In the grand finals of the Gamestop Street Fighter IV tournament, Japanese master Daigo Umehara triumphed over long-time American rival Justin Wong to be crowned as the first SF4 international champion.
Thousands of Street Fighter fans flooded the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion in San Francisco to watch the globe's finest World Warriors take to the stage for the final rounds of the huge Gamestop Street Fighter IV Tournament. East Coast juggernaut Justin Wong (Rufus) - perhaps best known, once upon a time, for his absolute dominance in the Marvel vs. Capcom 2 competitive scene - fought his way past "legendary adversaries like Mike Ross (E.Honda), Antawn Ortiz (Balrog) and Jason "A-Dhalsim" Cole (Balrog)" on his way to claim the US National Title.
But the man couldn't rest on his hard-won laurels - it was time to go international, yo. Wong joined Korean champion Poongko (Ryu) and the Japanese pros Iyo (Dhalsim) and Daigo Umehara (Ryu) for a four-way round robin that would decide the victor.
When the dust settled, only two men were left standing: Wong and the formidable Umehara. The two had a history together - Daigo's famous Ken vs. Chun-Li comeback in the semifinals of the EVO '04 Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike tournament is one of the most legendary moments in all of competitive fighting game history - and Wong seemed hungry for a rematch. Hungry for redemption.
Unfortunately, he wouldn't quite get it. Though Wong's chubby brawler Rufus put up a valiant fight, Daigo isn't called "The Beast" for nothing. The Japanese fighter put his American opponent down 4-0 to claim the international title, leaving Justin Wong to nurse a bruised ego. Capcom's own SF4 community rep Seth Killian tried to offer commentary on the match (as he had the others) but reportedly found himself unable to keep up with the actions onscreen.
Congrats, Daigo. May your reign be a short one - it's a lot more interesting that way. Meanwhile, it's not all bad news for Justin Wong - he might have lost the international title, but he took home a rather large trophy for winning the US title ... as well as a full-sized SF4 arcade cabinet. One wonders how he's going to get that thing back to New York.
You can find some more in-depth commentary, as well as some awesome pictures, over at Kineda.