Capcom Cup 2018: A Recap

Capcom Cup 2018 was all the things we associate with modern Street Fighter. The excitement, the heartbreak, the drama, the announcements, and that fuzzy feeling we all get whenever the whole fighting game community comes together around one big event were all present. Here are a few moments that stuck with me.

Capcom Cup as a tournament is a 32-player season finale, requiring players to earn their spot at various events throughout the year. That means this tournament represented only the best of the best, and that means it delivered. There were more than a dozen truly epic matches, and they came in all forms. We got nail-biting comebacks from players like Punk (multiple times!). We got drawn-out, tactical matches from Justin Wong. We got frighteningly impressive reads and decision making from ZJZ. We got oppressive, yet clean play from Chris T. Street Fighter V is almost three years old, and it’s always been a bit on the simple side, but top players are clearly still eeking out more ways to stay competitive.

One of my favorite matches was Problem X vs. MenaRD, during the top 32 phase of the event. The backstory here is this was the reigning Evo champion against the reigning Capcom Cup champion, but their personal backgrounds really fueled the crowd. Mena represents the Dominican Republic — a fighting game scene known for being as skilled as it is loud. To combat their cheers, all the UK players in attendance showed up to out-hype the DR crowd, and cheer for their own player, Problem X. I don’t know that this got into either player’s head, but I feel like it did, because the match itself was super intense. In the end, both players were cordial, but the fight itself was brutal. Check it out.

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Another phenomenal match went down between Punk and Caba. Punk has been a divisive player in all facets for most of his professional career. Caba was best known for being the loud guy during MenaRD’s matches, until this year. 2018 Caba is a force. His use of Guile, a character we all thought had been perfected by NuckleDu (the Capcom Cup 2016 champ) and Daigo (the most decorated Street Fighter player of all time), is brilliant. His active defensive play this weekend has become one of my favorite things to watch in all of fighting games.

The beauty of this match is its neutral play. Both characters have some lethal whiff punishing tools, and both players are among the best at using them. Additionally, both guys excel at calculated risks. This resulted in a string of rounds that went on for over a minute, yet stayed in the center of the stage for almost the full duration, even though each player kept swinging.

Source: @4everbuffy on Twitter

I feel for Punk’s continued struggles on the biggest stages, especially since he’s such an outstanding player when he’s on his game. That said, this match in particular did lead to some controversy, in the form of a now-deleted, salty tweet.

The implication here is that Daigo (who plays the same character as Caba) and Bonchan (who plays the same character as Punk) both wanted Punk to lose so badly, that they coached Caba on how to win that matchup. If it’s not outright racist, as some commenters suggested, it certainly undermines the work that Caba clearly puts into his craft. And, if you did just watch that match, it’s apparent that Punk was simply outplayed. Both players adjusted to one another, mid-fight. Punk adopted the tactic of using his V-reversal to keep himself at an offensive advantage, and when Caba adapted to that decision, it led to Punk’s defeat. Caba’s just been the better player this year, and it showed in this match. My hope, as usual, is that Punk grows as a player and person from this moment. For what it’s worth, he did issue something like an apology.

Small bit of drama aside, Capcom Cup 2018 was as much of a spectacle as we expect. The venue featured a very cool piece of Street Fighter V art, which was fortunately captured and shared on Twitter.

Social media was packed with pictures of fighting game fans young and old just having a great time, despite the stakes. We didn’t get a tearful James Chen this time around, but the legendary commentator did have a sentimental moment that I can completely understand.

Lastly, I should mention the conclusion of the tournament. Gachikun, Japanese Rashid player and relative newcomer to the pro Street Fighter scene, would take home the grand prize. He battled Itabashi Zangief in a match that began totally lopsided, and eventually swung to the complete opposite side of the scale. Obviously Gachikun’s performance commands respect (he almost went the entire weekend without dropping a single match), but Itabashi’s losers bracket run was one of the biggest highlights of Capcom Cup. Most notable is his match against Fujimura, a man widely considered to be the best player of the 2018 season. Wrap up an excellent series of close matches with a strange, but satisfying announcement for Street Fighter V season 4, and it’s hard not to feel good about Capcom Cup 2018.

(thumbnail image source: @arcadeshock on Twitter)

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