When it comes to competitive fighting games, there’s a dirty not-so-secret secret: The Japanese are better.
America’s fighting game scene is beginning to boom no doubt; prize money at larger tournaments frequently reaches five figures and local heroes are being born. Loveable goofballs and professional legends Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez and Mike Ross now frequently receive 50,000+ viewers per episode on their YouTube accounts. Evolution Championship Series (EVO), the most prestigious gaming tournament in the country, is now held in Las Vegas of all places.
Unfortunately, several times a year this bubble is burst by the Japanese.
The world’s best and most successful Street Fighter player, Japan’s Daigo “The Beast” Umehara, has periodically come to North America and not only won an overwhelming majority of tournaments but also won EVO multiple times. This past weekend, Daigo and his teammates Mago “The King” and Tokido came from Japan and won the Super Street Fighter IV AE singles in LA and Orlando respectively.
Earlier this year, Daigo had made a public video statement that he would be entering Marvel vs. Capcom 3 in EVO. Many people simply laughed; Daigo was a god in 2D fighting games but many simply didn’t believe that the Japanese could compete with the US Marvel vs. Capcom players who had been playing the game far too long. This was confirmed when in LA Mago, arguably the 2nd best Street Fighter player in the world, got blown up in MVC 3.
Then Tokido beat Justin Wong, arguably the US’s best MVC3 player, to win the MVC 3 singles in Orlando that very same weekend.
Understand that while they are bitter and sometimes deny it, American players have learned to take Japanese victories in Street Fighter in stride. Even Mike Ross admitted on video that the Japanese “are godlike” in the game. He however expresses true bitterness that Tokido won Marvel vs. Capcom 3, stating firmly that Marvel vs. Capcom was “[their] game”. Commentators and spectators alike complained about how cheap Wolverine and Phoenix were (while cheerfully avoiding the fact that American Viscant won in LA utilizing Wesker and Phoenix, Wesker also being considered rather cheap). The simple fact is, however, that Tokido learned how to play.
He learned about X-Factor, Resets, and Touch of Death Combos (one combo to kill a character) to beat out Justin Wong.
Recently, Daigo announced that at NorCal Regionals 2011, he would make his debut in MVC 3 to warm up for EVO 2011. With his teammate Tokido proving that the Japanese are more than capable of winning MVC 3 tournaments, critics are no longer laughing.
It’s time for war.
Daigo is competitive gaming’s grandmaster. He is a master tactician, taking the most basic characters and utilizing them in ways never imagined. He recently adopted Yun, a powerful but fragile and high execution character, and has literally invented combos for the character. And now, with his comrade Tokido besting one of America’s top gamers, it’s a realistic possibility that “The Beast” has the skills necessary to revolutionize Marvel vs. Capcom 3 . . . at the expense of American players.
Will NorCal Regionals be where American players finally say “No, Marvel vs. Capcom is OURS!”Or will it fall under the onslaught of The Beast?
Tune in June 18-19, look at eventhubs.com for streams. It’s going to be exciting folks!