Last-minute angels bringing Street Fighter champion Popi to Evolution 2013

Last-minute angels bringing Street Fighter champion Popi to Evolution 2013

With mere days left to go until the fighting game world's biggest international event, Evolution 2013, Dreamhack and Rockstar Energy Drinks have announced that they will pay for Swedish Super Street Fighter IV player Simon “Popi” Gutierrez to travel to Las Vegas to compete at EVO.

Why is that significant? Popi might be the best player in the world. Popi emerged from relative obscurity just weeks ago as he handily defeated the best player in the world, Infiltration.

Popi shocked the fighting world with two wins over the undisputed world champion of Street Fighter in the same event where he became the Swedish national champion. Champion or not, he was still a broke 20-something with little hope of affording the thousands of dollars required to travel from Sweden to Las Vegas to compete at EVO.

That posed a bit of problem for EVO as well. People want to see all of the world's best square off to determine the best of the best, but how can you do that when one of the best, clearly a threat to win the whole thing, isn't present? It threatened to put an asterisk over the entire Super Street Fighter 4 tournament.

Dreamhack, the tournament where Popi beat Infiltration, decided to step up and work with Rockstar to make the travel possible.

Popi's participation is significant not just because Popi beat Infiltration, but because European players are rare compared to Japan, North America and South East Asia. This is an opportunity for European players to see one of their own on the world stage, and for fighting game fans it's an opportunity to see how Popi stacks up against other great players to see if his win simply came down to catching Infiltration off guard. No one will underestimate him this time, and people will be studying his style extensively.

Let's hope for a rematch. Infiltration vs Popi, Round 2.

Evolution 2013 kicks off this weekend on July 12-14 and features tournaments in just about every fighting game imaginable including: Super Street Fighter IV, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Injustice, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Mortal Kombat 9, Street Fighter X Tekken v2013, King of Fighters 13, and Persona 4 Arena