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That’s the Name of the Game: Street Fighter IV’s National Tournament
Last Saturday, April 18th, Gamestop held the Street Fighter IV National Tournament at Fort Mason in San Francisco. The gaming affair had a markedly successful turnout, as the warehouse-style building was filled with hordes of Street Fighter enthusiasts. Auxiliary game stations provided attendees with a chance to demonstrate their own Street Fighting skills, while building the anticipation for the final national tournament that would result in the crowning of a new Street Fighter IV champion. Although all sixteen of the regional finalists were granted a spot in the international 2009 EVO Championship Series, only the top contender received his very own Street Fighter IV arcade cabinet.
The beginning of the competition was arduous, as fights were quick 3 out of 5 matches. Much of the action was hard to keep up with since two fights were taking place at the same time. Even commentator, Seth Killian, struggled to maintain narration of simultaneous fights. Despite this difficulty, Killian provided colorful commentary as Special Advisor for Street Fighter IV’s development and as the founder of the EVO Champion Series.
The first round of matches clearly established Mike Ross (E. Honda) and Justin Wong (Rufus) as the top contenders. Eventually, opposition was whittled down to the two fighting for the crown.
As the music swelled and the audience chanted the names of each respected player, Ross and Wong approached the stage once again for the final showdown. The fight was initially slow to start, each player hesitant to make the first move. Ross, however, was first to the offense, commencing the heated battle. Eventually, Wong dominated in the first round and turned to his opponent with an air of intimidation. Wong confidently celebrated this first victory as he hassled Ross and practically “threw it in his face.”
Each victory saw Wong dealing big damage to Ross. Wong succeeded in winning rounds 1, 2, 4, and 5, while Ross prevented a shut-out by winning round 3. After his ultimate victory, Wong was presented with a large, silver trophy, a one-of-a-kind black belt, and a over-sized certificate declaring his admittance to EVO 2009.
Fellow international competitors Poongko of Korea, Japanese arcade tournament champion Iyo, and widely-acclaimed Street Fighter Daigo Umehara, were also present at the competition and participated in a round-robin exhibition tournament with newly championed Wong. Gamestop invited these special guests to participate as a preview of what may come in the EVO Championship Series.
Each competitor faced one another in consecutive rounds that seemed to double in intensity compared to those of the national competition. Poongko led fierce attacks in each round, but ended up losing to each of his opponents. Iyo held his own, despite losing to Wong and Daigo. Ultimately, Daigo lived up to his reputation as the world’s best Street Fighter and won an all expense paid trip the the 2009 EVO Championship Series in Las Vegas.
If you’re interested in watching the highlights of the tournament, there are plenty of clips available on YouTube. Be sure to be on the lookout for coverage on the 2009 EVO Championship Series. If it’s anything like the Street Fighter IV National Tournament you can count on some fierce fighting and round-to-round excitement.
Daniel will be back next week, in the mean time you can see more of his writing and more of Jenna’s photos at http://wellspringgames.blogspot.com.