Image: Capcom/Street Fighter League
The year’s final Street Fighter tournament has come to a close, with a surprise winner. Derek “iDom” Ruffin, from NYC, stood tall at the end. So how did he get there and what does it mean for the Street Fighter scene?
Last Chance Qualifier
As always the Capcom Cup got underway with the Last Chance Qualifier. A mini-bracket where the winner will automatically qualify for the main tournament. It doesn’t matter where you are in the standings, so this is a chance for unknown players or players who can’t travel much to make a stamp on the Cup. In 2017, Naoki “Nemo” Nemoto won the LCQ and eventually finished 3rd in the Cup and took home over $20k. So while the task is monumental, it is not unheard for players to get hot at the right time and walk away with a nice check. This year, it was Japan’s Naoki “Moke” Nakayama who won the LCQ and was the final combatant for the Capcom Cup.
Early Round Favorites & The Legends Fall
When the tournament got underway some big names were knocked out of tournament fairly early. Veterans like Ryo “Dogura” Nozaki, Daigo Umehara, Smug, Yeh “HotDog29” Man Ho and Benjamin “Problem X” Simon were all knocked out before top 8’s. But leading the charge in the winner’s bracket was the heir apparent and overall points leader, Victor “Punk” Woodley and iDom. Punk had dominated all of 2019, and looked to continue his good form. In winner’s finals, he came against his American counterpart and sent him down to the losers bracket setting up a revenge match in Grand Finals.
Grand Finals: Punk vs. iDom
This was only the 2nd time two Americans were the finalists for Capcom Cup and it was one for the ages. iDom lead with his tried and true character Laura, and Punk reverted to Karin his best character. The opening set was back and forth but eventually iDom’s ability to trap Punk’s V-Reversals came in handy and he reset the bracket.
After the reset, the momentum shifted in iDom’s favor. He changed over to his pocket Poison pick, which seems like a character he’s practiced specifically to fight Punk. He refused to allow Punk the space to get forward which made Punk have to press risky buttons. Even though Punk was able to eventually take a match, iDom continued to apply pressure and he caught Punk out with a dirty standing Hard Punch which opened the winning combo for iDom. He becomes the only the second unsigned Cup winner ever, the second American winner and the first from the East Coast.
Is iDom the best?
This is a conversation that becomes very complicated in the Fighting Games Commiunity. Even with this win there will be some that say Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi or Punk are still the best in the world but iDom rarely traveled this year. He represents a massive x-factor in the Street Fighter world, a player that with support would clearly be in the top echelon but for some reason hasn’t seen the sponsorship in the same way other players have. If iDom gets a team to pick him up and can travel to more tournaments, I think we see more grand finals between he and Punk. Which the scene could use, a true, blue rivalry. 2020 could be VERY interesting for Street Fighter.