With esports tournaments like EVO going online, organizers are presented a unique problem. The biggest and most popular games in the scene, like Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, and Dragon Ball FighterZ are all notoriously sketchy for their online presence. So, while EVO smartly filled its lineup with games with excellent netcode, Capcom could obviously not do the same. This was inevitably going to cause a problem. And lo and behold, the second online event for the Capcom Pro Tour faced a major one: the online matches are lagging, causing some players to forfeit.
The Capcom Pro Tour Online 2020 North America East 1 took place over the weekend. Two major players, one of them being the current Capcom Cup champion, drop entirely from the event due to lag. Players iDom and ElChakotay both played against a Vega player named MetroM. During iDom’s match, MetroM’s Vega landed four command grabs in a row and was about to deal a stun and win the match. But iDom disconnected, and the match commentators were booted out of spectator mode.
How it all started
Commenter Rynge was visibly shocked at what had just transpired. He later shared this message: “iDom is apparently saying that MetroM is too laggy and he cannot play.” Fellow commenter Vicious responded, saying “I think it’s safe to assume that the matches are indeed going to go to MetroM.” After the forfeit, iDom was subsequently eliminated from loser’s bracket and MetroM went on to play ElChakotay’s R. Mika.
However, just like the previous matchup, ElChakotay also disconnected during the fight. ElChakotay went straight to Twitter to voice his complaints.
Why netcode is so important
ElChakotay’s remarks bring up another point that was mentioned by a former Capcom Cup champion, NuckleDu. The Grid, the plain white training stage in Street Fighter V was banned for use in the tournament. It was a completely baffling move from Capcom. Many are aware of the game’s online issues. The plain training stage is often preferred in online matches as it potentially lowers lag.
Famed rollback advocate and former developer on Killer Instinct Adam “Keits” Heart, also echoed these sentiments. Killer Instinct has arguably the best online experience of any fighting game, and for simple reason: it has rollback netcode. For those not aware, rollback netcode uses input prediction which helps reduce online delay. Other than Killer Instinct, games like Mortal Kombat 11, Brawlhalla have it.
What needs to change
The Americas were the best chance that the event had for stable matches. What happened over the weekend shows that Street Fighter V cannot be played competitively at a high level online. The worst part is that Capcom hasn’t done enough to repair the issues. A fan-made fix to these problems was removed from the game with the launch of Champion Edition.
All we can do is watch and see how bad it actually gets, and hope that all fighting game developers take this year’s lessons to heart. They can no longer ignore the issue and have to strive to make better netcode for their titles in the future. With no offline events to go to, the genre needs it to survive.