The greatest Street Fighter IV match-ups ever

See SFIV’s top gamers slog it out ahead of the latest update.

The greatest Street Fighter IV match-ups ever
© Capcom

Ultra Street Fighter IV, the latest and greatest expansion to the smash-hit beat ‘em up hits consoles next month, bringing in a host of new characters, fresh stages and a healthy dose of balance changes that will no doubt switch up the status quo of playing the game competitively.

To celebrate, we dived into the archives to pull out five of the greatest pro SFIV match-ups that have ever been thrown down since the game’s first debut in 2009, ranging from the original, 2010’s Super update and Arcade Edition too. Get your popcorn, foam fingers and Shoryuken yells at the ready: it’s going to be explosive.

EVO 2009 Street Fighter IV - Grand Final
Daigo Umehara vs Justin Wong

© Capcom

The yearly Evo fighting game tournament held in Las Vegas is the most prestigious event in the fighting game calendar, and 2009’s edition featured Street Fighter IV for the very first time. Thousands of gamers entered the SFIV tournament, each hoping to scoop the grand prize, but it was long-time Street Fighter pros, Daigo Umehara, nicknamed The Beast, and Justin Wong, who fought their way to the grand finals for a East vs West showdown. Wong rose up from the lower bracket to beat out Daigo’s Ryu with his refined Balrog (or Boxer, to avoid confusion) play in the first match, winning three games to two, but since Daigo hadn’t lost before in the double elimination tournament, the score was reset and the first play to win three games would reign as champion. Each game went back and forth between both gamers, with the score tied at two games each, but Daigo managed to pull out the stops and clinch the win with a 3-2 finish, becoming the 2009 champion.

EVO 2012 Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition - Grand Final
AVM Gamerbee vs WW MCZ Infiltration

© Capcom

Evo’s 2012 championship saw South Korea clean up in a range of games, including Street Fighter x Tekken and The King of Fighters XIII, and that also extended to Super Street Fighter IV too: South Korea’s Sun-woo "Infiltration" Lee made it to the grand final, and his Akuma was set to face off against Taiwan’s Bruce “GamerBee” Hsiang’s Adon in an incredible match-up. Infiltration is known for his rapid and well-timed use of Akuma’s HP-destroying Raging Demon move, and he made full use of it throughout each match - eventually coming out on top with a 3-0 finish to become the Evo champ.

Street Fighter 25th Anniversary Tournament Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition - Grand Final
WW MCZ Infiltration vs MCZ Daigo Umehara

© Capcom

Capcom’s 25th Anniversary Street Fighter Tournament in 2012 was always going to be explosive, but the Super Street Fighter IV championship went beyond anyone’s expectations. For starters, the top three finishers included champions of the past four Evo tournaments, making the finals a star-studded battle royale, including Team Razer’s Fuudo, who lost out twice to Mad Catz’s Infiltration - but it was set to be a team Mad Catz finale with both Infiltration and Daigo (who had signed with Mad Catz in 2010) taking up the top spots. Infiltration had faced off against Daigo earlier in the tournament, losing in the process, but in this grand final, Infiltration used the knowledge he had gained from their previous bout and used that to his advantage to adapt his gameplay and take out The Beast in two straight sets.

EVO 2011 Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition - Top 32 Semi-Finals
Daigo Umehara vs Alex Valle

© Capcom

While Team Razer’s Fuudo wound up as the overall winner of 2011’s Evo Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition tournament, day one was home to one of the most exciting matches of the whole event, as the legendary Daigo Umehara faced off against a competitor of almost equal fame: Alex “CaliPower” Valle, one of the most well known American fighting game players of all time. In fact, Valle held the title as the Street Fighter Alpha 3 National champion, and took on Umehara, the Japanese National champion, way back in 1998, making this Evo showdown one to remember. Daigo picked Yun as his fighter, instead of his tried and tested Ryu, while Valle picked Ryu - the ensuing bout saw both fighters take a game each, leading up to Daigo finishing up on top with a 2-1 check out.

EVO 2013 Super Street Fighter 4 Arcade Edition - Top 8 Losers Semi-Finals
Infiltration vs PR Balrog

© Capcom

Last year’s Evo tournament was filled with surprises, but none matched up to the shock character change-up by Infiltration. The South Korean is well known for his almost-instant Raging Demons courtesy of Akuma, but during his quarter final match-up against fan-favourite Eduardo "PR Balrog" Perez-Frangie, he pulled out a low-tier surprise in the form of Hakan - a surprise for both the fans, and PR Balrog - making this match one of Evo’s best. Skip to 6:40 to hear the crowd erupt into a frenzy, as Infiltration picks out Hakan and eventually beats out PR Balrog to a close 3-2 finish.

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