The Capcom Pro Tour season will reach its climax this weekend as the Capcom Cup brings the world’s best Street Fighter V players to Anaheim, California. A field of thousands of players has been whittled down to just 31 international finalists with one last tournament deciding the champion. Boasting a prize pool of $370,000, the tournament will be held at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel on Dec. 8 and 9 with the finals scheduled to take place during Sony’s PlayStation Experience event at the Anaheim Convention Center on Dec. 10. The entire event will be streamed live by Capcom Fighters. The Capcom Cup finalists fought their way into the championship event by competing across more than 60 Capcom Pro Tour events during 2017, earning ranking points to determine their final seeding. The bottom seed in Capcom Cup’s 32-player double elimination bracket will be earned through a last chance qualifier on the first day of the event, Dec. 8. The qualifier is open to all entrants with a maximum number of 256 players and the bracket is already filled with top international talent looking to fight their way into the final spot. Notable players registered for the last chance qualifier include: Infiltration BxA| TheCoolKid93 GRPT| MOV Brian_F AW| Nemo Spylce| FilipinoChamp EG| KBrad Zowie| GamerBee Samurai EG| NyChrisG The Players of Capcom Cup Leading the ranks of the pre-qualified players are Victor “PG| Punk” Woodley, who has dominated the North American Street Fighter scene after a quiet 2016, and Hajime “Echo Fox| Tokido” Taniguchi, a veteran player regarded as one of the “Five Gods” of Japanese fighting games. So far in 2017 the two have only met once — in the Grand Finals the largest Street Fighter V tournament of the year, Evolution. Despite his loss to Tokido, Punk’s success in North America led to the top global seed in a field largely dominated by Japanese talent. Though Japan is historically a strong region for all fighting games, some doubted whether the scene would still hold its advantage without an arcade release of Street Fighter V. In response, many of the veteran Japanese players developed new training regimens and worked to help train new players without the natural proving ground the arcade provides. The results speak for themselves; fifteen of the 31 Capcom Cup finalists are from Japan, up from a dozen last year. Among them are four of the five gods (Tokido, BST HyperX| Daigo Umehara, Naoto “Hori Scarz| Sako” and Tatsuya “You Deal| Haitani”) as well as prior Capcom Cup winners Echo Fox| Momochi and GGP| Kazunoko. With three more qualifiers from South Korean, Taiwan and Singapore, players representing the Asian region make up more than half of the Capcom Cup qualifiers. Only two of the six North American players in Capcom Cup are returning for a second shot at the Street Fighter V title, Echo Fox| Justin Wong, who has never failed to qualify for Capcom Cup, and EG| Ricki Ortiz, who is automatically qualified for the tournament as last year’s runner up. Ortiz claimed the auto qualifier after the 2016 Capcom Cup champion and this year’s third ranked player, Du “Liquid| NuckleDu” Dang opted to withdraw from the event. Outside of Punk, the remaining American contenders have largely struggled against international competition this year and represent the lower end of the rankings. In a similar case, Europe’s four qualifiers earned nearly all of their ranking points in their own region but seemed to struggle when traveling overseas. The group is working to prove otherwise though, with all four having travelled to Japan to participate in Red Bull’s Tower of Pride event in late November. Oliver “Method RB| Luffy” Hay and NASR|Big Bird both main the final stage of that event, defeating Japanese Capcom Cup qualifiers along the way. Latin America is the least recognizable region of the CPT, but the three qualifiers should not be underestimated coming into the weekend. Representing the Dominican Republic, Saul Leonardo “Rise| MenaRD” is considered a Birdie character specialist and has been a force at multiple premier events in North America. Tomas “F3| Brolynho” Proençahas placed no worse than fourth at all of the Latin American CPT events this year and will represent Brazil at Capcom Cup for the second year in a row. AAG| DidimoKOF qualified for Capcom Cup as a longshot; he qualified for the Latin American Regional Finals as the 9th seed after MenaRD and Brolynho opted not to participate. He then won the eight-player regional finals earning him an automatic spot in the Capcom Cup. The characters of Capcom Cup Street Fighter V has added two balance updates and six new characters since last year’s Capcom Cup. Though the most popular character last year was Chun-Li, with six players choosing her as a main, auto qualifier Ricki Ortiz will probably be the only person playing her this year due to the shifts in balance and updated roster. Character representation was fairly balanced between regions last year, signaling a general consensus on which characters were the strongest. This year there is a bit more of a divide: Asia has three Ibuki players, three Rashid players and two Cammy players, while no other qualifiers are playing those characters. North America’s Rise| Smug and Gustavo “Allegiance| 801Strider” Romero’s are the only players playing Balrog and Laura, respectively. Those two characters were the beneficiaries of major buffs during this season of play and have performed well in the U.S. The most picked characters will likely be Ibuki, Karin, Akuma, Rashid and Necalli but you can expect as many as 20 different characters to be played by the 31 Capcom Cup finalists. Keep an eye out for some of the new DLC characters as well; Big Bird has been working on his Zeku while Goichi “CO|Go1” is considered by many to be the best Menat in the world. Where to watch Capcom Cup will be streaming live via Capcom Fighters from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. PST on Dec. 8 and Dec. 9, with the last chance qualifier happening on Friday and the Top 32 bracket starting on Saturday. The final Top 8 broadcast will begin at 2 p.m. PST on Dec. 10 and is scheduled to run until 8 p.m. Brackets for the event are available via Smash.gg along with a fantasy contest for fans to win prizes based on their bracket predictions.