As we make way for a new Street Fighter game, we look back at the most show-stopping moments in Street Fighter V esports history
What could be more hype than a fighting game tournament on the biggest stage? The FGC has become niche over the last two decades, but when it comes to passion and dedication, it is unmatched. This is truly embodied by certain moments in Street Fighter which is the poster child of fighting games. When you think of hype moments and Street Fighter, what comes to mind are pivotal moments like Evo Moment 37, Xian’s improbable win at Evo 2013, Infiltration’s Hakan decision against PR Balrog, or that pulsating 2015 Red Bull Kumite finals between Bonchan and Tokido.
Even with a difficult start, Street Fighter V is now easily one of the most balanced and complete games out there right now. As we countdown to the mouth-watering prospect of Street Fighter VI, we want to celebrate all the eye-watering and lung-bursting moments that Street Fighter V has provided competitively. We know that there are great Street Fighter V moments from everywhere, but we'll limit our selection to big esports tournaments when the hype was at its absolute peak.
With that said, let’s get into it.
Evo 2022 Final
It only felt fair to start with the most recent hype moment in memory: The Evo 2022 Street Fighter V Grand Finals between iDom and Kawano. After an almost 3-year absence, Evo offline returned, and to say it returned in style might be an understatement. For the United States, we had iDom whose utter dominance in 2022 had seen him win Combo Breaker 2022, CEO 2022, and the Red Bull Subway wars. On the other side was Kawano, one of Japan’s top players and the face of the new generation of Street Fighter professionals from the island nation. They had both won Evo online 2021 and were about evenly matched. iDom’s run into Grand Finals had been nothing short of phenomenal. Knocked into losers’ bracket by Ryan Hart, iDom blitzed through the bracket, taking down Xian, Mister Crimson, Daigo, Tokido, and Gachikun before coming up against Kawano, and with an unfancied Laura no less. The grand final was a tense affair, and iDom, hoping to end America’s 12-year wait for a Street Fighter Evo title, looked to be heading to victory after he reset the bracket and began to really pressure Kawano. But, Kawano who has played and won against legends such as Daigo and Tokido with some regularity, was no shrinking violet. He fought back, going pound for pound against iDom to take the set to the final round of the final game. After a relatively evenly matched affair, iDom went from a command grab which 9 times out of 10 would have worked but this time did not and paved the way for Kawano to clutch out the win and bring an end to America’s dreams once again. It was a fitting final, and a win to announce Kawano on the world stage.
CEO 2021 Final
CEO 2021 was a special event as it had the distinct pleasure of being one of the first offline majors to return after the pandemic. It was also an opportunity for one of the game’s biggest talents, Punk, to show everyone that he was undoubtedly the best in the world.
He made it to Grand Finals, which wasn’t much of a surprise. What people might not have expected was the man sitting across from him. Ricardo Roman, popularly known as Mono PR is a titan on the SF 5 scene and a beloved tournament organizer and pro, but his insistence on using F.A.N.G, a character that wasn’t fancied by many, made him something of a long shot for any major championships. Mono had always maintained that F.A.N.G could take down some big names, and this was perhaps the biggest name possible. Being on winners’ side meant that Mono was in a favorable position and only needed to win 3 sets to be crowned champion. But, he was up against Punk, a player whose ability to clutch out victories has rightly seen him in contention for the title of best player in the world. True to form, Punk won three straight games against Mono and reset the bracket. With hopes hanging in the balance, Mono had to dig deep. But you don’t become a TO of some of the biggest events in North America and a respected pro without the ability to find inner strength. In a stunning display, Mono returned the favor beating Punk 3-0 to take the tournament. Puerto Rican flags came out, bodies invaded the ring, and Mono was celebrated as the national hero he is.
Capcom Cup 2017
Next up, we have the ultimate underdog story. Capcom Cup has for years been the pinnacle of Street Fighter competition and for all intents and purposes, was the World Cup of SF. 2017 was a great year for Tokido. He was the Evo Champion after defeating arguably the best player of 2017, Punk. He had also won Brooklyn Beatdown and was the top player at the CPT Asia/Oceania Regional Finals. So he rolled up to Capcom Cup with a lot of confidence and looked to end the year in style. Several bodies later, Tokido was in the final, but he was up against a relative newcomer on the scene, a young kid from the Dominican Republic called MenaRD. Still in his teens, Mena was something of a young prodigy who had risen to fame that year. But he was up against one of the five Japanese gods of fighting games; there was no way he could win, right?
Mena might have lost in winners’ final, but he came back, reset the bracket, and in a heart-pounding finale, MenaRD slew Tokido. Yes, THE Tokido was defeated in the grand finals of Capcom Cup by a teenager. The moment the game ended, that brief second of stunned eternity where Mena puts down the controller before he is mobbed by his fellow countrymen lives long in the memory. He had done the impossible and had, in that moment, birthed a new generation of Street Fighter players.
TWFighter Major 2018 Final
The next moment was more touching than hype, but for the purposes of this list it works. The Taiwan Fighter Major 2018 was one of the tournaments on the Capcom Pro Tour circuit and was a chance for players to improve their standing on the worldwide table. The final game pitted two of Japan’s best players, Tokido and Sako. While Tokido is considered one of the best players to ever hold a fight stick, Sako was an absolute wizard, but his calm exterior and title as FGC Dad made it, so he wasn’t always the fancied choice to take major tournaments. Sako was also using Menat, a niche character if there was ever one, and was up against the very structured playstyle of Tokido. In a final that was dominated by clean gameplay rather than outlandish executions, Sako took the set and was crowned the winner. What makes people remember this moment though is the reaction afterward. Sako’s daughter went to the stage to hug her victorious father, and he raised her up to the cries of a cheering crowd and then went to comfort his crying wife, who had traveled to support her husband. It showed that perhaps love is stronger than a raging demon.
Capcom Cup 2019 Grand Final
Next up is Capcom Cup 2019. Let’s be honest; winning Capcom Cup is very hard. Sure, open brackets provide a very real challenge, but stacking a tournament with some of the most ruthless killers in the game presents a unique level of difficulty. Capcom Cup 2019 was chockfull of major players, including Daigo, Fuudo, Tokido, Xian, and Phenom. But, the two players destined to face off in the finals were America’s finest, Punk, and iDom. Forged in the fires of NLBC, these two battle-hardened warriors were on the biggest stage possible. At this time, Punk was the overwhelming favorite from a head-to-head standpoint, considering how he seemed to have iDom’s number. But, as iDom showed at Evo 2022, he has a knack for overcoming his demons. Punk, just as in 2017, had been having a good year and came into Capcom Cup ready to prove that he was the best in the world. He was one step away from glory, and all that stood in his way was a rival who he had defeated fairly regularly so far. On the other hand, iDom was unsponsored and was notorious for not showing up for events outside the US. What's more, iDom was on losers side and had already suffered defeat to Punk. But, in what was perhaps the making of iDom on the world stage, he reset the bracket. With the momentum behind him, he went after Punk and got a 3-1 victory. It was a watershed moment. The normally unruffled iDom allowed himself a rare pop-off, and as the confetti rained down on the stage, it was clear that a new world power had been born.
Evo Japan 2020 Grand Final
Evo Japan 2020 is the destination of our next hype moment. This was a great moment because it felt like the beginning of a change in the guard. Japan has traditionally been the best in the world in Street Fighter, and this has carried on in all iterations of the game. But, it has also always had the same names, and for literal decades, you knew that the same men were going to take the top spots in the Japanese Street Fighter hierarchy. 2020 marked a bit of a shift as we started seeing some new names. Kawano, Ryusei, and Nauman to name a few. Nauman was the man of the moment using his Sakura to great effect and taking down giant after giant till he came up against the final boss— not September Mago.
While September Mago had become something of a meme, the veteran had taken great pains to shrug off the name and was poised to take down the young upstart in grand finals. Coming from losers, Mago was able to reset the bracket. At this points, you can imagine that for a young player, nerves would set in and perhaps inexperience could be their downfall. Not for Nauman as he showed composure that belied his years to take 1, 2, 3 games from Mago, defeating the 2D god 3-0 after the reset. This was an incredible moment, it marked the start of a new school and a slow transition that is becoming more and more apparent as the younger Japanese players start to assert themselves in the game.
Evo 2018 Grand Final
We started with an Evo, we might as well end with an Evo. Asia was the dominant force in Street Fighter V, and while Europe was home to several talented players, they barely had the chance to show off on the grand stage. In 2014, Luffy had won Evo and was up to that point the only European to have recorded that honor. 2018 presented another opportunity with Luffy and Problem X, both in top 8. Soon, however, Problem X was the last European standing as Luffy crashed out of the tournament. Problem X, a classy player who was well known for very meticulous, unfussy play was up against a titan in Tokido. Tokido was on the hunt to win Evo back to back after his victory in 2017 which saw him take it from Punk after an insane run through the losers bracket. Now, he was in a similar position, making it through the losers bracket once again. He looked ready to break European hearts after resetting the bracket after a really close set. Tokido was going to do it again wasn’t he? He was going to snatch victory once more and stamp his name in the hall of fame. It seemed to be inevitable. But, Problem X had other plans as he utterly destroyed Tokido in the following set taking it 3-0. Typical of an Englishman, his muted reaction as he got off his seat was countered by the mob of bodies that rushed to congratulate him on this remarkable victory. Finally, the Asian hegemony for Street Fighter V was broken.
Those were our hypest moments in Street Fighter V history. Do you have any of yours? Keep on reading DashFight for all your fighting game needs.
Till next time.