The History of Nike’s Street Fighter Sneaker and Its Release

Evo Moment 37 is one of the most famous matchups in video game history, a comeback so incredible that even those of you who know nothing about fighting games have probably seen it at some point. It’s so important, in fact, that to mark the occasion, a few years ago Nike began work on a shoe designed specifically to commemorate the fight.

EVO Moment #37 – Daigo (Ken) defeats Justin (Chun-li)

It’s a surprisingly long and strange story. It starts with Mark Julio, who is currently the business development manager of the EVO fighting game tournament. Ten years ago, he worked at peripheral company Mad Catz, which at the time sponsored Daigo, one of the fighters involved in Evo Moment 37 (the other was Justin Wong). A sneakerhead, Julio had long dreamed of a Nike shoe focused on the fighting game community (FGC), and so in the early 2010s began contacting Nike to see if they were interested.

“I had a few answers,” he says. Kotaku. “We’ve had a few calls over the years. It wasn’t until several years later in 2019 that I sat down with Hayden Walling from Nike and we brainstormed/planned a sneaker that celebrated the fighting game community; especially Evo Moment 37. Hayden launched it internally at Nike and we were off to the races.

Daigo's full move list, as printed on the inside of the shoe's tongue

From August 2019 to January 2020, Julio sat down with Nike regularly, talking about the sneaker design and the story – sneakers often have a story to sell them – she would tell. It soon became clear that while the shoes would primarily be based on the Evo Moment 37, a Street Fighter III showdown, it was also going to refer to the larger fighting game community as a whole.

As Complex reportinside the tongue was the full list of moves Daigo used at the end of Moment 37. The swoosh and color scheme were a tribute to Street Fighter III. But it also featured shoutouts to other fighting games and iconic moments; the box had “FINAL FINAL ROUND” on it for tekken fans, while another Evo fight also made an appearance. “The sneaker also comes with a canvas carry bag with a quote on it, ‘IT’S NEVER OVER’ TIL IT’S OVER’ which is a direct homage to another famous Evo moment when Justin Wong made a miraculous comeback in Wonder vs. Capcom 2“, says Julio. “The commentator said a similar line ‘neva over til its over’ – it was a tribute to that.

Another view of the sneakers (L), while on the included carry bag you can see the text

Another view of the sneakers (L), while on the included carry bag you can see the text “IT’S NOT OVER ‘TIL IT’S OVER”
Image: Nike

Development of the sneakers – a pair of classic Air Force 1s – continued, and Nike even cooked up official images of the shoes, which you can see throughout this story. As a potential exit drew closer, suddenly, everything amended. In February/March 2020, the Covid pandemic kicked in, which caused logistical turmoil around the world, and somewhere in the midst of the chaos, Nike’s plans for the FGC sneakers also changed.

Even though they had official product images released in the press, they were given a colorway name (“White Fossil/Blue Void”) and a product code entered into Nike’s system as the pandemic dragged on the shoes just…never showed up. Nike never announced a release date, no further information was released about them, and despite all the planning and design work that had gone into them, it appeared to the eyes of the world that the release of the sneaker had been cancelled.

Image for article titled The History of Nike's Street Fighter Sneaker and its Botched Release

Image: Nike

“I can’t speak for Nike on why they haven’t officially launched because I don’t work for them,” Julio says. “However, with the difficulties of the global lockdown and the pandemic, priorities have shifted and shifted. I know there was a reorganization within Nikeand that they also mentioned to me that focusing on fighting games (something that could inherently be considered violent) wasn’t something they wanted to do at the time.

The sneakers had been planned to launch at Evo 2020, which was decided as the best way to celebrate their focus on the fighting game community. But when this show was eventually canceled following a wave of abuse allegationsand no other plans were made (aside, oddly, this isolated post on a sneaker site in 2021), it appeared that was the end of the line for the shoe.

But that was not the case.

Image for article titled The History of Nike's Street Fighter Sneaker and its Botched Release

Image: Nike

Looking ahead to this year’s EVO, Julio was alerted online to someone who got their hands on the sneaker. It wasn’t a leak, or a prototype; turns out Nike had released the shoe – the tags of which say it was made in 2020 – only they released it without any sort of announcement, and sent the shoes straight to the company’s factory outlets, completely skipping Nike’s well-known retailers and online sales systems.

“I found out the sneakers were out in the wild a few days before Evo 2022,” Julio recalled. “A tweet to Justin Wong, with the Evo Moment 37 entries on the sneaker’s tongue tag, went viral. I wasn’t told the sneakers were made or even released.

“I found out very quickly that they were hitting outlet stores and there were already some online sales. Besides Nike outlet stores, you can also find them on resale sites such as StockX, GOAT and eBay. So I did what any sneakerhead would do who wanted a sneaker. I wanted them. I wanted to wear them at Evo. I wanted to make sure Daigo Umehara and Justin Wong got a pair.

Julio says he quickly started working with other sneakerheads in the FGC, not only to get pairs for himself, but to make sure Daigo and Justin Wong could get some as well. By contacting some sellers privately and arranging an express shipment to Las Vegas (where EVO is being held), Julio managed to get his hands on enough pairs to complete his mission (and even get one of his personal pairs by Daigo and Wong).

EVO's Mark Julio presenting Daigo (L) and Justin Wong (R) with their shoes

“It ended up being fun and worked. Justin Wong and Daigo knew I was working on something with Nike because we needed their blessing,” Julio says. “Even Capcom had their heads held high. So it was a bit bittersweet that we couldn’t really pay homage to the timing and the people involved. At the very least, they were able to get their pairs.

“I hope if there are ever great opportunities to showcase the fighting game community through lifestyle and apparel in the future…that it will be better planned and celebrated. C That’s all I want. Nike. Beat me.”

Hayden Walling, currently at Roblox but who (as mentioned above) was working at Nike at the time of the sneaker’s development, has equally bittersweet feelings about the shoe’s release. “I’m really glad the word got out, the FGC community had a thrill hunt, and most importantly, that Daigo got a pair,” he says. Kotaku. “I wish Nike had told the story and amplified it, but those are the breaks. Now that the sting of the botched release is over, I’m glad that at least it’s been made and put back into the hands of the people. fans.

For anyone wanting to get their hands on a pair, Julio says you should check out your nearest outlet store, at least if you’re in the US or Japan. And if that doesn’t work, pairs are currently selling for between $200 and $300 on StockX, where, in a nice touch, the shoes were given their original name “Evo Moment #37”.

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