Over the weekend, Victor “Punk” Woodley qualified to play in his fourth Capcom Cup, the developer-backed event that serves as the capstone for every year’s Street Fighter V competition. But when asked how he plans to prepare for the high-level tournament, Punk was as blunt as his in-game name implies, making it clear that there’s no way in hell he’s playing more Street Fighter than absolutely necessary.
“Imma just play Guilty Gear,” Punk told the Capcom Pro Tour hosts, prompting bemused expressions from the two fighting game community commentators and a humorous barrage of emojis in the chat. “That’s about it. I’m in Capcom Cup, there’s no reason for me to play [Street Fighter V] anymore. I don’t like the lag so I’m not going to force myself to play.”
Punk added that while he loves Street Fighter V as a fighting game, it’s not worth his mental health to continue playing in an unstable online environment inhospitable to competitive play. He’d much rather focus on a game with competent online implementation (i.e. Guilty Gear Strive, in which he’s also found early success) than keep playing something that understandably tilts him.
These comments come as no surprise, both because of Street Fighter V’s long-standing issues with online play and Punk’s own history criticizing the game. Playing conditions have certainly improved over the last few years, but Capcom’s poor, proprietary form of rollback netcode known as “Kagemusha” has been a point of consternation among competitors since Street Fighter V launched all the way back in 2016, resulting in unnecessarily laggy online action.
Unfortunately, Punk’s fellow competitors often get caught in the crossfire of his ire for Street Fighter V. After losing a match to rival Derek “iDom” Ruffin in a different online tournament last week, Punk called his opponent “fucking pathetic” for happily taking a win when the match, Punk claims, was affected by lag. His argument was that since the game’s poor online infrastructure made him drop a game-ending combo, iDom should have done the “honorable” thing and given up the match.
A similar outburst during last year’s Capcom Cup qualifiers earned Punk an immediate placement in the losers bracket of the following tournament for “unsportsmanlike conduct.”
Over the last few years, Punk has positioned himself as something of a villain, happily playing the confident, cocky heel à la his WWE namesake as he racks up wins. He may need to pick his targets a little better at times, but when it comes to his criticism of Street Fighter V’s online, Punk stands as one of the few high-level players willing to call Capcom out. And in that regard, he’ll always have the fighting game community’s somewhat begrudging respect.