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EventHubs weighs in on MenaRD's Street Fighter 5 Capcom Cup 2017 victory in our latest round table

Posted by Steven 'Dreamking23' Chavez • December 14, 2017 at 7:52 p.m. PST • Comments: 276

Saul Leonardo Mena Segundo, better known in the fighting game community as RISE|MenaRD, claimed the Capcom Cup 2017 title this weekend. After two days of facing off against the best Street Fighter 5 players in the world, Mena secured the trophy by defeating fighting game legend, Hajime "FOX|Tokido" Taniguchi.

Of the other 31 competitors at the Capcom Cup, Mena only ever suffered a loss to Tokido -- going 3-2 in winners finals. Along the way, Mena took out several A-list players, including AW|Nemo, DNG|Itabashi Zangief, CYG|Daigo, GGP|Kazunoko, and more.

In grand finals, the Birdie player reset the bracket with a clutch 3-2 win, then proceed to take the tournament win 3-1 over Taniguchi.

The grand finals sported a very interesting player match up. On one side was Mena: an 18-year-old competitor whose competitive fighting game career began in 2009, but rise to prominence came about in Street Fighter 5 -- a game just under two-years-old. On the other side sat Tokido: a seasoned veteran across numerous fighting titles who is revered as one of the five Japanese gods of Street Fighter.

Mena is a relatively new face in the world of competitive Street Fighter, whereas Tokido has a legacy that is rivaled by few. Because of this, many believe that a similar sentiment can be expressed about each competitor's playstyle.

After Capcom Cup's conclusion, some fans expressed a disregard for Mena's win, saying that what was displayed in the grand finals wasn't conventional Street Fighter play. This claim was only magnified by the fact that a legend of the sport -- one who has proven to have a masterful grasp of "traditional Street Fighter" -- was sitting across the stage.

Many of these same claims extended to the point of deeming MenaRD's victory illegitimate. But like all things debated, there were a variety of different opinions on this matter.

Today, the EventHubs staff is weighing in. Was MenaRD's Capcom Cup 2017 win legitimate? Here's what we think.

Was MenaRD's Capcom Cup 2017 play legitimate?

Jonathan "Catalyst" Grey: Absolutely. 100%. Legit.

He's walking home with $250,000, and he took a character who's rarely considered to be top tier to the pinnacle of achievements in the FGC. Everyone else can hold that loss.

People are salty about his performance because their favorite players/characters lost, and are making excuses about why MenaRD won.

Failure to adapt to the circumstances, gameplay and approach are what cause you to lose.

"He's walking home with $250,000, and he took a character who's rarely considered to be top tier to the pinnacle of achievements in the FGC. Everyone else can hold that loss."

If you don't understand what MenaRD did, and how he did it, you need to take several steps back and start analyzing his gameplay, instead of complaining about his tactics.

Some in the community are quick to dismiss others, because they don't fit a certain approach or mold. Those things do not matter though.

At the end of the day, you can't argue with success. And MenaRD has 250,000 successes in his back pocket now.

Nicholas "MajinTenshinhan" Taylor: As long as no actual cheating has taken place, I don't think it's really possible to claim that a player who won a match didn't deserve it. MenaRD was the best Street Fighter 5 player on the day, so he won.

That said, what I saw during the finals day soured me on the game itself - a game which I wasn't entirely enthusiastic about to begin with.

Seeing some of the things MenaRD could do without any feasible counterplay really left a bad taste in my mouth, and after having slowly turned around to appreciating Street Fighter 5 from a viewer perspective more throughout the past year, I was pretty quickly switched back to my original opinion of it not being particularly fun to watch.

Since my work is literally based around watching fighting game events and covering their results, I see so much footage of so many different games that I've built up a pretty good idea about what excites me when watching fighting games, and I saw very little of it towards the end of Capcom Cup 2017.

To reiterate, I would never take anything away from MenaRD as a player, and I'm happy that he won because of his statements that he's putting his winnings into helping the Dominican FGC grow, which I think is incredibly admirable.

"I don't enjoy the lack of footsie game that many players have lamented since the launch of Street Fighter 5. I don't like cautious and calculated play being punished, because it leads to the importance of reading your opponent's tendencies, in my opinion a cornerstone of fighting games, being diminished"

But, my opinion of competitive Street Fighter 5 as a viewing experience is much lower now than it was a week ago. I don't like seeing risky moves being thrown out and not being punishable (for example, regardless of spacing, I don't enjoy sweeps being safe on block), and I don't enjoy the lack of footsie game that many players have lamented since the launch of Street Fighter 5. I don't like cautious and calculated play being punished, because it leads to the importance of reading your opponent's tendencies, in my opinion a cornerstone of fighting games, being diminished.

MenaRD is a true winner, but to me, I'm not so sure that Street Fighter 5 is. Hopefully Capcom can address many of the complaints from players and make it not only a more enjoyable gameplay experience for top players, but a more enjoyable viewing experience for the people at home as well.

Steven "DreamKing" Chavez: For me, this is a no-brainer. MenaRD's win over Tokido at Capcom Cup 2017 was definitely legitimate.

Looking closely at his play throughout the event, we saw strong spacing, control, and set ups from Mena, consistently. His success with EX Bull Revenger (the Free Willy dive command throw) was insane, and many of those grabs landed because of Mena's lethal ground game. He had his opponents focused elsewhere, and they rarely ever saw the dive coming.

The main technique in question is Birdie's Bull Horn special move -- which works much like Cody's Zonk Knuckle in the Street Fighter 4 series. In Street Fighter 5, this attack is undoubtedly difficult to deal with, as it beats out many offensive options and can be tough to punish.

However, I will point out that if the move was that good, we'd see a lot more Birdie players placing higher in tournaments. Mena's use of the headbutt was breaking through Tokido's offense and his read on the match up, which is not easy to do.

On top of that, he defeated numerous top-level contenders on the road to facing Tokido. So, either he is the luckiest player alive, or his tactics were consistently strong. I believe the latter.

"Either he is the luckiest player alive, or his tactics were consistently strong. I believe the latter"

To me, the naysayers are mainly players that are stuck in the past. Street Fighter 5 is a new game and has its own meta, and MenaRD's understanding of how the game is played shined through this past weekend.

John "Velociraptor" Guerrero: I get why some people are saying this about Mena's win, but I think it's based on an argument that's fairly moot.

I "grew up" in a Street Fighter scene that was very much about the "right" or "pure" way of playing Street Fighter. Risky moves (like wake up DP) should be used very sparingly, and everything should come down to calculated reads and reactions as opposed to scrubby guesses.

I'll admit, I felt kind of frustrated seeing Mena win over a player like Tokido. After some reflection, I can't fault Mena at all. He played the game at hand nearly perfectly, and above all, he was right enough times to defeat AW|Nemo, DNG|Itabasahi, RZR|Xian, CYG|Daigo and Tokido twice. Those results are inarguable.

Where do the Street Fighter purists go next then? The argument devolves to ragging on the game itself, seeing it as a faulty system that encourages guess-fueled play. I think that's neither here nor there.

Street Fighter 5 is not Street Fighter 4 is not Street Fighter 3 is not any other game. There's no law that says this game must abide by the views of the purists. Mena figured out how to beat the best of the best and win more than anyone else ever has for a fighting game tourney. That's where it begins and ends.

"Street Fighter 5 is not Street Fighter 4 is not Street Fighter 3 is not any other game. There's no law that says this game must abide by the views of purists"

What's more, for every unsafe move Mena did, he showed awareness and skill in other avenues that the SF purists can't deny with any sense of legitimacy. His match with Itazan showed this, as he controlled the space with Birdie's can and heavy punch perfectly.

I do have complaints about the game. I don't think moves that are made to be unsafe (like Birdie's rush) should become oddly spaced punish traps. I hope those types of situations are removed in the future, but in this season, they were a thing, and if I want to play the game then I have to play within its parameters.

Everyone gets to choose whether or not they play. Was Mena's win illegitimate? Not at all. No way. He earned it playing a game within the game's rules and parameters, and that's where this particular question's conversation should start and stop in my opinion.

Photo credit - Capcom Fighters.

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