North East Championship is a fighting game tournament series run every year near Philadelphia and this year it was pretty big for because it hit its 15th year of existence. One had to wonder, however, what’s a good way to show the players how much we appreciate them? How about an exhibition with two of the best Marvel vs Capcom 2 players in the planet and have them duke it out for a first of ten.
After players were done going through their pools in games such as Ultra Street Fighter 4, Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Super Smash Bros. (Wii U), everyone inside the ball room was treated to a special exhibition between Justin Wong and Sanford Kelly. Justin Wong’s name resonates greatness in the fighting game community as shown with his history either winning or placing high in games like Ultra Street Fighter 4, Marvel vs Capcom 2/3 and Killer Instinct. I can name more games he’s dominated but I’ll just leave it with those and If you played video games competitively, then you heard his name before. Sanford Kelly, a name also feared in the fighting game community is no pushover, he’s won a lot of tournaments and is a force to be reckon with.
So when the public was treated to this exhibition, everyone in the ballroom and those watching through the stream were awaiting the greatness that would be bestowed on us. It’s like watching Roberto Duran vs Sugar Ray Leonard I, a fight where you know you will get your money’s worth. The favorite between these two competitors is Justin Wong because of the fact that he’s always gotten the better when they compete against each other.
The crowd in the ball room was about 60% for Justin Wong. Players on Wong’s camp tried to take advantage with the side betting pre-match, giving players 2:1 odds. For hardcore MVC2 Players, they took those odds because they know Sanford wouldn’t go down easily.
When both players sat down, the crowd had a sense of what we were going to witness. With the crowd cheering and getting hyped, it’s one of those things I figure both players let sink in to give them a rush. From the moment the first match started untill the last match, the people in the crowd were cheering on for their favorite player to win. We were all witnessing the highest level of play.
The matches between both competitors were pretty intense and for the most part it felt as if Justin was going to take it because of what he did to Sanford early on. Sanford’s starting team was team scrub which consist of Cable/Sentinel/Captain Commando vs Justin’s team of Storm/Sentinel/Cyclops, also known as team matrix. After Justin won the first two games Sanford decided to go with his signature team, team santhrax, and this proved to be a good decision on Sanford’s part because instead of having Cable in the front line he now has Storm.
Execution plays a big part in this game and both players were showing that on the main stage. They rarely dropped any combos because both knew that one missed combo, guard break, or unblockable would bite them in the ass if they don’t execute it correctly. It’s a game of patience between these two players, mainly because Justin Wong knows how to get to a player. He can be running away for 30-40 seconds and once you crack and decide your patience meter is low, you decide to engage him and that’s when you end up with a loss. Sanford is very aggressive with his play style but he’s also smart because he knows his opponent will take advantage of that.
The matches between both players were so intense the announcers were letting their emotions out, especially of the MVC2 gods, IFC Yipes. The highlight of the night was when Justin was up 9-6, Sanford, being on the brink of losing, decided trying to pull off a massive comeback against this god tier player. Sanford won three straight to bring the score to 9-9.
The crowd was eating it up, the 30k or so players watching online were going crazy and at the end Sanford and Justin played their hearts out, but there could be only one winner. Sanford pulled out the massive upset being down four games, defeating his “demon.” A few die-hard Marvel vs Capcom 2 players couldn’t help to get a bit emotional, considering what one player calls “a work of art”.
This was one of the most memorable matches I’ve witnessed. You felt both players giving everything they had and more. It was a spectacle worth of the hype and I was happy to witness it live. Enjoy the match below, and oh yeah, I hope you guys don’t mind listening to “Livin la vida loca”.