There was something I noticed when watching Counter-Strike: Global Offensive broadcasts throughout 2021.
Valve’s esports team, like every major esports organization, punted on running its major championship in person in 2020, opting to aim for early 2021 when it could have fans in the stands and play the game on a LAN. Then it went for autumn 2021. As the months passed, it was very likely the major was going to happen, but the hype for it was very reserved.
Any time a broadcaster mentioned the major, their cohort or broadcast teammate would immediately say “if it’s gonna happen.”
Absolutely nobody wanted to jinx it given the situation with the coronavirus pandemic. Thankfully, the major happened, with Natus Vincere winning the championship on Nov. 7.
Just 16 days later, on Nov. 23, Capcom posted to its YouTube channel the announcement of Capcom Cup and the Last Chance Qualifier, both to be played at a location to be determined in February. An in-person event!
On Thursday, 44 days after the announcement, Capcom said it’s canceling the postseason because of the rise of coronavirus cases.
For the second consecutive year, there will be no Capcom Cup. That is a tough sentence to type, let alone read. One of the biggest fighting game events of the year will not happen yet again, and it just brings about a lot of different thoughts.
Right when the cancellation announcement was made, I saw some replies of people telling Capcom to put in preventative measures, create a bubble, or just do what other esports leagues have done in running live events. But those suggestions miss in that the whole situation is extremely volatile with players flying in from all over the world, and who knows where the pandemic will go from day to day.
It’s already bad — at least in the United States — and it could get WORSE, which as I’m typing this puts a scare into me. The positivity rate was somewhere in the single digits per 100,000 people on Nov. 23, on Thursday it was near or past 200 per 100,000, and that’s the officially recorded tests.
All we can hope for is the situation to get better so that there is no worry about live events being in limbo.
Beyond looking at the now, I’m thinking about the later.
What does the future look like for Street Fighter esports? What if it stays bad or gets worse where the 2022 season also has no champion crowned? Three years in a row? Is this how the Street Fighter V series ends on an esports level, where our thirst to determine the best is quenched with regional online events?
In 2020, I said I’m done with charting stats when the pro tour moves to the next game, whenever that happens. But if it happens where the 2022 season will also not have a world champion, it’s going to be tough to stay motivated in the current state. I’ll be taking a hiatus in the next couple of weeks — including in this newsletter — to assess how I’m going to approach 2022.
Meanwhile, there are two events remaining in the regular season, and Urien is going to win the usage title. Entering Sunday, he was at 194 games used, 44 ahead of Cammy. It’s really strange to see Urien be used in so many games, yet only be in three championship series matches and win one CPT event.
Urien also entered Sunday with a 93-94 record, .497 winning percentage. This would mark the second year in a row and third time in four years where the usage champion finished with a sub-.500 winning percentage.
It’s a cool morsel of trivia, I don’t think the losing record is anything to be concerned about. It’s 1 game entering Sunday, it could easily turn to a winning record with a match win somewhere in the remaining three events.
Cammy’s monster 2018 where she lapped the field in winning the usage title came with a horrible sub-.500 winning percentage and 16 Grand Final losses. How her season went that year is up for interpretation.
It comes with the territory of being used a lot. That Urien has only been in three of the 28 championship series (this was written before Sunday’s Top 8), is concerning. There have been 20 Urien users, by far the most of any character this year.
There have been 7 mirror games aside from the 93-94 record, so there has been some cannabilization. Twelve Urien players have started Top 8 in losers this year, seven have failed to win that match. One player won their Top 8 opener and then was eliminated right after.
It’s not like they’re gatekeeping anyone either. None of the 12 opponents who have faced a Urien to start Top 8 losers has won the event. Gust got to Grand Final of the second Brazil regional.
At the end of the month, when the regular season is complete, we all can take a look at the final totals and give concrete conclusions about the characters that won the usage title and the percentage title.
Hitting the cross traffic with sports for a moment, Klay Thompson made his NBA return on Sunday, more than 900 days since he was injured in an NBA Finals game.
The Street Fighter V roster was by far thinner the last time Thompson played in an NBA game.
How much thinner? I took a look at the debut dates for every character. The following characters were not available in Street Fighter V the last time Thompson played:
A whole Top 8 could be played where the players have to only pick from this list. This could be the base roster for the next game or a spinoff game!
That’s incredible when looking back, Poison won the last game of Capcom Cup 2019 and, entering Sunday, every character on this list except Oro (and Eleven although ineligible) has been in a CPT Top 8 game since being introduced.