EVO is this week, which if you don’t know, it pretty much the biggest Fighting Game tournament that Esports and the FGC has. When you think of Esports, most people assume you’re talking either about Fortnight, like that 16 year old player who just won 3 million, or something like Starcraft back in the day when RTS games were made a national sport in Korea (South, not North Korea, for obvious reasons). And while not totally unfounded in some cases, most people also probably assume it’s something that came about in the like 5 years or so (or whenever Ninja started streaming), but in actuality, Esports have been around for at least 15 years. Fighting game tournaments have been held in Arcades for as long as arcades have been a thing, and the one true standout moment from this time dates back to August 1st, 2004, on the final day of Evolution Championship Series (or EVO like i said earlier and you’re short on time) when Justin Wong and Daigo Umehara played in the semi-finals of the Street Fighter 3 (Or 3rd Strike, again if you’re short on time), and executed one of the most remarkable plays anybody had ever seen.

You’ll see when you get there

A little background first before I start throwing a bunch of crap your way without any context. Justin Wong and Daigo Umehara where 2 of the best fighting game players in the world at this point (Still are actually, you see both of them in tournaments all the time) and fought their way through 2 days of an open bracket tournament to get to this point. Justin was one of America’s top players, and was famous for his “turtle style” of playing, which means very slow, very defensive, and basically having the game plan of pissing off his opponent until they make a mistake, and he jumps in to make you pay for it. Some people call it playing lame, but hey, if it works and you lose to it, can you really fault the guy for using it?

Daigo was japan’s best and he god damn better be with a widely accepted nickname of “The Beast”. He was all about discipline and knowing your character better than the person he’s playing does. Diago is pretty much batman, because with time to plan, and time to know the character you’re playing, he can’t be beaten. He knows what you’re going to do before you do, because he’s studied . He was one of the first guys onto the scene, competing in tournaments in as early the 1998, when he was invited to America to play one of the first American tournaments. So the ying and yang of the 2 players is clear as day, and they meet for the at EVO 2004, in the most fitting stage possible. One of America’s best vs the beast from Japan’s, at the biggest tournament on the planet.

Pretty much this if i’m being honest

So they’re in losers finals (the tournament is double elimination) and Justin is doing exactly as he does. Chipping away at Daigo’s heath bar, bit by bit, in what is essentially is a toddler poking their sibling, but not fully hitting them, because then you can’t get in trouble because “I’m not touching you”. And it’s working because Daigo is getting pissed off as the match goes on, and gets whittled down a fraction of his health left. The thing about this game is that blocked damage still causes a small amount of chip, so any move that Justin throws out can’t be blocked, because that will kill Daigo and end the round. So with his opponent’s back against the wall, and with 26 seconds left on the clock, Justin throws his turtle style out the window and goes for the kill with a 15 hit “super” combo.

And then, magic happens

In what is now famously known as “The Daigo Parry”, Daigo parry’s every. Single. Hit. Parry’s work as a high-risk, high-reward system in 3rd strike, where you wont take any damage from the hit, but it requires frame perfect inputs for every single hit, otherwise you’ll miss and take damage. Doing this in a high stakes moment, where even a frame or two off means a loss is incredibly difficult, and Daigo gets every one of them, then follows it up with a combo of his own. It’s a comeback nobody could have seen coming, and the crowd goes ballistic. Justin, for pretty much the first time, throws caution to the wind and figured that under the conditions, he’s pissed off Daigo enough to have him make a mistake. That for one frame, one second, just one moment, he wouldn’t be perfect.
He was wong. (no, I’m not sorry for that joke)

Couldn’t help myself with that joke. Here’s a moment of him celebrating to make up for it

This moment is Esport’s Miracle on Ice. It’s Babe Ruth calling his shot. It’s pretty much any time Ali stepped into the boxing ring. For an entire generation of fighting game players, this is the moment they decided they wanted to pick it up. Hell, the most recent re-release of 3rd strike has a mode where you can replicate the moment yourself. Iconic hardly does it justice. Look up any list of the greatest Esports moments of all time, every one of them has this moment there (if it doesn’t, that list is wrong). The number of views the Daigo vs Justin Moment 37 video has gotten from all the videos of it combined is in the 20+ million range, making it the most-watched competitive gaming moment of all time. Both Justin and Daigo have gone on and done great things in the FGC, since this moment. Daigo has been a consistent face as one of the best street fighter players for pretty much any street fighter out there, and Justin is pretty much a Marvel vs Capcom god, as well as being good at pretty much most fighting game he decided to pick up. But even if they hadn’t, even if they both dropped out of the scene completely after this, this would have been enough. Because this moment is still impressive, all these years later, making it the first highlight Esports ever produced.

Posted by Austin Hamblen, Owner and Main writer of Endlessmonkey.com

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