More Than Mashing – Evo Moment #37

More Than Mashing – Evo Moment #37

This is More than Mashing, a column on amazing demonstrations of skill in video games where I try to collect and showcase the best the net has to offer in skilled game playing and break it down so anyone can understand. This week I’m covering Daigo’s full parry.

Fighting games are a genre notorious for their high barriers of entry and the dexterity necessary to perform basic moves, let alone the long combos of attacks strung together the genre is known for. For this reason, many have accused fighting games of being button mashers, because beginners have a tendency to mash the buttons more than actually try to learn the game, and can even overtake worse players with these tactics. Despite misunderstandings, Fighting Games are one of the most skillful genres we have today.

Perhaps the best known fighting game moment of all time comes from the Street Fighter 3: Third Strike tournament at the Evolution 2004 event. In a showdown between legendary players Daigo Umehara and Justin Wong, what occurred can only be described as a premeditated miracle. This accomplishment has since been referred to as Evo moment #37 or The Daigo Parry.

When I first saw this clip, over 7 years ago, I had never played a fighting game before for more than a bit of fooling around, and I just knew right there exactly what was happening and why this was so impossible, but everyone I’ve ever shown it to since hasn’t been able to parse it, so I’m giving it a formal breakdown.

Street Fighter 3 was a game that tried to shake up Street Fighter as a concept a lot and was met with a negative reception for the first two editions for a lot of reasons. One big change Street Fighter 3 made to the formula was a new technique called Parries. Parries enabled a player with good timing to perfectly block an attack. Normally blocking means you take a bit of damage from special or super attacks and get pushed back and stunned a bit. With Parries, you could block, stand your ground, gain super meter, and hit your opponent right back. Parries became integral to how Street Fighter 3 was played, completely changing the projectile gameplay and enabling every manner of new tactic, such as jumping in on an opponent to bait out an anti-air attack (an attack intended to knock down enemies that dared to jump in such as a shoryuken or a lot of crouching hard punches), parrying it, and then punishing that anti-air with your own attack.

Parries are performed by pressing and releasing the direction towards your opponent or down 7 frames before an attack hits you. Jumping attacks, overhead attacks, and projectiles all need to be parried high, while crouching attacks need to be parried low. Attacks that can be blocked low or high are also parried either way. 7 frames means that parries have a fairly wide window (116.6 milliseconds or roughly a tenth of a second) relatively speaking, but generally need to be done in prediction of an attack instead of on reaction.

Attacks that hit you multiple times such as whirlwind kicks (also called tatsus) need to be parried multiple times, once for each hit, and thus you need to time it according to how fast each hit comes in and how long the freeze time is on each parry’s animation, making it significantly harder to parry anything that hits more than twice. If you mash, then you’ll automatically fail and get hit, although failing to parry later hits in a multihit attack while succeeding on earlier ones sometimes means you don’t get knocked down, only stunned, and you don’t lose as much ground. It’s also possible to block and then parry with a red parry, but the window for that is a lot shorter, only 3 frames. It can be helpful to block every hit of an attack and only parry the last one so you can retaliate at the end.

In this moment Justin Wong, playing as Chun Li, was demonstrating one of the reasons Chun Li is still considered one of the best characters in Third Strike. Chun Li’s attacks all have massive priority, meaning they had short startups and great range. This meant that a Chun Li player could simply wait for the other player to rush in and punish whatever attacks they attempt. This tactic was so effective that even Daigo, known as one of the world’s best Street Fighter and general fighting game players, was starting to play recklessly to break down Justin Wong’s defense.
Eventually near the end of the match, Chun Li had a stock of super meter ready and Daigo had almost no life left. This meant that Justin only needed one clean hit to take down Daigo or he could use a super and kill whether Daigo blocked or not. On top of being downright deadly in terms of power and priority, Chun Li has a killer super that zooms in on her opponent and does massive damage should it hit.

Daigo, of course, knew about Chun’s super and instead of rushing in as he was before, began tapping forward over and over again. He could have waited and jumped at the right time to escape, but instead he chose to face the super head on in a gamble at both winning the match, and demoralizing his opponent enough to take the set in the match afterwards. Justin must not have been paying attention to Daigo, because he readied up the super input and then the super flash happened. The first hit of Chun Li’s super is incredibly hard to parry, but if you input the parry motion before the super flash as if it were a direct attack, you will automatically parry the first hit of the super even if it’s outside the normal window, and this is what Daigo shot for. Daigo knew that super was coming far in advance and Justin didn’t even see it. After that Daigo followed up to perfectly parry every single hit of the entire super combo, one of the longest and most erratically patterned series of attacks in the game. This was completely unprecedented in the history of fighting games. More than just a block, it was a perfect block; the riskiest possible action he could take in that circumstance in a mad gamble to mentally destroy his opponent.

At the end of Daigo’s parries, he jumped up, parried the last hit (which would normally be a launcher that Chun Li can follow-up into an air juggle using her headstomps) and came down into a jumping attack. He followed up with a crouching medium kick, canceled into a shoryuken, then super canceled into Ken’s super combo, securing the victory and forging a legend.

This is a video of another famous player and maker of combo videos, Desk, recreating Evo Moment #37 in Third Strike Online Edition with only one hand, letting you clearly see the movements involved. He makes it look easy, but anyone with any Third Strike experience could tell you this video took a lot of hard work to produce.

Third Strike Online Edition was worked on heavily by Seth Killian, Capcom’s former community manager. As a gift to the community, Seth went all out with the combo trials and parry trials, including Daigo’s full parry as the final parry challenge. This moment has a legacy unlike any other since. It has even become tradition at tournaments in japan to shout, “Lets go Justin!” when a Chun Li player uses her super on a low health opponent.

Do you have a video of someone doing something amazing in a video game? Send it my way in the comments and I’ll add it to my youtube playlists, and maybe break it down in the future. I love seeing things unlike what I have already, so if you have something unique please share it.

We await your return, warrior.

  1. Shmeh says:

    “Daigo knew that super was coming far in advance and Justin didn’t even see it.”

    Is what I always believed the true beauty of the moment was. Yeah it took some fantastic timing and reflex to pull it all off, but Daigo set the entire thing up beautifully.


    • Chris Wagar says:

      Oh hell yes! When I first saw it I didn’t even realize, but when I got into fighting games someone pointed out what was clearly there. Daigo was tapping, forward forward forward, then he backed up a bit and did it again. When I saw that it blew my mind! But it’s not just the prediction, it is the thing itself. If he just parried the first hit, then this wouldn’t have even made the highlights reel.

  2. There’s a actually a greater Third Strike feat than this.

    Hayao, the Hugo player, had one pixel of health left in the second round. Umezono with Chun-Li pulls her Lightning Legs super to try and finish him off, but he parries the first half of the attack, pulls a 720 joystick motion in the MIDDLE of the super to grab her and finish her off to take the match.

    Evo Moment #37 is impressive, stylish, and hype. But to pull what Hayao did technically demands more than how Daigo obliterated Justin Wong.

    • evilagram says:

      There have been better moments since, like all the stuff in the third strike selected scenes series, but dago’s parry set it in motion.

    • evilagram says:
      like this one has some really great parries and absolutely insane urien stuff.

      and here’s one with Hayao and his parries into command grab:

      • Yeah, these are fantastic. Wish the FGC would have more Third Strike in their tournaments. Street Fighter 4 requires less skill.

        Also, any thoughts on Injustice?

        • Evilagram says:

          Third Strike is my favorite street fighter game, but honestly, SF4 requires just as much skill. Did you see this year’s Evo? I went crazy over Daigo versus Infiltration.

          • I dunno. Maybe it’s the comeback meter (the Ultra Combo), the slower pace, and the fact that some characters have some BS frametraps and vortex options, like Cody and Sakura.

            Plus the parry system in Third Strike is just too good. Get the timing down and you’re rewarded for it. I’m not saying 4 is bad, it’s still lots of fun and does require lots of skill. I just think it took a step back compared to Third Strike in terms of how much it demands.

            Also, Evo isn’t until July unless you’re referring to last year’s. I didn’t tune in to that one.

        • Evilagram says:

          I mean last year’s, yeah.
          It was pretty mindblowing.

          I prefer Third Strike’s feel and speed, just I think SF4 is worthy in its own way. Parries are powerful, but you can’t react to everything, and if you could, then it’s time to use throws and hitthrows.

          Oh, and Injustice, Nether Realms has never produced a good fighting game, I don’t expect this to be an exception. It has some nice set pieces though.

          • Evilagram says:

            And I feel a lot better about the ultra meter because super armor can be used to charge it, like focus attacks.

  3. Spelonker says:

    I have never played Battlefield, but this blows my mind:

  4. Gig says:

    Quake frag videos from top players are full of moments of pure super-human instinctive reactions, too fast to plan and matched only by modern aimbots; but where aimbots fail is reading your opponent’s mind, setting up traps, timing map items and planning your moves minutes ahead. Quake has a level of meta-gaming reserved to only really great games. So instead of linking one of the dozens of great frag montages which you can probably find quickly, I suggest the classic Rapha vs. Cooller duel that gave Rapha the title in the Intel Extreme Masters championship, commented by Rapha himself. This is fascinating, not just for Quake players or even FPS players but for anyone, the level of attention to detail they both display in every second is astounding.

    • Chris Wagar says:

      I already have this one, and the one from Cooller’s perspective too. I really wish there were something I could say on this one that they didn’t already explain in the commentary because this is just such a spectacular video. It really opened my eyes to the level of mindgames that go into Quake competitive play. Map control is an efficiency race, there is a definitive single best way to do it, however because both players know the most efficient methods, they can both predict and deny each other based on this metagame level of thinking. Your enemy knows when the red armor respawns, so he knows when you’ll be there to pick it up and can ready an ambush, but what he doesn’t know is that last time you picked it up, you waited 10 seconds so he has the completely wrong timing and now you can ambush him, knowing the red armor is safe for a bit.

      And to think, mindgames like this died with arena shooters and weapon/powerup spawns.

      • Gig says:

        Well put.
        Experienced players, for which accuracy, movement speed, timing and map knowledge are no longer the deciding factor, start playing the game on a different level altogether. This is where great tacticians shine: players with really high accuracy are a threat in small, fast maps where there’s no place to hide, but in larger maps where tactics come into play they’ll be eaten alive by those who think further ahead (like Rapha). When both players aren’t bothered by aim as much there’s suddenly also room for playing mind games with your opponent – such as when Cooller, on a pro match against Avek, delayed the red armor while writing down to Avek in the chat “delaying” (messing with his expectations and trying to shake his self-confidence), which I find very funny.

        • Chris Wagar says:

          Accuracy still matters, but what was and always will be important, is pre-aiming, aiming before you can necessarily see your target and aiming ahead of where your target will be (though bear in mind that if you can’t hit your target, you’ll never win, so of course they still gotta aim between all these crazy mindgames). It happens within the first minute of that Rapha versus Cooller match, two rockets right down the hallway. A truly spectacular read. Also brilliant is the grunt on each jump. Bunnyhopping is such a staple of the game, and the fastest way to get around, but it means you grunt all the time moving your fastest. Players use these sounds around the map to locate enemies and go silent when they’re in a tight spot.

    • Lee says:

      Here’s the Call of Duty equivalent of that Quake video, an expert analysis of the world’s top players in the heat of battle:

      • Evilagram says:

        Wow, that was really superb. I always underestimated Call of Duty. I never realized that it could be played so skillfully. I think I’ll have to devote the next article to that video exclusively.

  5. Aeiou says:

    And think, people hold League of Legends up as a game worthy of having a pro scene.

    Doesn’t that just make you want to vomit everywhere.

    • Chris Wagar says:

      Some people suggest LoL videos to me. I just can’t see it. What’s skillful in any of these ARTS or MOBA games? What’s even interesting to look at here? I added one of them to the list anyway, where one guy is running around like a base or something and teleporting to the other side when the enemy gets close. It was described as the craziest moment in esports. It didn’t look half as impressive as even the most basic DMC combo video.

      • Marcus Puckett says:

        It’s… really hard to explain. Much like fighting games, things that happen in DotA, and LoL as well I guess, though I don’t know much about LoL, are either the result of a many layers of mind games, coupled with a meta-game, or aren’t something that looks technically impressive but takes an immense amount of team work and timing.
        This would be an example of an insane amount of team work and timing coming together to turn what should have been a complete team wipe one way into a complete team wipe the other way. Warning, turn your audio down, Tobi (the caster) shouts like an imbecile anytime anything remotely interesting happens, and what happens here is pretty mind blowing.

        Here’s another example except in slow motion set to one of my favorite songs. (same team btw)
        It’s probably harder to understand here what with it being so slow, but both of these moments were probably some of the craziest things I’ve seen

        • Chris Wagar says:

          You linked the same video twice.

          Now that. That looked like something really impressive, but I just have absolutely no idea what is going on in the slightest. I cannot decipher any of this, and I am currently asking my friend who plays dota to tell me what the fuck just happened.

        • Chris Wagar says:

          You’ll have to give me an explanation some other time.

          • Frank Shimizu says:

            Before going into what happened in “Turning of The Tide” you should know a bit of background information about that weekend and the teams.

            In 2011 iG had bought out a team for $6.2 million USD and later signed four other players from their rivals LGD Gaming and merged the best players from those two squads into one super team. They went on to win several championship events in Asia before going to Seattle for The International 2. iG had come into TI2 with a significant chip on their shoulder because they were eliminated from the first tournament at Gamescom early and national pride at stake because China had always been considered the top region in the world for Dota.


            Na’Vi had spent much of 2012 as the top team in the Western region, only losing two tournaments in a LAN setting and were the defending champions from The International 2011 at Gamescom. They went into the group stages for TI2 barely making it into the winners bracket and by the time they faced iG they were the only team not from SEA or China left in the tournament.

            During the weekend of TI2 the heroes Dark Seer and Naga Siren had been either been banned or picked in the first round of the draft because of their synergy in team fights. Naga Siren’s ultimate ability puts enemy heroes to sleep rendering them unable to move or attack but can’t be attacked while asleep, but they are vulnerable to Dark Seer’s abilities. Dark Seer can make copies of enemy heroes with his wall of replica ultimate and his vacuum ability lets him pull enemy heroes under the affect of Naga’s sleep. The third pick of iG, Tidehunter, has an ultimate ability that is a massive aoe stun that also does considerable damage to the enemy heroes. iG’s other two picks, Puck and Lina, have an aoe silence and stun respectively which with the other three heroes gave iG a massive team fight lineup that could have dominated almost any other team.

            Na’Vi started their draft picking up Rubik who’s ultimate ability lets him steal the most recently used skill from an enemy hero. They followed it up with Enigma who’s black hole locks down enemy heroes caught in it and deals damage to them as they’re drawn in closer. Juggernaut has a healing ward he can drop that heals teammates in range and bladefury which does damage to enemies while he’s spinning and prevents enemies from being able to target him with magical abilities. The enchantress has a group healing ability and her ultimate lets her normal physical attacks do more damage to enemies the farther away they are. The last pick, Shadow Shaman, has an aoe damage ability with his aether shock, a hex ability that turns enemies into chickens and renders them unable to attack, a snare, and can drop down serpent wards that do damage to enemy units and structures in range.

            At the start of the play, iG used the item smoke of deceit that rendered them invisible to the enemy until they got close. The Dark Seer used his surge ability to increase the movement speed of the Naga Siren so she could rush in and catch Na’Vi under her song and disable them so the Dark Seer could use his vacuum to pull in the enemy heroes.

            The moment the song ended, Na’Vi’s Enigma player Light of Heaven, activated his item Black King Bar which gave him immunity to magical abilities. He then stunned the Lina player from iG to prevent her from interfering in the team fight. iG followed up the Naga ultimate with Tidehunter’s Ravage ability which caught three of Na’Vi’s players but didn’t affect the Enigma because of his BKB or Na’Vi’s Rubik player Dendi because he was able to get out of range of Ravage thanks to the item Force Staff which pushed him away from the ult. Tidehunter tried to use his anchor smash to prevent Rubik from stealing Ravage but before the animation for Anchor Smash could be completed, Enigma used his Black Hole and caught four of iG’s players in his ult. Once iG was locked down the Enchantress activated her team healing ability and Juggernaut used his Bladefury to further damage the iG players. While Tidehunter was caught in the Black Hole, Rubik was able to steal his Ravage ability and then Rubik blinked back into range and used Ravage to kill the four heroes caught in Black Hole. After the Black Hole was finished only the Lina from iG was left to be picked off by the rest of Na’Vi.

            The play had absolutely no margin of error for Na’Vi. If Light of Heaven didn’t stun the Lina player before using Black Hole, then Lina could have easily killed Rubik preventing him from stealing Ravage and killing off the iG players. Na’Vi went on to win that match and the following match to take the set against iG, but they met up again in the finals and iG ended up taking the tournament.

  6. Chris Wagar says:

    Wow. Thanks a ton. That’s really useful.

  7. tanaka says:

    As someone who is not a fan of, or even plays, fighting games, I must admit that I was blown away when I first saw this.
    The perfect timing, the finishing move, the emotion and energy right after the K.O. – a place and time I’d really want to be in.

  8. Xana says:

    This guy beat DoDonPachi Daioujou Deathlabel Bossrush mode for the first time 7.5 years after it was introduced, on one life, no continues, and for the second half, no bombs (they heal the bosses).

    This video is fucking amazing.

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