One of Street Fighter 2’s most enduring myths has finally been proven true 30 years after it began.
The myth is that Street Fighter 2: World Warrior, which launched in 1991, contains a 10-0 matchup between Zangief and E. Honda.
The 10-0 matchup phrase is used by some within the fighting game community to describe a fight between two specific characters where one is so dominant that it always wins in a best of 10 match – no matter what the opponent with the weaker character tries to do.
The phrase has come to be used to describe any heavily-favourable matchup, but this myth relates to an actual 10-0 matchup, where Honda is literally powerless to avoid defeat.
Here’s what the myth describes: at the beginning of a round, Zangief immediately performs his famous Spinning Piledriver throw. Its reach in Street Fighter 2: World Warrior – so the myth goes – is such that Zangief is able to grab Honda and perform the move from round start positions. So, round one, fight! SPD, slam! Nothing Honda can do to escape.
That’s bad enough, but what makes this a 10-0 matchup is that Zangief is then able to follow up this round start SPD with another SPD as Honda rises from the floor. Street Fighter 2 does not have a reversal feature – that is, when you emerge from an inactionable state, such as a knockdown, you cannot do a special attack.
So, in this game, if Zangief gets the SPD knockdown, he can simply walk up to Honda, force Honda to block an attack and then throw Honda again (what’s called a “tick” throw). Honda can’t even jump out of the throw, as he can in modern fighting games, because in Street Fighter 2 the frames before the jump come out are throwable.
The myth is that if Zangief starts with an SPD Honda cannot escape, the round is already over because Zangief will simply loop this mixup again and again. Honda cannot do anything to escape defeat – a true 10-0 matchup.
It sounds absurd and completely broken – and it is. But remember, Street Fighter 2 was the first fighting game of its kind (it invented combos by accident!), with a raft of bugs and other quirks. The video below, from fighting game YouTube channel TheoryFighter, explains this mythical Street Fighter 2 10-0 matchup, and is well worth a watch to get more information.
This Zangief versus Honda 10-0 matchup has been known by some veterans within the fighting game community for years, and every now and then prominent members of the community would mention it on podcasts and the like, but there was never proof. Memories are fading, events bleed into each other, and over time, the community has collectively forgotten how this myth originated – or even if it was real. Most agreed it was related to an early version of Street Fighter 2 – perhaps the first. As FGC commentator and historian James Chen said on Twitter early May: “It was supposed to be the very first version of the game. It may be something that my memory has messed up for me from others telling me this existed, feeling like I’ve seen it before. O_o”
Determined to unearth the truth, TheoryFighter tested as many versions of Street Fighter 2 as he could for this round start SPD. It did not work in the original Street Fighter 2: World Warrior, with Zangief’s SPD range not far enough for a round start throw against Honda. Testing of all subsequent versions of Street Fighter 2 via emulation also showed this was not possible. There was no recorded footage of this 10-0 matchup on the internet. It seemed, according to TheoryFighter at least, to be a myth that might have gone unproven forever.
Determined to settle this once and for all, on 1st May 2021 TheoryFighter put up a £100 bounty on Twitter: the first person to capture video footage and send over the ROM it was achieved on would win.
FIGHTING GAME BOUNTY: £100
I’ve heard of a version of SF2 World Warrior where Zangief can round start SPD EHonda. It’s been talked about, but I’ve never seen footage of it – ever.
The first person to find it, capture video footage, and send me the ROM, I’ll Venmo you £100.?
— TheoryFighter (@TheoryFighter) May 1, 2021
On 13th May 2021, the bounty was completed. Twitter user @ElenoreHU3BR responded to say they had managed to hit the SPD from round start in the Super Nintendo beta version of Street Fighter 2, providing footage and a link to the ROM.
It turns out another user flagged the find at the same time, a fan who goes by the name Dabenport who hit on the Street Fighter Alpha 2 Revival Discord less than 20 minutes after @ElenoreHU3BR issued their tweet.
TheoryFighter played this beta version of Street Fighter 2 on SNES and confirmed the SPD from round start was possible. “From my testing it was inescapable,” he told Eurogamer. TheoryFighter has now paid out £100 to @ElenoreHU3BR and Dabenport.
So to cap off this whole story, here it is, the round start SPD touch of death.
Honda is holding up the entire time. pic.twitter.com/hODzusxmnY
— TheoryFighter (@TheoryFighter) May 18, 2021
For TheoryFighter, it’s a significant milestone for the fighting game community, and finally puts to bed a “myth” that has been floating around for 30 years.
“I originally heard about it from the Shoryuken Forums,” he told Eurogamer. “I was a long time Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo player (it’s the game that got me into fighters) and just being around the scene you would always hear stories about how broken some of these older versions of SF2 were, in particular World Warrior.”
It seems unlikely that a beta version of Street Fighter 2 on console would be played by enough people to start a myth that would become so widespread within the fighting game community – and one that would endure for 30 years. So, how did it start?
TheoryFighter has two theories:
“At this point in time, home versions of fighters were incredibly inaccurate when compared to their arcade counterparts but these inaccuracies weren’t documented online like they are now. So it’s possible that word of mouth just spread from a handful of people playing the SNES version as genuine matchup advice without the understanding of how bad these ports are.
“My other theory is, it did actually exist on the arcade version. People have continued to talk about it and if the beta of the arcade version is even half as broken as the SNES port, anything is possible because that game is a complete mess. The problem is we don’t have a ROM dump of the arcade beta, and until someone finds one we’ll never find out.”
Of course, now that this round start SPD has been found in the beta, it’s possible some unknown “tech” could be found within the same beta to defeat it. As TheoryFighter notes, the beta is “massively unexplored when compared to the more modern accepted version of World Warrior”. For now, though, we have closure: Street Fighter 2’s mythical 10-0 matchup has finally been proven to be true.
Modern fighting games are designed to avoid these sorts of situations, of course. And patches are released to eradicate things like “infinite combos” and other broken mechanics. For TheoryFighter, the discovery of Street Fighter 2’s mythical 10-0 matchup shows just how much fighting games have evolved over the last 30 years.
“World Warrior is a game where combos were a glitch, pre-jump frames were throwable and reversals didn’t exist,” he says. “These are all universally present in the current generation of games to avoid situations like this.”
What’s next? Are there any other Street Fighter-related myths TheoryFighter plans to explore? Any other fighting game mysteries left to solve?
“I adore old fighting games,” he says. “One of the best things about them is how their glitches help define them and create some of the most compelling examples of emergent gameplay, that actually functions competitively (I will admit, the SNES World Warrior port, not so much).
“As the community’s understanding of fighting games as a genre has grown, so has our ability to break old ones and I’m always going to continue along that journey of exploration as I continue to compete – it’s the best bit.”