Oct 14 2016 - 2:52 pm

Three big questions for SoCal Regionals

Top Street Fighter players have always circled this weekend’s event on their calendars
Steve Jurek
Dot Esports

Top Street Fighter players have always circled this weekend’s event on their calendars. This year, they probably made that circle a little bigger.

SoCal Regionals (SCR) has always been one of the highlights of the Street Fighter tournament season. The fields of previous events have been loaded with many of the world's top-ranked players, and this year's edition is no exception. Nearly every top American Street Fighter V player will be in Santa Ana, CA to compete, as will several of Asia’s best.

SCR’s position on the Capcom Pro Tour calendar elevates the event’s status even higher. Not only will the winner qualify for the Capcom Cup, but the event is one of the last chances to earn valuable Pro Tour points. The race for the final spots in the $350,000 championship event is incredibly tight, and nearly everyone in contention for that spot will be in the field this weekend.

Here are the three big questions that will be answered once the action begins on Saturday at 1pm ET/10am PT on twitch.tv/capcomfighters:

Can Gamerbee continue his reign of dominance?

In the eyes of many, Bruce "Gamerbee" Hsiang had come to personify the phrase "always a bridesmaid, never a bride." Gamerbee has earned several tournament titles, but he also garnered several notable close calls. He finished second at DreamHack Winter 2014 when he needed to win to qualify for that year's Capcom Cup. He finished second at Evo 2015, falling just one round short of a career-defining victory. And he finished either second or third in four straight Pro Tour events earlier this fall.

Now, it appears he can't stop winning. Gamerbee ended that streak of near-wins this season with an emphatic victory at last month's Japan Cup to secure a Capcom Cup berth. He didn't have to wait long for his next Premier victory as he picked up the EGX title just one week later. Now, after a couple weeks off, he enters SCR as one of the clear favorites. If he can win a third Premier event, he'll be *the* favorite to win the Capcom Cup and take home the $150,000-plus first-place prize.

Will the American Premier event drought finally end?

October 12, 2014 is a date etched in the minds of many American Street Fighter fans. That day was when California's Darryl "Snake Eyez" Lewis defeated Ho Kun Xian to win The Fall Classic, which was the last time that an American player won a Capcom Pro Tour Premier event. Despite multiple close calls over the past two years, the Stars and Stripes have gone 0 for their last 30 in Premier events.

Justin Wong, who has won a record seven Pro Tour events this season, is one of many Americans hoping to end Team USA's run of futility, as will fellow top-ranked players Julio Fuentes and Du "NuckleDu" Dang. Anton "Filipinoman" Herrera, who became a free agent last week, will hope to improve upon his fourth-place finish at last year's event, which was best among American players. And if you're in the mood for a dark horse, look no further than "Commander Jesse" Espinoza, who earned a surprise top-eight finish at the Brooklyn Beatdown earlier this month.

Can any Capcom Cup contenders make a move?

Everyone in attendance at SCR will be gunning for first place and the Capcom Cup berth that goes along with it. However, the points at stake this weekend are also vital. This weekend's Premier event is one of the final four events to award Pro Tour points this season, and a strong performance this weekend could be the difference between being a part of the Capcom Cup field and being a part of the Capcom Cup audience.

Younes "CCL" Lazaar, who will be at the European Regional Final in Milan, Italy this weekend, currently holds the final qualification spot on the global leaderboard. The two players ahead of him are Ryan "FChamp" Ramirez and Kishida "Go1" Goichi. They lead CCL by one and 15 points respectively. His three closest pursuers are Hayashi "Mago" Kenryo (three points behind), Chris Tatarian (15 back), and Haitani Tatsuya (33 back). All five of those players are part of the SCR field, and all will hope to either earn or solidify their Capcom Cup berths this weekend.

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.