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Beating the best at Street Fighter IV is worth just $4,000, but the respect is priceless

Beating the best at Street Fighter IV is worth just $4,000, but the respect is priceless

As we've chronicled in the past, Super Street Fighter IV's dominant champion, Infiltration, is by far and away the best player currently competing in the game. The South Korean player has won practically every tournament he's competed in for the past year, but his dominance came to a halt this weekend at the Swedish LAN festival and gaming tournament, Dreamhack Summer 2013.

By any measure, this tournament should have been an easy win for Infiltration. The only major fighting game pro in the top 12 was long-time, multi-game competitor, Ryan Hart. Few other players even belonged to fighting game teams.

Despite the lack of big names at the tournament, Infiltration had consistent trouble against the Swedish player Popi of team RNX. Popi wasn't exactly an unknown, but he certainly wasn't considered a likely candidate for stopping Infiltration's reign of terror. That said, he had won a string of Swedish tournaments, and this was his first major win.

This wasn't just a fluke, either. The two fighters squared off in three full sets. Popi knocked Infiltration into the loser's bracket earlier in the tournament, before fighting again in two more sets in the grand finals.

After losing in their first meeting, Infiltration decided to switch from his main character, Akuma, to Ryu because Popi was playing Cammy. Ryu is considered a stronger matchup against Cammy. At the beginning of the grand finals, Infiltration was dominant. Popi simply couldn't adjust to the character switch, and he was getting destroyed.

But as you watch, you can start to see Popi gain confidence. And then there's a noticeable switch in his play style near the end of the first set where he suddenly turns on the gas.

Suddenly the slow and careful style that was getting him picked apart switches on a dime to a fast, attack-heavy style that Infiltration had a lot of problems defending against. Infiltration still took the first set thanks to an early 2-0 lead, but was ultimately defeated 3-0 in the second round to give Popi the championship.

The 3-0 doesn't tell the full story though. Infiltration looked dominant at times, including a near perfect round. All the more credit to Popi though, for showing composure even after the world's best fighter flexed his muscle.

Unfortunately, prizes in the fighting game business are notoriously low, and Popi only earned about $4000 (25,000 Swedish Kronor.) So this isn't a life-changing victory, and Popi himself said that we won't even be seeing him at the biggest fighting game tournament, Evolution in July. 

But beating Infiltration is worth more than just prize money, and Popi has won himself quite a bit of legitimacy internationally. With a bit of luck he'll score some sponsors, and we'll start seeing him show up at more international tournaments.