Rivalries in the fighting game community can bring the best out of two competitors when it comes to the love of the game, to see who’s better, money matches, or either pride. This blog is about one of the oldest rivalries in FGC history during the mid-1990s in Japan, and the main game was Virtua Fighter 2.1.
Some of you guys may be asking: What is Virtua Fighter 2.1, and what is the difference between the update and the original release? VF2.1 enhanced the graphics and added gameplay changes such as the ability to do a backdash and the option to play as Dural. This was the most preferred version of Virtua Fighter 2 because 2.0 had several bugs and glitches such as throwing your opponent from the opposite side of the ring for example. Although Saturn and PC versions had the option to switch to 2.1, none of the changes listed above are not present.
Virtua Fighter 2 is known to be one of the best 3D fighters ever made, which produced a lot of tournaments in Japan and created a legacy for players such as Chibita, Homestay, Ohsu Akira, and Ikebukuro Sarah. On top of that, Ikebukuro Sarah was the one who left his job and left his wife and kids because of Virtua Fighter 2. But that’s not the only thing that is noticeable from the VF community during the VF2. The rivalry between BunBunMaru (Wolf player from Tokyo) vs. Daimon Lau (Lau player from Kyoto) is one of the most noticeable rivalries in the VF community. As a matter of fact, it is one of the most legendary rivalries in the FGC as a whole.
What started this rivalry? Well it began like this…
Back in the mid-1990s, there were rumors that surfaced around Tokyo about an unbeatable player from Kyoto who specializes in ring outs. At first, the Tokyo players thought that if this player only wins by ring outs, then he wasn’t considered a good player. In order to test that theory with confidence, more than 20 players from Tokyo made a trip to Kyoto to face that player to test his skills. As a result, none of them could beat him, let alone get a single game off of him. That unbeatable player was Daimon Lau.
Daimon Lau’s key to victory was Lau’s Shajoshou command, which is done by pressing 323P and it was a mid-counter launcher followed by his usual PPP, PPPK, or PPP2K string. That string can be used for strong pressure and it was hard to interrupt that attack. When using 323P, the main problem is that you can’t create holes in the pressure between a jab and the string, meaning that you need to have good timing and high input speed and precision when using that move. Unlike most Lau players who usually do 323P from a crouching position, he normally does it from a standing position instead.
Although Daimon performed this move by pure accident at first, it was his teammate ZAP that figured out how to do the technique consistently. Daimon had a hard time using 323P the first time around, and he thought it was going to be a useless move. After some practice, he was able to get it down packed and both he and ZAP considered this move to be strong. Mind you, nowadays people would get their information by looking up information over the internet whether it was from a YouTube video or a wiki-page from fighting game sites like Shoryuken for example. Back then, information exchange was scarce, and players had to rely on what they know in their own area.
In 1996, there was a Virtua Fighter 2.1 tournament that took place featuring BunBunMaru and Daimon Lau. Best part about it is that it was shown on national TV. BunBunMaru claimed that not one person can beat him. This tournament wasn’t for a money prize, but it was to earn the right to face BunBunMaru and defeat him. If BunBunMaru loses, then he has to face public humiliation. If he wins, then he will gain praise for his greatness. Here’s the best part about it: While everyone is facing each other in the tournament, BunBunMaru can be seen watching the tournament from his throne and chilling with two beautiful women in swimsuits as they fan him down.
Daimon Lau was one of the players that competed at the tournament. When he made it to the finals, he showed no respect towards BunBunMaru. Using the 323P technique, Daimon Lau defeated BunBunMaru. As a result, he had to face public humiliation by wearing sash that reads “I Am a Loser” while posting the same message on every wall at every arcade that he visited.
BunBunMaru was unable to beat Daimon Lau since then, but that doesn’t mean the story is over yet. Another VF2 tournament was announced, and it was the closing chapter in the rivalry between the two players. Feeling motivated with vigorous fighting spirit after their loss to Daimon Lau, BunBunMaru and the rest of the Tokyo players had to come up with a new strategy on beating Daimon Lau using a certain tech that counters against his playstyle.
Their solution to that problem was crouch-dashing backwards to make him whiff the first hit, crouch under the second hit, and punish Lau with a throw. For example, Wolf could crouch-dash away from Lau’s 323P and punish it with his Giant Swing (41236+P). The players spent their time practicing the technique at an Shinjuku arcade with Shinjuku Jacky, where they found out that executing the move would be a lot more tougher than they thought. In fact, nobody was sure that it was actually going to work.
The 3rd Athena Cup took place with 16 3-man teams and 300-400 people crammed into one tiny arcade to watch the event. Daimon’s team drew their #13 spot, while BunBunMaru’s team drew their #14 spot. Daimon Lau had ZAP and Burun Burun Maru (not to be confused with BunBunMaru) on his team, while BunBunMaru had Man the Satanshark and Kassai Lau on his team.
During the tournament, Man the Satanshark defeated Zap and Burun Burun Maru, but failed to beat Daimon Lau. Kassai Lau stepped up to the plate to take on Daimon Lau and lost to him. That led into the rematch between Daimon Lau and BunBunMaru.
In the first two rounds of the game, Daimon Lau has been dominate so far because BunBunMaru had a hard time executing the crouch-dash technique, meaning that he had to take two ring outs of the game. Just before BunBunMaru was about to take another ring out in the third round, he managed to execute the crouch dash over Lau’s 323P and punished with a Giant Swing, turning the tides of battle and winning the round. Let it be known that when BunBunMaru uses Wolf, he uses the Giant Swing (41236+P) as his go-to move for throw punishment.
Now that BunBunMaru finally figured out how to use that tech, he began to do it again in the fourth round, only this time whenever Daimon Lau tries to avoid the crouch-dash, BunBunMaru answered with low throws. It came to a point where in the fifth and final round of the match, Daimon Lau had to play defensive against BunBunMaru’s Wolf and lost to him with using the Giant Swing once again.
There were a couple things that we learned from this rivalry, like how fast BunBunMaru found a way to counter Daimon Lau’s strategy out of panic when he was about to lose in the third round, or how each player had to find a way to beat each other before the match began.
I feel that the most interesting part about the rivalry is that these players motivated each other to get better in fighting games. Virtua Fighter 2 didn’t have a training mode back then, so each player had to go to the arcades to test out hidden tech and figure out how to beat their opponents. Japanese players still do this to this day, especially when you have guys like Daigo Umehara, Tokido, Nuki, and several other Japanese players figure out how to use their characters in Street Fighter V, only to play each other to find out how it works and what to do against it. I wish the US FGC could do the same, even though very few players do that nowadays.
I believe that stories like these are more interesting compared to the actual story inside fighting games. It gives us a deep insight on what the rivalry was about and how it was resolved in the FGC. The true “story” in fighting games actually come from events like this one for example. We create our own storyline and make it interesting for other players to see every time we go to a tournament.
Rivalries like these fuel us to get better. The BunBunMaru/Daimon Lau feud proved that.
(Credits goes out to ZBEP for highlighting the feud on his Virtua Fighter 2? Video (above), and El_Twelve for providing the story at VFDC.)