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Capcom addresses community concern for Street Fighter League's $135,000 Finals as inconsistent team selection creates fear of lopsided competition

Company notes that they are 'considering format changes to put the teams at better parity for the Global Championship at Capcom Cup'

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • September 18, 2019 at 11 a.m. PDT • Comments: 60

Capcom now has two major players in its Street Fighter League eSports venture as both North America and Japan have assembled six teams of three to duke it out in Street Fighter 5. Both entities will deal in internal competition until the top two teams from the East and the top two teams from the West are decided.

These four teams will then head to Capcom Cup this December to duke it out for the lion's share of a $135,000 prize pool. While this all sounds just fine on paper, community members have been expressing distaste for the competition due to the vast difference in competitive accomplishment and skill when comparing Japanese to North American participants. Capcom has offered a statement on the matter indicating they're already looking into making changes.

The six Japanese teams feature players such as the reigning Capcom Cup champion, RB|Gachikun and reigning EVO champion, RB|Bonchan. They also include Capcom Cup regulars Rohto|Tokido, CYG|Daigo, FD|Fujimura, DNG|Itabashi Zangief, and CYG|Fuudo amongst others.

As of the writing of this article, the Japanese teams include three of the top ten players on the Pro Tour global leaderboards and nine of the top 20. Contrast this with North America's one in the top 10 (REC|Punk) and two in the top 20 (Punk and SB|801 Strider) and already the stark difference in resumes begins to shine through.

Further using the CPT to compare competitor strength, the overall point total across the six Japanese teams is 17,480 while the total on the NA side is 7,960.

Even without making these calculations players have begun to express concern, citing the ordeal as mismatched at the very sight of the list of competitor names. Street Fighter League NA participant Gustavo "801 Strider" Romero posted the following on Twitter after seeing Japan's final roster:

Gustavo on SFL image #1
Click images for larger versions

Long-competitor and tournament organizer LU|Alex Valle chimed in to the conversation to say that North American players should essentially play the cards they've been dealt, but responses from VP|Justin Wong, (former SFL competitor) EQNX|Brian F, (former SFL competitor) Sajam, and UYU|AutoMattock, (current SFL competitor) and Romero offered respectful retorts in the ensuing thread:

Valle comments and reactions image #1
Click images for larger versions

After exploring this a bit further we found that the selection processes for Japan and North America's respective Leagues were very different. Details were sparse as to how Japan chose its six captains, but one requirement we did find was that they all needed to have the JeSU pro gaming license. FuguTabetai posted a very thorough English explanation of how Japan selected their draft pool of 24 competitors.

"The copy on Capcom's Street Fighter League website talks about building a system that helps players move into the Pro League. There are three leagues that feed into a tryout event and draft for the 2019 JP Pro Street Fighter League. Each League has its own rules.

• Rookie Caravan: an individual format, traveling around to different locations in Japan, culminating in a 3 person team representing Eastern Japan and one for Western Japan to join the draft pool.
• College League: Online locked character winner stays on 3 on 3 tournament. Limited to college, technical college, or graduate college students. The winning team joins the draft pool.
• Arcade League: 3 on 3 winner stays on tournament with no repeating characters on a team. 30 arcades across the country pick a representative team, and a tournament decides the three teams that join the draft pool.

FuguTabetai also provided the following visual aid to help further clarify how the entire process played out:

SFL Japan Qual Process image #1
Click images for larger versions

This differs heavily from the way the North American teams were selected. The following is directly taken from the NA Street Fighter League website:

"Capcom Pro Tour veterans Smug, 801 Strider and CJ Truth will be making their SFL debut as team captains. Additionally, SFL alumni, Dual Kevin, returns as a captain after a strong showing on this year’s CPT. The new captains will form new teams from a pool of online warriors and fan favorites."

Four "online warriors" qualified for the draft by winning one of four online tournaments, two in the NA West region and two in the NA East region. The four "fan favorites" were voted in after campaigning in the fighting game community. North American captains had to follow more stringent rules and had to choose one teammate from each of these categories while Japanese captains were free to draft any of the 24 players in their draft pool.

The winningest teams from Season 1 of NA SFL (Inferno and Gale) were both invited to return in Season 2. The captains there, Punk and FOX|NuckleDu, were previously selected based on their status on the Capcom Pro Tour NA regional leaderboards. Their teammates, SB|JB, AB|BrolyLegs, RobTV, and END|Shine earned their way into Season 1 via the "online warriors" or "fan favorites" means of qualification explained above.

Street Fighter League is a fairly new venture that aims to provide entertaining eSports action as well as a means for newer players to get a taste of higher-level competition.

While one could certainly argue that both the Japanese and North American approaches can potentially achieve these goals when working independently of each other, melding the two together to face off for the kind of stakes that come with a $135,000 prize pool makes for a distractingly uneven contest.

While it's a bit late for much in the way of alterations for this current run, one would hope that Capcom would make future Street Fighter Leagues more uniform so as to maintain a more valid sense of competition.

We reached out to Capcom for comment as to why there's been such a discrepancy in the team selection process, and they replied with the following:

Capcom's Statement

For the first year of Street Fighter League we’ve evolved the team composition, format, and rules across both territories. Season 1 of the Japan league is very different than season 2. The US league has been a little more consistent from season 1 to 2, but it has also experienced some changes.

It is our intention to refine Street Fighter League over the next few cycles until we achieve the best possible version of the series. In terms of the skill level disparity between the leagues, we are aware of this concern and are considering format changes to put the teams at better parity for the Global Championship at Capcom Cup.

Major contributions to this story made by Nicholas "MajinTenshinhan" Taylor.

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