Why Daigo Umehara is called “The Beast”

March 14, 2022

Briefs, News

Imagine yourself for a moment to be in front of hundreds of people, one mistake means humiliation, could you pull off whatever you were doing? Daigo Umehara, “The Beast,” is a fighting game pro who was immortalized for  his display of skill on August 1st, 2004 at the California State Polytechnic University gaming tournament. The Evolution Championship Series, also known as EVO, is and continues to be, the premiere fighting game tournament where players can display their skill in a variety of games, including Street Fighter Three: Third Strike. 

Street Fighter Three: Third Strike is a fighting game designed by Haruo Murata and published by Capcom on May 12, 1999. Originally selling less than the previous Street Fighter Alpha series, it went largely unnoticed until the early 2000’s. The sudden interest was due to the techniques in Street Fighter Three: Third Strike that were found in no other game, which generated intrigue within the fighting game community; a community dedicated to playing fighting games competitively. 

In Street Fighter Three: Third Strike, there is a defensive move known as “parry” which requires the player to input forward within six frames or approximately half a second of an opponent’s attack. By parrying, a player takes no damage and is able to counter attack, needless to say the move is nearly impossible to execute, especially multiple times in a row. It would take an incredibly skilled player to pull off such a stunt.

The “frame data” of how a parry works, showing how long each player is frozen.

Daigo Umehara, at the time, was considered one of the best street fighter players in the world. Daigo, with his aggressive playstyle, seemingly always had a plan and always practiced responding to specific situations which allowed him to perform at the highest levels of play. Despite the Japanese player’s great skill, he was only one of the best, not THE best.

Justin Wong, an American player with the opposite style of Daigo, liked to “turtle” his opponents, playing a long waiting game to slowly draw them in by frustrating them enough to make mistakes. Justin’s plan relied on chipping away at the opponent’s health or timing opponents out. 

With these two legendary players clashing , the win came down to dramatic circumstances. In the last round, in the last match of the last set, Daigo was left with only a pixel of health while Justin had 35% health. Justin threw out Chun-Li’s super move, a 15 hit combo that, due to Daigo’s health, would mean a knock-out even if blocked. 

However, Daigo did the impossible and successfully parried  all 15 hits of Chun Li’s super move. Due to the recovery frames (cooldown) on the move, Daigo was able to do a combo that knocked out Justin instead, winning him the game. This became known as EVO moment 37, despite there not being 36 other EVO moments.

Frame data showing Chun Li’s super, it takes 35 frames to recover, meaning that a punish would be possible when parried. A punish is when an attack that misses or is blocked is counter-attacked.

At  the end of the tournament, Daigo placed second, with Kenji Obata taking first place. However, due to Daigo’s legendary moment, Kenji’s victory is rarely mentioned in any conversations about the tournament.  

EVO moment 37 is memorable for a variety of factors, from the players to the skill needed to parry 15 times in a row. The moment also acts as the rationale as to why Daigo Umehara is nicknamed, “The Beast”.

Written By Butler, February 9, 2022. 

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