EVO 2012: Going Into Beast Mode With Video Games – By Sam Accardo

In his first article for HefferBrew, Sam covers the Grand Finals of this year’s Evolution 2012 for both Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition (Version 2012). They were truly a spectacle this year as both of them had great moments that put Sam on the edge of his seat more than once.

There are many games that Evolution currently holds tournaments for: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Street Fighter X Tekken, Mortal Kombat, The King of Fighters XIII, Soul Calibur V, and, of course, Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition (Version 2012) (which also took home the trophy for longest game name this year to no surprise). Now, I love watching high level video game play, but I do actually enjoy spending time doing other things than watching hours upon hours of tournament footage. Because of this fact, the article will only focus on the two (arguably) most popular games of Evo: SSF4:AE(V.2012) and UMvC3. But before we get into the Grand Finals, I want to talk a little bit about Evolution in general.

My first experience with the magnificence of Evolution is when I watched this video, a classic and legendary moment for anyone in the Fighting Game Community. If you’re not sure what happened and why everyone lost their proverbial shit when they saw it, let me explain what’s going on. It was a match between Daigo “The Beast” Umehara and Justin “jwong” Wong. Jwong is playing as Chun-Li and Daigo is playing as Ken. Ken has so little health that if he takes a single punch, even if he blocks it, he will die and lose the match. So jwong feels confident that he has the match in his grasp, and because of this he does something flashy. Something he thought was a guaranteed win. But Daigo knew better, and utilized the parry mechanic in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike to its absolute fullest potential. The parry is sort of like a block but better. Like I said, when you take a hit while you’re blocking, you still take some damage (“chip” damage). However, if you parry (by pressing forward on the controller at the right moment) the character parries the attack and takes no damage. But it’s no easy feat, and to do what Daigo did is freaking insane. What he did is parry the entire Super Combo that Chun-Li performs. If he misses a single parry, it’s all over. But The Beast keeps its composure, parries the super, and counters with its own super to win the match. To this day though, the thing that makes me drop my jaw even further to the floor is the reaction of the audience during that fight. This round wasn’t the Grand Finals. Daigo Umehara wasn’t even defending himself from being eliminated from the tournament. It was just a round. It’s like the equivalent of going to an arcade and seeing the two local greats go at each other. And just like an arcade crowd cheers and shouts, the crowd at Evo went absolutely crazy. And that’s why I will always love watching the matches from Evo.

And lastly, I want to address a complaint I hear about fighting games and UMvC3 specifically: the games are cheap. And I won’t lie; you can build a team of Doctor Doom, Sentinel, and Phoenix and then go cheese the hell out of your opponents. But I hate hearing that excuse when it comes from someone who loses. If Capcom didn’t want me doing the same move over and over again, they would add some mechanic in the game that doesn’t let me do that. Don’t like getting beaten by simple strategies? Don’t pick up a controller or learn how to beat them.

And finally, let’s get into my two favorite games at Evolution 2012 this year: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition (Version 2012) (blame Capcom for the name).

Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez came into this match with 1 loss during the qualifiers, and Carlos “Infrit” Randay came in with no losses. Meaning that Filipino Champ has to beat Infrit in a best of 5 matches twice in order to win it all, whereas Infrit only has to win one best of 5 to be crowned this year’s world champion. Filipino Champ’s team consisted of Magneto on point, Dormammu at second, and Doctor Doom to anchor it all together. Infrit’s team had Nova on point, Spencer at the second slot, and Sentinel more as an assist character (since he got nerfed back in the MvC3 days) but he relies on him as an anchor quite a bit in the series.

I highly recommend watching the match. I’ll highlight some of the cool moments in the last best of 5 (since technically the first best of 5 doesn’t count and Filipino Champ won the series 3-0 to reset the bracket) but just watching from start to finish is the best way to do it. Also, something to note to add some flavor this match: Infrit had sent Filipino Champ to the Losers bracket when they met in the Winners Final so that Champ would have to then beat Chris G in the Losers Final in order to advance to the Grand Finals to have a rematch against Infrit. Did I lose you? Don’t worry. Essentially, the Losers Finals and the Winners Finals are like the Western Conference and Eastern Conference Championships in basketball, and the Grand Finals are the NBA Finals. The way the players who participate in the Winners and Losers Finals are selected is a bit different than the NBA, but anyways, here are the highlights.

8:10 – Infrit opens up Magneto for big damage and the domination did not stop.

8:58 – Champ calls out Doctor Doom’s hidden missiles assist (one of the best in the game), and gets caught by Nova putting both Dormammu and Dr. Doom in a single combo. Both Dormammu and Doom die from this.

9:10 – And now it’s all up to Magneto. Filipino Champ plays strong and hurts Spencer hard with a fancy Level 3 X-Factor Gravity Squeeze. Moments after, Magneto finishes the job.

9:54 – Unfortunately for Champ, Infrit keeps his composure and defeats Magneto with Nova by playing carefully. Infrit takes the first game going up 1-0 without even needing to use Sentinel. It is clear Filipino Champ won’t be able to steam roll Infrit like he did in the first series.

10:44 – Champ’s Magneto starts out strong by landing a nasty flight combo pushing Nova into the corner leaving Dormammu to clean up the rest. Nova down.

11:03 – Dormammu then cleans up Spencer without too much trouble leaving only Sentinel which he didn’t even use in the first game. Sentinel can win this, but only if he does something crazy. And he does.

12:25 – Champ has to leave it all up to Magneto after half of Victor Von’s life disappears at the hand of Sentinel. I don’t want to ruin it (so just click the link and find out), but I have to for the format. Magneto defeats Sentinel with a sliver of health left. The series is all tied up. 1-1

15:15 – By this point in the third        match Nova was taken out by a well placed grab from Magneto that led into a beefy combo using Dormammu to finish Nova with the DHC. Now Doctor Doom is out on the field and Spencer had already put a hurting on Dormammu. But Champ unleashes Victor Von’s power and knocks Spencer out easily. It’s all up to Sentinel.

16:27 – After very careful and strategic play Infrit’s Sentinel has taken out Magneto. But it looks like it’s over for Sentinel after he eats a nasty Hyper Combo from Champ’s Dormammu. But then Sentinel turns the tide, and starts to look like the character it was back in Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Infrit kills Dormammu in a simple command grab to a Hyper Combo and then knocks out Doom in the air with a swift Rocket Punch to the metal dome. The crowd goes wild. Infrit goes up 2 to 1.

18:13 – Match four (match point for Infrit) has started and by this point many characters on both side ate a ton of damage from being called out at the wrong times. But Filipino Champ’s Dormammu turns the match in his favor as he knocks out Nova without much health left.

18:48 – Magneto just landed a nasty combo on Spencer and then let Dormammu come in and crush Spencer in his Dark Dimension. It’s all up to Sentinel once more. And just like Infrit has done before in the series, he shows why Sentinel is always his last character out. He takes out Mags and Dorm easy.

19:31 – And just when it looks like Infrit is about to defeat Filipino Champ for the last time, and get crowned world champion for Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Doctor Doom lands a Foot Dive in Level 3 X Factor that saves Champ’s life. The series is tied up two to two.

20:50 – The last match. Both players have demonstrated extreme dominance. They each know each other’s strategy. They both have laid out all the cards on the table. It all comes down to this.

22:33 – Well folks. It’s been a long 22 minutes and 33 seconds. And it’s been a nail biter. And as much as I wish I could say it came down to the last character with no X Factor left and slivers of health remaining before the last hit was finally landed, it didn’t. Filipino Champ just outplayed Infrit in the last match and, as always, the responsibility fell on Infrit’s Sentinel. Sentinel kills Magneto burning his X Factor in the process. But lots of keep away, and Doctor Doom’s ridiculous Hidden Missiles assist, makes Sentinel fall to Dormammu. Filipino Champ wins. He is your new Evolution 2012 Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 world champion. Watch how a champion celebrates here.

One of the interesting things about this year’s SSF4: AE (2012) Grand Finals is that it didn’t have the name Justin Wong or Daigo Umehara. I don’t want to sound cliche by dropping the only two names known outside of the FGC, but for awhile those two were the best at it. They were so good that they became rivals since they always wound up in the final rounds of big tournaments. But this year, Daigo placed fifth, and Justin Wong didn’t even place in the top 8 (however he finished seventh in the tournament for UMvC3 for what it’s worth). Obviously this year was not in the favor of the usual suspects at Evo.

The two players who wound up in the final are Bruce “GamerBee” Hsiang, a Taiwanese player who made a name by knocking out Justin Wong in the Street Final 4 tournament in Evo 2010, and Sun-woo Lee “Infiltration”, a player from South Korea who placed third in his first appearance at Evo in Street Fighter 4.

The Grand Finals themselves were a great show of skill and knowledge of the game. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (and the MvC series for that matter) will always be my favorite over Street Fighter 4, but I’ve always felt that UMvC3 is like checkers with laser beams compared to Street Fighter which is more like chess. Street Fighter requires careful playing and spacing on the field to set up your attacks. You may only get a hit here or there until you actually capitalize on an opening leading into a combo, but even then they can still turn the tides on you. But with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, a player can land a hit that leads into a combo and you can say sayonara to your character. With 3 characters that’s where you can make your comeback, but sometimes it just seems like even Capcom doesn’t want you to win. But to truly show the difference, let’s get into the Evolution 2012 Grand Finals for Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition (Version 2012). The Grand Finals format is a best of 5 rounds. Each round consists of a best of 3 series of matches. So to win, a player must win three rounds before the other player does. Here are the highlights.

0:56 – Infiltration’s Akuma lands a sweep which opens up GamerBee’s Adon to a Demon Flip kick on Adon’s wakeup which leads to a big combo that swings the momentum in Infiltration’s favor. He didn’t lose it.

1:07 – Akuma lands a nice Shoryuken to put Adon on the defensive. Akuma uses this to his advantage and wins the first match of the first round.

1:38 – In the second match of the first round, Infiltration opens up GameBee with a well placed crouching medium kick into a combo for a knockdown. Infiltration does a crossup hurricane kick from the air to put GamerBee in the corner.

1:54 – GamerBee’s Adon manages to turn the tide for a bit, but Akuma lands a perfectly timed Wrath of the Raging Demon for the win. Infiltration takes the first round. Two more to go.

2:43 – In the first match of round two, Akuma finaly gets a nice combo on Adon after landing a kick while jumping backward towards the corner. Infiltration now has some room to breathe as Adon’s health is severely lower than Akuma’s.

2:50 – GamerBee ignores his low health and lands a well timed Ultra combo to punish a Hadouken in the air that was thrown by Akuma. The Ultra didn’t kill Akuma, but it left him with low enough health to be susceptible to a neutral jump roundhouse to the face which takes the first match of the second round for GamerBee. The momentum starts to swing.

3:23 – In the second match of round two, Akuma lands a Raging Demon to punish a blocked Jaguar Kick badly.

3:37 – At this point GamerBee’s momentum is gone and his defense crumbles at the hands of Infiltration. Infiltration ties up the round. One match is in between Infiltration and greatness.

3:57 – In the match that GamerBee is defending against elimination, Adon lands an EX Rising Jaguar to open up Akuma and swing the momentum of the match in his favor.

4:05 – But before Adon can really get going, Infiltration throws a proverbial wrench in the works by landing another Wrath of the Raging Demon which catches a jumping Adon and completely gets rid of GamerBee’s momentum.

4:33 – Akuma sweeps Adon and then capitalizes on Adon’s wakeup with a nice mixup which leads to an EX Shoryuken to win the second round for Infiltration.

5:16 – In potentially the last round of the Grand Finals Infiltration’s Akuma throws Adon and then continues to dominate him to take match 1. One match to go and Infiltration is the world champion for the first time.

6:12 – GamerBee puts Akuma on the defensive early realizing that he has to lay it all on the line. He gets Akuma well below half health and in the corner. It looks like GamerBee still has some fight left in him. But Akuma lands that Wrath of the Raging Demon once more and completely turns the tide on Adon once again. GamerBee’s composure is destroyed. Infiltration is now the world champion of Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition (Version 2012). Watch how a champion celebrates here.

Well, that’s all folks. Truly an amazing Grand Finals for both UMvC3 and SSF4:AE(2012). I hope you enjoyed watching the highlights as much as I had writing about them. Expect more write-ups on most FGC related events, and possibly some other eSports in the future.

Sam Accardo is a writer for Hefferbrew. He loves fighting games and wishes he saw his name in the top 8 for these games, but a life keeps him from dedicating all his time to practice combos and 1-frame links. So that’s why he often time spams his way to victory in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 with Shuma Gorath, Doctor Doom, and Captain America. Follow Sam on twitter @samcar455

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