The top spots at Canada Cup 2015 may have been claimed by four of the best players in the world, but the event’s four biggest winners weren’t even in attendance.
With an automatic bid into Capcom Cup on the line thanks to the event’s Premier status, Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi survived a bracket loaded with talent, including nine of the top 12 players in the Capcom Pro Tour standings, to win Canada Cup 2015. Tokido emerged the victor after a grueling Grand Finals battle with Razer’s Keita “Fuudo” Ai.
The two played each other in three sets that were full of incredible play and intense drama. Tokido won their meeting in Winners’ Finals by a 3-1 margin. They met again in an epic Grand Finals where Tokido lost the first set 3-2 but won the second set by the same score. Not only did both Grand Finals sets go to the maximum five games, but eight of the 10 games they played during the set went to the final round—including the final game of the tournament.
However, neither Tokido nor Fuudo could claim the Capcom Cup berth at stake, as both players had already earned direct qualification at other Premier events. The same could be said for third-place finisher Yusuke Momochi of Evil Geniuses and fourth-place finisher Bruce “GamerBee” Hsiang of AVerMedia.
Because all of the top four finishers had already qualified for Capcom Cup, the Premier bid at stake was eliminated and converted into an additional points-based berth thanks to a CPT rule change announced in June but never used until this weekend. This was to the benefit of Team YP’s Valentin “Valmaster” Petit, who became the 16th player to qualify for Capcom Cup via points on Sunday despite not attending Canada Cup. He joined three other players who skipped the event (Yubiken’s Sanshiro “Shiro” Nagai, Keep It Grimey’s Benjamin “Problem X” Simon, and Razer’s Ghim Kee “Gackt” Eng) as players who clinched the final points-based spots in San Francisco.
The new rule was announced 10 days after Stunfest 2015, where Seonwoo “Infiltration” Lee won an automatic bid into Capcom Cup despite finishing third at the event. Last week’s Milan Games Week, where Team Razer’s Arubi “RB” Kao finished behind two already-qualified players, was the only other Premier event this season where the auto-qualification bid went to someone below second place.
The race for the final Capcom Cup spots
In addition to its status as a Premier event, Canada Cup was the final event anywhere in the world to award CPT points, so several players who were within striking distance of a points-based berth made the trip to Toronto to try and earn their way into the San Francisco tournament. Twelve players who entered Canada Cup had a chance to pass Gackt, the man who entered the weekend as the final player to qualify for Capcom Cup via points. This was no easy task, as each player needed to finish fourth or better to pass him.
They not only had to contend with each other to qualify, but they also had to deal with a field that included 13 players who had already earned their way into Capcom Cup, eight of whom had done so via Premier events. Along with the players who took the top four spots, fellow premier qualifiers Masato “Bonchan” Takahashi of Red Bull, Kun Xian Ho of Razer, Kenryo “Mago” Hayashi of Team Mad Catz, and Ryota “Kazunoko” Inoue were in the field. They were joined by Red Bull’s Darryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis, Evil Geniuses’ Justin Wong, Hirokimi “Itabashi Zangief” Kumada, Winterfox’s Gustavo “801 Strider” Romero, and Team YOMI’s Kevin “Dieminion” Landon, all of whom were already assured at least a points-based Capcom Cup spot.
While Shiro qualified for Capcom Cup the moment the tournament started without Valmaster in the field, Problem X and Gackt had to wait and see if any of the twelve contenders could make a deep run. Pool play provided them with good news: Kubo “StormKUBO” Arashi and Evil Geniuses’ Kenneth “K-Brad” Bradley were eliminated from the tournament by 1UP’s Van Nguyen and Vu “Ranmasama” Tra respectively, and of the other ten contenders, only Joe “MOV” Egami and r/kappa’s Kentaro “Misse” Nakamura escaped Saturday afternoon’s pool play without a loss. Meanwhile, all thirteen players who had already secured Capcom Cup qualification were still alive in the tournament at the end of pool play, with twelve of them still in the winners’ side of the bracket.
Contender after contender fell in the Top 32 bracket. Luke “Pro Fluke” Maher, Team Sp00ky’s Arturo “Sabin” Sanchez, Team PIE’s Bryant “Smug” Huggins, and Evil Geniuses’ Eduardo “PR Balrog” Perez all lost their first matches of the semifinal bracket. Falcon Arena’s Ryan “Prodigal Son” Hart, eSports-Runner’s Yoshihisa “Gonzales” Hirata, and r/kappa’s Gaku “KitasenjuDJ” Kondo all made it one step further but still failed to earn any points at the event.
Only three people who could qualify for Capcom Cup via points made it to the Top 16: Misse, MOV, and Evil Geniuses’ Ricki Ortiz. They were joined by Jason “Jayce The Ace” Nghe of Team 801 and Yubiken and Kenny “Air” Lam of Canada Cup Gaming, both of whom needed to win the automatic bid at stake to qualify. When MOV, Ortiz, and Air were all eliminated in 13th place, Problem X’s spot in the year-end event was secured. Gackt had to sweat a little longer, but his spot in Capcom Cup was assured when Misse bowed out in ninth place.
Valmaster needed to wait one more day to learn his fate, as he needed the automatic berth to either go to a player who was already safely in the field on points or get converted into a points-based spot in order to qualify. Jayce the Ace was the only player left who could prevent either of those from happening. The question of whether or not Jayce could qualify was answered early in the Top 8 session, as he could not handle Red Bull athlete and fellow SoCal resident Snake Eyez. His run ended with an impressive seventh-place finish but no ticket to Capcom Cup. Jayce’s elimination also meant that Misse can still qualify through points, depending on the results of the season’s final two events, CPT Asia Finals and DreamHack Winter.
Top eight: The best of the best
While the drama of Capcom Cup qualification ended early on Sunday, the quality of play during Top 8 gave Street Fighter plenty to enjoy. The night began with Tokido, GamerBee, Fuudo, and Itabashi Zangief in the winners’ side of the bracket. Jayce and Snake Eyez were joined on the losers’ side by Mago and Momochi.
Tokido used his Akuma to begin the night with a strong 3-1 win over GamerBee’s Elena. Fuudo joined him with a 3-1 victory over Itabashi Zangief to set the stage for their clash in Winners’ Finals. All four of the games they played went to the final round, but Tokdio emerged victorious by playing a more defensive style than he had shown in the past. Tokido then watched the other players battle for the right to join him in Grand Finals.
On the losers’ side, Momochi used his Ken to eliminate Mago 3-0. While Mago played solidly with Yang, Momochi played like the reigning EVO and Capcom Cup champion. The highlight of the match may have been between games two and three, when Momochi appeared to stare down Mago in a rare show of emotion.
Jayce the Ace’s run to Top 8 included victories over Dieminion, KitasenjuDJ, Ricki Ortiz, and Misse, but he could not find an answer to Snake Eyez’s Zangief. Jayce’s Decapre held its own during the first game, but Snake Eyez pulled out a victory. A switch to C. Viper was unsuccessful, and while he was able to win a game after switching back to Decapre, Snake Eyez proved to be too much in a match that ended 3-1.
The two Zangief players then bowed out in fifth place. Snake Eyez was able to take the first game against GamerBee’s Elena, but lost the next three. GamerBee frustrated Snake Eyez and was able to keep him from building much sustained momentum. ItaZan’s battle with Momochi could have gone either way, as most of the rounds were closely contested, but Momochi was able to pull out a 3-1 victory.
Momochi continued his run in the losers’ bracket with a 3-0 victory over GamerBee’s Adon. Much like in his match against Mago, Momochi looked far more comfortable than he did in his other post-EVO CPT events.
Momochi’s win set up a match against Fuudo in Losers’ Finals. The match was a tense affair, as all five games went three rounds. There were points in the match where Momochi played a style far different than his usual gameplay, perhaps in an effort to disrupt Fuudo’s gameplay. The effort didn’t pay off in the end, as Fuudo emerged the winner in a set that lasted nearly twenty minutes.
As intense as Losers’ Finals was, Grand Finals was all that and more. Tokido and Fuudo played two of the best sets in recent memory. Every game in the first set went down to the final round, as did three of the five games after the bracket reset. Fuudo did not go down without a fight, as he won four rounds which would have ended the tournament had Tokido won them. In the end, a visibly-exhausted Tokido emerged victorious to claim his first CPT victory of the season.
Canada Cup 2015 – Top 16
1st – Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi (Mad Catz)
2nd – Keita “Fuudo” Ai (Razer)3rd – Yusuke Momochi (Evil Geniuses)
4th – Bruce “GamerBee” Hsiang (AVerMedia)
5th – Hirokimi “Itabashi Zangief” Kumada
5th – Darryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis (Red Bull)
7th – Jason “Jayce The Ace” Nghe (Yubiken/Team 801)
7th – Kenryo “Mago” Hayashi (Mad Catz)
9th – Masato “Bonchan” Takahashi (Red Bull)
9th – Kentaro “Misse” Nakamura (r/kappa)
9th – Justin Wong (Evil Geniuses)
9th – Ryota “Kazunoko” Inoue
13th – Kenny “Air” Lam (Canada Cup Gaming)
13th – Joe “MOV” Egami
13th – Ricki Ortiz (Evil Geniuses)
13th – Kun Xian Ho (Razer)
Since the top four finishers had all previously earned automatic qualification into Capcom Cup, no automatic qualification was awarded. It was replaced by an additional points-based qualification spot.