Lupe Fiasco Defeated One of the Best Street Fighter Players in the World … or Did He?

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A controversy has fired up the fighting-game community this week, after a Street Fighter exhibition match in which rapper Lupe Fiasco defeated pro player Daigo Umehara. Did the champ throw the match? Is Lupe actually that good? Let’s enter the world of Street Fighter conspiracy.

Last month, Fiasco, who is vocal about his Street Fighter fandom but is nonetheless an amateur, consented to an exhibition match, tweeting, “It would be an honor to lose to Daigo-San.” In Fiasco’s own words, going up against Daigo is like going up against Michael Jordan one-on-one, so the odds were stacked against him. Yet somehow, Fiasco managed to pull off a win in a nail-biter best-of-five match that went all the way to the final round.

If Fiasco going the distance against a pro sounds suspect to you, you’re not alone. The match took place yesterday at the launch gala for the new Street Fighter V and was organized by Mad Catz, a company that makes controllers for fighting games. Almost immediately, FGC members began to speculate that the match was rigged to help sell the game and accessories. As one member of NeoGAF wrote, “People thinking that was legit gives me a new understanding to how people could believe in creationism.”

Some discussed the match in pro-wrestling terms: “Daigo setting up Lupe’s comeback in the last round. Perfect psychology by Daigo good work rate and execution.”

Mad Catz told Kotaku that the fight was not rigged, but fans are speculating that because of the casual nature and low stakes of the exhibition match, Daigo went easy or played loosely. As one GAF member explained:

Even if [Daigo] legit missed the DP [dragon punch] or went for the fierce that got stuffed, he clearly controlled the match and dictated the outcome. Sometimes he played seriously, sometimes he chose to eat DP’s, sometimes he wanted to see if he could show off a really cool parry for the crowd and stream. Throughout the set he was switching between medium and heavy DP to anti-air. It wasn’t staged, but he was in full control of the outcome the entire time. And honestly I’m glad he did what he did. It made for a better show. Seeing Lupe’s pop off and his mad respect to Daigo was great to watch.

As of this morning, Lupe now ranks first on Shoryuken.com, a leading Street Fighter site for competitive players.