Evo moment #37 has gone down as perhaps the greatest moment in competitive video game history. In it a young Daigo Umehara achieves the remarkable: a flawless Critical Art parry into Critical Art counter for a dramatic win when all seemed lost. And he did it in the semi-final of the Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike Evo tournament against perhaps the greatest western fighting game player of all time: Justin Wong.
Evo moment #37 happened in 2004. Now, 15 years later, Justin Wong has analysed his own defeat – and it’s a thrill for any fighting game fan.
Wong runs through the entire match, not just the famous parry, commenting on the minutiae as he goes. There’s a lot of fighting game jargon and technical talk here, but even casual fans of the genre will get a kick out of Wong’s enthusiasm for the fight – and his willingness to acknowledge the stunning skill of his opponent.
We’re here for his run-through of Evo moment #37, of course, and Wong does not disappoint. Wong explains he went for the Critical Art because he didn’t think Daigo would be able to flawlessly parry all 15 consecutive hits of the combo. It’s a safe bet, really. Wong has plenty of life left, and Daigo is almost dead. At this point, any special attack would K.O. Daigo’s Ken – even if blocked. Parrying in 3rd Strike is a high risk, high reward technique that lets the defender block an attack without losing any health. But you need split-second timing to successfully parry an attack. To parry 15 in a row would be unthinkable.
“Now I’m like… well… I don’t think he’s gonna parry it!” Wong says, watching the footage.
“But… you know… I guess shit happens.”
You can tell, 15 years later, Wong still can’t quite believe what happens next. Watching the footage back, seeing Daigo parry Chun-Li’s Critical Art then jump and air parry to land a counter of his own, Wong lets out a “ugh” and turns his head. It meant so much then, and now, this moment iconic, perhaps it means even more.
“Yeah… I mean… he definitely deserved that.”
Wong breaks the moment down further, insisting that even after Daigo’s parry he thought he’d eat a standard combo but stay alive.
“But my man, when he did the jump… and he did the combo… I was like, oh, I’m dead. That was good shit.”
Evo moment #37 occurred during the first game of the set – and Wong continues to analyse the rest of the match, pointing out the mental fortitude he showed to recover from the “moment” to win the next round.
“Can we talk about the mental fortitude of Justin Wong? Or is it like, no-one gives a shit?
“Ah, it’s probably no-one gives a shit.”
Wong comes to the conclusion that Daigo “is from the future”, but that’s more down to him using aggressive, high-risk tactics in the 15-year-old match now favoured by the rush-down focused Street Fighter 5. Either way, he’s probably right.
Wong says he’s going to continue his Reviewing the Tapes series on his YouTube channel, and there are plenty of dramatic moments he could return to. How about his incredible Marvel vs. Capcom 3 return of the king barrel roll?