Capcom Cup IX was an epic event spanning more than a week where the best players from around the world converged on Hollywood for a shot at the $300,000 prize pool. It was a grand finale for a Capcom Pro Tour 2022 season which continued to expand with over 150 World Warrior events introduced this year. Capcom Cup IX also marked the end of the Street Fighter V era, and what a way to go out! The game has given us many great memories and thrilling matches over the years and Capcom Cup IX has provided more that will ring out far into the future. It is here that the historic crowning of the first two-time Capcom Cup Champion, the Dominican Republic’s BANDITS|MenaRD, came to pass. Let’s take a look at a few of the event’s many highlights.
China’s BLG|Zhen Stuns at the Last Chance Qualifier
The Last Chance Qualifier is always riveting to watch as hundreds of the world’s best players gather to compete for that final spot in Capcom Cup. Often there are surprises that come out of the LCQ. Who can forget in 2017 when Japan’s Nemo won the LCQ and went on to rampage through the Capcom Cup bracket until he was stopped by MenaRD in Winners Finals? The next year Punk himself sponsored Taiwan’s ZJZ who went on to win the LCQ even though his Capcom Cup run was cut off early. China’s 19-year old BLG|Zhen and his historic run at Capcom Cup IX will be long remembered.
Over 200 players took part in the LCQ and Zhou would slice his way through the bracket with stunning efficiency, beating many incredible players on his way to winning the event. Some of the players he vanquished along the way included UK’s Mouz|Problem X and Broski, followed by Japan’s RED BULL|Gachikun, SS|Shuto and finally AZ|Kichipa-mu in Grand Finals. BLG|Zhen’s uncanny accuracy at making reads made his M. Bison seem different from the rest, and more formidable. Zhen won the LCQ without losing a set and would not lose until (like Nemo in 2017) he would crash into MenaRD in Winners Finals. What made Zhen’s performance even more unbelievable was the revelation that he had only taken part in two offline tournaments, winning one of them, getting most of his practice online.
Capcom Cup IX Group Stage
Previous Capcom Cups have used the double elimination bracket format, which was exciting to watch as a spectator but for the players it was two losses and you went home. This year Capcom Cup featured a Group stage where each player participated in a mini-round robin within their groups to determine who moved on to top 16. This allowed more leniency as even players with two losses in the Group Stage, such as Japan’s VICTRIX|Momochi and France’s Mister Crimson, made it into top 16 albeit on the losers side. Some of the surprise casualties of the Group stage included US’s Punk and CLG|ChrisCCH, Korea’s BLG|DCQ, the UAE’s NASR|Big Bird, and Taiwan’s UYU|Oil King.
BLG|Zhen was not the only young player to make top 16 at Capcom Cup IX. The UK’s EndingWalker electrified onlookers with his Ed. At just 16 years old he entered top 16 on the winners side and made it to top 8 Winners Semi-Finals before taking his first loss to BANDITS|MenaRD’s Birdie. He would finish tied for 5th place, which is a tremendous accomplishment for a player who, like Zhen, had little experience in big offline tournaments. Through it all he looked to have nerves of steel, only revealing in an interview between matches that he was actually nervous. He certainly made a lot of new fans at Capcom Cup IX.
Two standouts coming in from the losers side were US’s XSET|iDom and France’s Mister Crimson. Mister Crimson and his Dhalsim would make it all the way to Losers Semi-Final, taking out fellow-Frenchman Valmaster, Belgium’s Takamura, Korea’s UYU|NL and UAE’s NASR|AngryBird as he went. iDom is the defending Capcom Cup Champion, having won in 2019, and for a while his momentum made it seem possible that he could make it to Grand Finals. Along the way he defeated Japan’s G8S|Pugera, China’s BLG|VXBao, Spain’s VegaPatch, and UK’s EndingWalker before meeting Mister Crimson in Losers Semi-Final. Unfortunately, there could be only one victor and after a thrilling set iDom would win 3-1. Zhen would eliminate iDom in Losers Finals 3-1 to end his hopes for a repeat.
On the winners side it was BANDITS|MenaRD and BLG|Zhen who dominated. Zhen seemed all but unbeatable at Capcom Cup IX until he met MenaRD in Winners Finals and was stopped cold. MenaRD is a master of several characters and it was with Luke that he proved that Zhen was human and could be beaten. MenaRD would win 3-1. Zhen would go to the losers bracket for one set, where he dispatched iDom in Losers Finals 3-1, to meet MenaRD once again in Grand Finals. In Grand Finals the runback was similar to Winners Finals, with MenaRD being very much in control for almost the entire set while Zhen seemed to struggle to gain any offensive traction. MenaRD would win Grand Finals 3-1.
BANDITS|MenaRD: The first two-time Capcom Cup Champion!
It’s a tremendous feat for a player to make it to Capcom Cup and win against the world’s top players but MenaRD is the first to do it twice! MenaRD did not lose a single set during Capcom Cup IX, going 4-0 in the Group Stage and winning Capcom Cup on the winners side. In top 16 none of his opponents, including the seemingly unstoppable BLG|Zhen, won more than one game against him. It was a dominating performance with a historic result for the Capcom Pro Tour. Congratulations to MenaRD, Capcom Cup IX Champion!
Capcom Pro Tour 2023
Next season is the start of a new era with Street Fighter 6 taking center stage. As is the case every time a transition to a new game takes place there will be players who take to it quickly and excel and those who need time to adjust. It’s also another great opportunity for new players to come to the forefront. The Capcom Pro Tour has expanded into regions of the world which had previously not gotten much attention, giving spotlight to new talents left unseen until now. Next year the new game, as well as a prize pool of more than $2,000,000 announced after Capcom Cup IX, will raise the heights of enthusiasm and passion to new levels. We can’t wait to see it and hope you will join us!