In a sea of Akumas and fireballs during this year's EVO, any change-up in character selection was welcome. Even so, you don't expect one of the "worst" characters on the Street Fighter roster to suddenly make an appearance in a top 8 match. Thank god it did, because Infiltration pulling out Hakan to go up against PR Balrog was one of the best parts of EVO.
You hear the crowd getting hype when Infiltration just picks the character midway through this video by PS3GamingHD, right? That's because, despite being a very interesting character on a conceptual level—Hakan is based on real-world Turkish wrestlers, and he has to oil up mid-match—it's not a character you often see people play. So as a viewer, you're left wondering both if the Hakan player knows what they're doing, and if the Balrog player knows how to deal with Hakan. It's a gutsy move for Infiltration to pull, to change to Hakan on his last bout with PR Balrog, but one that made for a fantastic match.
Hakan, after all, is a good counter for Balrog. So you've got a lot of tense moments here, with Balrog trying his best to stop Hakan from oiling up—as that's a move that powers Hakan up—which requires Balrog to keep pressure up...and that requires Balrog to be up close. Thing is, Hakan is a grapple character. So you either get up close and fall prey to Hakan's grapples, or you keep your distance and let him power up. It's fascinating and intense to watch. I couldn't help but cheer, and I don't even follow fighting games particularly closely.
Kind of makes you think twice about tier lists, eh? Then again, Hakan wasn't the only notable character here: the final itself was won by Gen. Gen! Not what you'd expect at all—not exactly a popular character—but the usage of unlikely characters was one of the many things that made this year's EVO so great.
I'm curious: what was your favorite EVO moment this year?
The Multiplayer is a weekly column that looks at how people crash into each other while playing games. It runs every Monday at 6PM ET.