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AngryBird's Sportsmanship Highlights An EVO Classic

Evo 2023 had one of the most epic Street Fighter Finals in history. AngryBird talks about the experience of winning against a dear friend

EVO 2023 marked the first time that we got to see Street Fighter 6 take its main stage. In the grand finals, two of the most beloved players in the scene faced off against each other. The UAE’s AngryBird and the Dominican Republic’s MenaRD, squared up in what would become a modern classic for EVO. But amidst the high-level play, a moment of sportsmanship elevated the grand finals even more, and displayed that sometimes the occasion is truly bigger than the points.

Angrybird poses with medal

The grand finals for SF6 at EVO were already filled with drama and hype. AngryBird had taken down the USA’s Punk, who hadn’t lost a match the entire weekend until then. Mena on the other hand was forced to make a loser’s bracket run that saw him go though Japanese legends Haitani and Tokido. So by the time the final fight rolled around the energy in the Michelob ULTRA Arena was at a fever pitch.

The two would go back and forth until MenaRD reset the bracket. But in an unfortunate turn of events, Mena’s DualSense controller disconnected. According to EVO’s and most tournament rules, when a participant’s controller is disconnected (or they hit the home button) that round is automatically awarded to their opponent. But in a show of sportsmanship, AngryBird refused the round and played on as if the disconnection never happened. Had he invoked the ruling he would have won the first game of Finals Reset, as he was already a round up. When asked about why he refused the round AngryBird said that his respect for Mena didn’t let him win so cheaply.

“People don't know that Mena is one of my closest friends in the FGC. So I wouldn't let something like this get in between us. So not actually [to me] nothing really happened. Just the game paused. “Come on man. We play again. It's okay”.” He continued.

Angrybird prays after winning Evo

The moment showed that the spirit of competition that runs through the FGC is much stronger than “win at any cost”. That same spirit would carry AngryBird through the rest of the Finals Reset. And while bracket resets can often signal massive shifts in momentum AngryBird said it had no effect on his game plan.

“Nothing came to my mind [after the reset]. Just focus and if I lose, GGs to Mena. He’s an amazing champion. If I win, then it was written.”

AngryBird’s name was most certainly scrawled in the book of destiny. He would go on to win 3-1 in the Grand Finals Reset becoming the first EVO champion for Street Fighter 6 and only the second EVO champion from the Middle East.