The long-awaited 2017 Capcom Pro Tour is finally upon us, and Capcom has more than a couple of small changes to announce as established pros and aspiring rookies begin to take the long and arduous path to the Capcom Cup. Auto-Qualification One of the biggest changes being made to this year’s season is arguably the way that Capcom will be handling their automatic qualifications system. In past years, events that were promoted by Capcom to Premier were able to up raise the stakes by promising the champion a spot in the Capcom Cup. This meant that anyone who came in first at events Red Bull Battle Grounds and DreamHack Summer would qualify for the biggest Street Fighter tournament of the year. This season, however, removes the auto-qualification perk from Premier Events in exchange for a massive point award. Technically, only those who will receive an invitation to the Capcom Cup directly based off of their performance in an event will be the winner from the previous year’s Cup, and the Capcom Cup Last Chance Qualifier. Every other spot will be granted to those who place in the top 30 from the Global Leaderboard. The only exceptions that would be made to this new rule is if a player placed first in one of the four Regional Finals but did not place in the top 30. In that case, instead of pulling from the top 30, Capcom will pull from one less for every instance of this. Capcom explained their reasons for making the change as a desire to make the qualification process to be simpler, as they feel that their previous system was too complex for both fans and pros alike. “The root of much of the confusion around who was qualified for Capcom Cup in previous years came from the auto-qualification system,” explained Capcom in their announcement, “This new method of qualifying players through points will eliminate the need for complex breakdowns of which players are in and which players out.” Points Breakdown and Prize Pool Increase To accommodate for the lack of auto-qualification, and to even out the playing field, all of the CPT stops will award more points to more players than in previous years. Evo 2017 will award points to those who place in the Top 256, with 1,000 points going out to the winner. Everyone in Top 64 at Premier Events will receive points, 400 being awarded to whoever places first. Ranking Events will award points to Top 16, and whoever places first will go home with 160. (It’s worth noting that, while auto-qualification has been removed, having such an enormous point boost from Premier Events and Evo will all but guarantee an active top player’s entrance into the Capcom Cup.) Meanwhile, thanks to Twitch’s generosity, the Capcom Pro Tour prize pool has increased to $600,000, a $100,000 increase from 2016. $120,000 will be set aside for the Regional Finals, which will pay out $30,000 each in total with $12,000 going to first place. The rest of the breakdown has yet to be revealed, but it’s no mystery to assume that the overall prize pool for the Capcom Cup will see a raise. Region Locking Another major change to the Capcom Pro Tour is the introduction of region locking. 2017’s CPT will now no longer allow players to rank in a region that they do not reside in. Points that they are awarded at events outside of their region will still contribute to their overall global points, which will help boost them into the Capcom Cup, but they will no longer be able to compete in the Regional Finals or regional Last Chance Qualifiers for a region they aren’t a part of. This means that Japanese Daigo “The Beast” Umehara and North American Kenneth “K-Brad” Bradley won’t have another opportunity to qualify for the Capcom Cup through the European and Latin American Regional Finals. “The events ended up effectively being last chance qualifiers for all regions, and that is something we want to avoid this year,” Capcom wrote, “With points being awarded to players only from that region and the last chance qualifier being region locked, we will be able to truly see who the best player from each region is.” Expansion of Online Events In addition to expanding the point distribution at several events, in order to provide everyone with a chance to compete at the Capcom Cup, Capcom will be increasing the number of Online Ranking Events to four per region. “We were very happy with how well the Online Events went last year, but we also came away with many key learnings and want to make this year’s online circuit the best yet. We also want to make sure that our entire player base has a chance to compete in the Capcom Pro Tour even if they are unable to travel to live events.” Online Ranking Events will also be segmented per region passed on proximity after reviewing feedback from the 2016 season, which means that only those in the designated part of a region will be competing in the same online event. Because Online Ranking Events are to be treated the same as live ones, the same number of points will be awarded as any other Ranking Event. Additionally, there will be no registration cap for online events. The Capcom Cup, Itself Last, but sure as hell not least, is the Capcom Cup. Similarly to Evo, the Capcom Cup is notorious for being both mentally and physically taxing for those competing and staffing the tournament. To fix this, Capcom will be extending the season finale to three days to make the event easier for players. The first day will be reserved for the Last Chance Qualifier, the second will play out Top 32, and the final day will consist of Top 8. In addition to stretching the event out, Top 32 will be changing from a double-elimination bracket to a proper group stage format that competitors will need to play through in order to advance into Top 8.