Defend the North
On Halloween weekend, I didn't dress up, go to parties or go trick-or-treating. I was in a hotel ballroom near Pearson Airport, jumping up and screaming for my sparring partner, who had just won on the main stage in front of hundreds of people in-person and thousands on-stream. I was at Canada Cup 2016, the biggest and baddest fighting game tournament in the country.
Since its inception in 2010, Canada Cup has been one of the most prestigious Street Fighter tournaments on the professional circuit. The tournament has been a top destination for international talent and it has grown significantly since its relocation from Vancouver to Toronto in 2015. This year, it is the final premiere event on the Capcom Pro Tour before the year-end Capcom Cup world championship in San Francisco. For some players, performing exceptionally well in Canada is the only possible way to qualify for Capcom Cup—for them, the stakes are high.
Meanwhile, I went into the tournament without expectations. As a player without serious aspirations, Canada Cup was a break from the stress of midterms and an opportunity to reconnect with friends from the Toronto fighting game community. My Canada Cup experience didn't begin in an ideal way, however—my randomly assigned pool of 16 was to be played at eight in the morning! Worse yet, the featured player of my pool was none other than Xiaohai, the best player in China and champion of premiere tournaments in New York and California. Bad luck. I woke up in my hotel room at 6:30 p.m. in the morning, freshened up and mentally prepared myself to play. My tournament life was short—I was ousted after four matches, leaving me to experience the rest of the event in spectator mode.
I was eagerly anticipating the International Street Fighter 5v5, Canada Cup's marquee event. The teams are usually composed of the five strongest players representing each nation or geographical area—Team Canada, Team USA, Team Japan, Team Southeast Asia and Team Korea are mainstays. Team Canada is not the strongest Street Fighter nation in the world, but we usually put up a good fight. In 2010, JSMaster from Toronto swept the entirety of Team Japan, putting Toronto Street Fighter on the map. In 2013, Chi-Rithy from Montreal swept the entirety of Team USA. In 2015, Team Canada knocked out Team United Kingdom. At their best, Canada's strongest players can match up well against anyone in the world.
This is the first Canada Cup featuring Street Fighter V, and I was curious to see whether Canadian Street Fighter would pull some magic this year. Canada had four teams out of an eight-person bracket: Canada 1 was a primarily Montreal-based team, Canada 2 was the best from the GTA, Canada 3 was from West Coast Canada and Canada 4 was an all-women's team. There was no Canadian magic at this year's 5v5; none of the Canadian teams were successful against international competition. Similarly, there were no Canadians in the top 32 of the 1v1 tournament. Canadians were successful in other events, but in Street Fighter V, it's clear that there's a lot of room to improve. Knowing many of the players in the scene, they're more than up to the task.
The story of Canada Cup 2016 ended up being Team USA and its best player, Du Dang, a.k.a. Nuckledu. Sponsored by Team Liquid, the 20-year-old from Florida anchored Team USA to clinch a victory over Team Japan, the favourites for the event. Later that day, Nuckledu went on to win the 1v1 tournament over Xiaohai, the aforementioned tournament favourite. It was the first win by an American player in a premiere tournament for the 2016 Capcom Pro Tour.comments powered by Disqus