The Capcom Cup IX results are in the books and one of the best Street Fighter tournaments of all time is done. What else did we learn at the event?
The Capcom Cup IX results are in the record books and the near decade-old tournament has its first double champion. The Dominican Republic's MenaRD took home his second Capcom Cup title in dominating fashion. Aggressive mid-range play, brilliant counterpicks, and an unflappable resolve carried the now-veteran champ to victory. Fans and players alike couldn't ask for a better final send-off for the Street Fighter V era.
And yet, there's plenty to learn and takeaway from this weeklong tournament. Much of what we learned will carry onto Street Fighter 6 in June. This is especially true given we now know that a $2 million USD prize pool awaits players in Capcom Cup X, along with a $1 million dollar check for the winner.
What else did we glean from the Capcom Cup IX results? Let's look at the five takeaways from the event.
Capcom Cup IX: The next-gen is here
The kids are alright when it comes to Street Fighter. If there were any takeaways from Capcom Cup IX it's that the new generation of the FGC is ready to take on the world, all before they're allowed to legally drink in the US. This includes the likes of 16 year-old United Kingdom phenom EndingWalker and 19 year-old Chinese Bison cinderella Zhen.
EndingWalker blazed through group play undefeated, finally walking into a stonewall in the form of a brilliant Birdie counterpick by eventual winner MenaRD. Meanwhile, Zhen battled through two days of the Last Chance Qualifier to earn the final spot in the actual tournament. From there, he tore through the competition with an aggressive and impressive M. Bison before also being stymied by MenaRD.
Both humble and hungry, EndingWalker and Zhen are both perfect examples of where the FGC needs to turn to gain a wider appeal. Luckily, it appears both are just getting started and could be part of the scene for a long time to come.
Tier-lists are where dreams go to die, but also aren't always entirely wrong. The biggest worry going into Capcom Cup IX was just how much of the field would play as Luke. The future face of Street Fighter 6, Luke is also one of the more imbalanced characters to grace a fighting game in awhile. With tools for every situation, massive damage, and a penchant for aggression, it appeared Luke was the pick de jure for the week.
And yet, despite a Luke main winning the whole thing the results paint a different picture. Yes, Luke was prevalent throughout the week. However, this didn't stop one-tricks and dedicated mains from showing that simply picking Luke wasn't a one-way ticket to victory. By some bit of grace, we were spared any Luke mirror matches throughout top 16 and that in and of itself is a minor miracle.
Here's hoping that Luke's Street Fighter 6 iteration sees some toning down of his effectiveness.
Online isn't a dirty word anymore
As a Street Fighter IV 09er myself, I remember the days of people saying that online players were frauds. After all, it's only been in the last half-decade that online play in fighting games has gotten good enough that it holds a candle to real, in-person play. Consider those thoughts assuaged, as online-only players showing up for their first major tournaments ever and played spoiler.
Fighters such as EndingWalker, Zhen, and Poland FANG one-trick Myrken all showed up to their first major offline tournaments. And not only that, each of these players and more held their own and showed the kind of poise you typically only see in veterans. In an on-stream interview, the Chinese M. Bison player Zhen was asked about how he learned match-ups and who he played against in China to prepare.
His response? "I didn't play against anyone, I just watched a bunch of YouTube videos." Amazing.
Don't be surprised to see more and more online warriors make their way into the FGC scene and find success. It was only a matter of time.
One trick players belong
Sometimes it feels like fighting games are the only esport where playing one character is considered bad form. In a genre where counterpicks and malleability are so important, logic would seem to say that players who only main one character are at a disadvantage.
Not the case, as the Capcom Cup IX results showed that one trick ponies have a place at the table.
Contenders such as Mister Crimson and his Dhalsim, EndingWalker and Ed, VegaPatch and FANG, and more all show the power of dedication. In the case of Mister Crimson, his rushdown Dhalsim looked almost completely unbeatable until being counter-picked into oblivion by iDom's Laura. It's players such as these that not only break up the monotony of high-tier purgatory, but also makes fans and lapsed players such as myself say "Duuuude, that was so cool and now I want to play too!"
Street Fighter 6 is going to be big
While Capcom Cup IX didn't close out with a new Street Fighter 6 announcement, it had the next best thing. A trailer announced the next iteration of Capcom Cup starting this summer, featuring a massive, $2 million USD prize pool. In addition, the winner of Capcom Cup X will take home a cool $1 million.
I'm not sure there's a better promotional tactic for your generational and beloved franchise than throwing that much money at its pro scene. Not only will this bring back lapsed players and fans, but it generates buzz unlike anything else. FGC old heads will come out of the woodwork for even a sniff of that prize pool.
After all, all you've got to do in the fighting game community to win is pay your fee and show up. After that? Anything can happen.
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