A first time for the last time, Saul Leonardo “MenaRD” Mena II dominated Capcom Cup IX to become the event’s first two-time champion as Street Fighter V rides off into the sunset.
During his run to the title, Mena decimated many of the best SFV players in the world and was the only player to take a match over China’s rising start Zhen “Rou” Kuang, who dominated the event coming out of the Last Chance Qualifier. In fact, the Dominican Republic’s top player beat him two times in a row to seal the deal, taking both sets 3-1 and walking away with $120,000.
Mena has been a dominant force in SFV for years, and his composure showed true as he blasted through the group stage and playoffs with very little trouble. Throughout his entire run, Mena never lost more than a single game to any of his opponents—meaning he beat Takamura, EndingWalker, and Zhen twice in the final bracket with room to spare.
It is a fitting end to the SFV era as Mena is now the only player to have ever won two Capcom Cups, winning it with the final SFV DLC character and semi-protagonist of the upcoming Street Fighter 6, Luke. He pairs this win with his 2017 title, where his signature Birdie led the then 17-year-old to a win over Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi.
“The only shout out I would like to give is to the fighting game community,” MenaRD said following the win last night. “All of y’all are my family. When I won the first [Capcom Cup] I didn’t really know anybody. I was all about the [Dominican Republic] but now it’s all about y’all now. It’s all about the FGC. Thank you so much.”
And while Mena will be the highlight of the event, as he should, it is also important to note three other incredible stories from Capcom Cup IX—starting with the two youngest players in attendance.
Zhen was someone many SFV fans may not have known about due to him being from China and not attending global events. As a result, people took notice when he beat notable players such as Gachikun, Shuto, and Kichipa to qualify for Capcom Cup out of the LCQ.
That spotlight only grew as he took the top seed in a group containing Momochi and Big Bird. In the finals bracket, he would go on to beat down Evo 2022 champion Kawano and veteran AngryBird before later eliminating defending Capcom Cup champion iDom to make it to the grand finals—all while playing M. Bison.
Likewise, EndingWalker was the youngest player attending Capcom Cup and managed to finish in a tie for fifth with this event being just his third offline Major ever. Another name to watch out for heading into SF6 in June.
Mena wasn’t the only player looking to take their second Capcom Cup title either, as iDom entered the event as the 2019 Capcom Cup champion and technically the defending champ due to all of the cancelations over the last several years. He was knocked into the lower bracket early but bashed his way through to the lower bracket finals before eventually falling to Zhen.
Now Street Fighter V is on its last leg, as Capcom confirmed Capcom Pro Tour 2023 will be played with a hybrid event circuit entirely on Street Fighter 6, which releases on June 2. But what a final showing it was for this iteration of the franchise.