People often forget that though gaming serves as an amazing medium for entertainment and storytelling, it can also serve as a medium for competition. Last night, thousands of viewers were privileged to see rapper Lupe Fiasco defeat “Street Fighter” legend Daigo Umehara 3-2 in an exhibition match celebrating the now released “Street Fighter V” - the latest iteration of a classic fighting game series.
Umehara’s nickname is “the Beast.” That alone should say enough, although his accomplishments as the most successful tournament player in the “Street Fighter” tournament series also puts him into argument as the best fighting game competitor ever. Meanwhile, Fiasco has never had a history of professional success in any form of gaming.
Also, to be fair, “SFV” isn’t the game Umehara succeeded in. Nonetheless, fundamentals do carry over in similar games. Fiasco defeating Umehara is the equivalent of some other celebrity randomly picking up whatever the next game of the “Super Smash Bros.” happens to be and beating Genesis 3 champion Gonzalo “Zero” Barrios in an organized exhibition set.
In fact, we saw a version of this in 2015 when Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime faced “Super Smash Bros. Melee” professional Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma in a one game match after some fake trash talk between them the year before, when Fils-Aime claimed that he was going to “kick [Hungrybox’s] ass” after getting a year to play the new “Super Smash Bros.” game. Although Debiedma had never seriously competed in the game, the result of the exhibition was fairly predictable: with Debiedma defeating Fils-Aime in dominating fashion, to no one’s surprise.
That doesn’t mean that the exhibition between Umehara and the rapper was controversy-free. Throughout the set, Umehara, who is practically known as the anti-air god of “Street Fighter,” almost never anti-aired, meaning Fiasco was able to have his character use a variety of flips and aerial moves. Though Alex Verrey of fighting game sponsor Mad Catz told Kotaku that the exhibition wasn’t staged, it’s hard to imagine that a professional - no, a fighting game immortal like Umehara would unintentionally lose to a random player like Fiasco.
This might not even be that big of an upset. Per “Super Smash Bros.” professional Javier “Fireblaster” Romero on Facebook, Fiasco had been training for the exhibition and playing the game with Capcom employee Peter “Combofiend” Rosas, while Umehara had not prepared at all. Additionally, the match was simply an exhibition and not tourney, which may have made Umehara prioritize building hype for the “Street Fighter” scene over trying to win.
Nonetheless, even if the result was staged or less surprising as some might think, aren’t we talking about it? Imagine expecting a Fiasco victory heading into the exhibition: you would have been considered crazy if you told other people that.
Whether it was staged or actually one of the biggest professional gaming upsets ever, one thing remains for sure: an unbelievable sense of hype over the newest release of the “Street Fighter” series.
Anokh Palakurthi is associate life editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com. He tweets @DC_Anokh.