There was a time when every man in his 40s would drop 100 won into an arcade and play Street Fighter 2.
For their own reasons, fighting games have faded from our lives.
100 won a game became 200 won, I was scared of my father’s stick, StarCraft is more fun now, I became a college student, got a job, got married, etc. ….
But for thirty-six years, until he was forty-four, he played fighting games.
Then he came to Hangzhou, China, as a national team player and won a gold medal.
Kim Kwan-woo defeated Chinese Taipei’s Hsiang-Yu Lin 4-3 in straight sets to win the Street Fighter V final at the Hangzhou Asian Games 2022 at the Hangzhou Esports Center on Monday.
The event marks the first time esports has been included in the Asian Games. Kim Kwan-woo became the first Korean esports player to win an all-around championship.
“Why play games, I’m just trying to have fun. I had fun today,” he said, smiling with red, bloodshot eyes.
Kim Kwan-woo was just an ordinary gamer. As a child, he played the Street Fighter series in and out of arcades, despite being scolded by his teachers and parents. He was so good at it that he was often beaten up by “scary neighborhood kids.
He loved the primal appeal of fighting games and continued to play as an adult. It wasn’t until three years ago that he quit his day job and became a game streamer, effectively becoming a “full-time professional gamer.
“I don’t know about the younger guys, but when I was a kid, Oryxil was an absolute taboo. I was dragged out of school, scolded by teachers, and hated by my parents,” he recalls.
“Eventually my parents gave up and said, ‘Do what you want,’ and I think they’re happy today because I won a gold medal,” he laughs.
The Street Fighter series is an iconic fighting game with a 36-year history.
However, fighting games are not currently very popular in South Korea. Young people are mostly obsessed with League of Legends (LoL).
The fighting game world is a small one, and one of the first areas where the phrase “stagnant water” was coined.
Among fighting games, Street Fighter players are mostly in their 30s and 40s, having played the series since childhood.
They responded to a request from national team coach Kang Sung-hoon to be Kim Kwan-woo’s sparring partner.
The players, who live in rural areas and can’t travel to Seoul, have been sparring online with the help of the Korea Esports Sports Association (KeSPA).
Kang called Kim’s gold medal “the ‘crown jewel’ of the Korean Street Fighter scene.”
Not many people expected Kim to win gold. The first gold medal for Korean esports was expected to go to the LoL team, led by Faker.
“Last year, when I won the Korean region at the Capcom Cup, Street Fighter’s most prestigious tournament, I thought that was my peak. Before the Asian Games, I had a lot of self-doubt about whether I could improve further,” Kim said.
With the help of other masters, Kim trained for up to 10 hours a day to hone his skills, and eventually pushed himself to the limit.
“I told myself, ‘I’m not done. I’m not done yet. I will continue to fight…’ I thought to myself after winning the gold medal.”
Kim Kwan-woo is the oldest gold medalist for the Korean team at the Games so far.
For many men in their 40s, his performance on the day must have been a pleasant ‘kick in the pants’.
“Now, when we try to do something, it doesn’t work, it’s in my head, but my hands don’t move well. But I practiced, and I realized that I can get my old skills back. If we practice more passionately and have confidence, we can all win gold like me.” 파워볼게임