Capcom considering removing auto-qualifying for Capcom Cup 2017

Seon-woo “Infiltration” Lee, Street Fighter V Evo 2016 champion (Stephanie Lindgren)

We are just a few weeks away from the Street Fighter V finale of a grueling Capcom Pro Tour and Capcom is already considering changes for next year, the most significant of which could be the number of events and the qualification process for Capcom Cup.

“We’re really thinking about getting away from auto-qualification spots altogether and just have the leaderboard,” Capcom director of digital media and esports Neidel “Haunts” Crisan told Yahoo Esports. “The players at the top are already qualified so it adds this layer of complexity. If it’s just points, it’s easy.”

While Capcom is generally pleased with the outcome of the CPT, Haunts acknowledges there are issues with the current format. On paper, creating a Global and Regional Leaderboard sounded great. But it became messy and confusing to both players and fans as the season wore on, requiring some simplification moving forward.

Nobody expected Team Razer’s Seon-woo “Infiltration” Lee to win the first two Premier Events of the year and Evo 2016. In doing so, he auto-qualified for Capcom Cup at the first event (Final Round) and opened up the next two spots to the Global Leaderboard. Last year, whoever placed below an already qualified Infiltration would have earned the auto-qualifying bid at events.

The world's top Street Fighter V players watch the competition unfold at SEAM 2016
The world’s top Street Fighter V players watch the competition unfold at SEAM 2016 (Michael Martin)

The intent of splitting the leaderboards was to offer players another avenue of qualifying through their region. Unfortunately, some players used that as an opportunity to fly around the world and win tournaments in other regions, which potentially blocked players from those regions from qualifying for Capcom Cup.

“What we’re looking at is trying to streamline and compress the season so players can focus on the Ranking Event season,” Haunts said. “We hope to have a gap between Regional Finals, which will be our playoff season, so there’s some downtime for players to recoup.”

Haunts described a scenario using this system where players would qualify through both the Global and Regional Leaderboards and possibly maintain Regional Finals as the only auto-qualifying opportunities. It should be noted that none of this has been decided, though Capcom appears to be seriously considering the option.

In addition to qualifying changes, Capcom also might take a closer look at how many events are on the CPT next year.

“I think maybe there were a few too many events on the Pro Tour this year,” Haunts said. “For the most part, all the events were great but we have to look at how sustainable it is for players. For players to feel like they have a chance, they have to go to every tournament. Twelve tournaments in one region is tough and 70+ tournaments is a ton.”

Miky “XsK Samurai” Chea, winner of the first CPT NA Online Ranking Event (Michael Martin)

Despite the problems that arose this year, Capcom feels it “nailed” its goals, which included the implementation of online Ranking Events.

“I didn’t know what to expect from online tournaments. Not just from player response but turnout and stream viewership,” Haunts said. “Next year, we’ll look at expanding and having more online tournaments, giving more opportunities for players to compete.”

Online Ranking Events was a contentious topic among players this year, largely because they are worth the same amount of ranking points (128) as an offline tournament. Both online tournaments were capped at 256 players, so opening the brackets up could satisfy the need to not meddle with the points earned. However, lag could still be an issue in a region like the U.S. where not all internet connections are equal.

Capcom’s goal moving forward is to tweak the format of the CPT until it has a mostly finished product, something Haunts believes they are close to achieving.

“We’re in a good spot where there won’t be wild changes to the tour structure,” Haunts said, “We’ll be tweaking it to make it a lot easier for both spectators and players to understand what’s going on and how the tour is progressing over time.”

“The whole point of the restructure [for 2016] was to have a more diverse Capcom Cup with better global representation. Our goal isn’t to make the simplest esports league in the world. Our goal is to offer more opportunities to players and tournament organizers,” Haunts said.

Michael Martin thinks removing auto-qualifying bids is very good for the Capcom Pro Tour. Follow him on Twitter @Bizarro_Mike.