The Capcom Cup was action-packed and full of surprises

It’s over. The first Capcom Pro Tour season of the Street Fighter V era has come to an end with one of the best tournaments of the entire year—The Capcom Cup. The top 32 qualified players from all around the globe gathered at the PlayStation Experience event to fight it out for their cut of over $350,000.

The favourites fall

The first round of loser’s bracket matches were the kind of matchup that wouldn’t look out of place in the grand finals.

After one of the most dominant starts to the Pro Tour 2016 season, everyone assumed that Infiltration was a total shoe-in to win the whole thing. He won back to back Premier events. He won EVO. He was going to win Capcom Cup, right?

Wrong. He was eliminated 0-2. I went better than 0-2 at my last tournament. Admittedly, I wasn’t fighting against the best players in the world, but the point is, someone of Infiltration’s status would find that result extremely disappointing.

Same goes for Tokido, the first man to dethrone Infiltration in those initial months. He also went 0-2, losing to one of the biggest underdogs, DRRay from the Dominican Republic, in his first match and then one of the EVO top 8 players, Eita, after that.

The first two rounds were an absolute bloodbath. Justin Wong went 0-2. Ryan Hart went 0-2. Chris T and Julio Fuentes went 0-2. Gamerbee, Mago, Phenom, Filipino Champ and Daigo all lost their first matches and went to the loser’s bracket. The first round of loser’s bracket matches were the kind of matchup that wouldn’t look out of place in the grand finals.

Ricki Ortiz’s clutch play

Despite finishing in second place overall, the performance of the Capcom Cup has to go to Ricki Ortiz. A fighting game veteran, she had a decent first season of Street Fighter V but I don’t think anyone had picked her to go as far in the tournament as she did. Hell, I don’t think anyone picked her to go past her first match, against double premier winner Gamerbee.

But she did. It went RIGHT down to the wire, but she managed to pull of the first of many famous victories. Next up was EVO top 8 player Yukadon, who again took her right to the brink of elimination, only to be dispatched by her in one of the most tense matches of the entire tournament.

In the top 16, she played in a Chun-Li mirror match against GO-1 in what was to be her third 3-2 win. A fourth 3-2 put her into a historic Winner’s Finals match against NuckleDu, as it was the first to be contested between two Americans. Sent to the loser’s bracket, she eliminated last year’s Capcom Cup overall winner Kazunoku in straight sets to get the runback against NuckleDu in Grand Final, who was just too much to overcome. Ricki played out of her mind the entire tournament and showed a ridiculous ability to remain cool under extreme pressure in almost every one of her matches. Her only losses were to the eventual champion.

Du World Order

Team Liquid’s NuckleDu was the in-form player headed into Capcom Cup and he rode this wave—from being the first American to win a Premier a few weeks ago—to taking first prize in this stacked tournament. Right now, there’s no denying that he is the best Street Fighter player in the World.

Du has had quite the year. Earlier on in 2016, he was dealing with some serious personal issues. It’s truly heart-warming to see the turnaround that has taken place and led him to this point.

While Ricki Ortiz was taken right to the wire in almost all of her matches, NuckleDu had quite the opposite run to the grand finals. He never lost more than one game in any set and lost four games overall in the entire tournament, jumping between his two main characters, Guile and R. Mika. It was as close as you’ll get to total domination against a tournament full of the best players in the world. To win Capcom Cup is an incredible achievement. To win it like this will take some beating.

Essential matches to watch

Watch any or all of Ricki Ortiz’s run to the finals, but this top 8 match against Haitani is incredibly tense. Keep your eye on the way that Ricki changes up the timing on her EX Spinning Bird Kick to keep the Necalli pressure at a minimum, without using her V-Reversal.

K-Brad vs Daigo, from the very first round, was incredible. K-Brad qualified for Capcom Cup in less than ideal circumstances, as a higher ranked player couldn’t attend the event. Put against Daigo immediately, no one expected K-Brad to win, nevermind put on an incredible performance, showing an ability to adapt and ridiculous hit confirms.

Much like Ricki Ortiz, any of NuckleDu’s matches are worth checking out, but this one against the other most in-form player headed into the Capcom Cup, China’s Xiao Hai, was a real statement of intent. Du destroys him 3-0 with the best R. Mika play you will see. Look at that reset to win the final game. It's so risky: only someone playing with extreme confidence would try that and pull it off.

The year to come

With the 2016 season in the bag, all eyes are on the 20th December and the release of the first season 2 character, Akuma, who is going to be accompanied by the season 2 balance patch. Players had the chance to have a hands-on with it at PSX and, although this is by no means a confirmed final build, there are some clear changes to the overall battle system that will greatly affect the overall meta in the coming year. For instance, the Capcom Cup final match this year was contested by a Chun-Li and an R. Mika. I would be extremely surprised to see both of those characters in the same place this time next year.