All sports originated from games, but with time they evolved into something greater, a sport, so what differentiates a game from a sport? The weight skill has on the result. We view a game like Football as a sport since the participant’s skill have a direct effect on the result. Video games have made a transition from a party game to a full-blown sport which rewards skill, dedication, practice and strategy significantly more than button mashing.
Video games and fighting games, in particular, have suffered from the notion that the skill gap between a novice and veteran is bridgeable by rapidly pressing every button in a frantic pace, which resembles a minor seizure. This myth has made the accomplishments of great players diminish, and made to look lucky and not impressive. Today, thanks to eSports, great players finally get their due, but as all fighting games enthusiasts know, one of the moments the catapulted the appreciation of skill was in EVO-37, 2004, better known as moment-37 or the Daigo parry.
In EVO-37 (The world championships of fighting games) Daigo Umehara, AKA ‘The beast’, took on the American champion Justin Wong, in that battle Daigo performed a feat, so amazing, so impossible, that he changed forever the question of Skill VS Luck in fighting games and inspired millions around the globe to achieve the legendary ‘Daigo parry’. During the final round of the battle Justin wong performed Chun-li’s super which consists of 15 consecutive strikes including lows, mids, and highs.
In order to block a hit in Street fighter III, you need to tap forward within a 10-frame window, which is equivalent to ⅙ of a second, if Daigo had failed to block even a single one of the hits, he would have lost the match. Think to yourself, how many things you can do in ⅙ of a second? In ⅙ of a second, Daigo became a legend. This accomplishment has reached legendary status since it symbolizes a new level of skill, a way to differentiate the great from the greatest. The ‘Daigo parry’ has had a unique influence on gaming worldwide, it helped bring back fighting games to the front and show that the skill gap exists and allows near fantasy moments.
Daigo’s achievement might have been trivialized or simply go under the radar 10 years prior, but it came in a near perfect climate. Video games have started in the late 90’s a shift from party games and entertainment into a true competitive sport with a global fan base and achievements. This seismic shift in video games level of seriousness and skill has changed the objectives of the player.
In the past games like ‘Crash bandicoot’ and ‘Spyro’ were rewarding the players by giving them a shiny gem for completing a level and a pretty cutscene for finishing the game. But in fighting games there is no ‘finishing’ or ‘levels’, the reward is your status which you earn by grinding combos and strategies in practice mode endlessly. The shift is clear, being better is the reward, and being the best is the goal.
Daigo’s accomplishment is the north star guiding fighters around the world. In EVO-37 he showed how skills is the true final frontier, and that being amazing is possible. In EVO 2018 we had over 10,000 participants from all over the world, over 2.1 MILLIONS hours watched (in Street fighter V alone) and over a million viewers at the same time on twitch. The growth of eSports owe it’s gratitude to ‘The beast’
Special thanks to Michael Segal for his professional inputs that are presented in this article.