It's the final round of The Escapist Street Fighter IV Throwdown, with Keane Ng and John Funk battling it out for the gold, while Logan Westbrook and Tom Endo vie for third place.
Tom Endo and John Funk report on the battles:
I am officially retiring from the ranks of competitive Street Fighter play. It's time to pass the torch onto a new generation of world warriors.
After suffering serious injury to myself during this last match I have been advised by doctors and family members to retire while I can still have a decent quality of life.
Also, when you lose to someone with limited abilities(Nilcypher), you realize that maybe you're too old to be in this game anymore. I might still pop up for a match here and there with Ken, but Rufus is a young's man game, requiring dexterity and skills I haven't had since 3rd Strike came out on the Dreamcast.
I want to thank all my fans who've supported me through the years and especially my trainer Josiah, who turned his back on the Amish way of life to take a chance on a scrappy kid and his ridiculous dream.
Contact my agent for signed headshots.
This was it. The grand finale. Both Keane and I were undefeated going into this, so whoever took this fight would take home the prize. Fittingly, we set the matches to "best of five" rounds, rather than the standard "best of three."
I'm not going to lie - for all I mopped the floor with Endo and Logan, I knew I was at a disadvantage going into this thing. Not only was Keane using the undisputed best character in the game (while Sakura was a solid mid-carder), he'd grown up in San Francisco, the Land of Fighting Games. Also, he was Asian, and we all know that this sort of thing is in their blood.
This was going to be an uphill battle, but it had been one I'd been preparing for - and if I played right, I knew I could win. Keane knew that, too, as he started off by turtling, spamming Tiger Shot after Tiger Shot, mixing it up between high and low. Sure, I could dodge that sort of thing all day, but in order to win I'd have to close it up, and it certainly made things harder to advance.
In the end, Sagat's brute strength meant that it was harder to close the gap with him, where Sakura's rushdown would give her more of an advantage. I landed a few good hits, every round ending with him down more health than he had been the round before, but the first game went to Keane.
It was my choice, then. He had to stick with Sagat, but I was free to choose. I, too, played Sagat - would I pick him and fight on a more even playing field? Or should I stick to my guns and keep playing as the schoolgirl? In the end, I went with my integrity - Sakura it was.
Maybe Keane was overconfident, maybe he'd grown sloppy. But when he'd already taken two rounds - one win away from victory - he started slipping up. BAM! A rising Shouoken here. POW! An EX Shunpukyaku into a triple Sakura Otoshi. He was ducking? I'd hit him with a Flower Kick. Standing, and he risked getting comboed. One Sakura victory became two, and two became three - the second match was mine.
Keane wavered, briefly considering choosing a separate character after my come-from-behind victory, but once again, he chose Sagat. Once again, he returned to his turtle strategy. When a simple two-move combo - crouching HP into standing HK - took away a solid 25% of Sakura's life (and she doesn't even have below-average health), the imbalance was apparent.
In the end, I admit I couldn't do it. Maybe Keane was better than me - he sure knows his Street Fighter - but maybe it's just that Sagat needs to be nerfed. Hard. Or maybe it's a little bit of both.
Keane Ng - Winner's Statement:
What can I say? It feels good to win. I'd like to thank Capcom for designing a game that's so easy for me to be so good at, and my opponents for providing me with some quality practice sessions. When I'm taking home top honors at the EVO SFIV tournament this summer, I'll look back on beating you guys as what got me there. Maybe.
Lastly, I'd like to thank all the people who voted for me and had faith in my ability to use the most grossly overpowered character in Street Fighter IV. Wear your new badges with pride, they are my gift to you.
Hail to The King, baby!
1st Place - Keane Ng (Sagat)
2nd Place - John Funk (Sakura)
3rd Place - Logan Westbrook (Vega)
4th Place - Tom Endo (Rufus)
Thanks to all the members of our community who backed our four fighters - win or lose!