The 2017 Capcom Pro Tour hasn’t even begun yet and there’s already some huge moves being made by the big esports teams as they make their way deeper into the FGC. There’s been some major lineup changes in some of the more established teams, like Evil Geniuses, while newcomers like Echo Fox have bought up a who’s who of Street Fighter legends. Some teams, like Red Bull and Razer, are merely looking to improve on last year’s somewhat disappointing results. Here’s a rundown of the major teams and what to expect from them when the 2017 Capcom Pro Tour kicks off again.
The FGC side of EG has been a major part of their organisation for a long time, but towards the end of 2016 they announced that they would be parting ways with Eduardo ‘PR Balrog’ Perez, who has stated that he wants to grow his own brand in 2017. Then, at the start of the year, they announced that some of their biggest names—Momochi, Chocoblanka and Justin Wong—would be leaving them, likely for similar reasons.
It wasn’t all departures, however. They’ve retained the services of Capcom Cup runner-up Ricki Ortiz and Capcom Cup qualifier Kenneth ‘K-Brad’ Bradley, who also happens to be a notable Marvel vs. Capcom player and therefore absolutely worth keeping around with the new game on the horizon. They also brought in EVO 2016 MvC3 winner Christopher ‘NY ChrisG’ Gonzales, who has had some decent performances in Street Fighter V but is a Marvel legend, so providing his skills transfer over to the new game fairly well, he’s a great signing for the early stages of that new game.
Prediction: A less successful season this time around thanks to those key departures.
Joining the FGC last year with their shrewd signing of Julio Fuentes, Echo Fox made a genuine powerplay a week or so ago when they snapped up the three players who recently left EG—Yusuke Momochi, his wife Yuko, and genuine Street Fighter legend Justin Wong. They also signed Hajime Tanaguchi, aka Tokido, who has been sponsorless since Mad Catz sacked it all off early last year.
With his usual main Akuma being added to the game and, so far, looking pretty damn good, he’s a very strong signing for the upcoming Capcom Pro Tour.
Interestingly, outside of Street Fighter V, they also acquired the services of Dominique ‘SonicFox’ McLean, who is the greatest NeverRealm game player right now. He's a multiple EVO champion looking to continue that run this year, not only in Mortal Kombat XL but also their new title Injustice 2. There’s nothing like a surefire thing in the FGC, but SonicFox in NeverRealm games is about as close as you can get.
Prediction: Domination in MKXL/Injustice 2, and a very good year in Street Fighter V.
Team Liquid have a strong presence in most of the other main esports titles, but only one player signed to them in the FGC. However, their one player is none other than Du ‘NuckleDu’ Dang, Capcom Cup 2016 winner and arguably the best Street Fighter V player in the World right now. They didn’t just sign him off the back of his SFV performances, either, picking him up towards the end of 2015 after his excellent finish in Ultra Street Fighter IV.
Obviously, NuckleDu is going to be a contender in Season 2, but will Team Liquid look to pick up another Street Fighter pro to go alongside him? Although Echo Fox snapped up a lot of the major players, there’s still some big, talented names in the top 30 that are without sponsorship. MOV, Mago and Ryan Hart all spring to mind. The thing is, do they actually need anyone else?
Prediction: They remain a one man show, but it’s the man.
A slightly disappointing first season of Street Fighter V for one of the biggest name sponsors. Olivier ‘Luffy’ Hay showed that he is still one of the best players in Europe, but had a disappointing Capcom Cup final. Snake Eyez and Bonchan, however, didn’t even make it.
Season 2 is going to be another interesting one for Team RB, with Luffy currently spending a fair bit of time complaining about the nerfs to his chosen character—R. Mika. Bonchan is a Nash main, with Nash getting his wings well and truly clipped with the recent balance patch he too could struggle when the Pro Tour starts up again. Their US player, Snake Eyez, might be their ace.
With most of the Japanese FGC stating that Zangief is now a very strong character, the lifelong Zangief main could challenge for a 2017 Capcom Cup spot. With no fear of invincible Dragon Punches any more, Zangief can be a lot more aggressive and put on a terrifying amount of pressure. He's not quite the Zangief of old, but one can imagine that Snake Eyez is pretty happy with how things are looking (unless he jumps ship to Akuma!)
Prediction: Luffy continues to be a strong player, Snake Eyez qualifies for Capcom Cup.
One of the most stacked Street Fighter IV teams had a decent first year in Street Fighter V, but could still definitely consider it underachieving when you consider the level of talent they have on the books. Former EVO winners Xian and Fuudo and EVO 2016 winner Infiltration all qualified for Capcom Cup, but didn’t quite make the top 8.
In the few weeks since Season 2 dropped, Infiltration has declared his current main—Nash—to be dead and it's going to be interesting to see who he picks up next, as he has always been a multi-character specialist. Fuudo has been using Mika, who has had some of her best tools nerfed and will require a different approach to match ups now, while Xian, well, he's always played some odd characters in terms of the tier list—F.A.N.G and Ibuki are his current picks and he appears to be stubbornly sticking with them.
Prediction: Infiltration and Fuudo come back strong with a totally new characters, while Xian continues to do his thing and win regardless.