A Dominican Teen Shocked Everyone and Won This ‘Street Fighter’ Championship

Lead Photo: Art by Alan López for Remezcla
Art by Alan López for Remezcla
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Sitting at No. 25 in the global rankings, Saul Leonardo Mena Segundo (MenaRD) was competitive enough to enter the Capcom Cup, a yearly tournament that crowns the best Street Fighter player in the world. But with more experienced players standing in his way, including Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi – the 2017 Evo champion who bested him earlier in the competition – Saul faced an uphill battle. And yet, the 18-year-old Dominican – the only player from the Dominican Republic to make it to the top eight – went on to win it all, earning $250,000 along the way.

During the winner final, Tokido beat MenaRD in a 3-2 set. But in their rematch – even with Tokido seemingly on his way to victory – Mena, who played with Birdie during both matches against Tokido’s Akuma, didn’t lose his cool. Instead, he took advantage when he realized Tokido wasn’t adjusting his fireballs. “I was not reacting to the fireballs and adjusted to play more aggressively,” he said, according to ESPN. “When he didn’t think about adjusting [his] fireballs, I took advantage of that.”

Beating Tokido once is hard enough, but given the double elimination format of the tournament, he had to beat him two times in a row in the grand finals to win it all. In the grand finals reset, MenaRD again went down, but only 1-0, before going on to win 3-1 and claim the title.

“I felt very confident because I had the Dominican Republic on my back,” MenaRD said. “I was not nervous and felt at home. I feel like every moment, my tournament life is on the line.”

As soon as the KO appeared on the screen, his supporters rushed the stage to share in the surreal moment with him.

MenaRD’s remarkable Capcom Cup included victories over some of the best players in the world, including Street Fighter legend Daigo Umehara, and four of the top 13 ranked players in the world: No. 13 Itabashi Zangief, No. 10 Xian, No. 9 Kazunoko, and No. 2 Tokido. Check out his winning moment below: