With Christmas celebrated and New Years come and gone many gamers now find themselves returning to the routine of work and school. For many Japanese gamers however it was once again time to gather to compete and celebrate in the annual Cooperation Cup, Japan’s number one tournament for the enduringly popular Street Fighter III: Third Strike
Attracting local competitors both professional and otherwise the Cooperation Cup is a series of team matches with each team represented by 5 players requiring a team composition of at least 3 unique characters (though duplicates are allowed for the remainder). Before the main tournament however was the Pre-Cooperation cup: a similar 5 man team competition where the players are encouraged (but not required) to field a team of one character.
With 65 teams registered and over 13k fans tuning in from around the world via twitch the Pre-Cup stood proud as no mere entree with players from across the country showing off their amazing skills with plays that were at times hard to believe.
[Tominaga with his incredible Makoto Special]
At the end of the day the battle game down to KEN team Hirai/Deshiken/Shie/Matsuken/Kousei and Chun-Li team . Despite having an arguable character advantage and scoring wins in 4 straight rounds it was not meant to be for the ill-fated Chun-li team suffering a quartet of punishing losses to Ken player Deshiken closing out the tournament with a well earned victory for the first time champions
Not to be outdone the main competition was filled with its own special brand of hype with players pulling out all the stops to secure their place in the finals.
[Temma Kokusai keisatsu] Player Chance completing his clean sweep of the opposing team with Makoto
With over 400 players comprising over 91 teams made up of players both new and old competition was fierce showing off a level of skill that wouldn’t be out of place in any EVO showing. The variety of character selection was diverse with little concern being held for character tier levels over loyalty and play-style. Despite the diversity however it was clear that top tier characters such as Ken and Chun-Li were going to dominate as expected.
Following the tournaments progress was easier than ever with the addition of the first ever English commentary stream courtesy of Twitch Channel gamenewton_us. Sadly they lacked both the competitor name overlays commonly seen in other FGC competitions and a translated display of the brackets in progress which did make keeping track of competitors difficult for both viewers and commentators alike. Fortunately the quality of the matches more than made up for the lack in technical facilities.
Veteran player MOV and his team [Home Ground] narrowly avoided elimination during the playoffs in the 14th block powering through to take the win in a 3 team single match round-robin whilst later in the day Dudley anchor player Kokujin secured several convincing wins for his team despite stiff Chun-Li player opposition. In one of many highlights of the evening Kokujin scored a crucial victory against Pre-cup winner Deshiken taking out the champion 2 rounds to 1. In spite of their efforts however both Kokujin and his teammates in [Man Godzilla] would find defeat in the form of [57 nen sedai yonin + 54 nen sedai hitori] and players Tominaga(MA)/Match(GO)/Boss(YU)/Furo(YA)/K(CH) at the end of a fierce 3 way tie also involving [BM Jiro ~Shinjuku MORE~] with players YSB(HU)/TM(Q)/Sugiyama(NE)/Ruu(UR)/Pierrot(RE) in the division B finals falling short of the final 8.
[Players MOV (Chun-Li) and Kokujin (Dudley) Putting on a masterclass in parrying]
Character variance in the top 8 teams was heavily skewed with 10 Yun, 5 Chun, 4 Yang, 4 Ken, 3 Alex, 3 Akuma, 3 Makoto, 2 Urien, 2 Dudley, 2 Ryu, 1 Oro & 1 Elena making up the competitor selections.
[Z Senshi] Player Nuki scored a first round victory for his team, sweeping 3/5 of opposing team with his deadly Chun-Li play. not to be upstaged Yun player Nitto of team [Master Course] pulled off an amazing comeback in the next round mere pixels from defeat https://clips.twitch.tv/gamenewton_us/InexpensiveStork4Head.
Rounds 3 and 4 were just as full of hype with [K.O Family] Yang Player K.O eliminating 4/5 of opposing team in convincing fashion. rounding out the end of the quater finals was [Home Ground] Yun Player Saru’s decimated of 4/5 players of opposing team [57 nen sedai yonin + 54 nen sedai hitori] only to have his reign of terror ended by Makoto player Tominaga who would go on to perform an amazing comeback taking the round in 5 straight wins including a brutal mirror match against fellow Makoto player Haitani and a no doubt legendary win against MOV’s Chun-Li
[Pretty in pink Tominaga showing his power]
Teams [Z Senshi] and [Master Course] began the semi finals with a series of matches that ran win for win until Nuki stepped in to eliminate both Nitto and Rikimaru and claim the win in straight sets.
[Nuki and Rikimaru showing off their footwork]
team [57 nen sedai yonin + 54 nen sedai hitori] Gouki player Match scored 3 consecutive wins for his team taking out opponents K.O(YA), Kashi(KE), Hirai(KE) before being taking out by RX and his Urien, leaving teammate boss to clinch the victory in a Yun V Yun mirror against Yakkun(YU) following an impressive 3 match comeback.
With their competitors beaten and the final stage set it was down to [Z Senshi] and [57 nen sedai yonin + 54 nen sedai hitori] to fight it out for the championship.
Tokura took the field first against Furo in a Yang V Yang Mirror Match that came down to the line after Tokura whiffed a kick against a stunned Furo that nearly cost him the game. Hoping to avenge his teammate Tominaga was next to enter quickly dismantling his opponent in the first round whilst building meter that allowed for a close but convincing second round victory causing Ryu player Kuni to enter the field. Kuni would take the first round after punishing a whiffed kick by Tominaga but would lose the closely contested second round and claim the victory on the third round in spite of missing a critical Tatsu. With Tominaga eliminated Chun-Li player K would step in to take on Kuni.
[Kuni taking the victory after some impressive blocking]
K would claim victory 2 rounds to 1 following a bizzare moment where an overhead punch from Kuni’s Ryu successfully cancelled out Chun-Li’s super causing [Z Senshi] Yun Player Sho to enter the game. Sho would go on to dismantle K in two quick rounds before dealing Gouki player Match a similar fate. with Yun player Boss left to anchor his team it appeared as though it was only a matter of time before [Z Senshi] claimed victory. Boss would not allow himself to go quietly taking out Sho in the mirror match and keeping the dream alive before being conquered by player Genki and his character Alex, a statistically bad character and unlikely victor.
[Genki(Alex) making Boss(Yun) eat dirt to claim the win)
At the end of the day [Z Senshi] may have been the victor but every team put on an exceptional performance, amassing over 20k combined viewers on twitch completely eclipsing the previous record and showing why Street Fighter III: Third Strike maintains an enduring presence in the Japanese Fighting Game Community nearly 20 years after its release.