Virtua Fighter Relationship has held the longest-running VF tournament series with the Beat-Tribe Cup in Japan. Previously known as the Athena Cup, it is known for their team tournament settings from 3v3 to 5v5 under a Round Robin-styled ruleset.
At the end of each tournament, the achievements are broken down to three categories: Winners, MVPs, and Best Bout. While the first one is self-explanatory, MVPs of the tournament are awarded to players that won the tournament for their team, while Best Bout goes to the best match of the tournament.
When it comes to VF tournaments in Japan, these players will go all out in their matches. Best Bouts are important in this tournament series because it creates legendary moments that the VF community can remember for years to come. From finding new tech in game, to having rival sections all over Japan, Best Bouts tells the community a story on how it all went down.
For the first time ever on this blog, I’m counting down the Top 5 Best Bouts from VFR’s Athena Cup and Beat-Tribe Cup. This list is based on my opinion only, and I will explain the best matches from VF2-VF5FS.
Let’s get this over with!
#5: Kyasao (Kage) vs. Tana (Lau) (The 1st Athena Cup, 1994)
The first-ever Best Bout of the tournament series. The Gamest team, consisting of K.K. Yukikaze, Takeshi GYU, and Kyasao , represented the now-defunct publishing group of the same name. They also won the first tournament as well.
Kyasao and Tana both used Kage and Lau respectively. At the start of the first round, Tana went with a While Rising kick on counter hit. Tana went for the Koenraku as his answer, but then he dropped the combo. Both players were down to the last three seconds and low on health, but Kyasao took the round after he landed the PK combo. He also took the second round via ring out. The third round was all Kyasao, ending the round with an Excellent.
They fought each other again two days later, this time in the first round preliminaries in a singles tournament. Kyasao lost to Tana, and Chekkori won the singles event.
#4: Koryū (Lau) vs. Mukki Akira (Akira) (The 4th Beat-Tribe Cup, 2002)
Virtua Fighter 4 was released in 2001, but VFR made it the main game of the 4th Beat-Tribe Cup one year later. This game introduced new members in the VF community, and bringing back legendary players from VF3 and VF2.
Mukki Akira and Koryū, newcomers to the Japanese VF scene at the time, had a lot to prove. This match here says it all since both players gave one helluva show at the time. Koryū had the lead for the first two rounds, but Mukki Akira came back with the download in the end. Mukki Akira’s team won the 4th Beat-Tribe Cup that year, with Mukki becoming the MVP of his team.
This match right here proves the future of the VF community is still in good hands.
#3: Sam (Jacky) vs. Hana Lau (Lau) (The 11th Athena Cup, 1998)
Inba Rengō was a team that came from the Chiba prefecture. At the 11th Athena Cup, this team had a lot to prove since they are the only team that is not from Tokyo.
This match right here was intense between Sam and Hana Lau. First round was just testing waters between the two, with Hana Lau taking the round. Second round ruled in favor of Sam, who answered back on his own after escaping a throw. Hana Lau fired back in third round after escaping the Brainbuster throw, followed by a low sweep and a double down attack. Round 4 was cutting it close, but Sam took that round.
The final round of the match had Sam go all out. He started the match with the Brainbuster throw, a couple of pokes, and another throw. Hana Lau tried to fight back at 15% health, but Sam took the match at the end.
This was the first tournament where a team not from Tokyo won the entire tournament. And of course, Sam was the MVP of the team.
#2: Kurita (Taka) vs. Chibita (Lion) (The 3rd Beat-Tribe Cup, 2001)
As the third entry of the Beat-Tribe Cup series and the final appearance of Virtua Fighter 3tb, the VF community wanted to give this game a proper send-off with great matches.
Chibita made his debut back in 1996 when VF3 was released for the arcades, which was during the 6th Athena Cup. Chibita’s team, Yūshō-wa AtariMaeda~zu, won the tournament that year with Chibita as the team’s MVP.
Chibita’s Lion took on Kurita’s Taka in this Best Bout. The first round was in favor of Kurita since he came back after a near-loss. Second round was just as tight as the first where Chibita landed a sick combo, only to leave Kurita at pixel health for the comeback.
Chibita turned it around at the next two rounds, hoping for a comeback. He was utilizing the swift evades with Lion which was helping him get some attacks in. In the 4th round, Chibita took it with a heavy down attack, leaving both players at match point. The final round when it was cutting it down to the wire with both players having low health and 10 seconds left. Kurita went for Taka’s most powerful throw in the game and took the match.
Although both men were eliminated, the winners went to the team of Giant Swing Forever, a team consisting of Segāru, Mask-Do-Hidetesu, Hainin, The Guerilla, and Yūki-kun. But this match was a proper Best Bout that no one will ever forget.
#1: BunBunMaru (Wolf) vs. Daimon Lau (Lau) (The 3rd Athena Cup, 1995)
The epic rivalry that sparked the Tokyo vs. Kyoto rivalry in the VF community, and provided one of the best matches in VFR history.
Daimon Lau was the best Lau player in Kyoto, beating everyone with a ring out. He encountered the undefeated BunBunMaru on live TV, and defeated him. It resulted with BunBunMaru going to every arcade while wearing a sash that says “I Am A Loser” and posting that same message on each wall.
BunBunMaru had a solution to defeat Daimon Lau, which was the innovation of Fuzzy Guarding. He and Shinjuku Jacky spent time practicing it in the arcades, but they were unsure if it was going to work.
When the 3rd Athena Cup began, Daimon Lau’s team and BunBunMaru’s team drew #13 and #14 respectively. The rematch finally happened.
In this match, BunBunMaru had a hard time countering Lau’s 323P in the first two rounds since Daimon Lau was sending him out of the ring. He was about to lose again in the third round, right until he finally pulled it off. He fuzzied the 323P so that he can grab him with the Giant Swing. It happened again in the 4th round, and once more in the 5th and final round. BunBunMaru downloaded Daimon Lau in the end.
Both teams were eliminated, and the winners of the tournament went to the team of Kakatte-Koi~zu, consisting of Kyasao, Sho Kosugi, and Masa’ani.
What was great about this Best Bout is not only the innovation of Fuzzy Guarding, but also the storytelling behind these two great players. It was one of the best rivalries in VFR history, and also one of the most underrated rivalries in FGC history.
Honorable Mention: Hanabirei vs. Nuki (Non-Best Bout) (The 5th Beat-Tribe Cup, 2003)
While it is not a Best Bout of the tournament, you have to give credit to Nuki, Tokido, and the rest of the 2D Fighters team. In this match, Nuki adapted well as an Aoi player, utilizing her Sabakis and Inashis against Hanabirei’s Lei-Fei.
And that’s it for my Top 5. I apologize if there’s no VF5 Best Bouts, but I don’t think they were covered after VF4FT’s Best Bouts.
Before I end this blog, I would like to let you guys know that VFR announced The 16th Beat-Tribe Cup with Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown as the main game. The venue will take place at Toyosu PIT, Tokyo, Japan, on March 31, 2018. Stream details and other info will be updated soon. Also want to mention that there are two VF tournaments that are happening before that, which are the 2018 Fukuoka Kyushu Cup in January, followed by the 2018 Nagoya Tokai Cup in February. So much VF action in the beginning of 2018!
As VF month comes to a close, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. 2018 will mark the 25th Anniversary of the Virtua Fighter franchise, and hopefully we get to hear something on their celebration. Hopefully VF6 will be announced, or a HD collection of the first 4 games. DAMMIT SEGA, I NEED SOMETHING!!!!
Until then… Train Up, Fighters!