Yesterday, rapper Lupe Fiasco put his tour on hold to take part in a head-to-head battle with indisputably the greatest Street Fighter player of all time, the legendary Daigo Umehara.
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
To understand the significance of this match-up, you need to appreciate the stature of Daigo Umehara in the e-sports world.
WHO IS DAIGO UMEHARA?
They call him “The Beast”. In the world of Street Fighter, Daigo is Mohammad Ali. He won Japan’s national tournament for Street Fighter 2 at the age of 15, and twenty years into his competitive career, Daigo has this advantage over Ali: his skills haven’t diminished with time. When Daigo came out of an early retirement in 2008, the gaming world couldn’t hold back their excitement; Arcadia’s headline was simply: “THE GOD HAS RETURNED.” In 2015 alone, Daigo racked up major tournament victories in Japan, Canada, and the USA.
To get just a small taste of the kind of skills Daigo possesses, watch this exhilarating comeback Daigo engineered at the Evolution Championship Series in 2004 against another renowned Street Fighter champion, Justin Wong. With Daigo’s health down to just a single pixel, and his opponent at nearly half-health, Daigo should have been toast. In Street Fighter even a blocked attack still incurs damage, so all Long needed to do to close out the match was launch a special attack that Daigo would be forced to block.
Long traps Daigo in the corner and launches into Chun-Li’s multi-hit “phoenix wing-fan”. Miraculously, Daigo executes a perfect 12-part parry, a difficult defense that requires moving in the direction of his opponent within four of the thirty frames of each step of the attack animation. This is like watching Neo dodge automatic-weapon fire at full-speed.
WHO IS LUPE FIASCO?
Lupe Fiasco is an American recording artist, well-known for his love of of anime, geek culture, and gaming. On January 27th, Lupe was asked by a fan whether he’d caught any of this years Evolution tournament, and he responded by saying he watched to study Daigo.
Daigo’s sponsors seized the opportunity, and arranged for Daigo to fly in from Japan and play Lupe during a special broadcast on Twitch. In short, a celebrity had agreed to meet a fan and politely kick his ass, the twist being that Lupe is the fanboy. While Lupe may be the bigger celebrity in the U.S., in the video game world it truly is Daigo with the larger global starpower.
The whole three-hour broadcast with pre-match interviews and commentary is up on Twitch here, but if you need just the Lupe vs Daigo match itself, it can be seen below. It’s worth watching every bit of the twenty minute run-time: