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 “MenaRD” Mena. 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.”