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Street Fighter 5: Champion Edition online tournament mode impressions: A promising yet flawed look at what's to come

Please turn out good

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • December 23, 2019 at 12:56 p.m. PST • Comments: 24

After months of hearing very little about Street Fighter: Champion Edition's new online tournament mode, players finally got the chance to test out the feature from the comfort of their homes in a public beta test this past weekend.

I managed to sign up for the singles tournament on Saturday night, and though I didn't make it very far, the upcoming mode certainly left an impression on me โ€” in both a good and not so good sense.

Sign ups for the online beta were limited to using SF5's new functionality on the game's website where you were made to pick your character of choice before you could submit an application. This test also required the use of joining the Discord server for the event though apparently that won't be a forced implementation for the full release.

Aside from the odd disconnect of not being able to register in the game itself, the process was very smooth to the point where many people on the server were wondering how many hoops they needed to jump through to get the tournament working. Turns out, there's hardly any.

On tournament day, all you need to do is log into the game and be present at the slotted start time to compete in a bracket you previously registered for. SF5 will even give you handy in-game notifications for how much time you have before you need to load up the tournament mode on the CFN menu.

Once you're inside the bracket, you can see all of your potential match ups and participants which is good for gathering some extra data. I just found myself sitting there waiting for multiple minutes before my first match actually started.

SF5 online beta image #1 SF5 online beta image #2 SF5 online beta image #3 SF5 online beta image #4 SF5 online beta image #5 SF5 online beta image #6
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The beta didn't allow for character select, so I was stuck with my Nash pick for the whole tournament even though it does seem to be a toggleable option to use. Everyone was also forced to play wearing the new sportswear costumes.

Interestingly, certain characters and stages can be banned from use like the Skies of Honor arena for obvious reasons. Other options include sets needed to win, hardware, league ranks, regions and finals settings / restrictions that will be put into place in the future.

Matches start up automatically by loading into the V-Trigger and V-Skill selection screen which it will do at the start of every match โ€” and annoyingly it does not save your preferences from the last match. Once that is complete, Street Fighter will display a special pre-match intro for the set similar to the offline team versus mode before things actually kick off.

My first match was against a Laura player that was a few league higher than I was. The connection felt okay, but there was some obvious jittering and skips that affected both of our performances... so I doubt this is running off of some sort of new and improved netcode โ€” at least not yet.

I unfortunately got Laura'd in the corner in a last game, last round, final hit scenario, so that meant I was out of the tournament because it was single elimination only. Double elimination brackets will exist in the full release, however.

SF5 Online Tournament image #2

Players are not kicked out of the mode once they lose and can still view the brackets and replays though that's where one of this new mode's most inherent flaws comes from.

You cannot spectate other matches in progress... at all. You can view match replays once the brackets update, but those only happen every 20-30 minutes depending on the time settings.

Currently, there's little reason to stay sitting in the bracket once you've been eliminated unless you really want to see how someone does 20 minutes after it happens.

The bracket interface itself is fairly simple yet nice for what it is. Round start times are clearly labeled even going past round two or three which is nice because you can leave the mode, play other game types and still come back and compete as long as you're back in the mode in time.

There's clearly a good amount of work Capcom has put into developing this new feature though it can feel a bit tacked on with the interface and such simply re-purposing assets and such from other parts of the game to use here.

I wasn't able to register for the team tournament on Sunday, so I can't give any impressions as to how that went though overall the feedback on Discord seemed positive to mixed.

Some had trouble connecting to matches, others didn't like the long wait times in between sets and of course there were still complaints about the netcode because we are still in Street Fighter 5.

"One potential saving grace of the online tournament mode is the fact that a wired internet connection is required to join, and players found participating on Wi-Fi will be disqualified from the bracket."

That being said, however, the mode seemed to largely work as intended with matches starting with little to no input needed from the players as it should. Hopefully, it will see some more fine tuning and beta periods to smooth out the experience just a little bit more before launch.

One potential saving grace of the online tournament mode is the fact that a wired internet connection is required to join, and players found participating on Wi-Fi will be disqualified from the bracket.

Overall, I was fairly pleased with how the experience went though I do hope Capcom can do something about the lengthy period between matches. It'll also be disappointing if there's no tournaments you can enter from within just the game itself.

Capcom seems to be banking on this to be a success and to be used in the online qualifiers for the Intel World Open next year, and for their sake, I hope they can nail it down. We don't know when the online tournament mode will release, but it'll likely come with the full Champion Edition launch along with Seth on February 14, 2020.

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