The Capcom Pro Tour is easily the most “esports” thing about Street Fighter. It has the money, platform, production value and circuit necessary for a quality esports experience. CPT 2016 had some organizational problems that got in the way of that experience last year, and they caused a big, emotion-fueled backlash from some of the world’s top players and community developers.
In the big picture, having tournament winners auto-qualify for Capcom Cup resulted in seemingly arbitrary rules for how you could get in with points. This issue developed further as the same people won multiple auto-qualifying tournaments. A more intimate problem revealed itself with how Capcom Cup was organized. Players from around the world had to fly in to Anaheim, California and really only had a day or two to get used to the time change before diving into a grueling all-day event on the first day of the Cup. Matches had hours of downtime in between for some competitors, adding physical stress to the mental fatigue already prevalent on the floor that day. We saw favorites such as Infiltration and Tokido taken out very early – probably not something that would have happened under better circumstances.
CPT 2017 is aiming to remedy some of the afflictions that plagued last year’s tour. For starters, there will be no more auto-qualifying events for Capcom Cup other than the last chance qualifier that was announced last year. Obviously this is huge in regards to understanding where players truly rank at a glance. Second, bigger events will yield a more common sense CPT point payout. According to the CPT blog, “We understand there is a big difference between getting top 32 at EVO and top 8 at a Ranking Event and want this to be reflected in the amount of points gained through placing at various tournaments.” Lastly, with $600,000 in prize money this year, the results from regional events and the Capcom Cup will weigh much more heavily on the hearts of competitors than they did last year.
Along with Akuma, Kolin was just released as a new character to the roster. She’s aligned with the Illuminati, serving Gill and Urien. Her move set seems to revolve around a strong neutral game, with some people saying her counters will make players who thrive on “disrespectful” play quite happy. It’s doubtful that we’ll see much of her at the competitive level, but it also wouldn’t be surprising if certain players, like LPN, stick her in their back pocket for certain matchups down the road.
Even with these changes, I still believe that Street Fighter has an uphill battle to fight in terms of esports market share. Twitch seems to believe in Capcom’s flagship fighter, so that’s a good sign of growth. The acquisitions that Echo Fox made a couple months ago also lends to the strong sense of FGC spirit that we’ve all come to know and love. But with H1Z1 already getting played on network television and Overwatch continuing its meteoric rise, it’s doubtful that Street Fighter rises above a mid-tier esport. Read more about CPT 2017 here.