It’s September 2015 and I’m in a hall with over 50,000 Japanese people surrounded by incredible sights and sounds, it can only be one thing, Tokyo Games Show. Next to the Resident Evil shooting range there’s a huge stage with someone dressed as E Honda and about 200 excited fans looking at the stage. Street Fighter V was being played by budding fighting game enthusiast’s. Even though the commentary was in Japanese the hype was transcending the language barrier. This was my first introduction to the Fighting Game Community aka FGC. Street Fighter has always had a special place in my heart. I spent many a night playing Super Street Fighter 2 on Mega Drive 2 with friends. I would always play Ryu and spam fireballs, something I still do 20 years later. From 2000 to 2016 the only fighting games I played were Mortal Kombat. I love Mortal Kombat and it has a special place in my heart, but for me the pinnacle of fighting games is Street Fighter.
Mortal Kombat, the 2011 reboot, was the first fighting game I would play online. My friend Jamie would come to mine every weekend with his Xbox 360 and we would set up two TVs and play King of The Hill all weekend. I played Scorpion and he played Sun Zero. We had no idea about frame advantage, punishing or unsafe moves, but that didn’t matter, we had fun. I thought we were pretty good at Mortal Kombat. All that changed though when I met Ketchup and Mustard, two of the most successful and famous Mortal Kombat players. While at a gaming event in early 2015 I played them at Mortal Kombat X. It was an eye opening experience. Ketchup beat me while blindfolded. My ‘skills’ that I thought were pretty good were exposed beyond belief.
I have the utmost respect for Ketchup and Mustard and their role in the FCG and the UK scene. The professional FGC scene is mainly dominated by Japan and America, but these two and many more fly the flag for Europe and the UK and are changing that prospective.
After TGS I went back to my usual gaming habits. I did however have an interest in Street Fighter. Early 2016 rolls around and with it the release of Street Fighter V on PS4 and PC. The game had mediocre reviews and some big backlash from fans. None of this really mattered to me who had no idea how to do a Tatsu. I messed around on the game for a while and thought it was fun but never played online. I left SF installed on my PS4 but didn’t touch it for a while. Then the biggest fighting game tournament came round, Evo. While I didn’t watch all of Evo 2016 I loved what I did watch. Some of the players were seen as gods in the FGC. Daigo stood out particularly to me.
Daigo has cemented his place as an FGC god long before Street Fighter V. Daigo is a Japanese player that dominated his local scene in the late 90’s and went on to dominate the world over the last 20 years. His most famous moment came at Evo 2004. Playing Street Fighter 3rd Strike, Daigo found himself against one of America’s best players ever, Justin Wong. As they played each other in the Losers Final, Daigo was against the ropes. With little health left Justin pushed his advantage and used his character Chun Li’s Super Art that would chip what little health Daigo had left and seal the victory. Daigo had other plans. As Chun Li unleashed her Super Art, Daigo parried every single hit including a jump parry. As the room exploded with hype Daigo himself went on the offense and beat Justin Wong.
Known now as Evo moment 37, it has cemented Daigo’s legacy. Many in The FGC compare this masterpiece of a play to many sporting triumphs over the years.
After Evo 2016 I wanted more Street Fighter action so I turned to Twitch. It was around that time I found I’m Still Da Daddy. ISDD or Sean Dench is a UK based pro fighting game player. His brash persona on Twitch has helped earn him one of the most successful FGC streams. There is more than meets the eye with Sean though.
In a touching interview with BBC 3, Sean reveals how fighting games have changed his life. It was this interview that showed the stark contrast in his real life and his Twitch and FGC persona. The FGC is like wrestling in many ways. There is always face and heel. Sean plays the heel on his stream to perfection. Calling people out, throwing down challenges etc are all part of his ISDD persona, but on a personal level he believes in himself. Its this belief that shines through when you meet him. Honestly I have never met a more down to earth guy than Sean.
Sean has become a 4th member of my family. My wife and I watched him through her pregnancy nearly every day. We would laugh with him, feel the tension in a close set and go through the everyday roller coaster of life with him. It’s this kind of bond that may seem silly to some, but it’s the FGC’s core. It’s such a close community that you get to know the people not just the players.
EGX 2016 rolled around and I had been playing Street Fighter V for a month or so before hand. I sucked. I was still in rookie and had zero understanding of the mechanics but that wasn’t going to stop me going to EGX and one of the UK’s biggest FGC tournaments. The tournament had plenty of international players as well as the strongest Europe had to offer. While watching the intense action on the main stage and the friendly sets being played out on set ups for the public, I felt the hype and excitement that I did at TGS. The buzz around the place as Daigo played, the friendly competition and the camaraderie of players shine through.
Commentating on stage was Logan Sama a long time FGC commentator. Logan has a way with words that paints a picture of a match like no others can. Along with F Word, Tyrant and Damascus, they make matches seem more important then they are. Their deep knowledge of fighting games and the FGC always makes for insightful and amazing commentary. They have added and aided what Luffy, Problem X, ISDD, Mustard, Ketchup and Ryan Hart and more have done for the European FGC, they have added a credibility that is slowly making Europe on of the best scenes in Street Fighter and the FGC. Logan also runs a weekly Winner Stays on and Winner Stays On Tournament that helps players get in sets and get better. He really has helped the UK FGC more than most and a lot is owed to him. Thank you Logan, Matthew Edwards and all the people at Capcom UK and the Red Bull Sphere for helping the UK scene.
With this new kindled love of the FGC I went home and played more Street Fighter. After managing to climb out of Rookie and into Bronze I felt I had accomplished something huge. Life always sneaks its way back up though and SF was put on the shelf again. I never stopped watching the Capcom Pro Tour though.
As the Capcom Pro Tour events started up again in 2017, I too decided to give my failed SF career another go. When Akuma hit, a fresh breath of excitement also hit and I delved right in and tried to pick up Akuma and take him online. His vast set of moves and low health were a disaster for me but it was fun. It was around this time I found Angry Mojo San. Mojo is a SF player from Germany who streams on Twitch. He is a masterful Akuma player and helps the stream with any questions they have. Mojo is a truly underrated played I feel. His masterful Akuma is always a joy to watch and the effort he puts into helping people in the FGC is really something special. I was so happy for Mojo when he got drafted to the Uni Lads esports team for G Finity. I hope 2018 and beyond bring more for you, you deserve it.
With the guidance of Mojo and some friends I had met on twitch, Sway, Michael Knight and Dojo I had a fresh determination about me. I started to stream my antics in SFV and pressed on towards my goal of Silver. After many stressful streams and information overloads I managed to get to Super Bronze. It wasn’t silver, but it was a huge moment. What I picked up most from this though is how skilled Mojo, Daigo, Sean and every other FGC player is. It doesn’t matter what rank you are at, you have skill to get to that rank. I had the skill to get to Bronze and it was huge for me. People have the skill to get to grand master and they should be proud too. Fighting games are hard, the determination and tenacity to make it to being a pro should never be underestimated.
As I laid Street Fighter down for the fourth time I had a long break from it. It wasn’t the game as much as it was me. My reactions, pressing buttons and bad habits were making me struggle with the game. I spent most of 2017 watching every event on the Capcom Pro Tour and not much playing especially with my daughter arriving in August that year.
2018 brought new games to the FGC and one that stood out to me was Dragonball Fighterz. As a massive Dragonball fan I was really excited to play Fighterz and hopefully be good at it. I tore up the Beta and won over 30 matches. The gameplay was fast paced and sometimes hard to tell what’s going on but it was fun and more simple than Street Fighter. When the game launched early this year I played it for a while and loved it. Something was missing though. As much as I love the game it just wasn’t Street Fighter. I don’t know what it is about Street Fighter but I always find myself being pulled back to it.
I left Dragonball Fighterz and played more SF casually this time playing in lobbies with Sway, Michael and more. This casual approach made me have a fresh look at SF. It was fun and a laugh. It wasn’t so much as two people trying to win but two people trying to have a laugh and a good time. It helped me improve but I still didn’t play online. As I look back now I had some of the most fun playing with Michael and Sway. Even though they were in Diamond, they could make the game fun for me on a fundamental level.
VS Fighting 2018 rolled around in June, I went along to cheer on Sean and many more. The event was packed with casual and professional players from around the world for Street Fighter, Tekken, Dragonball Fighterz and many more. This was the first time I met Sean and it was like we had been friends for years. After watching some of the best play like Justin Wong, Daigo, Sean, Infiltration and many more I was in awe. The precision that they play at was a level I could never comprehend.
While roaming on the show floor I bumped into Problem X, one of the UK and Europe’s best players. Even though we had never talked before he was so willing to talk and discuss Street Fighter, it was incredible. Even in the middle of a huge tournament just before Evo he was willing to just chill and chat with fans and have pictures. For me this is one of the best things about the FGC. Everyone is so willing to interact and help each other. It’s a special community. I had always had massive respect for Problem, but meeting him and the way he interacted with me made me appreciate him on a new level.
Evo 2018 and while watching at home I had a special interest in so many players I had managed to talk to while at VS Fighting. I was glued to the screen all weekend cheering on Sean, Problem X, Justin Wong, Tokido, Daigo, Luffy and many more. As the tournament whittled down the competition we were left with the top 8. The 8 best players in the world at that moment. Up there was Problem X.
As a Problem X fan I was behind every single punch, kick, throw and KO. When the matches with Luffy and Fuudo went down to the wire I was on edge. It was around 5am in the UK and I felt like I had been 12 rounds myself, but Problem made it to the grand finals. The last challenge in his way was Tokido, the most dominant force in Street Fighter. Last years Evo champion and runner up at Capcom Cup.
A year ago I found myself cheering for Tokido as he brushed aside the competition, this time I was against Tokido. Never had there been a UK champion at Evo. As the rounds got tighter and tighter Problem managed to work out Tokido. Problem managed to close out the set and as Logan and many other UK members of the FGC rushed him on stage I was jumping too.
There’s not many sporting events that got me this nervous but that’s the power of Street Fighter. Anyone can beat anyone and that day Problem X beat the best in the world and put the UK scene directly on the map. It’s a moment I still get goosebumps thinking about. Seeing Logan and more rush the stage in pure excitement and joy is a scene that will never leave me.
When Problem returned home he would have not really been noticed by many at the airport. He wouldn’t receive the attention of a football team. He was just a normal guy returning from Vegas. It’s sad really that such a huge moment for him, the UK and the FGC wasn’t celebrated more. As Esports is getting more and more recognised around Europe, i hope one day that Problem and many more get the recognition they deserve.
Logan Sama the voice and hype of the UK FGC did an incredible Interview with Problem on the Winner Stays On session. The excitement and admiration that Logan has for his close friend shone through the screen. It was awesome to see that Problem had transcended from being a UK player to one of the best in Europe and now the best in the world.
The FGC is special. When Problem won Evo it was special because of the people Involved. When Daigo parried and then beat Justin Wong it was special because of the FGC. Its thanks to the FGC that people make a living from fighting games. Though fighting games are not my specialist genre, the FGC is always close to my heart. So thank you for standing by players and supporting them. Thank you for making matches what they are and thank you for supporting new players like you do. You are one of the best communities in gaming.
A special thank you to so many people in the FGC but I just want to take a moment to recognise some famous names and some people you may not know but are always putting in the hard work, and to these people, thank you for making Fighting Games special to me and many more like me.
- Sean Dench, Problem X, Logan Sama, F Word, Damascus, Tyrant, Ketchup, Mustard, James Chen, Daigo, Tokido, Mojo San, Sway, Michael Knight, Justin Wong, Matthew Edwards, Hi Fight, Luffy, Jones Arcade, Smug, Joe Munday, Sonic Fox and many many more that make the FGC special to me.