Capcom confirms list of players set to compete at ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational

Thumbnail image courtesy of Capcom

The 32 players set to compete in the ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational have been confirmed in a tweet from John Diamonon, Director of Licensing & Consumer Products at Capcom.

ELEAGUE previously announced that the tournament would feature the top 16 players based on the Capcom Pro Tour as well as 16 additional invites decided by Capcom.

The ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational will begin with a preliminary round between March 27-30. The event features a $250,000 prize pool.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports whose journalism idol is Dino Ghiranze. You can follow him on Twitter.

Ricki Ortiz: '[Urien] definitely needs a little bit of nerfing for sure'

Thumbnail image courtesy of Evil Geniuses

The Street Fighter offseason is almost over, which means the scene's top players have spent a long time training, and an even longer time examining how the Season 2 patch shifted the Street Fighter V meta.

For Ricki Ortiz, the offseason brought nerfs to her signature character, Chun-Li, and gave her a chance to square off against some of the game's new OP picks.

theScore esports got a chance to chat with the Capcom Cup grand finalist about what buffs Chun-Li would need to return to her former glory, the SFV ELEAGUE invitational and why Season 2 Urien is completely broken.

So, you were one of the strongest, if not the strongest Chun-Li player in the world in Season 1. Do you think you still hold that title?

I definitely think so at the moment yes. I think Chun-Li as a character is a little harder to play now, so I think that a lot of the previous Chun-Li players might switch and not play her.

I'm still going to play her in certain matchups, and I'm also thinking of picking up Cammy on the side for the matchups that got a little bit harder for Chun-Li. I used to think that she didn't have any bad matches, but now she has quite a few because of all the nerfs she got, and a bunch of other characters got buffed. So, yeah, but I think I'll still continue to play her, and hopefully I'll still be the best with her.

What do you think of the new CPT format?

I definitely like the new format, because I definitely think it's more simple, and awards more points for people who are consistent. Ultimately, you should award the most consistent players overall.

I think that even if the points system isn't always a little askew, people complain about regional qualifiers and how you get regional points and global points, I think ultimately, the same 32 people will still make it. other than maybe one or two. I think the only players who wouldn't have made it last year if the points system was only global points — I think it was only Sako who wouldn't make it unfortunately. But everyone else would. It's pretty much the same, but I definitely like the awarding system overall now, and I think that's pretty good.

How do you feel about the SFV ELEAGUE Invitational?

So that is actually something that's new to me. I've never done an event like that. I think it's pretty awesome and it's pretty fresh, it's something new and I think it's going to be a success. The one they did for Mortal Kombat was extremely good, and hopefully this one will be just as good if not better and it's also a great prize with great competition. It should be fun.

Is it a good idea to keep trying to put Street Fighter on TV?

I definitely consider it good, I think Street Fighter, to me personally, it's a beautiful game. Once you understand it and understand all the little nuances of the game, I think everyone will love the game. It's extremely fun and so exciting to watch, especially Street Fighter V. It's one of the most exciting Street Fighters for sure, because it's a very explosive game. It's hard to stay consistent at it, and it makes every player have to play extra hard to stay at their best and win an event.

I think the more that Street Fighter will be televised on national TV will only make it more successful. It will only do good to have it on TV, so hopefully it catapults it somewhere to A-tier, somewhere like Dota or League of Legends hopefully.

A lot of people have been pegging a few characters as the strongest right now, namely Urien, Laura, Balrog — do you think that's the case?

Yeah. But you don't see too many players switching characters because I feel like in the newer Street Fighter games it's harder to jump around between characters because you have to learn so many matchups and I think that's something that players definitely don't want to learn.

A lot of players are sticking to the same characters they're playing. personally, I think Urien is the best character in the game, but you don't really see a lot of Urien players, you see the Urien players who played him before are still playing him, and there's only a couple who switched over, like Nemo, who won the Topanga league. he played Vega before, but Vega isn't too great, so I can understand the switch. Definitely just because the character is top tier, it's not going to make me want to switch. Even in Season 1, I still played Cammy on the side a little bit, and I will continue to play her a little bit, she was good, but I played her regardless.

Which characters do you think might be hidden top tiers right now? Who are the strong characters that are flying under the radar?

Rashid is extremely strong. He's the main one. And I also think Chun-Li is really strong in this game too right now. I think they nerfed her quite a bit, but I also think that within time, and with knowledge of the game, the new characters, the matchups, I definitely think once the game is developed a little bit more, I think she'll be top tier again. She has everything to be a top tier character, she has movement, she has speed, she has normals, she has decent damage, she has a great super, high damaging air-to-airs and her anti-air might not be so great any more but if you're playing consistently, if you're extremely sharp and you have all the matchups down, anti-airing shouldn't a problem for you.

What do you think is the most important talent or skill that a player needs to have in order to play competitively?

I definitely think it's adapting and understanding what your opponent is doing. Pretty much when you play in a match in a tournament, you're only playing best two out of three. Anyone can lose two out of three. It doesn't matter how good or how bad you are, especially in Street Fighter V, anyone can win. So you have to be able to adapt to your opponent within one round. This game only allows that window, because if you get knocked down, it could culminate in the death of your character. So you have to be able to be on your toes and adapt to situations like that.

What would you want to see in a new balance patch?

I would definitely like to see them give a little bit of stuff back to Chun-Li. I'm not asking for too much, just a little bit. Give me a little bit of damage. I said previously if they were going to nerf her, they could nerf her anti-air, because that was extremely good. Her standing heavy punch was extremely good and her TK-legs was extremely good. I'd say you could take away one or two of those things, but if you take away all three of them, then you kind of limit her, those three moves are what made her good. I'd say that V-Reversal is extremely cheap, so they can leave that the way it is. But I definitely think she should still have TK-legs. Because, the way she worked before, she had a too strong defense and a too strong offense.

The way she is now, they took away her defense by taking away her anti-air, and they took away her offense by taking away TK-legs. So she has no real way to open a player up, so she's kind of stuck in Street Fighter limbo, where she kind of like, is trying to attack but not really, and trying to be defensive but I can't be that defensive because I can't anti-air too well, so I have to be like super, super sharp.

So if they could give her just one tool back, I think she'd be the perfect character. You don't have to giver her everything, but you don't got to take everything as well. I just think with the way they're nerfing and buffing characters, it's a little unforgiving. If they're going to take something away from a character, they might as well take it away from all of them. Or, if anything, make all the characters extremely good instead of making some really bad and some extremely amazing.

You’ve mentioned anti-air a few times — do you think that's what they might need to buff in order to bring Chun Li back where she should be?

I definitely even think just a simple anti-air buff would make her better. With everything the way it is right now, they could just buff her anti-air and she'd be a more complete character. Right now, she's a little incomplete, playing her is just — you don't feel extremely comfortable playing her because you never know what's in store for you because you never know if you're too close or too far, or if you're opponent jumps if you can anti-air them. It's like you miss anti-air, right?

But since the hitbox is so small now, it misses and you end up losing the round because of that, because you get knocked down and they get you with like set play and then you die. It's kind of like ugh, well, I did the right thing but I wasn't spaced properly I guess. It's very fickle, the anti-air.

Do you think that they have to nerf characters like Urien and Rashid at all?

I definitely think they won't nerf Rashid just because a lot of players don't play him so I don't think — they don't understand him or can't see it yet. But I definitely think characters like Urien are kind of like Mika and Chun Li in Season 1. It's almost like, why? Why are they so strong? There's no reason for them to be that strong, you know? They're just too good for their own good and I would figure that, from Season 1, they would have learned their lesson but I think that what happened was the same thing with Rashid. Like I said, Rashid is really good, but Capcom won't know because no one really plays him. Same thing with Urien, he came out rather late in the season. No one really played him, no one really knew whether he was good or not.

And the people who played him, they didn't play him enough so they complained about him and they said, "What is up with this? We keep losing with him." Well, that's because you haven't had enough time with the character yet. So what they did was, they didn't take anything from him and they just gave him a bunch of stuff that he didn't need. I always thought the character was great to begin with, he didn't need more stuff on top of that, so they gave him a bunch of extra stuff that he didn't need. Like he's a niche character, he’s a fancy character. If you had a dream for Urien, what would you want? And someone was listing off everything they wanted for the character, you know? Let's give him this, let's give him this, let's give him this. That's what I feel that character is, so he definitely needs a little bit of nerfing for sure. But not too much because you don't want to make the character unplayable and I think that is key, especially to gaining more access and gaining more players for Street Fighter.

If a new player is going to play Street Fighter, you don't want to have them play the game and learn a character and feel accomplished just for the next season to have their character be completely demolished. They're kind of up in arms, kind of like, "Well, I learned this character and it took me a lot of time, a lot of dedication, and now my character is stuck and I can't perform that well any more." It's just very disheartening for a new player, I feel, so they should definitely keep that in mind, that they should nerf and buff characters in a fair extent I feel.

Kristine "Vaalia" Hutter is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find her on Twitter.

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

ELEAGUE and Street Fighter on TV: How do you make a game into a Tier 1 esport?

Thumbnail image courtesy of Capcom

What does it take to make a game into a premier esport? The term itself a little silly, considering there's some pretty big disparities between what we traditionally consider to be the big three esports titles, but everyone else wants to hit the heights of CS:GO, League of Legends and Dota 2. From Vainglory to Overwatch, every game with a competitive scene is trying to reach Tier 1. Last week, ELEAGUE decided it would give Street Fighter a chance, too.

For a long time, the fighting game community has sort of languished right outside the realm of esports. Depending on who you ask, fighting games are Tier 2, or Tier 3 or Tier Nothing to the members of the community who don't really care about esports. But it's hard to deny that there are elements of esports in the FGC right now. EVO and the Capcom Cup finals were televised, and now, ELEAGUE has invited 32 players to a $250,000, televised league, something that would have been unimaginable even five years ago. But is it enough to turn Street Fighter into a premier esport?

Plenty of esport titles have been on TV before, including Street Fighter, and they aren't currently commanding hundreds of thousands of viewers on Twitch, so we can safely say that just being on TV isn't enough to make a game suddenly super popular. However, ELEAGUE does seem to raise the profile of the games it gets itself involved in a little. However fair or unfair that might be ELEAGUE has done a pretty good job of branding itself as a premier event for whatever game it jumps into. The first two seasons of their CS:GO league did well enough to earn them a Major after just one year of existence, which even broke Twitch records for peak viewership.

However, the only other game that ELEAGUE has staked its claim on so far is Overwatch, which did fine for ELEAGUE, but not too much for the scene. Twitch viewership wasn't bad, especially for a growing game like Overwatch, but it didn't exactly break records. On the last day of the Overwatch Open, the channel broadcasting the event hit a peak of 30,879 viewers, while Overwatch reached 42,873 overall. That pales in comparison to the 214,280 peak viewers that the Overwatch World Cup stream pulled in at BlizzCon, which is still the most watched Overwatch tournament to date. ELEAGUE didn't suddenly turn Overwatch into a premier esport with the Overwatch Open. Despite their best efforts, they didn't really reshape the scene.

A chart displaying Overwatch peak and average viewership on Twitch courtesy The red box highlights the portion of the chart that corresponds to Sept. 25-30, the Overwatch Open playoffs days.

But maybe Street Fighter is different? It has a lot of things that both Overwatch and CS:GO don't. Fighting games legend Justin Wong points out that Street Fighter specifically has name cache among a casual audience that CS:GO and Overwatch haven't been around long enough to have.

"I think a lot of the casual audience will know what Street Fighter in general is," Wong told theScore esports. "Many people probably don't keep up to date but they know who Ryu and Ken are. They used to play at their local arcades or even a candy store that had some arcade cabinets. I get approached all the time at airports when I take out my fightstick and people always say, 'You use that for Street Fighter II?' and I reply with, 'Yes but I use it for Street Fighter V.' They are always surprised because they never knew that there was something past Street Fighter II."

On top of that, the fighting game viewing experience doesn't require a spectator mode or trained observers, just exactly what the players see on screen. Overwatch was stuck with a subpar spectator mode during the Overwatch Open, and CS:GO can be confusing to a first time viewer who doesn't know the rules — the exact kind of person who might accidentally stumble across the tournament on TV.

"I think fighting games in general look good on TV if you have to choose a competitive video game genre," Wong said. "You can put Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Injustice, Marvel Vs. Series or Tekken 7 and it would look good because people would understand that it is a fight and one side has to win."

There is, however, the issue of the level of competition. ELEAGUE's SFV invitational comes at a weird time in terms of scheduling, since it's going to be falling right in the middle of the Capcom Pro Tour. Combo Breaker organizer Rick Thiher pointed out on Twitter that with their multi-week format, ELEAGUE could easily have filled out the post-EVO lull in the FGC calendar. Instead, it's taking place over several weekends during other events, including the final weekend which will coincide with Combo Breaker and Red Bull Kumite.

So, it's not guaranteed the full attention of its audience, and ELEAGUE isn't a proven system to get your game noticed by whoever the esports tastemaker Illuminati are. So, we have to ask, what's the point of putting all this on TV? Will it actually do anything for the FGC?

To be fair to ELEAGUE, they're going to have significantly higher production values than most FGC events, if only because there's more money floating around Turner Sports than in your local TO's bank account. Plus, that $250,000 prize pool makes competitive SFV even more exciting this year, since there's more than just the CPT prize pool on the line. It's hard to imagine it won't be an exciting event, it's just equally hard to imagine that it will significantly change the FGC in some miraculous way.

So what does it take to make a game into a premier esport? I wish I knew, but I don't think that ELEAGUE putting Street Fighter V on TV is going to do it.

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. He hopes one day, he can be on TV for being great at Windjammers. You can follow him on Twitter.

Capcom streamlines 2017 pro tour; removes Premier auto-qualification, adds more online events

Thumbnail image courtesy of Capcom

After a long offseason, the 2017 Capcom Pro Tour is seeing some hardcore changes to simplify and streamline the upcoming competitive season.

The 2017 CPT season will (mostly) do away with auto-qualification, give out more points per tournament, raise the overall prize pool, shorten the core ranking season to just six months, restore the defending champion's invite, add region locking to the regional leaderboards and even change up the format of the Capcom Cup finals.

"We had Capcom Pro Talk last year and we had Combofiend on there trying to explain how the Capcom Pro Tour worked last year and it was a complete mess," Capcom's Director of Digital Media and Esports Neidel Crisan told theScore esports.

"We want people to be able to go to a website and say 'oh this makes sense.' We want the narrative and the story to be about the players and the events, not about 'how the hell does this thing work?'"

No more Premier auto-qualification

Capcom is revamping the qualification system once again. Only two tournaments will 100 percent guarantee a spot at the 2017 Capcom Cup finals: The 2016 Capcom Cup Finals, and the 2017 Capcom Cup Last Chance Qualifier, to be held on the first day of Capcom Cup 2017.

This means that the only player who will be locked in for Capcom Cup throughout the entire year will be the defending champion, Du "NuckleDu" Dang. Otherwise, the remaining 30 Capcom Cup spots will be drawn from the 30 top players from the global leaderboard.

"We thought last year was really successful. We had an amazing, diverse Capcom Cup with some amazing players, so we're really happy about that," Crisan said. "That said, there was this parallel narrative around the Capcom Pro Tour about how complicated it was to follow. There's all these different qualification rules and processes, and different leaderboards, unfortunately it felt like that kind of detracted from the conversations about the players and the events."

Winning a Global Premier event will be worth 400 points, enough that it's mathematically unlikely for the winning player to miss Capcom Cup unless they totally forgo all other events this season.

Re-worked regionals

This year, each of the four Regional Finals will provide the same points breakdown as a Premier. However, should the winner somehow not find themselves in the global leaderboard Top 30, they will get an automatic qualification to Capcom Cup, and Capcom will pull from the Top 29 instead of the Top 30, and so forth.

Each Regional Final will host an eight-person bracket, drawn from the Top 7 players from each regional leaderboard. The final spot in the bracket will be filled by a last-chance qualifier. The LCQs, including the Capcom Cup 2017 LCQ, will be handled by experienced local TOs. Crisan name-dropped CEO's Alex Jebailey and Combo Breaker's Rick Thiher specifically with regards to the Capcom Cup 2017 LCQ.

Region locking

Next on the long list of changes to the format is region locking. Players who live in a region other than the one they are playing in at a given ranking tournament will not earn regional leaderboard points for their win.

They will still earn global points, but will effectively be barred from playing in the Regional Finals of a region they don't compete in. This means players won't be able to take another region's qualification spot, the way Daigo Umehara did by qualifying for Capcom Cup last year through a European Regional Finals win. Players from other regions also won't be able to participate in each regional finals' LCQ.

"We see instances of like, K-Brad and Justin Wong going for the LatAm region and competing there, and they're trying to qualify through those regional events, we had Daigo win the EU Regional Finals," Crisan said. "This year we really want to focus on the local talent, give them these mini Capcom Cups to highlight local players, and have less of a free-for-all last chance qualifier for anyone in the world. We want to make sure we come away with at least one guy per region."

A new points breakdown

All tournaments will now award more points to more players. Ranking tournaments will award points to the Top 16 players, with first place taking 160 points. Premier events will be paying out points to the Top 64, with 400 points to the winner. EVO will give out points to the Top 256 players, and hand 1,000 points to the winner, effectively guaranteeing qualification.

"We definitely want to reward players who do well at these really difficult tournaments, especially EVO, we also want to give more incentive for players to actually come out and participate in these events," Crisan said. "We ran a bunch of simulations on results from last year, and we found that 400 points is pretty much the sweet spot to essentially qualify someone for Capcom Cup. If you get first at a Premier event, you're pretty much guaranteed to be in there."

Premier events will only run from April to September, though ranking events will run from March to October, effectively giving Street Fighter a pre-season before ranking events start, and a post-season before Capcom Cup ushers in the offseason.

Prize pool increased

The overall prize pool for the Pro Tour has also increased to a base $600,000, up from $500,000 last year. $30,000 will be going to each of the four regional finals, for a total of $120,000 going to regional finals tournaments.

"Another piece of feedback we got from players is that it was too big, there were too many events," Crisan said. "And as we looked at different regions, like Europe and LatAm, there were some events that didn't really hit the mark for us in terms of attendance, and to some degree quality. So we're compressing the ranking event season a little bit. I think we had 12 per region last year, and I don't think we're gonna hit that number in any region this year. We're aiming for 8-10 events per region, and really focus on the highest quality events in each."

More online tournaments

Since each region will not have an equal number of ranking events this season, Capcom will be making up the difference with more online tournaments. Online ranking tournaments will give out the same number of points as offline ones, and, after taking some feedback from last year, will be segmented within each region. For example, two North American events will be East Coast only, and two will be West Coast only. Online tournaments also won't have bracket caps, letting as many players enter as humanly possible.

Finally, Capcom Cup isn't safe from changes either. Following up on complaints of long, exhausting days from the 32 qualified pros last year, Capcom is extending the tournament to 3 days, one for the LCQ, one for Top 32, and one for Top 8. However, Top 32 will not be played as a double-elimination bracket, but as a set of groups that will qualify players for Top 8. The exact format of the groups has yet to be decided, but it should give the players a more exact idea of when they should be in the venue to play, and when they can rest instead of waiting around all day for their next match.

While all of the events for this year's Pro Tour have yet to be determined, Crisan says Capcom has nailed down 85-90 percent of them, and they're mostly waiting on more specific dates from TOs for tournaments later in the year.

Overall, Crisan says that Capcom is aiming to streamline things after an exciting, if confusing, first season of competitive Street Fighter V.

"Our main goal here is to simplify the Capcom Pro Tour," Crisan said. "To make it a lot more streamlined, so that for you as both a player and a spectator, it's a lot easier to follow the action throughout the year. It's our number one goal for 2017."

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. All he wants for Christmas is Sakura in Season 3. You can follow him on Twitter.

mousesports sign CCL, Problem X

Thumbnail image courtesy of mousesports

mousesports have entered Street Fighter by signing two of Europe's strongest Street Fighter V players, Younes "CCL" Lazaar and Benjamin "Problem X" Simon.

"I think Street Fighter is a great game with both a lot of history and massive potential," mouz manager Cengiz Tüylü told theScore esports. "It's fast paced, easy to understand and fun to watch. What makes this game special for us is the community that is really passionate about the game. They organize their own events and players from around the world fly in just to compete. We found two players that fit really well and i am looking forward to April when the season finally starts. I am sure more teams and event organizers will join the FGC very soon."

CCL was something of a newcomer to the Street Fighter scene in 2016, but became a serious contender in Europe with two Capcom Pro Tour ranking tournament wins and eight total ranking tournament Top 8 appearances. He finished the season at second on the European leaderboard and 20th worldwide, earning him a spot at the Capcom Cup finals that he had to turn down for personal reasons.

"I'm very happy to join mousesports," CCL told theScore esports. "It is amazing to be the first Street Fighter player to join them and I believe we can accomplish great things together."

Problem X has been a mainstay of the British Street Fighter scene since Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, and was known for his strong Seth and C.Viper back in the SFIV series. These days, Problem X has been playing a variety of characters in SFV, but has gravitated towards grapplers with strong buttons, mostly playing Alex in Season 1.

He recently placed first at the ZOWIE Brussels Challenge using Birdie and M. Bison. Problem X ended the 2016 season at fifth of the European leaderboard, and 30th worldwide. He placed ninth at EGX, seventh at Sonic Boom and 25th at the Capcom Cup Finals.

"I'm very excited to be a part of mousesports , this is a fantastic opportunity. I'm really looking forward to season 2 of Street Fighter V and I feel the game is developing really well," Problem X told theScore esports. "This year with the support of this new fantastic team, I will attend a lot of events and hopefully produce the great results I believe I'm capable of."

CCL was a Chun-Li player during the 2016 season, but has switched to Urien for Season 2, which he says he's been enjoying more than Season 1 despite some of the disparity between top tier characters and the rest of the cast.

"I think the game is really fun now," CCL said. "The game feels less balanced than Season 1 so I'm happy there will be a patch before Season 2 of the Pro Tour starts, I'd rather Capcom buff weak characters than nerf the strong ones, besides maybe Guile, Boxer and Laura which need to be toned down a little."

Mouz will help send CCL to North American events this season, which he hasn't been able to attend before, and he says he's aiming to perform well in both his home region and NA to qualify and attend the Capcom Cup Finals this year. Problem X has attended several North American events in the past, but Mouz will be getting him back on to the international circuit this season.

The first tournament of the 2017 Capcom Pro Tour is Final Round 20 in Atlanta, Georgia from March 10-12.

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

DreamHack Austin will be a Capcom Pro Tour 2017 Premier Event

Today we are very excited to announce that DreamHack Austin 2017 will be part of this year’s Capcom Pro Tour as a Premier Event! Come out and square-up with players from all over the globe in Street Fighter V at the Austin Convention Center on April 28th- 30th for a chance to win your share of the $15,000 prize pool!

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