The contenders and hopefuls at this weekend's Canada Cup
When Capcom revealed its 2015 Pro Tour schedule, many circled this weekend’s Canada Cup as one of the events of the season. As a Premier event, an automatic qualification into Capcom Cup—the $250,000 year-end tournament in San Francisco - is on the line. The event also serves as the final CPT event in North America this season and the final event where CPT points are awarded. Once the event ends, we'll know 30 of the 32 players qualified into Capcom Cup.
Many predicted that those factors would contribute to one of the deepest tournaments of the season, and those predictions have come true in a big way. Canada Cup features 13 of the top 23 players in the CPT standings, including an astounding nine of the top twelve. The field also includes several players who are fighting for the final Capcom Cup spots and are in need of deep runs in the tournament to earn those spots. Together, it means that the Canada Cup bracket can be considered the toughest since EVO.
Fourteen players have already qualified for Capcom Cup through Premier events. Of the players who haven’t earned a Premier berth, twelve have already assured themselves qualification through the points they’ve earned during the season. (The list of these players can be found here.)
The final three points-based berths into Capcom Cup are currently held by Team Yubiken’s Sanshiro “Shiro” Nagai (182 points), Keepin’ it Grimey’s Benjamin “Problem X” Simon (178 points), and Team Razer’s Ghim Kee “Gackt” Eng (160 points). The first man out of the field is Valentin “Valmaster” Petit of Team YP with 148 points. As of publication time, none of these four players have registered for Canada Cup. If that's still the case once the tournament starts, Shiro will officially clinch a Capcom Cup berth as it will be impossible for three of the attending players to surpass his point total.
The other three players can also secure their tickets to San Francisco this weekend, even if they don’t attend. The only way Problem X can fail to secure a Capcom Cup spot this weekend is if someone below him in points wins Canada Cup and both the second- and third-place finishers surpass him in points. Gackt’s position is a bit more tenuous, as only one person needs to pass him to push him to the outside. But it would require one of the contenders to finish fourth or better. Valmaster can secure a spot if one of the players above him in points wins the automatic Capcom Cup berth and nobody else passes him in the standings.
As for the players who are going to Canada Cup, they can be broken down into three main groups: Contenders who can earn enough points to qualify for Capcom Cup without winning the automatic berth at stake, Gatekeepers who have already secured a spot, and Snipers who may not have a lot of points but have the potential to do some damage in the bracket.
Canada Cup 2015
Oct. 30 - Nov. 1
Winner (or highest-placing person who hasn’t won a Premier berth) qualifies for Capcom Cup
Friday stream: twitch.tv/CanadaCup
3-on-3 team tournament: Friday, Oct. 30 at 9am PT/12pm ET/16:00 UTC
International 5-on-5 tournament: Friday, Oct. 30 at 4pm PT/7pm ET/20:00 UTC
Saturday and Sunday stream: twitch.tv/CapcomFighters
Pools: Saturday, Oct. 31 at 7am PT/10am ET/14:00 UTC
Top 32: Saturday, Oct. 31 at 3pm PT/6pm ET/22:00 UTC
Top 8: Sunday, Nov. 1 at 3pm PT/6pm ET/23:00 UTC
Kentaro “Misse” Nakamura, Team r/Kappa, 140 points - Misse is one of three Japanese players whose trip to Canada Cup is sponsored by fighting game subreddit r/Kappa. He is in the strongest position of his teammates by far, as a finish of fourth or better this weekend would secure his spot in Capcom Cup. Should he fail to do that, he’ll have another chance thanks to his victory at the Taiwan FIghting Game Championships, which earned him a spot in November’s CPT Asia Finals.
Eduardo “PR Balrog” Perez, Evil Geniuses, 132 points - PR Balrog was heartbreakingly close to securing a Capcom Cup berth last weekend. He needed a second-place finish at the Central America CPT Qualifier but finished third. While he has confirmed that he will attend both of the winner-take-all Premier events next month—the Last Chance Qualifier for CPT Asia Finals and DreamHack Winter—a fourth-place finish or better this weekend will secure his spot in San Francisco.
Ryan “Prodigal Son” Hart, Falcon Arena, 126 points - Like PR Balrog, Ryan Hart fell one win short of qualifying for Capcom Cup this past weekend. Had he defeated Arubi “RB” Kao in the losers’ semifinals of last weekend’s MIlan Games Week, he would have won an automatic berth into Capcom Cup. Instead, he'll need to place third or better in Toronto.
Yoshihisa “Gonzales” Hirata, eSports-Runner, 112 points - Japanese player Gonzales has been at his best away from his home continent. He's made Top 8 at the last four European CPT events, including a fifth-place finish at last weekend’s Milan Games Week. Should he finish third or better this weekend, his place in San Francisco would almost certainly be secured.
Ricki Ortiz, Evil Geniuses, 98 points - Ricki Ortiz easily made the Capcom Cup field last year, but hasn’t found quite the same success this time around. Last weekend may have been the low point of the season for her, as she failed to make it into the Top 32 at Defend the North. She’ll need a drastic turnaround in order to return to Capcom Cup, as she’ll need to finish in the Top 3 to qualify.
Kenneth “K-Brad” Bradley, Evil Geniuses, 96 points - In his quest to qualify for Capcom Cup, K-Brad has logged more frequent flier miles than any of his teammates, as he has participated in CPT events in Japan, the Netherlands, the United States, and Italy over the past two months. But to earn a spot in San Francisco, he’ll need to make a visit to one of the few places he has yet to see at a CPT event this year: Grand Finals.
Kubo “StormKUBO” Arashi, Devil_Reapers, 72 points - Japanese Hugo player StormKUBO had his best performance of the season at August’s Taiwan Fighting Game Major, where he finished second to Misse. He’ll need to equal that result this weekend to make the Capcom Cup field, but he’s yet to finish better than seventh at a CPT event since his breakthrough in Taiwan.
Joe “MOV” Egami, 64 points - MOV is a fighting game legend who is known for his play in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, with a 25th Anniversary Tournament win and four-time Super Battle Opera championships to his name. He is no slouch in Street Fighter IV though, as his second-place finish at this year’s Hong Kong eSports Tournament earned a place in next month’s CPT Asia Finals. In order to lock up a Capcom Cup berth, he’ll need to equal that performance this weekend.
Bryant “Smug” Huggins, Team PIE, 60 points - Smug is often listed among the best young players in the United States. He’s had his struggles on the big stage, but when he’s on point, he can beat anyone in the world. His fourth-place run at CEO 2015 included wins over three players in the Capcom Cup field: Yusuke Momochi, Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi, and Kevin “Dieminion” Landon. If he can find that sort of form this weekend, the second-place finish he’ll need to secure a Capcom Cup berth is within his reach.
Luke “Pro Fluke” Maher, 42 points - Pro Fluke is a strong El Fuerte player travelling from abroad to play in Canada Cup. He’s hoping to emulate the performance of Yudai “Pepeday” Furushima, a strong El Fuerte player who travelled from abroad to win Canada Cup 2014. The second-place finish Pro Fluke needs to qualify for Capcom Cup may be a tall ask, as while he has placed in the Top 16 in eight CPT events this season, he’s yet to place higher than fifth.
Arturo “Sabin” Sanchez, Team Sp00ky, 40 points - Sabin has attended most of this year’s American CPT events, but mostly as a streamer instead of a participant. While he hasn’t played in as many tournaments as he has in previous years, he still possesses one of the strongest Dhalsims in the world. Sabin will need to play to his peak potential—become “Yung Art,” as his fans say—to earn the second-place finish he needs to potentially qualify for Capcom Cup.
Gaku “KitasenjuDJ” Kondo, Team r/Kappa, 36 points - If there’s any Dee Jay player who can make Grand Finals at a tournament as stacked as Canada Cup, it’s KitasenjuDJ. A second-place finish is a tall ask for someone who plays one of (if not the) weakest character in the game, but he recently finished fourth at this month’s Ultra Hyakkishu Cup. He also is coming off an appearance in Topanga A League, and while he finished last in the initial stage, his run did include wins over fellow Canada Cup attendees Tokido and Hagejin.
Yusuke Momochi, Evil Geniuses, 1310 points - The reigning EVO and Capcom Cup champion is looking to round back into form after a seventh-place finish at Ultra Hyakkishu Cup.
Masato “Bonchan” Takahashi, Red Bull, 892 points - Bonchan, who has been on a tear since becoming a Red Bull athlete, can clinch the No. 2 seed overall if he’s able to win his third consecutive Premier event.
Kun Xian Ho, Razer, 796 points - Xian has made Grand Finals in the last three CPT events he’s entered, including wins at CPT Shanghai and KO Fighting Game Festival.
Bruce “GamerBee” Hsiang, AVerMedia, 708 points - While GamerBee has made several impressive tournament runs, including a second-place finish at EVO, he hasn’t won a CPT event since last year’s Shadowloo Showdown.
Kenryo “Mago” Hayashi, Mad Catz, 548 points - Mago has two CPT wins this year, but is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 25th-place at SoCal Regionals.
Ryota “Kazunoko” Inoue, 508 points - North America has been very good to Kazunoko, as four of his seven CPT Top 4 finishes this season—including his win at CEO and second-place finish at SoCal Regionals—have come on the continent.
Kenta “Fuudo” Ai, Razer, 482 points - Fuudo is looking to build on his momentum from last weekend’s win at Milan Games Week.
Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi, Mad Catz, 444 points - The man known as “The Murderface” has two appearances in Premier event Grand Finals this year, but has zero wins. He’s also trying to bounce back from an early Topanga A League exit.
Darryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis, Red Bull, 424 points - Snake Eyez has made Grand Finals in three of the last four North American CPT events.
Justin Wong, Evil Geniuses, 306 points - Wong is looking to build on his statement win at last weekend’s Defend the North.
Hirokimi “Itabashi Zangief” Kumada, 280 points - “ItaZan” is looking for his second straight win after last weekend’s victory at the Central America CPT Qualifier.
Gustavo “801 Strider” Romero, Winterfox, 238 points - While he still clinched a Capcom Cup berth last weekend, 801 Strider might want another crack at the man who beat him in Costa Rica: Itabashi Zangief.
Kevin “Dieminion” Landon, Team YOMI, 236 points - Dieminion is looking to improve upon his seventh-place finish at last weekend’s Defend the North.
Hagejin, r/Kappa - The third member of Team r/Kappa is still alive in this year’s Topanga A League, and recently beat Snake Eyez 5-2 during the American player’s visit to Japan.
Kenny “Air” Lam, Canada Cup Gaming - One of the legends of the Canadian fighting game scene, Air is looking to meet or improve upon his third-place finish at last year’s Canada Cup.
Henri “Chi-Rithy” Oung, Canada Cup Gaming - Chi-Rithy, who tied for fifth at last year’s edition, is another one of Canada’s strongest players.
Brian “Riceata” Wai, OCV Gaming - Riceata, a fifth-place finisher at Canada Cup 2014, is looking to build upon last weekend’s fifth-place Defend the North finish.
Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez, Panda Global - Although more known for his skills in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, “FChamp” is a talented Dhalsim player who can more than hold his own.