This past weekend was EVO 2010, the world’s largest fighting game championship, held annually in Las Vegas. The event has progressively become bigger every year, thanks to the breakout success of Street Fighter 4 that has re-energized the community as well as attracted legions of new fans. Over 1,700 people participated in the Super SF4 tournament!
If you have been following my Twitter feed, I was hyped throughout the weekend, following the live stream and watching exciting, world-class fights. I couldn’t make it out to EVO this year due to medical school obligations, but I definitely plan on attending in the future. Ever since my first taste of tournament competition at Season’s Beatings 4, I’ve caught the itch!
Taiwanese player GamerBee in a moment of triumph
This year featured a rather prominent international presence. Japanese players are widely regarded as the best in the world, so it’s always a big deal when a couple of them fly over to Vegas to compete. EVO 2010 was notable for not just a trio of Japanese players (Daigo Umehara, Tokido, Eita) but also 2 Koreans (Infiltration, Laugh) and 2 Taiwanese (GamerBee, RB). All of these international players performed exceptionally, 6 making it into the Super Street Fighter 4 semi-finals with the top 32 players. 3 of them advanced to the top 8 finals, with EVO 2009 SF4 champion Daigo Umehara winning the entire tournament again and pocketing well over $10,000.
The standout player and surprise of the tournament was Taiwanese player Bruce Hsiang aka GamerBee. He used the character Adon, who is generally regarded as weak and not one that people respect. With his phenomenal reactions and uncanny ability to adapt, GamerBee systematically decimated his opponents and drew more and more attention as he smashed his way deeper into the tournament bracket. Initially called “that [unknown] Adon player” on day 1 of EVO 2010, GamerBee by the end of day 2 semi-finals had established himself as a world-class player and the talk of the Street Fighter world.
The breakthrough moment was when he defeated #1 USA player Justin Wong in the last match of the semi-finals. Since 2009, Justin Wong has won nearly every USA SF4 tournament he has entered and was considered the favorite to challenge defending champion Daigo Umehara for 1st place. Instead, Justin was knocked out by GamerBee in the semi-finals, denying him entry into the top 8 on day 3. This was an inconceivable accomplishment that sent shockwaves through the worldwide community.
GamerBee ended up taking 5th place, losing to Mike Ross from L.A. in a heartbreaker match that went down to the wire.
Yesterday he and his friend RB (who placed 13th) returned home to Taiwan where a hero’s welcome awaited them at the airport.
On the forum TW Fighter, players in the Taiwan Street Fighter scene showed their appreciation for GamerBee and RB’s performance and for representing the country on the biggest stage. A group from their community drove all the way to the airport (an hour away from Taipei) and welcomed them home in a beautiful gesture.
GamerBee shows the golden Tournament Edition (TE) arcade stick he won for placing in the top 8. Only 24 of these gold sticks exist. They are produced by MadCatz, who has set the new standard with their Street Fighter line of quality arcade sticks. Attend any tournament and the majority of players will be using TE sticks. I have two of them (albeit not gold) that I modded last year with custom artwork. TaeYeon design, M. Bison design
The Taiwan Street Fighter community looks awesome and I’ve already made a couple contacts there. I go to Taiwan every 2-3 years so I hope to game with them at some point.
Thank you to GamerBee and all the other competitors at EVO 2010 for bringing the hype and inspiring Street Fighter players the world over to improve their skills!
UPDATE: Wow, GamerBee gets coverage by a national Taiwan TV news channel
UPDATE #2 (8/1/2010): GamerBee and pal RB (EVO 13th place) get invited onto a Taiwan TV chat show