Do the Capcom Cup’s 2021 qualifiers point toward Street Fighter VI?

Something very interesting happened after the closing of this year’s Capcom Cup. Capcom announced that the winner of next year’s Capcom Cup would not be qualified for the Capcom Cup in 2021.

For those of you who don’t follow fighting game e-sports, let me explain. Anyone who wants to compete in the Capcom Cup needs to qualify. They do this by playing in “majors” or important tournaments that are recognized by Capcom. By repeatedly winning and/or placing high in these tournaments, they earn points toward qualifying for the Capcom Cup, Capcom’s major year-end tournament with a big cash prize.

At least, that’s the case for everyone except for last year’s Capcom Cup champion. If you take home the Capcom Cup you immediately get to come back next year, no points needed. This way we always get a chance to see last year’s champion go up against a new up-and-comer in the finals. It makes for good e-sports storytelling.

But Capcom just announced that this won’t be the case for 2020 going into 2021. What does this mean? Well many have come to theorize that this means Capcom plans to have a new Street Fighter out by 2021.

Why? Well, first of all Capcom has only done this once in the past. In 2015, Capcom Cup winner Kazunoko did not auto-qualify for the Capcom Cup 2016. It turned out the reason for this policy was the release of Street Fighter V. Kazunoko won the Capcom Cup when the game being played was Ultra Street Fighter IV, and since Street Fighter V was a fundamentally different game, everyone had to qualify from scratch once again.

Granted, the Capcom Cup is still a relatively young tournament series, but if past behavior is anything to go by then this auto-qualification removal might point toward another game.

It seems as if development of Street Fighter V is starting to wind down as well. Street Fighter V: Champion Edition is coming out in February of 2020, and it’s going to include all the content released for Street Fighter V so far. This includes Seth, which many are theorizing will be the last Street Fighter V character. There hasn’t been any announcement of new “seasons” on the way, and in the current fighting game market, games dry up as soon as their seasonal content dries up.

In this case, Capcom could be planning for Street Fighter V to go obsolete in early 2021 giving it an almost five year run. This would be shortly after the launch of both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X. Capcom usually tries to release a brand new Street Fighter coinciding with the launch of a new generation of consoles.

Thus, we have the general theory that Capcom will announce Street Fighter VI sometime in 2020, for an early 2021 launch. At that point, major tournaments will switch over to Street Fighter VI as their main game, a brand new ranking and points system for the Capcom Cup would start, and competitors would have to fight their way up the ranks with this new game.

Of course, this is all just a theory at this point, but things do seem to line up. Capcom released Ultra Street Fighter IV toward the end of Street Fighter IV’s lifetime, giving us only a limited amount of time to play it in the competitive scene. This will likely be mirrored with Champion Edition for Street Fighter V.

Besides, competitors are already showcasing their new fighting games. Guilty Gear Strive is already planned for release in late 2020, and it’s almost certain to have a PS5 release in addition to its announced PS4 release. Guilty Gear Xrd did the same thing with the PS4 and the PS3.

Arc System Works is one of Capcom’s biggest competitors right now, being involved in both major VS. fighting games on the market, Dragon Ball FighterZ and BlazBlue Cross-Tag Battle. Marvel VS. Capcom Infinite’s flop really did leave a void for ASW to capitalize on. If Guilty Gear Strive does, in fact, have a PS5 version in the works, they would be the first developer with a fighting game on next-generation hardware. I could not believe that Capcom would take that fact lying down.

What do you think? Is Street Fighter VI coming in a little over a year? Are we nearing the end of Street Fighter V’s content? Let us know in the comments.