Idom – 2019 Capcom Cup Champion

Derek “iDom” Ruffin rose to fame in 2016-2017 at Next Level Battle Circuit with consistently dominating performances. Despite his talents, fans were quick to note that iDom rarely traveled to major events to test his skills — an issue that changed in 2019, leading to one of the Capcom Pro Tour’s greatest Cinderella stories to date.

Street Fighter V’s presence in the Capcom Pro Tour has given rise to more than a few incredible storylines; from NuckleDu’s jaw-dropping Capcom Cup win in 2016 to MenaRD’s explosive victory for the Dominican Republic in 2017, the game has undoubtedly churned out its fair share of unexpected champions. In spite of this recurring theme, iDom’s performance in the 2019 CPT shook the table in a major way, producing a champion who, at one point, barely left his home state for competitive play.

The King of the Next Level Battle Circuit

Before becoming a Capcom Cup champion, iDom was once the king of NLBC, scoring multiple back-to-back victories at one of the Fighting Game Community’s most brutal tournament circuits in the United States. With his skillful use of Laura, iDom quickly jumped through the ranks, becoming one of the East Coast’s best talents using a single character. However, fans were quick to note that, regardless of his proficiency, Ruffin wasn’t prone to taking his talents to major tournaments.

[Image credits: Team Spooky, YouTube]

Busy with school and bearing a distaste for flying, iDom didn’t truly begin his path as a globe-trotting World Warrior until 2019, when he tested his mettle in the PRO-US Season 1 of the Street Fighter League tournament series. Pitted against his fellow players in a team-based format with serious cash on the line, the NLBC champ was met with a debilitating condition: the Street Fighter League’s character ban clause, which allowed an opposing team to ban a character of their choice for a leg up in the competition.

This forced the character loyalist to familiarize himself with secondary fighters, notably picking up Juri as a means to combat the ban of his only main during the League’s first season. However, iDom didn’t really start jiving with another character until the release of Poison in the summer of 2019, citing her control in the neutral and “freedom” of movement as his reasons for sticking with the Mad Gear femme fatale.

From Street Fighter League to the Grand Finals Stage

Following the Street Fighter League’s PRO-US Season 2, iDom took his Poison to events throughout the Capcom Pro Tour, most notably during his 4th place run at Puerto Rico’s First Attack, where he used the character against such names as Itabashi Zangief — and even fellow East Coast player Punk.

Unbeknownst to all, this wouldn’t be the last time the two would face off on a massive stage — nor the last time fans would see iDom’s Poison take on Punk’s Karin. The players’ Caribbean showdown acted as an unanticipated prelude to their eventual meeting at Capcom Cup 2019, which saw iDom blaze through the competition in a jaw-dropping series of matches that landed him in Grand Finals.

While there’s no denying iDom’s Street Fighter skills, his run at Capcom Cup was unprecedented for the talented East Coast pro, pitting him against the season’s number-one ranked fighter who was already experiencing a stellar year, having won the most Premier Events out of any other competitor with a record-breaking 4,815 points. It was all or nothing: would Punk solidify his status as SFV’s “Alpha,” or would iDom shock the fighting game community and prove his mettle as the game’s best player in the world?

Taking it All with a Brand-New Fighter

All eyes were locked onto the two pros as they faced off in the most electrifying runback of the season. With Punk having knocked iDom into Losers’ side during the Winners’ Final, their Grand Finals meeting tasked iDom with resetting the bracket in yet another match against his rival — no small feat, considering the incredible weight of the championship they were fighting hard to attain.

While iDom had previously pulled out Poison during his match against Punk in the Winners’ Final, he’d stuck with Laura throughout Grand Finals — but considering the pressure of their last few games, the pro switched up the flow by pulling out his new pick once more, bringing their fight to a fever pitch with one of SFV’s brand-new additions.

It was Poison vs Karin — iDom’s newly-chosen secondary vs Punk’s legacy character from the early 2016 launch of Street Fighter V. With $250,000 and an undisputed place in Capcom Cup history on the line, the two pros went at it again, with Punk taking the first round and gaining the upper hand. However, it was iDom who emerged the champion, sealing the deal during their final round with Poison’s molotov cocktail V-Trigger I combo in a victory that touched the hearts of fans across the globe.

The Heart of a World Warrior

“I feel like all the hard work has paid off,” iDom notably said of his win as he held back tears. “It’s actually surreal, but I’ve never won a Premier Event or anything. This is probably the biggest thing I’ve ever won before. It’s crazy.”

[Credit: Stringer Rell]

iDom’s tear-jerking championship victory marked a massive jump in his career as a fighting game pro. Once teased as the “stoop kid afraid to leave his stoop,” he finally broke out of his comfort zone after years of dominating NLBC, proving his strength against some of the CPT’s greatest players to ultimately take Street Fighter’s toughest tournament of the season. Following in the footsteps of players like NuckleDu and MenaRD, iDom’s win similarly proves that neither age nor status is a barrier to competitors — all that matters is one’s skill, and having the heart of a true World Warrior.