Capcom Pro Tour 2023: Leverless Controller Rule Changes Aim for Competitive Fairness Ahead of Street Fighter 6 Release

As the anticipation for Street Fighter 6’s June release grows, fans can look forward to the Capcom Pro Tour 2023 season, which will focus on the previous installment, Street Fighter V (SFV).

Top-level players of the renowned fighting game have been preparing for the official circuit. However, a recent ban on a particular controller type will require some of them to modify their mechanics. Leverless controllers, which have been growing in popularity over the past decade, will need updates to remain eligible for the circuit. Capcom has announced changes to the “Controller Usage Rules” to ensure the highest levels of competitive fairness by making informed and justified adjustments, considering the differences between controller input and character behavior in the game.

These controllers enable players to execute combos more easily by utilizing buttons instead of the traditional joystick. The new rule is designed to ensure all leverless controllers operate to a universal standard, regardless of make or model, at Capcom-sanctioned events. The rule states that if up and down directions are input at the same time, both inputs must be maintained or both inputs must be rejected. To clarify, if up and down inputs are made simultaneously, the character must not perform a jump or crouch action, and if the left and right inputs are made simultaneously, the character must not perform a forward or backward movement action.

This decision has revived an old debate within the SFV community. Some professional players argue the ruling is insufficient, while others contend that leverless controllers should be allowed without modification. Veteran player Luffy has even called for an outright ban on these controllers. There is also concern about the enforcement of this rule in online tournaments, as there is currently no method to verify if players have deactivated the prohibited input.

Leverless controllers have gained traction over the years, with notable Japanese pro players, such as Daigo, adopting them. Many players view these controllers as the optimal choice for excelling in SFV. Japanese player Mago, for example, stated in a recent livestream that “walk block and leverless defense are broken,” and that “the days of sticks are ending.”

The rule change does not explicitly prohibit the use of leverless controllers. However, any controller that registers an input when two directionals are depressed must be updated to comply with the new rule. To give players ample time to adjust, Capcom has announced this change before updating the “CAPCOM Pro Tour 2023 Official Tournament Rules.” The full set of rules will be made available at a later date.

The rule change only affects tournaments and competitions sponsored by Capcom. The Capcom Pro Tour 2023 Controller Usage Regulations serve as the governing rules for the use of controllers by players in all CPT competitions. However, Capcom reserves the right to change these rules at any time, and in the event of unforeseen problems, Capcom and tournament organizers reserve the right to make decisions in consultation.

Street Fighter 6 is scheduled for release on June 2 on PlayStation 4 and 5, PC, and Xbox Series X/S. In the meantime, SFV will be featured in the upcoming EVO Japan, starting on March 31st.

What is SOCD?

Simultaneous Opposite Cardinal Directions (SOCD) refers to a situation in which two opposite directional inputs (e.g., up and down or left and right) are pressed simultaneously on a fight pad or leverless controller. How SOCD is handled in fight pads can impact gameplay and the execution of character actions.

Different fight pads and leverless controllers handle SOCD inputs differently, depending on the controller’s design and firmware. There are three common methods for handling SOCDs:

  1. SOCD Neutral (or Last Input Priority): In this method, if two opposite directions are pressed simultaneously, the controller disregards both inputs, and the character remains in a neutral position. This means if up and down are pressed together, the character will neither jump nor crouch, and if left and right are pressed together, the character will not move forward or backward.
  2. SOCD Priority (or First Input Priority): In this case, when two opposite directions are pressed together, the controller prioritizes the first input and disregards the second one. For example, if a player holds left and then presses right, the character will continue moving left until the left input is released.
  3. SOCD Stacking: This approach allows both inputs to be registered, effectively allowing the character to perform an action that may not be possible with traditional joystick controllers. However, this method can create unfair advantages and is generally not used in competitive settings.

For competitive fairness, some tournament organizers and game developers, like Capcom, have implemented rules to standardize how SOCD inputs are handled in official competitions. As seen in the Capcom Pro Tour 2023, they require that both inputs must be maintained or both inputs must be rejected when simultaneous opposite cardinal directions are inputted. This rule ensures that leverless controllers operate to a universal standard, regardless of make or model, at Capcom-sanctioned events.

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