Oct 16 2016 - 6:15 am

Sako and Bonchan qualify for the Capcom Pro Tour European Regional Final

The chances of a European player winning the Capcom Pro Tour's European Regional Final took a big hit on Saturday
Steve Jurek
Dot Esports

The chances of a European player winning the Capcom Pro Tour's European Regional Final took a big hit on Saturday.

Naoto Sako and Takahashi "Bonchan" Masato, both of Japan, qualified for the European Regional Final by taking the top two places in Saturday's last chance qualifier in Milan, Italy. The pair were the fourth and fifth Asian players to earn a spot in Sunday's 16-player finale, the winner of which will qualify for the Capcom Cup.

Sako and Bonchan will join fellow Japanese players Umehara Daigo and Egami "MOV" Joe in Sunday's final. Ho Kun Xian of Singapore will also be in Sunday's field.

Bonchan defeated Sako 3-2 in a winners' semifinal match, then beat Michael "Nightcross" Vander Biest of Belgium in the winner's final to qualify for Sunday's main event. Sako fought his way through the losers' bracket to join his fellow countryman in the finale, then scored 3-2 and 3-1 victories over Bonchan in an pair of entertaining sets to win the tournament.

Sako and Bonchan went toe-to-toe in their battles on Saturday, but they were head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. The pair went a combined 12-0 in in sets against European players, winning 28 of 29 games played in those sets. Norman "Gen1us" Chatrier of France, who lost to Sako 3-1 in a losers' quarterfinal match, was the only European to blemish either player's record.

Despite the efforts of Gen1us, it was Nightcross who came the closest to adding another European player to the list of Sunday's finalists. Nightcross had two chances to qualify for Sunday's main event but lost to Bonchan in the winners' final and to Sako in the losers' final. Both matches were convincing 3-0 defeats.

The only other piece of bad news for Japanese fans came in the form of Kumada "Itabashi Zangief" Hiromiki's performance. Itabashi Zangief was upset in his first match of the tournament by Gerard "AltAccount" Bolstrom and ended the day tied for 17th place.

Vlassis "Atropos" Papadimitriou of Greece finished in fourth place at Saturday's qualifier, while Atra "Atrosh" Azami of Sweeden tied for fifth place alongside Gen1us. Edwin "SplendidNull" Ricciardi, the highest-placing player from the host nation, tied for seventh place with Ross "Brickterium" O'Leary of Ireland.

Sunday's finale figure to provide Bonchan and Sako with stiffer tests. Europe's top performers, including Olivier "Luffy" Hay, Younes "CCL" Lazaar, and Nathan "Mister Crimson" Massol, had already qualified for the 16-player finals.

The initial bracket for Sunday's main event ranks Sako and Bonchan as the 15th and 16th seeds respectively, with the remaining players ranked by global Pro Tour points. Sako will face Xian in the opening round, while Bonchan will face Daigo.

Saturday's last chance qualifier was likely the last event for Gen1us under the banner of his current sponsor, Melty Esports. The team announced earlier this week that it would dissolve at the end of the month due in part to rising operational costs.

Jan 20 2017 - 5:28 pm

Combo Breaker announcement may imply the end of auto-qualifiers for Capcom Pro Tour

Capcom may be trying to simplify its 2017 Pro Tour.
Steve Jurek
Dot Esports
Image via Capcom

A big change is coming to the 2017 Capcom Pro Tour, but yesterday's announcement may have hinted at an even larger change—a possible end to players winning automatic qualification into the Capcom Cup through Premier events.

The Street Fighter V tournament at Combo Breaker is being upgraded to a Premier event for the 2017 Pro Tour, Capcom announced via Twitter. The event, which will take place in the Chicago area over Memorial Day weekend, served as a Ranking event in 2015 and 2016. Its spiritual predecessor, the Ultimate Fighting Game Tournament, filled the same role in 2014.

Premier events award more Capcom Pro Tour points to top performers compared to Ranking events. A yet-to-be-announced number of the season's top points earners will earn a spot in the Capcom Cup, the season's championship event. Premier events also offer a Capcom-provided pot bonus. The figure has not yet been confirmed by Capcom, but it is believed to be $15,000.

In previous years, a player who won a Premier event received an automatic berth in that season's Capcom Cup. Thursday's announcement, however, may have implied that this is no longer the case.

An update on Combo Breaker's website stated that placing well at the event "will earn you valuable ranking points that put you well on your way to qualifying for the Capcom Cup!"

Notably, the statement makes no mention of an automatic berth into the Capcom Cup, something that every Premier event winner has been awarded since the Pro Tour's founding in 2014.

The statement does not necessarily confirm that auto-qualification into the Capcom Cup has been eliminated. It does, however, fall in line with statements made by Capcom esports director Neidel Crisan. In conversations with both Yahoo! Esports and EventHubs late last year, Crisan mentioned the possibility of eliminating auto-qualification berths in order to simplify the qualifying process.

A player had three ways to qualify for the Capcom Cup in 2016; winning a Premier event, placing high in the global Pro Tour points standings, or placing high in each region's Pro Tour points standings. The system confused fans, commentators, and players alike.

We may not know how qualification for the Capcom Cup will work in 2017, but we do know that the tour itself will look a bit different than it has in previous years.

Combo Breaker will presumably fill a gap left by Stunfest, a French gaming convention that that served as a Premier event on the Pro Tour in each of the last two years. Organizers of that event announced a "pause" for the convention late last year with plans to return in 2018.

The tour will also be without Cannes Winter Clash, the other French event that was part of the 2016 tour. Organizers of that event, which will take place during the last weekend in February, announced the change last week in a Reddit post. The event had served as the Pro Tour's season opener in both 2015 and 2016.

"Obviously with Cannes and Stunfest out there will need to be at least one French replacement event," Samad "Damascus" Abdessadki, a competitor and commentator who is involved in the organization of the Cannes Winter Clash, told Dot Esports. "[Capcom] can't leave France out of [the Capcom Pro Tour] when it's arguably the biggest community in Europe - and maybe [the] strongest."

France is the only European country that has sent two players to the Capcom Cup in each of the last two years. It is also home to Olivier "Luffy" Hay, the only player from outside of Asia to win a Street Fighter IV Evo title.

One event that will return is Final Round. On Wednesday, Capcom announced that Final Round will serve as the first Premier event of the season for the fourth straight year. That event, now in its 20th year, will take place in Atlanta during the second weekend of March.

Capcom will announce full details of the 2017 Pro Tour in late February.

Disclaimer: The author of this article has worked as part of the volunteer staff at Combo Breaker/Ultimate Fighting Game Tournament since 2014.

Jan 20 2017 - 9:49 pm

IEM Katowice’s CS:GO tournament is going to be awesome

The final two invites went out today, and the tournament's guaranteed to be exciting.
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports
Photo via Fragbite

The final two teams to be invited to one of the year's biggest events have been announced.

FaZe Clan and Danish soccer club FC Copenhagen's esports venture, North, will be attending IEM Katowice's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive finals from Mar. 1-5, ESL announced today. The teams, which showed impressive form towards the end of 2016 at multiple international LAN events, will be competing against some of the best teams in the world.

The two teams are also the last to receive invitations to the event, as four teams will be added after a series of online qualifiers. In total, three more European teams will be attending IEM Katowice, as well as one North American team. With an already-stacked ensemble of teams ready to attend, such as Brazil's SK Gaming, Polish hometown heroes Virtus Pro, and Denmark's top team Astralis, the four teams that will be advancing through the online qualifiers will be making an already-competitive event all the more fierce.

In October 2016, the current North roster, which was signed to Dignitas at the time, took home the $500,000 EPICENTER event in Moscow. Aside from being one of the biggest events of the year, it had all the top teams in the world in attendance. Since then, however, North has struggled to live up to the expectations placed upon them, and have recently fallen short at nearly all events they have attended since.

The opposite can be said about FaZe, since the team picked up former Astralis in-game leader Finn "Karrigan" Andersen. Since Karrigan's arrival, FaZe have had their best results since the team's inception, and have looked stronger at each event they have attended.

Taking place roughly one month after the ELEAGUE Major, which begins on Jan. 22, IEM Katowice will likely be the debut tournament of several new rosters—so make sure to keep an eye on what could be one of the biggest CS:GO events of the year.