Where's the cheese

Playing to win is different than playing not to lose. If you play not to lose, you start to doubt yourself, become scared, and your execution and end result will all reflect that. You must be confident in your abilities and play to win. Go for that combo, go for that uppercut, and go for the win.

I did very unusual things this past EVO. It was the first time I ever played Ken in a ST tournament. I also played in the 3S tournament for the first time in about 5 years. It was also my first ever EVO win. I was never scared and did more uppercuts than usual. I had a different mindset going into the tournament since up until August 4th; I was not going to EVO. Reasons are below.

Some of you have seen my father on ?Bang the Machine? asking about the cheese. He?s a typical hard working immigrant working to support his family. He had some stomach pains and went in for a checkup in the middle of July. He then got diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. Stage 4 is the most advanced stage of cancer. He also had the most aggressive type of cancer that spreads very quickly and needs to be treated immediately. There was already spread to nearby parts, including near his heart. The doctors gave him 1 year to live. As you can probably guess, this turned our whole family?s life upside down.

Since that day, there were numerous changes to our family?s life. Things were changing very quickly and a million and one things happened before the final plan was formed. We got opinions from 5 different doctors. Two suggested a major procedure to try and save his life. But he would basically be crippled after the surgery. Two other docs suggested he had no chance to live and to just live out the 1 year as best as he can. Their thoughts were the procedure was too risky as he had 15% chance of dying from complications while on the operating table, and numerous more risks afterwards. And the additional spread near his heart was very difficult to treat even if surgery is successful. Hence they did not think it was worth it to go for it. At one point that was the route our family was leaning towards. To let him just enjoy the last year of life as best as we could. After seeking out the opinion of a 5th doctor who recommended surgery, the decision was left up to him. My dad is a fighter. He did not hesitate at all and decided to fight.

He would get an operation where they would remove his entire stomach and affected surrounding lymph nodes. His small intestine will be stretched out up to his esophagus and the connection would be made. While that connection heals, he will get a feeding tube directly from his intestine through the side of his body where a machine can feed him. If the connection heals, he will be able to eat through his mouth. But due to no stomach storage, his diet will be very limited. No more fancy steaks and he will have to eat many, many times a day to maintain his caloric needs. Doctors estimated he would lose about 40 pounds. If the operation is a success, that would only address the original growth area. Chemo and radiation rounds will be needed to address the other spread. A long road to victory.

Since he will be unable to work afterwards, he sold his business. Being a trooper that he is, he worked up until July 29th and then handed over the keys on that date. His surgery was next morning on the 30th. The operation was estimated to take 8 - 10 hours. The doctors said if the operation is a success, he would be in ICU for about a week then regular ward for another week, and then if everything is okay he can finally come home. I took a leave of absence from work starting on the 30th. I?m also in a MBA program and had my final presentation on August 4th and final exam on August 11th. I was about to drop out of my MBA program. Obviously, EVO was not in my plans.

A truly emotional time in our family?s life followed the days leading up to the surgery. I can?t remember the last time I saw so many tears. The operation took 9.5 hours. It was the longest 9.5 hours of my entire life. But thankfully, the operation was a complete success.

When I was able to see him, he had 13 tubes coming out of his body, including 5 directly out of his chest. He was unable to speak for pretty much all of next day after the surgery. He was always very strong, being an athlete for a long time in Korea. He was a Judo and Greco Roman wrestling champion. But I have never seen him that weak in my entire life. But being the fighter that he is his recovery was faster than expected. Each day he got stronger and stronger and he amazed the doctors. Although it took him 15 minutes and the assistance of nurses, he was able to sit up straight in just a few days. Just 5 days after the surgery, he said he was tired of lying in bed and wanted to walk. When he got up and walked 20 feet, he truly reminded me of Ironman. 13 tubes out of his body and yet he would not just lie down and be idle.

He knew about EVO coming up and knew I was not going. But that Monday after he walked he was in good spirits. He amazed everyone with his strength and speedy recovery. He talked to me and asked why I?m wasting my time at the hospital when I have stuff to take care of. He basically said that he took care of his stuff and now it was time to go take care of mine. Go finish my class, go to EVO, and go on with life. Go find the cheese.

That night on Monday I gave my final class presentation and bought my ticket for Vegas. The next day I prepared my final exam study materials and met up with Graham at night to cram in 4 hours of ST practice. The next night was CvS2 practice with Ricky. By Thursday I was EVO bound with a completely different mindset. Perhaps the other years I went to EVO trying not to lose. It’s easy to go to the biggest tournament of the year and be afraid of losing. But things were different this time. Yes EVO is the world tournament that only comes once a year. But in the grand scheme of things, EVO is nothing. Around the world people are fighting in wars, fighting for their rights, and some are fighting for their lives. EVO is just a little tournament. I went in with that mindset and played as best as I could without being afraid. My father was home battling for his life. My battle in Vegas pales in comparison. EVO ended, I flew back at 5PM Monday while studying on the plane, and went straight to take my final at 6PM.

My father is now recovering at home. His chemo rounds will start soon and the fight is still ongoing. But we will all hope for the best and support him in his fight.

Life throws curve balls at you but you learn to deal with it. That is exactly what my father did and what makes him so great. He doesn?t drink or smoke and exercises regularly, yet this happened to him. But he did not sit still and cry about it. He kept on trucking and fought with all his heart. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can not do something. I can win EVO, he can beat cancer, and you can do anything that you want in life. Life is a game and you are here to win. Now go out there and go for the win.

I hope all of you will do the same in not just Street Fighter but in all aspects of life. Go win.

I want to thank Kim ?ohayo1234? Hoang for talking me into writing this. This was a little personal and I did not want to write about it, but he thought it might be good for people to read. I hope it can inspire and help some players. Thanks to all my family and friends for the support throughout the recent difficult times. Thank you Mr. Wizard for entering me at the tournaments at last minute. And of course all of SRK staff for all the support.

Thank you Albert and all of Keystone, you guys are the main reason for my success in Street Fighter and continued passion in the scene.

Thank you dad for showing me what a true champion is. The cheese is for you.

1 Like

you are the true definition of champion and no one else deserved these victories more than you, especially for everything you’ve done for the community.
i love you
yes homo

you really are the GOAT

You found the cheese. Good shit, Choi. That was a great read. Everyone has their reasons for being in the scene. Some are shallow and some are pretty inspirational. My mom is a two-time breast cancer survivor and it’s not pretty seeing your mom or dad in their weakest state(near-death) because you have these crazy images of them being unstoppable, but when you see that, you just end up realizing how human and how fragile everyone is.

But yeah, good read man. And good shit winning in ST and CvS2.

this just makes your wins more impressive. it reminds me of NaDa winning in bw for his father after he had passed away, another very gut-wrenching story. i hope your dad makes a speedy recovery.

Mad respect Choi, you deserve it. Best of luck to you and your family.

Congratulations, not only on your EVO win, but being able to share something that close to your heart with all of us. I wish your family the best, and once again, thank you for being able to write that.

Best wishes to your father and family, and good job.

its really cool that you feel so close to the community to be able to share something so personal…it really shows your true character and how good of a guy you are even outside the games…thanks for all your help over the years for the community and congrats again on EVO MVP and of course i wish your family the best

Thumbs up, soldier!

Remember that “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”


good thing im not lactose intolerant

you are a treasure to the community choi

keep on keeping on man

good luck with everything

Watching you play in the finals at Evo was really inspiring and one of the, if not -the- most memorable moments of the whole event. I think I lost my voice a bit when I came back to work on Monday from yelling and screaming so much when you were hitting combos and landing dragons and whatever else. I obviously had no idea what you were going through so reading this makes the whole thing even that much more amazing.

I hit Keystone maybe once every two or three months if I’m lucky and I think we got some 3s matches kind of here and there but never really understood the level you were at until this EVO. You’ve made me and obviously plenty of other people want to become a better player.

Thanks for sharing. Best wishes to you and your family.

champion choi made evo this year by far my best evo experience… he is the most selfless dude i know and every praise he gets is more than deserving


I’ve known John for a long time. He has always worn his cape tight… 24/7

A true Champion!


There may not be huge money in it, but you are the hero of a large portion of the fighting game community. Stay strong, and I wish you and your family all the best.

that was very inspirational. thanks for sharing, that must have been very difficult for you. best wishes to you and your family. and congratulations on your wins.

mad inspirational. i wish you and your family the best.

I knew you were in a whole different mindset this year and u were going for things u normally dont go for when seeing u play at keystone.

No one deserved that win as much as u did, watching you play is an enjoyment in itself and i hope u coutinue to have that mentality and have continued sucess. Your pops is a soldier and i hope the best for him and your family, see you at keystone

that + da lat + black 22 = recipe for victory

We are so lucky to have a guy like you repping the U.S. and supporting the community so hard.

That post owned. Thanks John, winner at SF and life.