The long, winding road of the 2015 Capcom Pro Tour is nearing its end. The nine-month odyssey began in Cannes, France, and has criss-crossed the globe through Las Vegas, Milan, Tokyo, London, Sao Paulo, and many points in between.
Nearly 3,000 took part in the journey in hopes of reaching the final destination: next weekend’s Capcom Cup in San Francisco. There’s only room for 32 players in San Francisco, however, and 31 of them have secured their places there.
The final ticket will be awarded this Saturday at DreamHack Winter in Jönköping, Sweden. There will be no CPT points awarded, so it’s win-or-go-home for everyone hoping to win the final spot in next weekend’s $250,000 season finale. Only five of the 31 currently registered to compete, as most of the players who have qualified for Capcom Cup are using this weekend to prepare for their potential matches at that event. The rest of the field will be composed of players from all across Europe and the rest of the world, all of whom will be hungry to make their mark and play their way into the Capcom Cup field.
Quite a few notable players who have yet to earn their way to San Francisco will be spectators this weekend. The one with the greatest interest in this weekend’s results is Haojun “Dakou” Su. Dakou is the only player who can claim the final place in Capcom Cup without winning it himself at DreamHack. If the Premier spot at stake this weekend is won by someone who is already in the Capcom Cup field—either Oliver “Luffy” Hay, Valentin “Valmaster” Petit, or Jonny Lai “HumanBomb” Cheng—Dakou will take the final spot in San Francisco. He can also qualify if all of the top four finishers are players who have already earned Premier berths, but only two such players—Keoma Moutsatsos Pachero and Kun Xian Ho—are scheduled to attend as of this time.
Of course, the rest of the field might have something to say about that. Even if the field isn’t quite as pedigreed as the ones seen at Canada Cup or Tokyo Game Show, there are plenty of contenders who are talented enough to claim victory this weekend. Players like UK legend Ryan “Prodigal Son” Hart can make deep runs at any time and are on the radars of players and fans alike, but as we saw two years ago at this event, failing to take any opponent seriously can be a grave mistake.
DreamHack Winter – Nov. 28
Premier Event – Winner (or highest-placing person who hasn’t won a Premier berth) qualifies for Capcom Cup
Pools: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 2am PT/5am ET/10:00 UTC
To p 32: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 8am PT/11am ET/16:00 UTC
Players to watch
Xian, Team Razer – Xian is looking to ‘bounce back’ from somewhat-disappointing performances at Canada Cup (13th) and CPT Asia Finals (4th, 4-4 record). Yet no matter how loaded a tournament may be, the 2013 EVO champion is a threat to make a deep run. He has made Grand Finals four times at CPT events this season and has won three of those events. Europe has been especially good to Xian, as he has finished no worse than ninth at any of the three European Premier events this season.
Keoma – Keoma has rarely played outside of South America. He flew from Brazil to Europe to gain valuable international experience before the Capcom Cup, and that decision appears to have paid off. He scored an impressive victory over Luffy at this past weekend’s Street Grand Battle on his way to a third-place finish. He’ll be looking to make another deep run at DreamHack.
Luffy, Meltdown – To paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield, Luffy can’t get no respect. The consensus No. 1 European player has won five CPT events this season (no other European player has won any), yet seems to catch flack for not winning any Premier events. This weekend appears to be his best chance, as he has performed well at this event in previous years. He took third place in 2013 and fourth place last year, and none of the players who finished ahead of him at either tournament are registered to appear this weekend.
HumanBomb, Canada Cup Gaming – HumanBomb has played very well in Asia this year, finishing fourth or better at four CPT events this year, including runner-up finishes at both Abuget Cup and Manila Cup. Even though he’s in the Capcom Cup field, he’d love to finally get a win and take some momentum with him to San Francisco.
Valmaster, Team YP – As super as Valmaster has played over the past few months, fellow Frenchman Luffy has been his kryptonite. Last weekend’s Street Grand Battle was just the latest in a long line of events where Luffy has ended his tournament run. Valmaster would love a win this weekend, but he would certainly relish it even more if he could slay his demon in the process.
Ryan Hart, Falcon Arena – A Capcom Cup without Ryan Hart is not only a very real possibility, but perhaps a probability as well. Hart was the first person to qualify for Capcom Cup 2014 when he won Final Round 17. He must claim the Premier spot on the line this week to make a return trip to San Francisco, but that is a tall task as he only has one Top 3 CPT finish this season.
Yoshihisa “Gonzales” Hirata, eSports-Runner – Gonzales loves his home country of Japan, but he may want to consider moving to Europe. He has four finishes of fifth or better on this year’s tour, and three of them—including his season-best second-place finish at Call of Ragnarok—have come at European events. If he can continue that continental form, he just might play his way into Capcom Cup this weekend.
Arman Rabiee “Phenom” Hanjani, BX3/TP Link – Phenom has yet to win a CPT event, but he has been a consistent threat to make deep runs at any given tournament, as evidenced by his Top 24 finish at EVO 2015 and a pair of third-place finishes at Call of Ragnarok and Summer Jam. If he can build upon his fourth-place finish at last weekend’s Street Grand Battle -(of the players in the DreamHack field, only Keoma did better) he might just find that breakthrough this weekend.
Adel “Big Bird” Anouche, Falcon Arena – At 18 years old, Big Bird is one of the young stars of the growing Middle Eastern scene. The youngster from the UAE might lack the international experience of some of the other competitors, but he’s made the most of the chances he’s had against top competition. He is best known for his win at Dubai’s GAMES15 in September, where he came back from the losers’ bracket to defeat Seonwoo “Infiltration” Lee in Grand Finals.