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China's Zhen Wins LCQ At Capcom Cup IX

Femi Famutimi
8 min

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China's Zhen Wins LCQ At Capcom Cup IX
The Chinese Player was not expected to take it all, but he surprised everyone

A relatively unknown player, Zhen, is the winner of the Last Chance Qualifier for Capcom Cup IX and is now the 47th player to join the tournament.

After a grueling two days of playing and fighting, Zhen was the one who won, defeating Japan's Kichipa 3-1 to take his place at Capcom Cup.

He now joins his fellow countrymen, DCQ and VX Bao, in the tournament.

The Capcom Cup LCQ was considered by many as the most difficult tournament to win because it pits all the best players together. Unlike the official Capcom Cup groups, where perhaps you can lose a couple of games and still make it out of the group, the LCQ was in bracket format, with two defeats throwing you out of the competition. For most, Tokido was considered the top player with the biggest chance to qualify, and there was even a quote attributed to him in which he said, 'No Tokido, No Capcom Cup.' So, I guess we would not, in fact, be having a Capcom Cup this year as Tokido is not in it. 

Jokes aside, the top 16 started with some unfortunate news that Chris Tartarian, popularly called Chris T, had to DQ himself because he couldn't get any time off work. This meant he had to forfeit his match, giving his opponent, Joey, a free pass to the next round in Losers' bracket. He explained what happened in a tweet, expressing his regret for not being to make it. This, of course, highlights one of the biggest problems facing semi-pro players: scheduling.

And so, the Top 16 was set to begin and the brackets looked like this

Players In Top 16

Top 16

Top 16 was a fun-filled affair with a lot of fun games in between. It started with a bang as Tokido, who as earlier stated, was a favorite, came up against Kichipa. As with most grappler players, Kichipa has had to make an adjustment, as in 2023, grappler characters are no longer really viable in tournaments. So, Kichipa has been using Alex who was his character of choice here, against Tokido's Luke. According to casters, Ultradavid and James Chen, Tokido has said the Alex match-up isn't that bad for Luke. However, in the specific match-up between Tokido and Kichipa, the latter has had the upper hand most of the time. So it proved again, as Kichipa's Alex defeated Tokido 2-0 to start the day. Shuto, who was so instrumental in his team's SFL Japan run defeated Filipinoman before eventual winner Zhen took on Broski and won 2-1. This was fascinating as Zhen had announced himself to the world by defeating Problem-X earlier in pools and sending him to losers'. Broski, a UK player, has a lot of experience with Problem-X and it was believed he would have an idea on what to do with Zhen. However, as Zhen continued to show, while his CFN name might be 'Fake-Problem X, they do not play the same way. While Problem-X has generally been characterized for his meticulous play, Zhen is a lot more offense-oriented. He is also incredibly adaptable, and this showed as he found ways to deal with Oro's Tengu Stones

On the Losers' side, Nemo beat YaNoob, and the last two matches featured Problem-X vs. Itabashi Zangief and Rikemansbarnet vs. Alex Myers. Problem-X said goodbye to the tournament losing to Itazan 2-0. It felt like a self-fulfilling prophecy as Problem had quipped that Itazan was one of the players he would like to avoid. It was also the end of the road for Alex Myers, who had defeated Brian_F to get into Top 16. He lost to Rikemansbarnet, who had the wildest weekend, with the story coming out that he had to walk seven hours to get to the Capcom Cup venue. Rikemansbarnet is also one of the top Menat players in the world, and this was on show as he won against Alex Myers' Chun li. 

Next, we saw contrasting fortunes for the large Japanese contingent in the tournament as Ryusei and Nemo lost to Joey and Broski, respectively, while Itazan and Tokido took the W against Filipinoman and Rikemansbarnet. With that, the top 16 was done, and we had our Top 8 finalists.

Top 8

Top 8 started in earnest, with Shuto shutting out Kichipa. This also marked the move from first to two sets to first to three so we saw some interesting interactions due to this. The next match saw Zhen continue to wow the crowd with a masterful display against former Capcom Cup Winner, Gachikun. Gachikun's ability to switch between devastating offense and cautious defense has always been one of his biggest strengths. However, it did not work against Zhen, who showed that he is a player to be feared mostly because his offense was very varied, as he made use of Bison's tools very smartly. He sent Gachikun to Losers and set up a winners' final with Shuto

On the losers' side, Joey defeated Broski in a very close set, and Tokido dispatched Itazan bringing his tournament run to an end. Tokido was rewarded with a match against Gachikun next, and the two showed how well they knew each other in this set. However, it would be lights out for Tokido as Gachikun took it in a close game. Kichipa continued being impressive as he finally found a way to defeat Joey's R.Mika.

In the Winners' final, Shuto was up against Zhen. Shuto has made a fair few finals recently but seems to just fall short at these events, and it was evident in his fight against Zhen. Shuto's Urien has always been good, but there was just something inevitable about Zhen, and the Chinese master got the better of Shuto. Next, we had Gachikun vs. Kichipa, and it felt as if Kichipa's run could end, but he showed why he could not be discounted, limiting Gachikun's options and imposing his grappler game against the former Capcom Cup winner. He won 3-1, setting up a losers' final against Shuto.

This was a difficult match as it was a runback from earlier, where Shuto had won 3-0. Kichipa adapted and was able to win the match in a tense final game. This put him in Grand Final, where Zhen was waiting.

Zhen started in typical devastating fashion and took the first game. Then, Kichipa made a surprising but thrilling decision, bringing his Zangief out of retirement to perhaps win him the set. It started really well, with Kichipa using Zangief's 'flex' armor to great effect and catching Zhen with a number of Spinning Pile Drivers (SPD). He quickly equalized the scores, and it started to look like he might find a way through. But one of the most impressive things about Zhen was his adaptation, which he showed again. He started challenging Kichipa from slightly further away, making it difficult for Zangief to profit from his 'Flex.' He also kept his game grounded, cutting off the air throw option for Kichipa. Soon, he was able to wear him down and defeat him.

Kichipa briefly considered switching back to Alex but ultimately went with Gief. Zhen won the set 3-1 to qualify for Capcom Cup.

Zhen had a quick interview with James Chen, and he talked about how great it was for him to do something this incredible in his first overseas tournament. He also talked about how he wished to play Momochi, who he considers a great player. Interestingly, he was drawn in Group G— which has Momochi, so it seems his dream will come true.

Capcom Cup LCQ Day 2

Zhen was clearly pleased with his win and took to Twitter to celebrate. His feat was also celebrated by his compatriots DCQ and VX Bao, who is his teammate. Congratulatory messages also poured in from the FGC, and he is now a player to watch as the group stages of the Capcom Cup start today.

Congratulations to Zhen, and we can't wait to see how well he does in this storied competition.

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