It’s arguably the most epic scene in competitive fighting game history.
“Moment 37”, which took place during a losers bracket match of the Evo 2004 finals, featured legendary players Daigo “The Beast” Umehara and Justin Wong battling it out over a game of Street Fighter 3: Third Strike.
If you’ve not seen it, it’s a jaw dropper — with a too-close-to-call finish with an incredible display of skill from Umehara that left the crowd blown away. Wong, who was 18 at the time, had already made a name for himself with his distinct turtling strategy, fought using Chun-Li against Umehara’s Ken.
By now, almost everyone in the fighting games community would have seen the official video, but a clip with a different viewpoint showcasing the crowd’s hyped reaction was recently discovered by Mark “MarkMan” Julio, Evo business developer and Tekken brand and community advisor.
The newly unearthed video shows a different angle from the official source released back in 2015, this time taking a closer perspective from the left side of the crowd, just a few steps behind Umehara and Wong. The clip was discovered “lying amid a stack of old tapes and discs” according to a tweet by Julio.
The first round had Umehara easily taking game 1, while Wong’s Chun-Li took the second round to set up the most epic of moments in the next match.
The final round started with Chun-Li carving a massive lead against Ken, leaving Umehara’s character hanging on to an inch of life, before a legendary comeback by way of Umehara’s now infamous “Daigo parry” made the crowd go wild.
Figuring the match all but won, Wong unleashed Chun-Li’s multi-hit Super Art II move, the Houyoku-sen (鳳翼扇, “fanning phoenix-wing), hoping to chip away at Ken’s tiny slice of health for victory. However, Umehara parried all 15 hits with split-second precision, and responded with Ken’s Super Art III finisher, the Shippuu Jinraikyaku (疾風迅雷脚, “hurricane thunderclap leg”) to secure the victory.
Seconds before the round came to a close, you can hear Ari “Floe” Weintraub in background shouting “don’t do it!” to warn his friend Wong about the parry, having seen Umehara execute the same strategy against Ricki Ortiz with a Chun-Li in an earlier match. Kenji Obata of Japan went on to win the tournament, with Umehara and Wong as runners-up.
“Thinking about it now, it’s still amazing. I still get people coming up to me and saying, ‘Hey, I watched Moment 37 and that’s the reason why I’m here,'” said Wong in an interview with ESPN back in 2016.
In the same interview, Umehara added that whenever he plays against Wong in fighting game tournaments these days, he feels he’s “playing against an old friend from childhood who lives around the corner. I don’t think about winning or losing, I just have a good time playing with him. He’s a very special figure for me in my life.”
Both legendary players still compete today and have remained strong players, though there’s already a new generation of gamers that have risen to the challenge, having been inspired by Moment 37’s greatness. There’s no telling when the next epic moment will come, but we’re already seeing strong storylines in every single competitive esport, and you know it’s only going to get better.