Jackie Chan in the hit 1993 action movie City Hunter
Sorry, Chun-Li, but I just don't see you happening.
Obviously, the reason Chun-Li's been in the spotlight has to do with the recent 2chan leak that claimed Chun-Li was allegedly considered for the base roster, but was passed over in favour of Ken. This, combined with the fact that all three characters in Fighter's Pass 2 were considered for the base game and the fact that the speculation community is pretty fixated on the idea of another third-party series getting a second character after Sephiroth's inclusion, many have started to hold up Chun-Li as a forerunner for one of the final three fighter slots.
However, I don't really buy this argument. The main reason people have eyes on this leak is that it claimed that Erdrick, the Luminary, Steve were intended for the base game, while Sephiroth was heavily considered for the base game before we knew any of this to be true. However, I think it's worth noting this isn't as prophetic as it seems on the surface. For starters, Vergeben had been relatively vocal about Erdrick and some form of Minecraft content during the base game's speculation, which led many to assume this was true information given Vergeben's outstanding track record during base game speculation. As such, the idea of Erdrick and Steve as cut base game characters is far from an original one. Likewise, the Luminary and Sephiroth were already in the public spotlight thanks to the Seven Squares leak. Given that all of the other Seven Squares candidates are discussed in the leak with the exception of Slime, who would presumably be off the table if Erdrick and the Luminary were the Dragon Quest characters, it's relatively likely that the leak's writer knew about Seven Squares and sought to address it to give it some legitimacy, getting lucky by claiming that the Luminary and Sephiroth were the other characters considered.
Similarly, there are two characteristics of this leak that basically confirm it as fake to me. First, the leak's writer is incredibly knowledgable about Sakurai's thought process, making claims like Lloyd and Yuri were both in the planning stages of Ultimate and Square were the ones to prioritize Erdrick over Sephiroth. This is an immediate red flag, as leakers are typically low-level employees who wouldn't have this much insight into the decision-making process. The suits making these top-level decisions are not going to risk their careers and enter a legal battle with multiple megacorps to earn internet points on an anonymous message board. A lot of fake leakers fail to consider this and end up including this degree of detail anyway.
Second, the leak's claim that Chun-Li, presumably a unique fighter, was replaced by Ken, an echo bordering semi-clone, is incredibly suspect. Sakurai is incredibly meticulous in attempting to maximize his development time. This is a man who prides himself on making a detailed project plan to ensure he can accomplish as much as possible from start to finish. Likewise, as anyone who has looked into the development history of Melee or Smash for Wii U/3DS knows, clones take far fewer resources to get off the ground. As such, this labour difference means it was basically impossible for Ken to replace Chun-Li's resources unless there was some extra content that came with Ken (which is unmentioned in the leak). As such, this ignorance in Sakurai's design philosophy not only detracts from the leak's overall credibility but makes it even more doubtful that the leaker is high enough in the corporate food chain to know when considered characters are getting replaced.
That being said, even without a leak, Chun-Li could still definitely get in. Much like how Sakurai praised Sephiroth for being gaming's biggest villain after Bowser, I could see him gunning for Chun-Li as gaming's leading lady after Peach. Nonetheless, she's owned by a company with arguably the internal fiercest competition for a spot in Smash. In particular, Monster Hunter is incredibly popular, unique, and has an upcoming timed exclusive with Nintendo next year. There's also the likes of Dante and Phoenix Wright, both of whom could realistically be Capcom's guy, given the recent revivals their series have seen. Alternatively, there's a reasonable chance we don't get any new Capcom characters in Ultimate's DLC, especially with there only being 3 remaining fighter's packs left.
I think Chun-Li's death sentence lies in a factor that has been neglected in this debate: Min Min. Now, I'm not going to say Chun-Li and Min Min can't co-exist in Smash, that'd be ridiculous. However, the issue lies in the motifs within Min Min's implementation. Occasionally, Sakurai will make creative choices when adding characters into Smash that allude to other characters in gaming or pop culture. For example, the fact that Duck Hunt is a team of a bird riding a mammal seems to be an overt nod to Banjo and Kazooie. Likewise, the fact that Min Min has kicks as a core tenant of her Smash moveset, even though she performed only a kick when back-dashing or air-dashing in ARMS, feels like a conscious attempt to make her closer to Chun-Li. In particular, her rapid jab is extremely similar to the Hyakuretsukyaku, Chun-Li's most famous move and arguably the most famous move in Street Fighter that doesn't belong to a shoto. I can definitely see where Sakurai was coming from in making this choice. If you're going to add female, Chinese martial artist to your fighting game, why not model her after the female, Chinese martial artist that was propelled into becoming one of gaming's biggest icons?
But therein lies the problem. If you're getting the real deal, why spend time making another character into a homage to their presence? Not only does it decrease the overall diversity among characters within Fighter's Pass 2, it feels like you're setting up your opening act to fail. It's kind of like if Duck Hunt and Banjo and Kazooie were to be added in a single wave of characters, why would you go out of your way to structure the former to follow the latter when the latter is coming anyways? It's this issue that makes me relatively confident in not seeing Chun-Li in the immediate future.
Admittedly, I was pretty harsh on the Fighting Games' First Lady in my write-up on her chances. While Chun-Li was never been my Street Fighter main (that honour goes to Cammy), it's hard to not appreciate what Chun-Li would bring. She's nothing short of a massive icon that would really add to the atmosphere of Smash. Plus, c'mon, Samus vs. Chun-Li? Hype as ****.
That being said, I'd rather see Capcom get another franchise in before Street Fighter gets their third time at bat. Likewise, while I definitely agree that Street Fighter's supporting representation is currently lopsided towards Street Fighter II, I think comparing it to what Final Fantasy had prior to Sephiroth is seems a little farfetched. It definitely sucks that nearly all of Street Fighter's music is ripped straight from Street Fighter II, but there's enough tracks and spirits there to not make me think "Oh thank god, we're getting more Street Fighter content" when seeing Chun-Li like with Sephiroth
Plus, it's simultaneously amusing yet annoying to see a handful of users who consistently preached that characters like Waluigi, Bandana Waddle Dee, and Shadow were ineligible for a Fighter's Pack because they wouldn't have an overarching theme behind their supporting content, only to see this rule immediately go out the window as soon as Chun-Li became a discussion point.
I'm going to abstain on Eggman for the time being. I didn't expect my write-up on Chun-Li to get this large and I'm pretty beat. Plus, I don't really have a ton to say on the guy that hasn't been brought up already. Maybe I'll come back to him if something new comes to mind.