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Why My Second Capcom Cup Win is So Important - MenaRD

Femi Famutimi
7 min

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Why My Second Capcom Cup Win is So Important - MenaRD
DashFight got the chance to sit with the two-time champ to talk about the game and what his victory means

Following his impressive win at Capcom Cup, DashFight got a chance to speak with MenaRD with the help of experienced writer Timothy Lee who wrote this piece. You can follow Tim on Twitter and Contently. 


When the last of the confetti strands floated down from the blasts of the stage, the crowd was greeted with the tears of the Capcom Cup champion, Saul MenaRDMena. After receiving the fluorescent cup, MenaRD couldn’t help but kiss the trophy before he looked upward with his eyes closed as the remainder of the celebratory streamers filtered through the air. Here stood the only two-time Capcom Cup champion for Street Fighter and inarguably one of the greatest players to ever compete in Street Fighter 5.

While the majority of opinions would call MenaRD’s victory a surprise after a few inconsistent years of competition, the Capcom Cup’s format and the amount of time allotted for this year’s edition proved to work in his favor. With more time and the knowledge of your opponent given to you beforehand, there were more advantages to player preparation. For a player like MenaRD, that studied as much and watched as much film as he did, this would prove advantageous. In addition, without the random element of an open tournament, because it was a world final, there were less players that could either mimic MenaRD’s play or his level of aggressiveness.

“Having preparation time changes things. My work ethic is very good, and it helps me prepare better than most players to do well in a structured competition,” Mena said. “Tournaments like Capcom Cup benefit me, and it’s good that it’s also a big event.”

He would cite his combination of experiences in 2022 as the biggest reasons for his success – his trip to Japan and everyone he played with there, his advice from a sports therapist that helped his overall mental game and mentality every day, and the players and friends that continually support him from the Dominican Republic and his new home in Massachusetts. No longer just an unknown player, MenaRD garners support from past communities as well as present situations like the passing of advice from former rivals during competitions. As an avid note-taker, he tallies specific bits from the players and people he respects in competition to overall make him a better player and person.

In addition to his collection of support and advice, MenaRD is a special player in that it’s difficult to even replicate his style of play. Some will note that he is one of the best aggressive players to play the game – that he never knows how to stop moving forward. His bravery is truly one of his defining traits, but to truly break it down, it would need to be through specific situations or matches instead of a collection of games because there is not a truly consistent “signature” style for the Dominican Republic powerhouse. He debunks the label of being a player incapable of conditioning because he sees his problem-solving as fluid.

“I just focus on situations, every individual one I want to have some answer for it, and I don’t view it as an entire match. I may have different answers to repeatable problems, and I’ll focus on that situation to bring out a new response,” Mena said. “I’m the one conditioning the opponent when it seems like I’m someone who doesn’t want to be conditioned because I will always answer with something.”

It was evident during his two sets with runner-up Kuang “Zhen” Zhen when he presented multiple options for his wakeup against pressure. If it wasn’t an invincible reversal, it was a critical art or a wake-up button or an instant grab. He constantly played the mind game on his own wake-up to take advantage of passivity or patterns he noticed throughout the overall matchup.

“I had some tips from the players that lost to Zhen, and I asked the same questions to them. Whatever was repeated from them, I considered – they said he liked to grab after he activated v-trigger or that he liked dash or use the psycho axe move,” Mena said. “I was already prepared for him even though this was his first international tournament. Maybe he didn’t have enough information on me.”

And that time spent on preparation instead of just labbing situations or getting games in with fellow players separated MenaRD from the rest of the group – at least for one tournament. While he doesn’t believe he’s the undisputed king of the game, he does believe that he was the best player that day at that tournament. It would be difficult not to claim him to be better than what he denotes himself, but through his own admittance, he was not the most consistent of players during Street Fighter 5.

MenaRD’s first Capcom Cup changed his life in 2017. He went from a player that could barely travel outside of his home country and who slept on floors of hotels for major tournaments to being able to support friends and his community and move to somewhere where there was more opportunity to play and grow. He created his own team with the Tigers to help players back in the Dominican Republic understand the discipline and difficulties of being a professional player – that it requires the utmost focus and attention. But most importantly, his victory brought upon him and his accomplishments the necessary respect from his country to continue to pursue this.

“The biggest change was the respect I received, especially back in my country that followed what I did. They really see this with passion and like to watch the game, and they respect the players that do this,” Mena said. “It was about perception, and people finally saw how good this was but also how much effort it took to do it.”

The second Capcom Cup hit him a little differently than he expected. While his first victory truly provided him with hope back home in the Dominican Republic, the second championship brought him to tears because he recognized how much he considers the fighting game community his family. He finally has the time to focus a little less on his own professional goals and more towards the growth of the communities he is a part of.

“This downtime between games now will allow me to focus on bettering communities more,” Mena said. “I want to focus on organizing more events, with help from my team, not just for the Dominican Republic but also for international events. I want to help my local community in Massachusetts as well to have a major tournament and focus on giving people a place to play.”

For MenaRD, this is only the beginning, and if his tears and adulation for the community could say it out loud – he’s here for the long-haul.  

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