On Thursday, September 20, Mad Catz held Mad Catz Unveiled, the ultimate gaming experience, after hours at Tokyo Game Show 2013. Some of the best fighting game players from around the world gathered to compete in exhibition matches, which were covered in our first recap. Now we turn our attention to the main event, where 2009 & 2010 EVO World Champion Daigo “The Beast” Umehara took on 2012 EVO World Champion Seonwoo “Infiltration” Lee!
1st Match: Daigo – 1 Infiltration – 0
Mad scramble in the opening round as both players jockey for position and establish the pace of the match. Infiltration gets an early jump in on Daigo, one of the few players to actually jump in consistently on the fireball master. Akuma has the ability to change his jump arc trajectory in midair as a form of option selecting. If he sees Ryu throwing fireball he will follow through with jump heavy kick. If no fireball is thrown, Infiltration uses either empty jump or dive kick to shrink his hurt box and land short of Ryu’s uppercut. Even if he miscalculates and jumps into danger, Akuma’s dive kick has a pretty hitbox that forces trade hit against the first hit of mp Shoryuken. This time, however, Daigo was prepared to juggle the trade with Ultra Combo and take the life lead. The final K.O. was delivered by a new set play: after back throw, double dash into hurricane kick will lead to a cross-up hit, or chase after any back teleports for full punish. Infiltration was able to raging demon a previous “safe” jump in but hurricane kick has no risk of this possibility as it is airborne during active hit frames.
3rd round opening jump in by Umehara led to a 50% super combo. In this situation, it’s difficult for Akuma to comeback after such a huge deficit and Daigo takes the first crucial round with an incredible shoryuken combo on reflex upon seeing Akuma’s focus attack stance.
2nd Match: Daigo – 2 Infiltration – 0
Daigo gets a perfect Ultra frame juggle after lp shoryuken on the large hit box of Akuma. Infiltration shows a new set play after a corner throw by whiffing 2 lk and 1 lp into jump attack, but Daigo successfully blocks. The frame kill setup is extremely unorthodox in appearance and resembles a missed Raging demon input, however it did not lead to any unblockable situation. Daigo uses a lot of ex and regular hadouken to chase after the runaway Asura teleport to prevent Akuma from running away with impunity.
3rd Match: Daigo – 3 Infiltration – 0
Daigo performing much more “abare” 3 frame light punches to counter the Infiltration’s immaculate footsies game. Light punches stuffed out Akuma cr. Mk and counter hit set ups. During a crucial moment in 3rd round, Infiltration did not punish a missed uppercut by Ryu very heavily, using standing hp into ex tatsumaki which lead to no additional setup and reset the distance.
4th Match: Daigo – 4 Infiltration – 0
Everyone is collectively waiting for Infiltration to start his engine. It was precisely when he was down 0-3 in Capcom 25th Anniversary tournament that he overturned the momentum and came back to win 6 straight. Daigo starts off the round by building a lot of meter and spending most of it on the 2 hit, armor breaking EX hadouken, the equivalent to earning money during the weekdays and going on a wild shopping spree during the weekend. Such brazen use of EX fireball set the precedent and forced Infiltration to rely less on focus attack which had earned him so many free crumples in past tournaments. After cr. Mk, the opponent cannot visually confirm if the following fireball is normal or ex in time so Infiltration was much more cautious in abusing this tactic. Eating an Ex fireball during focus attack leads to an additional juggle and huge damage.
The first and second round also showed Daigo’s willingness to jump on Akuma at the appropriate time, even at the risk of getting Raging Demon’ed. Daigo rarely jumped in cleanly on Infiltration during prior matches. Could he finally have downloaded Seon Woo Lee’s fireball pattern? The last 15 seconds of the round show synchronized fireballs from both players, a testament to the cerebral connection both players share when locked in battle.
5th Match: Daigo – 5 Infiltration – 0
Daigo employs the same focus tactic to crumple Infiltration’s cr. Mk > fireball string. After a missed tatsu by Daigo, Infiltration does not punish with maximum force, a growing concern for his fans as the match progresses. The first round closes with an incredible whiff punish on Akuma’s sweep as Daigo uses three bars to close it. Most of his fireballs have been shot at a closer distance than when compared with previous tournaments. Although it is only closer by a few steps, it means a world of difference as Infiltration is forced to block more of the time.
Infiltration responds to Daigo’s new meaty cross up tatsu after back throw with a delayed autocorrect shoryuken.
6th Match: Daigo – 5 Infiltration – 1
Daigo shows a new variation set play after forward throw, whiff lp shoryuken into cross up tatsu as the two players adapt on-the-fly during the match and reveal even trickier set plays. Infiltration misses a dash after absorbing a fireball and loses a chunk of grey life. Down 0-5, his fans wait with bated breath as they wonder if the Korean champion is beginning to unravel. Once again Daigo punishes a whiff sweep with low forward into ex fireball for the opening round. Infiltration lands 1 demon during a bad jump to gain momentum and chips out Daigo with an unavoidable ex shoryuken. Unfortunately the demon builds Ryu’s meter about 2.5 bars so he has to be cautious about the shinkuu hadouken. It will take not one, but 2 raging demons during this match and a missed shinkuu juggle for Infiltration to finally get on the board. Until then Daigo had won 15 straight rounds against both EVO champions since PAX prime. The double 10-0 shut out on current and former EVO champion dream is dead.
7th Match: Daigo – 6 Infiltration – 1
Daigo returns to the fireball game chucking plasma from the same in-your-face range to take round 1. Every missed second hit of Gouki’s standing far HK is punished with cr. Mk into hurricane kick. It seems that in every round Daigo has counter punished Akuma’s sweep with a 3 gauge ex shakunetsu combo.
8th Match: Daigo – 6 Infiltration – 2
Infiltration takes the first round with an amazing FADC follow-up sweep to chase his own fireball. Daigo takes the 2nd round convincingly and stunning Akuma in the corner. Desperate in the 3rd round, Infiltration uses his sneaky far HK canceled demon in hopes that Daigo will bait, but his prey flies away into the sky. Daigo uses the Umehelicopter to avoid the demon but gets no opportunity to punish. Infiltration uses the timer scan to get his 2nd victory after a missed ume shoryu which he uses to take the life lead. As the final seconds tick down, Daigo’s Ryu stands emotionless while Infiltration burns all his meter with an meaningless ex shoryu for fireworks sake. Can he staunch the heavy bleeding?
9th Match: Daigo – 7 Infiltration – 2
Infiltration lands a nice 1-2 frame far HK FADC combo after fireball which takes off around 35% damage. Daigo wakes up with delayed cr. Mk shakunetsu FADC but drops the follow-up ultra to lose the opening round. It’s demoralizing to burn 3 meters and miss the last ultra. Daigo has been known to wire his 7th button to the “back” button so it remains curious what exactly he pressed here. The 2nd round saw a few misses from both players but Daigo was able to get away relatively unscathed. The shoryuken cutting through the air fireball in the beginning was delicious. In the final seconds, Infiltration misjudges his jump and corners himself, eating an ex fireball that would eventually kill him.
10th Match: Daigo – 8 Infiltration – 2
Daigo opens up very strong. In this first round, perhaps it’s easiest to see how he has changed the ranges at which he throws fireball, never leaving himself at risk of a focus dash from Infiltration and only throwing raw fireballs or ones that are tight block strings. In the 9th match he uses the same set play after back throw to cross up hurricane kick a rising Akuma. This can be mixed up with double dash towards heavy punch as a 50/50 wake up block if they anticipate the hurricane and hold forward to block. The first round ends as Infiltration brazenly walks forwards on Daigo’s wakeup only to eat a standard shoryuken into Ultra. In the second round, Daigo gets a free juggle after anti air jab dp, but notice how quickly he shifts his attention to the skies and the speed at which the uppercut comes out after Akuma’s jump.
11th Round: Daigo – 9 Infiltration – 2
Daigo smells blood and starts throwing 3 fireballs for every one of Infiltration’s, outmining his opponent in the minerals department. He pushes Infiltration to the corner where he can more easily get nice damage off overheads. Usually Infiltration will use demon flip to free himself from the corner, but Daigo’s uppercut is too fast and allows for maximum damage upon juggle, as demonstrated in the 3rd round where he is able to tack on an extra ex tatsumaki because he hits Infiltration at the apex of his jump. A costly juggle miss by Infiltration causes him to throw away the round.
12th Round: Daigo – 10 Infiltration – 2
Infiltration starts by buying his time and using the water bottle as a coolant to prevent overheating. His body is being pushed to the physical limits and it doesn’t help that he’s playing in front of a pro-Daigo crowd hungry for revenge. In the first round he comes back to life with a nice jump in over Daigo’s fireball and baits him with a raging demon after a deep blocked sweep. Starting from EVO 2011, his raging demon success rate has been absolutely inhuman. To prove this point he demons Daigo for a 2nd time in one round.
Unfortunately this gives Daigo a full stock of meter which severely hinders any aggression from Infiltration from that point forward. Daigo is able to pelt Akuma with a barrage of ex fireballs after Infiltration spends his valuable meter on Super. Despite a valiant effort to claw back with an ambiguous demon flip kick combo, Infiltration eventually succumbs to exhaustion and miscalculates the chip damage for the final shoryuken. Without any meter to FADC cancel into safety, Daigo delivers the death flow for one of the greatest sets played in Street Fighter IV history.