marvel player. At Combo Breaker — his only other tournament outside of Europe — he lost to fellow Bison main Pnoy, then was eliminated by Sethlolol. But even more telling is the fact that at Ultimate Fighting Arena, he was sent to losers bracket by Bonchan before being eliminated by fellow European Takamura.
While all of these tell the tale of someone who struggles at times, the fact is that just one of these is a player that he’ll have to worry about in December. His victories in Europe are great, but he is doing this against primarily Europeans. When he has been tested by international players and come out on top, it’s typically players that have issues in closing out themselves — as we’ve seen with Gachikun’s impressive string of top 8s this year, without actually winning an event.
Problem X has one of the best tools on his side right now — character unfamiliarity. A lot of top players struggle with Bison because they just simply don’t have the high-level experience against him. This is his biggest tool right now.
He has also done extremely well within Europe, dominating nearly every event against Europe’s best. Saying that he’s only doing well against Europe doesn’t discount the fact that Europe is a really strong region right now. Between Phenom, Takamura, Mister Crimson, and Luffy, he has amazing players that are threats at every event they play at. To stay consistent in any region is no small feat.
However, he still struggles against players he doesn’t play a lot, making it hard to bet on him despite his ranking on the CPT. I definitely see him doing a lot better than last year, given the tools he’s using right now. I would expect him to make top 16 at least, to show that his hard work has paid off over this year.
Check out our prior articles in the Capcom Cup 2017 Player Analysis series!