Capcom will exclusively use PCs to power its upcoming Capcom Cup tournament, which has the world’s top Street Fighter 5 players battling it out for a $300,000 prize pool. In a post on Twitter, Capcom Fighters says all matches will be played on PCs with the displays set to 144Hz.
The company doesn’t provide any information on the hardware going into these PCs (or if they’ll just use gaming laptops), but the move’s expected to reduce input lag — the time it takes for a system to translate your button press on a keyboard or controller to an action displayed on the screen. Low input lag is a necessity for pros in the fighting game scene, where a delayed punch or kick can greatly affect the outcome of a match.
Street Fighter 5 players have long dealt with issues related to input lag on the PlayStation 4, and even the PlayStation 5 doesn’t seem to improve on it all that much. While the PlayStation 4 was the console of choice for Street Fighter 5 tournaments before the covid pandemic hit, Arman Hanjani, a Street Fighter pro who goes by the name Phenom in tournaments, tells The Verge that many players made the switch to PC as in-person events were canceled and more tournaments took place online.
“We have all been playing on PC mostly for the last few years,” Hanjani says. “It is where the game is most responsive.” That, coupled with the fact that the game performs better on PC is likely the catalyst behind Capcom’s decision.
Other Street Fighter pros, including Arturo Sanchez, also known as Sabin, have long pushed for Street Fighter 5 tournaments to take place on PC and welcome Capcom’s change. “Capcom Cup moving to PC is 100 percent the right move for several documented reasons,” Sanchez tells The Verge, citing overall “better controller response” and an “over 50 percent” reduction of in-game delay on 144Hz monitors.
Sanchez also served as the technical director of last year’s MSI-sponsored Defend the North tournament, which made the transition to PC for Street Fighter 5 and other fighting games. “Tournament organizers have to adjust to the complexity of configuring properly for PC, but when done right, the results are amazing,” Sanchez explains. “It can be done.”
We likely can’t expect smaller tournaments to take Capcom and Defend the North’s lead, however — unless they manage to snag a major sponsor and have a dedicated technical team. As Supercombo.gg co-founder Kevin Higgins points out, purchasing and maintaining gaming PCs for hundreds (or even thousands) of players isn’t realistic for some event organizers.
Plus, as Higgins notes, input latency isn’t always consistent across all devices, whether it’s because one configuration is slightly different from another, or the event organizer failed to install a driver update on one of the machines. It’s far easier (and less expensive) to achieve a level playing field with consoles that have more predictable levels of performance.
Fortunately, the upcoming Street Fighter 6 could make substantial improvements on input lag with its new Input Delay Reduction feature. One user, Kimagre Gaming, got to try out the feature in a closed beta test and found that it significantly reduced input lag on the PS5, while another user saw improvements on the Xbox Series X. Of course, this is still just the beta, and a lot can change up until the game’s release, which is slated for June 2nd.
It’s just a shame that it took seven years after the release of Street Fighter 5 for one of the biggest tournaments to allow players to compete on PC, but it’s better late than never. We’ll have to see if other major fighting game tournaments follow suit (although it might not happen at Evo, since Sony partially owns it).
“This is likely the last Capcom Cup for Street Fighter 5, and it’s ending in the best way possible,” Hanjani says. “We will all be able to play at our fullest.”
The Capcom Cup starts on February 12th.
Update January 29th, 9:30AM ET: Updated to add a statement and additional information from Arturo Sanchez.