Capcom Cup 2016 Preview: Contenders, Sleepers, and Underdogs
The world of fighting games will come to a stop this week as we focus our attention on the biggest event in Street Fighter: The Capcom Cup. 32 players have qualified from around the globe and will have a shot to take home the $120,000 first place prize this weekend at the esports arena in Santa Ana, CA.
The players qualified in a number of different ways, from taking home first place at a qualifying event or through earning enough points based off a players final placing at a qualifying event. All the hype, all the buildup will come down to a 32-player, double elimination bracket with the players having to win three games out of five in each set. All the action gets started this morning so let’s dive into the contenders –
The obvious name that comes to mind when considering contenders has to be the reigning Evolution Street Fighter V champion in Seonwoo “Infiltration” Lee. The top seed at this event will look to pick up the first Capcom Cup trophy to add to his already impressive SFV resume.
Infiltration, despite having a dominate 2016, is not the favorite heading into this weekend. The two names to watch out for as favorites is America’s own Du “NuckleDu” Dang and China’s Zhoujun “Xiohai” Zeng, both of whom have been the most consistent placers as of late. The two players are seeded inside the top five, but unfortunately these two are slated to meet in winners quarters before facing Infiltration.
NuckleDu is an interesting name to watch considering he’s the best multi-main player and adds such a tough element to fight against with his diversity of characters. He’s also been the most consistent player overall in the past couple of months. How he’ll face up against Xiohai’s Cammy is a completely different story.
Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi, the second overall seed, is another dangerous name in this bracket. Consistently the second best player in SFV’s short life cycle, his Ryu has helped to redefine the character and how it should be played. Outside of one bad tournament at Evo 2016, Tokido hasn’t fallen out of the top-three in any Capcom Cup qualifying tournament.
The big surprise in terms of seeding, Justin Wong, will be playing as the three seed. Justin made sure early on to travel to enough events to rack up qualifying points and it paid off. He faces Japanese legend Naoto Sako In the first round. Wong’s Karin will have to step up against Sako’s interesting play style with Chun-Li to get that first round win and advance deep into bracket.
The last player I think can make a push towards the grand prize is a former Evo champion in Keita “Fuudo” Ai. His talent is undeniable. He’s one of the most explosive players in this bracket and his mix-up game with Mika can throw his opponents for a loop. His side of the bracket sets up nicely for a winners run.
I also want to stress that all 32 players are contenders. They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t. I didn’t even mention some juggernauts like Joe “MOV” Egami or Bruce “Gamerbee” Hsiang. The potential for each of these players is there to make a deep run through bracket.
The United States somehow managed to sneak eight American players into the Capcom Cup, but those same eight players are capable of doing some serious damage this weekend. The name to look out for here is Kenneth “K-Brad” Bradley. His skill is overwhelming at times if you’re not prepared for his Cammy. He’s been making waves in tournament recently, so look for him to pull some upsets.
The ultimate sleeper in this bracket is none other than the beast himself, Daigo Umehara. It’s no secret he’s struggled to find his footing in SFV, but his calm demeanor and control over his nerves will play a big factor in a tournament of this magnitude. The bracket sets up nicely for him too if he can win some games early on Friday.
A player I almost put in the contenders category because of his upside and experience, Yusuke Momochi. It’s clear Momochi hasn’t fully turned his attention to SFV in 2016, but with this much money on the line we can expect to see a focused Momochi on main stage. Remember, he’s won this event in the past and has shown his pure nerves of steel.
The last two sleeper picks in this event are two Evo champions in Street Fighter IV. Ryota “Kazunoko” Inoue and Olivier “Luffy” Hay are two players that can carry momentum. It all depends if they can get out of the first couple rounds, but with their skill ceilings it’s two players that can’t be slept on.
It’s going to be real tough for any American born player to make a deep run into the money, but with a biased California crowd cheering for American born players anything is possible. Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez and his unorthodox Dhalsim play, as his entire career has been categorized by, could give players fits. Champ also does a great job of playing off the crowd so getting an early lead and crowd engagement will be key.
Players like Filipino Champ will have to work a little harder with a weaker character, but his play style and unique circumstances could play out in favor of Champ. Kun “Xian” Xian Ho is by no means an underdog as he currently sits as a 13 seed, but his character choice of Ibuki and F.A.N.G. is unique compared to the rest of the fields character choices.
Europe is also a continent that can’t be overlooked with six players in attendance. Ryan Hart, Benjamin “Problem X” Simon, and even one of the most surprising names on this bracket in Arman “Phenom” Hanjani are a threat to win some games. All three of the players mentioned have either beat another top player or even won a qualifying event.
The last two underdogs that needs to be discussed are two top-eight finisher at Evo 2016 and widely considered two of the best players in Japan: Fajimura “Yukadon” Atsushi and Goichi “Go1” Kishida. The two roommates made their characters viable in the early days of SFV and helped pushed the game forward.
Unfortunately for Yukadon, his character isn’t as strong as he was before (Nash) which could hold him back, but I could see another strong showing in America out of him. Go1 isn’t consistent enough to be considered a contender, but his Chun-Li’s undoubtedly the best when he’s on point.
Here’s the full bracket – obviously I didn’t cover every player, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore a player. As I said in this piece, every single player is capable of making a run and that’s what makes the Capcom Cup great.
The hope is one of the American players slips into top 8 on winners side. Nuckle Du has a legit shot to take this event if he plays anything like he has in the past month.
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