Fighting game tournaments are hotbeds of drama, tension, and all-around crazy antics. There’s a reason why “getting hype” is a catchphrase in the community: because people playing and watching tournaments tend to go nuts with energy and excitement. And hype-getting was plentiful at the SoCal Regionals tournament this weekend, especially after one particularly crazy match.
Tokido is a young but exceptionally accomplished player of numerous fighting games in Japan, but he is perhaps best known in the West for his adept use of Akuma in Super Street Fighter IV. He’s also known for being something of a showman. Along with fellow Japanese legends Daigo “The Beast” Umehara and Sako, as well as Taiwanese up-and-comer GamerBee, he was one of the international headliners playing in the tournament. As many had anticipated, he placed within the top 8, allowing him to make a run for the championship pot. Little did the people watching the SoCal Regionals tournament suspect just how willing Tokido was to get into character.
Every Street Fighter fan worth their salt is familiar with Akuma’s Shun Goku Satsu (Raging Demon) attack – Akuma grabs the opponent, the screen goes dark, a flurry of hits are heard, and the unfortunate victim is floored while Akuma poses stoically, a flaming kanji of “ten” (meaning “heaven”) glowing on the back of his gi.
One of Tokido’s bouts was against ace Ibuki player ClakeyD. Before the fight, he took off his jacket – a move that didn’t initially seem to have much significance. But after coming back from behind during the deciding round and finishing off ClakeyD with a well-planned Shun Goku Satsu, Tokido ran up to the main projection stage – leaving everyone confused for a few seconds – until this happened:
Above: How to make yourself into a living diety among Street Fighter nerds (Photo by Kapwan - see more here!)
With perfect timing and poise, Tokido mimicked Akuma’s stance, allowing the projection to flash the kanji on his back just as it’s seen in the game.
Above: Hand-cam footage of the act
While Tokido didn’t go on to win the tournament – he placed third after a loss in the loser’s bracket to Daigo Umehara – his inventive victory celebration made him number one in the hearts of many of the tournament attendees.
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