On April 18, 2009, Gamestop partnered with Capcom and the EVO Champisonship Series to hold the Street Figther IV National Championship Finals. The event was held amidst a backdrop that very much paralleled Ken’s background stage in SFIV at the Fort Mason event center in San Francisco, California.
While there was no admission fee for this event, attendees were encouraged to bring canned foods or donations to offer the Second Harvest Food Bank in order to assist in the “fight against hunger”. Each generous participant was issued a raffle ticket that allowed them the possibility to win several prizes during the competitions.
All of the 16 Street Fighter IV national finalists were in attendance including quite a few special guests.
Mr. Yoshinori Ono himself was invited to attend this exciting occasion as well as 3 of the top competitors from Asia: Daigo “The Beast” Umehara (Japan), Iyo (Japan), and Poongko (Korea). The skillful winner that rose from the 16 finalists would eventually go on to challenge these 3 individuals to determine who the true master would be. Special guests performers and former America’s Best Dance Crew contestants, Supreme Soul, were part of the line-up and performed several times on stage.
Attendees of the this event were treated to booths where they could have their cellphones customized and personalized with various Street Fighter art and even obtain specially designed baseball caps. During this evening, one of the most exciting and unexpected events for fans was the opportunity to personally thank Mr. Ono for bringing the glory of Street Fighter IV into our feeble lives and even have him autograph whatever paraphernalia could be mustered at the time, whether it be the discarded napkin found in the trash or the event t-shirts handed out over the course of the night. It’s all right if you missed this opportunity though because you can probably own a piece of the magic by perusing eBay and shelling out a pretty penny or two. However, before this happened, Ono graced the front stage to thank the crowd for their enthusiasm and to announce the exciting release of a championship edition mode downloadable content for the Street Fighter IV game.
Out of the 16 finalists, only one could reign victorious and that was fan-favorite Justin Wong of New York, NY. Later that night, he went on to square off against the 3 international champions to determine who was the real master of Street Fighter IV. Apparently, Justin had competed against Daigo in the past and lost, but this was his opportunity to regain face. Unfortunately though, there’s a reason why Daigo has earned the name “The Beast”. All the chanting of the crowd couldn’t save Justin’s Rufus from the onslaught of “hadokens” and “shoryukens” coming from Daigo’s Ryu.
Stay tuned to Gamertell for exclusive video coverage of some of the exciting matches from this competition as well as Yoshinori Ono’s announcement.
NOTE: All pictures by Janine Dong.