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Amjad “AngryBird” Alshalabi was emotionally and mentally drained. He took his time to answer the few questions presented to him by the various microphones and cameras in the room before automatically looking toward the exit. He looked around aimlessly before occupying all his attention to his phone with an empty hallway in front of him. He was finally alone with his thoughts.

Moments earlier, he was on his knees in prayer after winning the biggest tournament in fighting game history, Evolution Championship Series for Street Fighter 6. He bested a field of 7,083 players and withstood the endurance test of playing almost 15 hours of Street Fighter. In the final 6 on the main stage of the Michelob Ultra Arena, he went the distance against every opponent before finally winning the tournament 3-1 over Saul “MenaRD” Mena in the grand finals reset. He ended his incredible run with a record of 13-1 and left no doubt to the spectators that his Ken was the best in the world.

“I just practiced like it was any other event and it was nothing special,” Alshalabi said. “Just practice and do my best, whether it’s a local event or Capcom Cup it was the same focus.”

Evo 2023 Grand Finals crowd

His toughest opponent was not a competitor, but rather the conditions of the tournament itself. Because of the magnitude and the large number of players, qualifiers from the first day needed to start their focus as early as 10 a.m. and have that last until the top 6 was determined – a total time of over 12 hours of playing in front of the monitor with a crowd or a stream station broadcasting the action. Whether it was the lack of space, fatigue, nerves, or just overall focus, the second day was the biggest hurdle.

“The second day was so long, but everything ran smoothly and fine thanks to the organizers,” Alshalabi said. “My mindset was to do my best and not worry about the result – if it’s your day, it’s your day. If it’s not your day, it’s onto the next event.”

With the question answered of whether AngryBird is a world-class competitor and one of the best players to play Street Fighter 6, let EVO be the resounding ‘yes’ to all of it. His level of patience, meticulous studying of frame data, and overall fearlessness brought a championship to his region and proved that success comes from hard work.

“Success comes from Allah as well as doing your best, so all thanks to Allah. But, right now, my emotions are all over the place and I need to gather them to know how I feel.”