First, I have a confession.
I was never a huge Justin Wong fan. My street fighter lifespan was mostly the late nineties to early 2000’s and I my hero was always Alex Valle. I practically had his poster on my wall with hearts around him. I’m gonna be honest, and of course how can my opinion not sound borderline gay mancrush, but for the sake of the XvSF tournament I have to give my personal background on it.
Okay, so where was I? Oh yeah. Not a huge Justin fan. I never got into CvS2, played 3S a little here and there, and never touched Marvel. And so as I heard stories about the chinese phenom Justin Wong, I didn’t want to believe the hype. Oh he beat Duc in MvC2? Well, Duc doens’t play anymore. Justin runs away. Blah blah blah. Oh, Justin beat Choi in CvS2? Well, Choi’s got better things to do. Justin just used top-tier. Blah blah blah.
But slowly over time, all the guys I looked up to in my generation started looking up to Justin Wong. No matter who you are, what play style to relate to, you have to admire the things that Justin has achieved. And all *my * idols did that. So I rigidly stuck to the idea that Justin may be good at a lot of games I don’t play, but the one game I still play (X-Men vs Street Fighter) he couldn’t possibly be *that *good in.
Sure the game’s broken. And yes, infinites are hella cheap. And you can’t deny that the game came out in 1996. It’s a classic. But in Socal we had a small scene and I was certain that while Justin spent his time and energy playing CvS2 and Marvel, he was not learning the intricacies of XvSF and if him and I ever played, I would just infinite him and that’d be that.
All the while, I’m adamantly holding on to that thought that Justin can’t be *that * good. That he can’t be that talented. He can’t possibly be that smart. How could he be? Really? Ask yourself that. What does that kind of skill require? Playing everyday? I’m sure he does that. Playing the best? CTF is a breeding ground for top play. Now, here’s the best one IMO. Playing in the face of adversity?
I think that’s one of the biggest ones. That’s the one that makes or breaks you. Even though I didn’t really follow 3S too closely, or Marvel, even I could see the times when the crowd booed against Justin. People would cheer when he lost. Could you imagine being on stage, nervous as fuck, and you’re a teenager (c’mon, that’s a tough time for everyone) and you get booed. Wow. That’s some Eminem shit right there. But what did Justin do, he kept on playing. And playing. And for years now, Justin and his “Justin factor” have become a staple in top SF play.
See, my idol as I mentioned was Alex Valle. With that “Rush That Shit Down” attitude that was like the “Just Do It” slogan of the nineties. And we all loved Alex. Everyone loved watching him play. It was entertainment. It made you want to go home and play. For me, Justin never ignited that. Justin played smart. Sure, Alex played smart. But Justin’s smart was something very different. He would turtle, he would runaway. He would pick top tier. He did everything you should do to win. But since I was strictly asking for entertainment, Justin didn’t do it for me.
And time went on, and I subconciously decided to not join the Justin bandwagon. Here’s the thing. I didn’t realize how much skill went in to what he was doing. Have you ever tried to runaway on a top player? Or turtle? Or (and here’s the stuff I wasn’t seeing) tried exposing someone’s weakness, in tournament, with hundreds booing you when you win? Have you ever tried that? I haven’t. I’ve never played on stage. I couldn’t imagine busting my ass to beat a Japanese player, and when I did, people are like, “ho hum, you’re a turtle, I refuse to respect you.”
Man, this article’s longer than I thought. But I’m really trying to drive home this point. I didn’t think Justin was all that. I didn’t beleive that he could be that good. I was like the last of the guys to get a cell phone, y’know? The last to catch up with the rest of the world.
So I played Justin in XvSF yesterday. And my whole plan is to infinite him. Easy enough right? Nope. Justin spaced me, zoned me, kept me out, punished my mistakes, and frustrated me. He outsmarted me and outplayed me. The simple fundamentals of Street Fighter that I would read about in the Versus Alpha2 guide 12 years ago. He didn’t beat me with anything cheap. He didn’t beat me with bullshit. He completely outsmarted me in a way that *noone * has ever done to me in that game.
I play that game a lot. Well, used to anyway. I won EVO2k5. I’ve beaten David Lee in tournament. I’m no slouch in XvSF and at a time would’ve ranked myself top 2 in the United States easy. And there was Justin Wong, completely neutering me. Making me think outside the box I’ve played in for 12 years.
It was a very bizarre experience. Of course I wanted to win. And yes, I was heartbroken when I didn’t. But how could I be really upset that I lost to a *better *player. That’s the pecking order of Street Fighter I believe in. The best should win. And yesterday, the best was Justin Wong. So now I’ve had my JWong catharsis, and I see what all the hype is about. He’s really good. Really really good with and underline. Like this good: REALLY.
He shows you how far someone can go. Next time you get stoned, ask yourself, “how far could someone go playing street fighter?” And think about it. If you played everyday of your life, and were hardcore, and hated losing and were totally into it. How far is it possible? Well, your answer is Justin Wong.
Yes, this post reads like a love letter to Justin. And it kinda is. I have just gained a tremendous amount of respect for him, and think it’s only fair that I confess that I was too biased to give him his credit before.
Anyway, you’ve been waiting for the results this whole time. Here they are!
EVO2K8 X-Men vs Street Fighter Tournament (with an Olympic twist!)
1st place: GOLD - Justin Wong - Storm/Chun/Cyke (loses to Toxy once)
2nd place: SILVER - Toxy - Wolv/Charlie (loses to Jwong twice)
3rd place: BRONZE - Dog-face - Wolv/Cammy (loses to Jwong twice)
4th place: Contra - Cyke/Juggs/Ryu (loses to Dog-face twice)
5th place: (tie) MegamanDS - Storm/Cyke/Mags (loses to Contra, Toxy)
(tie) Joker - Storm/Mag (loses to Dog-face, Reset)
Rounding out the rest, you have CB! at a 7th place tie with the undetermined winner or Rotendo vs Jared Romero.
All in all, it was a great XvSF turney.
Justin loses to Toxy in winners finals. Beats Dog-face in losers finals, then faces Toxy and beats him a total of 8 times to win the championship!
Canadian underdog Contra beats top US player MegamanDS for a huuuuuuuuuge upset!
Canadians Joker, CB! and AznRetro are all forced to fight each other Civil War style! Joker emerges as top Canadian player.
Early on HMC member and Marvel superstar Reset sends Joker into losers bracket!
And there’s more!!
Canada vs The World Team showdown! 2/3 winner stays on!!
Contra, AznRetro, Joker and CB vs Jwong, Dog-face, MegmanDS and Toxy.
Jwong OCVS Team Canada! With his only loss going to supersly Canadian renaissance man Contra who steals a win with Sabretooth!!
And there’s even more!!
Toxy vs Dog-face ft3 (no infinites). Toxy wins first set. They run it back. Dog-face wins second set.
Toxy vs Joker ft3. Joker takes it.
Joker vs Dog-face ft3. Dog-face wins.
Surprise arrival by HMC member Fanatiq! Fanatiq vs Joker ft3, Fanatiq wins.
Fanatiq vs AznRetro ft3. Fanatiq takes it.
God, I think I’m forgetting some matches. If anyone has corrections or additions, let me know.
Now, let me say, all the hype about Canada is true. They are hella good. Everyone one of them was scary. And Joker is as good as his vids. So much respect for Canada repping XvSF when noone else is. If it wasn’t for Canada, that game wouldn’t have a scene now. Much love to CB!, Contra, AznRetro and Joker. It was an honor playing with you guys, turney and casual.
And, the legend is true. Toxy is an unbelievable player. I can’t say how much of his stuff I’m stealing. His Dhalsim is really, as Sabre described it, a breath of fresh air. Finally playing him, after 3 years, was a dream come true.
Now the question is, who really is the best XvSF player in the world? It should by all accounts be Justin. Yet, Arturo, his fellow CTF player tells the legend of Jason Wall and Omar aka Sinister Cyclops as the true EC XvSF masters. And then Canada has Narith, their XvSF top player who couldn’t make it this year. For now, the crown belongs to Justin. With all eyes on him, he showed that he has what it takes. And he has. . . THE GOLDEN HEAD OF APOCALYPSE!!
See all you guys next year. This year was a blast. Much love and much respect.