“I think that I finally let people know how strong Chinese players are”: Zhen’s amazing run at Capcom Cup IX
Zhen entered the Capcom Cup IX LCQ relatively unknown but left as one of the most respected SF players in the world.
The Capcom Cup is one of the biggest tournaments for Street Fighter and Capcom Cup IX was no exception. The top players from around the world came together over the weekend to compete for the title, with fan-favorites clashing at the AVALON in Hollywood. But there was another player there that wasn't really well known until now: Zhen Kuang took Capcom Cup by storm.
Zhen is just 19 years old. While he was relatively unknown going into the Last Chance Qualifiers, Zhen went through the gauntlet undefeated — even after facing big names like Gachikun, Problem X, and Shuuto. He entered the top 16 with a 5-0 record in pools. And to think he just decided to sign up for the LCQ because his teammates had already qualified. The M. Bison main went on to beat BigBird, Mono, and Momochi. It seemed like he was unstoppable.
Zhen's iconic run was stopped short by Saul Leonardo "MenaRD" Mena II, who ended up taking home the title. But Zhen was close and the community admired his unique way of playing Bison.
Here's what Zhen had to say about his time at Capcom Cup.
From last chance to grand finals
Esports.gg spoke with Zhen during his top 16 run to find out how it felt to make it so far in the Capcom Cup IX. While soft spoken, Zhen has a lot of passion for Street Fighter — fans should expect to see more of him in the upcoming season.
Esports.gg: You flew from China to compete at the Capcom Cup. What made you decide to compete this week?
Zhen: My teammates. They were already qualified. They said, "Why don't we travel together?"
You didn't have a single loss during the Last Chance Qualifiers! How did you think it would go?
I just didn't want to lose too bad. I didn't expect I could win.
How long have you been playing?
Maybe six years. I have only been competitive for three years. Before that, I was just a random player.
Zhen takes on Capcom Cup IX
How has it been competing in the Capcom Cup?
This is so exciting. This is my first tournament abroad. I think it's really cool that everyone can see me all over the world.
Do other countries have a different fighting style? Have you noticed anything different or surprising?
I think Japanese players are more stablilized. Other regions are very talented and they understand nuetral very well. Some are more random and more aggressive.
You just beat Evo champion Kawano! How did you feel going into this match?
Going into the third match, I was thinking, 'Damn, he's dealing with my dashes really well and everything.' He got into my mind. But I got lucky and came back.
You're playing against the toughest players in the whole world and haven't lost a single match yet.
It's crazy. I never thought... I thought there were levels above me.
Yeah, that's pretty awesome! Anyone you're excited or nervous to play against?
My next match, Angrybird... It's gonna be tough.
How do you think you're gonna do?
I hope I do great! [He won]
Is there anything you want to say to supporters or anyone following your journey?
I think that I finally let people know how strong Chinese players are. It's been great being here and competing. I hope I can do more in the future.
The future of Street Fighter
Are you excited for Street Fighter 6?
I think it's really good, especially the connection is much better than Street Fighter 5. Finally no bad connection!
What are your thoughts on the new characters and updates?
The new characters are great but I wish Bison was in Street Fighter 6.
He won't be at all?!
I'm not sure! I don't really know...
If he isn't, who will you play?
I don't know just yet! Let's see when it comes out.
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Editor | Twitter @y05h1eggz
Olivia Richman is a seasoned esports writer and editor who enjoys creating unique content about Smash, Apex Legends, Halo, Rainbow Six Extraction, Call of Duty, and basically every other game! Olivia enjoys the Pokemon TCG, Kirby, and being a persuasive thief in Fallout and Outer Worlds.