Punk is considered one of the best Street Fighter V players in the world. As the top 32 players prepare to compete for the Capcom Cup, the 20-year-old is number one on the world rankings, after big wins at Combo Breaker and Street Grand Battle 2019.
His success however hasn’t always translated to the biggest tournaments. He’s yet to win the Evolution Championship Series (Evo), placing runner-up in 2017, and his past appearances at the Capcom Cup haven’t been his strongest – finishing 13-16th last year.
Heading into the tournament this year and beyond however, Punk is hoping to leave no stone unturned with all sights set on Evo 2020.
Punk is back on top in 2019 (Picture: Robert Paul)
How are you feeling going into the Capcom Cup? Anyone you’re hoping to play against?
Pretty good. I always make sure to have a positive mindset when I go into big events like this. I really just think about playing whoever is in front of me. I don’t really have a goal for who I want to play.
It feels like a comeback year for you in many ways after 2018, how do you feel about 2019 looking back?
I guess you would say that but I personally don’t think like that. Everyone has bad years, especially in Street Fighter V. You’re not going to ever stay at the top where you’re at every year.
You’ll probably get worse or better since the game is just really volatile in the results. It’s kind of hard to stay on top all the time so I don’t really think of it as a comeback or anything.
Did you have a goal in mind going into 2020?
I didn’t really have a goal. My only goal every year is to try and win Evo and make it to the Capcom Cup. If I can do that by winning tournaments or by placing really well at events, that’s good for me.
You’re ranked top of the world and regarded as one of the best players, does that outweigh not winning Evo and the Capcom Cup? Or does not having those bother you?
Evo, yes. I want to win that one day. That’s my personal biggest goal of the year for me but as it only happens once a year, if you don’t win you can’t beat yourself up too much.
That tournament I always hope I can win every year but it hasn’t gone the way I wanted so far, but maybe in the future.
Looking to 2020, what’s the main thing you want to achieve in Street Fighter?
With Street Fighter, I just want the scene to grow overall. I want more players to be able to come out and travel because there’s so many good players that don’t have the opportunity to travel. So I want to see that, hopefully more sponsors come in and everything just grows in total. I want to see growth in the scene, and I want to win Evo *laughs*.
Is there something about Evo specifically you find difficult?
It’s just there’s a lot of matches. The biggest thing at Evo is it’s an endurance test more than player skills. I mean obviously only the greatest players ever make it far, but I think it depends on how they are later in the day. You play from like 10am all the way to 8pm, so if you’re not ready to do that... I just feel like it’s hard to win Evo.
The same goes for the Capcom Cup. They’re big endurance tests and I feel like my endurance is very, very weak. I can play for maybe three or four hours and then I’m super tired and drained.
But that’s something I have to work on. I need to figure out a way to not get tired after going so many hours.
New character Gill is also the next DLC character. Are you excited about what he’ll bring? Do you dabble much when a new character comes out?
On my stream I always try them out and see how they are. Gill is pretty interesting because of how he was so busted in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. It’s very unique and I want to see how he plays.
I’m kind of curious to see like how much he differentiates from Urien. I don’t know if I’ll be playing him but I’m excited to see how he plays out. I'm excited for if there’s any more DLC characters to come out of that Capcom Cup too. I’m sure there’s a reveal there somewhere.
How do you feel about the additions coming in the Street Fighter Champion Edition next year?
I feel like there’s a lot of characters who are going to get nerfed. That changes a lot for the players. Luckily I’m fortunate because I play with a lot of characters already so if Karin actually got nerfed I can just switch over to another character, so that helps me.
I think there’ll be a lot of big character nerfs, and there’s big changes since they’re adding V-Skills 2. That’ll probably shake things up a lot since we don’t know everyone’s V-skills 2 yet.
Adding any new things to the game makes it fun and makes it feel fresh again. I was hoping everyone got new V-system things like new V-Reversals, new V-Skills, maybe a new Critical Art, but I’m just happy they gave a new V-Skill. I like it when new mechanics or things are added to the game.
In the context of the FGC, do you think Street Fighter is in a healthy position?
I think it’s so-so. I think it’s good but at any time it could go bad. It’s just at an alright position right now.
There’s a lot of problems at events and tournaments people have which I think Capcom need to fix to make it better. They need someone to supervise or a few people to supervise all the Capcom Pro Tour events in the year to make sure things go well. That would help the scene grow a lot more.
It’s just the logistical things that need working on a bit. The structure is where it needs to be redesigned or looked at.
Are you planning to stick with Street Fighter in the years to come?
I’ll probably play Street Fighter for as long as my professional career goes on. It’s my favourite fighting game and probably my favourite video game franchise ever.
I will always stick to Street Fighter. I think of all the fighting games, they have the best designed characters. It’s a game where I feel like all the characters look sick and I just want to play as everyone, I don’t really have that with many fighting games. That for me is a big thing.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I just want to say thank you to everyone who supports me and follows me on Twitter, social media or anything else. I just want to thank all the supporters.
The Capcom Cup starts Friday 13 December in Los Angeles. You can check out the action on the Capcom Fighters Twitch channel.