Capcom’s North American 3v3 team series already has problems

Earlier this morning, Capcom posted information about the new, upcoming North American Street Fighter Pro League that starts its first wave in April. While the prospect of an official non-CPT 3v3 League should sound like an interesting project, Capcom’s version of the upcoming League already seems to have multiple warts that serve as a detriment to the experience for all involved.

First, the format of even constructing the teams themselves is already questionable at best. While it at least makes partial sense for captains to be chosen from the top ranked NA players on the CPT leaderboards, having online qualifiers certainly makes less sense, and certainly appears to serve only as an inventive to get people to play SFV:AE online. Why not simply have the best players simply band together to make teams, rather than pretending people in bronze or gold have a realistic shot at taking down Punk or BrolyLegs? What makes even less sense is having the last slot of a team being determined by… fan vote. Really? Why are we also turning what should be a competition into a popularity contest whatsoever? This is one of the worst methods to introduce team chemistry and coordination in a tournament setting that an official entity could attempt. It would have made more sense to have teams be forced to vary from “tiers” in the CPT leaderboards so that the best talent isn’t condensed into a single team, but these quick rules (for “drama”, as the post itself states) don’t serve to make the tournament competitive or interesting. It’s a series of hassles that only make the League experience worse.

Second, and most glaringly, is the “character ban” function that Capcom announced as part of the NA Street Fighter Pro League. There are a couple of rules regarding this: at the beginning of every match, both teams will have the opportunity to ban one character for the entire duration of a match, meaning that no player on either team can pick that character. On top of that, players on each team must also play different characters from their teammates (mirror matches still appear eligible for the League). Capcom’s reasoning for this is that the “goal is for the teams to strategize the matchups in and out of game by working more closely as a team, especially if the best player may not necessarily get to play their best character exclusively.” There’s just one problem with this: Street Fighter, even when played in teams, is not a team game. Each match is still a 1v1 experience, there is no team coordination during a match or tactics that would help fill the holes in a certain character pick in real time.

This problem is a recurring one with Capcom’s fighting division in the modern age: the emphasis on esports takes precedence above the experience for players, for viewers, and even their own staff. The implementation of attempts at sponsorship deals and esports credibility has only served as a detriment in players’ faith that Capcom can effectively run its own tournaments and even its own game. It also should be noted that while this season of the NA Pro League runs through November and finishes with the crowning of a North American Pro League Champion, there have not been rewards for doing so announced in any capacity, either. There’s also been people pointing out a potential discrepancy in its own set-up: the post refers to this tournament season as both ” Street Fighter Pro League – USA” and “North American Street Fighter Pro League”, which questions whether or not Canadians will be able to enter the League as a USA-exclusive league would, by definition, exempt them entirely. Capcom has not elaborated on either.

Unfortunately, Capcom’s fighting division seems more focused on implementing microtransactions and rushed League implementation that appears to attempt to incentivize online play at the expense of the player base rather than invigorating it. (There’s also an inherent incentive for Capcom to get people to play online with sponsored elements enables or to provide metrics with advertisers to court future partners to advertise in their product.) Geoff’s tweet above sums it up perfectly: “was there any thought going into this”?

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