Capcom Cup 2016: A Live Experience

Season one of Street Fighter V is coming to close, and with it comes the end of the Capcom Pro Tour 2016. On December second and third, the best players in the world gathered in Anaheim, California to battle it out for both a gorgeous trophy and $230,000 (oh, and also the chance at helping to design a DLC costume). Many fans thought they had a handle on who would be advancing far into the tournament, but night one had several upsets including a number of 0-2 performances from marquee names such as Infiltration and Tokido. Instead, we were treated to some surprise appearances from Fuudo, Ricki Ortiz, Mov,  Kazunoko, Yukadon, Haitani, GO1, and, of course, Team Liquid’s sensational NuckleDu in the top eight.

 

By this time, you’ve probably heard about the historic All-American showdown in the Grand Finals between EG|Ricki Ortiz and Liquid|NuckleDu. You’ve seen NuckleDu triumphantly accept the Capcom Cup and his $230,00 check. And I’m sure you’ve read some of the criticisms of the event on Twitter and other social media outlets. But what was it like to be there? Well, let me tell you! In a rare, in-person appearance, I actually made it out to my first gaming event of the year for Playstation Experience, home of the 2016 Capcom Cup.

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The venue was the Anaheim Convention Center, home of BlizzCon, past WonderCons, a number of Disney conventions and much more. Since Sony was unable to secure the entire complex due to a number of other events going on concurrently, the floor was actually a little be crammed. Capcom Cup was held in the same area that the opening ceremony and all the panels took place. Imagine a small, indoor football field with bleachers on either side and chairs on the field, and you pretty much have the setup for the CPT finale. At one end of the makeshift arena was the main stage, and at the other was the elevated interview and autograph stage.

I got to my seat at 3:46, a full two hours and 15 minutes before start time in order to secure a seat and let it all soak in. The empty arena’s initial tranquility did not go unappreciated. I saw Commander Jesse and a few other pros casually stroll by to the reserved section where they kicked back with some friends and chatted the idle minutes away. Far behind me, a few random cheers and inaudible mic noise occasionally interrupted the silence from where the top eight and Yoshinori Ono were signing autographs; an event I bitterly tore myself from so I could get a good seat. I’m not sure there could have been a better build-up.

At around 5:00, the event technicians went through their rehearsals as more and more people piled into the arena after the signing session came to an end. Lights dimmed and flashed. Graphics spammed on the displays. Cranes went through their full range of motion. Commentator David Graham took some pictures up by the Vertagear chairs and Zowie monitors on the main stage. I envied the members of the media fortunate enough to be filling in the tables in the forward most bleachers, but it added fuel to the fire. Before I knew it, the house was packed and the tournament was under way as scenes of Street Fighter battles played out to a triumphant song that made my ears ring. Finally, Mike Ross, the MC, came to the stage with his hype and comedy game to kick everything off.

One thing I wasn’t at all surprised with was the fact that there were so many technical difficulties. Logan and F-Word, the two floor commentators, had some problems with their microphones for much of the beginning of the tournament, and these same problems popped up again during the closing ceremony. As you may or may not have seen on Twitch, several matches started while the commentators were still doing their thing, resulting in the audience missing the first crucial seconds. There were a few times where some cameramen couldn’t figure out where they were supposed to be. One guy had a flimsy looking tripod out in front of the middle part of the audience, and he was ordered to another area by a crew member. Then, of course, there was the infamous sliding-panel incident with Kazunoko, where the entry panel from backstage closed on his head as he walked toward the stairs of the main stage. Things like this happen at all major events, and if it weren’t for “small” technical issues to make them memorable, they wouldn’t be conventions.

For every problem, though, there were even more nice little details that made Capcom Cup truly special. The most obvious to me were the testimonials from various pros that were played on the oversized screens. When asked what he would do if he won the cash prize, Momochi said he would use the money to help develop the FGC in Japan, and the crowd went absolutely insane over how dedicated he was to helping aspiring pro gamers. Same with DR Ray in regards to the Dominican Republic. As far as the physical setup of the stage, I really liked how they had the player’s name on the sliding entrance panel along with their character on the outermost panel. It gave a lot of cohesion to the presentation. Above all else, just being there with the FGC was an amazing experience. Being surrounded by people talking about the intricacies of the game was something I’ve missed for a very long time. It reminded me of my college days, huddled around an arcade machine and talking about strategies or whatever. There’s really nothing else like the FGC. No matter how many other gaming communities I might be a part of, the fighting game community continues to be the best out there.

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Left stage presentation: Character – Gameplay – Left Station Player Name

 

With that, I must sadly bring this last CPT 2016 update to a close. It’s my hope that you’ve enjoyed the coverage so far, and I look forward to bringing you one last Muscle Power Monthly with season 2 of Street Fighter V on the horizon. Congratulations to Team Liquid and NuckleDu on their victory, and Ricki Ortiz on her runner-up performance. To all you Mika players out there…good luck with the changes next season ^_^ .

All photos and videos taken by the author, Damian Alonzo. YouTube: Telidas Einherjer  Twitter: @telidas

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