In winning Thursday’s Capcom Pro Tour Asia Finals last-chance qualifier tournament, Lee “Infiltration” Seon-Woo put his talent and versatility on full display.
He also put one of the biggest issues with Capcom’s regional final format on full display: One of the final chances to earn a spot in the Capcom Cup went to a player who had already earned the No. 1 seed at that event.
When Capcom expanded the format of previous Asia Finals to all four regions for this year’s Pro Tour, the idea was to add four entertaining, high-stakes tournaments to the end of the season. The first three regional finals have, without question, delivered on the first half of that goal. The level of play at each of the first three regional finals has been spectacular, and Saturday’s Asia Finals might end up being the best of the bunch.
The high-stakes aspect of the tournaments has not panned out quite as intended.
A place in the Capcom Cup has been on the line at each regional final, and the tournaments have been billed as the final opportunities to qualify for the season championship. That drama was on full display at the Latin American finals when “DR Ray” Rosario won the tournament and earned his Capcom Cup berth.
Unfortunately, the Latin American finals were the exception to the rule. Both the European and North American finals featured players who had already qualified for the Capcom Cup in the grand finals, which meant that the berth’s fate had already been decided before the final match began.
This scene is very likely to repeat itself this weekend. With Infiltration’s qualification, 11 of the 16 players in the Asian Finals are already guaranteed a place in the Capcom Cup. That’s good news for Tse “Tse4444” Wa Ping, who will qualify for the season championship if anyone from that group (besides Ricki Ortiz) wins this weekend. But with the possibility of that berth being decided before the tournament’s half-way mark, it could mean bad news for viewers.
The $15,000 at stake this weekend ensures that Capcom Cup-bound competitors still have something to play for. But with $350,000 on the line at next month’s championship event, there will be plenty of motivation for players to hide their new tech and new strategies until then. That could also make for a less-than-thrilling tournament from the viewer’s point of view.
So what can be done to prevent this next year?
Banning already-qualified players from last chance qualifiers has been brought up on social media repeatedly for the past few weeks, but this doesn’t fully address the issue. The rule might have prevented Infiltration from qualifying for the Asia Finals, but it would still mean that 10 players in the 16-player field have nothing to play for.
Instead, the regional finals need to become true last-chance qualifiers.
The final event in each region should be a tournament open to all players in the region who have not already qualified for the Capcom Cup. Players would fight for their seasons in every set, every game, and every round. There would undoubtedly be incredible moments of drama, hype, and excitement, all of which would be great for selling Street Fighter to the masses. The regional finals in their current form could still be held as invitational events, but the last chance qualifier would guarantee that there’s something on the line at the end of the event.
That’s something that we may not see on Saturday.