Street Fighter V player Daryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis is the coolest guy in the fighting game community. But it wasn’t always easy for Red Bull’s leading man.
The fighting game community is stacked full of personality. From Nuckledu, the young buck who just can’t seem to stop tea-bagging everyone (see the Canada Cup top 8), to Mr. Zen himself Daigo Umehara, to PR Balrog, who my female friends tell me has the cutest smile in the community. But arguably the coolest guy in the entire fighting game community, is Daryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis.
Famous for his Zangief play, Daryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis rose to fame when he won Super Street Fighter II Turbo: HD Remix at Evo 2010, beating DGV in a grueling grand finals set.
That win in HD Remix was the beginning of Snake Eyez’s rise to fame. From then on, Snake Eyez would go on a win streak up to the release of Street Fighter V. Among his memorable tournaments are a string of first place finishes in Ultra Street Fighter IV in 2014 and 2015, and a 4th place finish at EVO 2014.
Snake Eyez’s tournament resume is enough to impress even one of the five Japanese gods of Street Fighter. But in many ways it’s Snake Eyez himself who is the real star.
I had the pleasure of meeting Snake Eyez at Canada Cup last weekend and got to chat with him in person (in between running commentary for the Street Fighter V 3 vs 3 tournament). A certain fellow commentator explained to me how he’s the cutest guy in the FGC. But personally, I tend to think of him like I think about Usain Bolt or Magic Johnson, that personality that brings the stage to life.
Fighting game tournaments are full of ultra-serious competitors who more often than not have a Tokido-esque murder face (which is strange, given that Tokido himself is actually a pretty chill guy). Less common are the likes of Snake Eyez, who always seems to have a smile on his face even while he’s putting up with Zangief’s bottom-tier shenanigans.
And speaking of Zangief, it’s refreshing to find a player who’s as loyal to his character as Snake Eyez is to Zangief. Even Daigo Umehara has strayed from his shoto-roots, moving to Yun in Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition (and perhaps regretting it as Poongko perfected him at EVO 2011).
Snake Eyez stayed loyal to Zangief throughout, only occasionally switching to Ryu or Evil Ryu when truly necessary. Zangief has remained Snake Eyez’s character through HD Remix, IV, and V. Admittedly, Zangief is a strong character in HD Remix and no slouch in IV, but Snake Eyez’s loyalty to Zangief in V speaks volumes. Even as I write this, Snake Eyez is fighting his way through the 1018-contender bracket at Red Bull Battlegrounds.
One thing that’s truly helped Snake Eyez to rise to fame is the way Red Bull has handled his talent. Snake Eyez was in talks with Red Bull way back in 2011 and got signed soon after. Since then, Red Bull has really spotlighted Snake Eyez’s personality and given him the opportunity to rise to the top, and Snake Eyez has obliged.
It was in the Red Bull documentary House Of Snake Eyez that we got a look at Snake Eyez’s background. Raised in Compton he was surrounded by criminality but was more interested in video games. Street Fighter captured his heart and imagination, as it did with us all. And so Snake Eyez turned to the arcades.
Those 20 cent coins ka-chinged into the arcade cabinet, and game by game Snake Eyez leveled up, never knowing where this game was heading, just keeping on grinding. And now, from his rise at Evo 2010 to his trip to Japan to his slight dip and resurgence in Street Fighter V, Snake Eyez has become the coolest guy in the FGC. And he’s the type of figurehead this scene needs if it, itself, is to make it to the top of esports.