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The winner of the “Street Fighter II” tournament

by Denny R. Walter
(April the 5th, 2014)

Introduction

The story of the game “Street Fighter II” is supposed to show a fighting tournament. It’s not just about various fighters fighting each other just like that, it’s an actual tournament where there is one champion in the end.
The predecessor of the game, the original “Street Fighter”, is a tournament as well. According to the official storyline, Ryu defeated Sagat in that tournament’s final, attacking him with a Dragon Punch and leaving a scar on Sagat’s chest.

So, it’s official canon that Ryu won the tournament that is shown in the game “Street Fighter I”.

But now there’s the question: Who won the “Street Fighter II” tournament?
Unlike with the first game, the winner of “Street Fighter II” isn’t mentioned very prominently. So, there are different opinions about it.

A little note: The game “Street Fighter II” was updated many times and therefore exists in various versions:

Each of them added new features. But from a story point of view, all these games are the same event. They are not sequels of each other.
That’s why whenever I use the name “Street Fighter II” without any addition, I’m talking about the game in a general sense, without referring to a specific version. In this case, my statements are generally supposed to count for every version equally.

My own opinion

In my opinion, it has always been pretty clear that Ryu was supposed to be the tournament winner of “Street Fighter II”. He is the main character after all.
Just look at a bunch of artworks for the various iterations of the game. Ryu is always shown most prominently or at least in a special place:

This is the arcade flyer for “Street Fighter II – The World Warrior”, the ur-example of all promotional artworks:

Flyer

And other group pictures are the same in this regard:

“Street Fighter II – The World Warrior” artwork 1 “Street Fighter II – The World Warrior” artwork 2 “Street Fighter II’ – Hyper Fighting” artwork “Super Street Fighter II – The New Challengers” artwork “Super Street Fighter II Turbo” artwork

Either Ryu is the front character. This is even the case in an artwork of “Super Street Fighter II – The New Challengers” that presents the four new fighters and that shows no other old character.
Or the artwork focuses on another fighter for a specific reason, like Chun Li demonstrating that there are new special moves in “Street Fighter II’ – Hyper Fighting” or Akuma as the new final opponent in “Super Street Fighter II Turbo”. But in this case, Ryu is either in a special place, different from all the others. Or he’s still the most central one of the regular characters.

Then think about all the third party works.
Unfortunately, Capcom itself never published a comic or a story about the game and all those works are non-canon.
But still, both the manga by Masaomi Kanzaki and the comic by UDON have Ryu winning the tournament. And in “Street Fighter II – The Animated Movie”, it was Ryu and Ken who fought against M. Bison in the end, even though I have to admit that this movie does not depict the plot as a tournament.

So, to me, there has never been any doubt: Ryu is the main protagonist of the story, therefore he’s the one that won the tournament.

An alternate theory: Guile as the winner

Many “Street Fighter” fans have a different opinion on the matter, though. They think that Guile was the one who won in the end.
Ironically, when the “Street Fighter” movie came out, many fans complained that they made Guile the main character instead of Ryu. Yet today, they will tell you that Guile is the winner of “Street Fighter II”.
So, where does this theory come from?

There is a text document on the internet called “The Street Fighter Plot Canon Guide”. This document is a fan work that attempts to collect all the official information about the whole “Street Fighter” canon. Its author is called Tiamat.

Unfortunately, the plot guide isn’t online on its official website anymore, but you can find archived versions of it here:
https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://fightingstreet.com/folders/variousinfofolder/variousinfopages/streetfighterplotguide.txt

When I quote the plot guide, I use version 4.4, the last version created by Tiamat himself:
https://web.archive.org/web/20080323091812/http://fightingstreet.com/folders/variousinfofolder/variousinfopages/streetfighterplotguide.txt

In the plot guide, Tiamat talks about the winner of “Street Fighter II” and he has the following to say:

The champion of the Street Fighter 2 tournament has also never been
stated.  Contrary to what some people think, there is no evidence or
official statement whatsoever that Ryu won it ("Ryu never loses!!!!!" does
not count, Ryu fans  :P).

He then goes on and tells the following:

If I had to take a guess as to who finally ended
up being the champion of the second Street Fighter 2 tournament, I'd say
either Chun-Li or Guile.  Storyline-wise, Chun-Li is the only character
with any shred of evidence whatsoever that she could have won it, and it's
one heck of a shred (Urien remarks in Street Fighter 3 that she's
legendary, and what better way to become legendary then by winning the
Street Fighter tournament?).  Logically-wise, Guile's SF2 ending is the
only one which really relies on him being the one to defeat M. Bison
(similar to how Guy's ending in FFR is the only one which really relies on
Guy beating Belger).  In fact, due to the new SF2 Revival endings where
Chun-Li's ending can happen without her defeating Bison in any way (she
just states that she destroyed Shadaloo now, not destroyed Bison), I'm
starting to heavily lean towards Guile being the winner, but so far
officially there is no winner stated.

Please note that Tiamat presents his theory clearly as his own opinion and not something that is an official fact.
Yet people repeat his opinion as if it was the official canon answer. It’s written in the plot guide, so it must be true, right? The fact that the author himself presents it as just his own personal theory while he says that Capcom hasn’t confirmed any outcome is ignored by the fans.

Now, how do I know that the fans actually adopted Tiamat’s opinion and didn’t come up with the idea that Guile might have won the tournament on their own?
Simple: Because they use exactly the same explanation as Tiamat.
Just try it out: Find a “Street Fighter” fan who thinks that Guile won the tournament of the second game and ask him why he thinks so. They will always tell you: “Because Guile’s ending is the only one that relies on him defeating M. Bison personally.”
That’s exactly the explanation that Tiamat used. People simply parrot what they read in the plot guide and they don’t care that this specific piece of information was clearly marked as personal speculation.

But the biggest problem here is: Tiamat’s explanation why Guile is the most likely winner is ultimately flawed.

Refuting the theory that Guile is the winner

Let’s read the core statement of Tiamat’s theory again:

[…] Guile's SF2 ending is the
only one which really relies on him being the one to defeat M. Bison […]

I find this a pretty interesting theory: If all character endings show things that could happen no matter if that specific fighter wins the tournament or not, but the ending of one fighter clearly references his victory, then that character might be the most likely winner. Because in this case, the endings are maybe not just what-if scenes, but all of them can form a coherent storyline.

So, if we assume that all the fighters were present at the temple site in Thailand while the finalist fought against Bison, then it can be easily imaginable that Ken’s and Blanka’s endings happened exactly as shown in the game, including all the dialog, even though they’re not the ones who made it to the final or who fought M. Bison.
In Ken’s ending, his girlfriend Eliza appears and in Blanka’s ending, he reunites with his mother. And none of the dialog mentions anything about defeating Bison or winning the tournament.
So, yes, it’s totally possible that Guile defeats Bison, confronts him with his crimes, then his wife and daughter appear and stop him from killing Bison, then Eliza appears and talks to Ken, then Blanka’s mother appears and reunites with her son. Pretty consistent storyline.

But there’s one problem: You cannot do this with all the endings.
The statement that Guile’s ending is the only one that requires him to defeat Bison is wrong.

Let’s demonstrate it by inspecting some of the endings:

This is the first scene of Ryu’s ending:

Ryu’s ending screenshot

The text of that scene is about Ryu’s fans wondering where he has gone (since place one of the winners’ podium is empty).
So, this scene totally requires Ryu to be the one who defeated Bison in the tournament.

We see something similar in Dhalsim’s ending:

Dhalsim’s ending screenshot

Have a look at the picture in the background: For Dhalsim’s ending to happen, it’s equally required that he defeats Bison.

And let’s not forget that T. Hawk grabs Bison similar to the way Guile does:

Guile’s ending screenshot T. Hawk’s ending screenshot

So, for T. Hawk’s ending to happen, he has to defeat Bison personally in the same way Guile has to.

As you see, it’s not possible to paste the endings together as one big storyline. Several of them require the fighter to defeat Bison and win the tournament.

This is even true for the updated endings in the Game Boy Advance game “Super Street Fighter II Turbo Revival”:
In Cammy’s ending, Bison wonders how he could have been defeated by a mere clone of him.
Ken references his victory this time.
And Ryu asks himself if he’s the world’s strongest fighter now.

So, Tiamat’s original premise is already wrong:

[…] Guile's SF2 ending is the
only one which really relies on him being the one to defeat M. Bison […]

This statement is not correct. From the images alone, Ryu’s, Dhalsim’s and T. Hawk’s endings all require the fighter to defeat Bison personally and therefore are mutually exclusive from each other and from Guile’s ending.

If you really think Tiamat’s explanation is valid, just try to come up with a storyline where these four scenes all happen exactly as shown and where Guile won the tournament:

Guile’s ending screenshot T. Hawk’s ending screenshot Ryu’s ending screenshot Dhalsim’s ending screenshot

It will be hard without including ridiculous stuff (like Dhalsim doing a photobomb by teleporting to the empty first place on the podium while the photographer is just about to press the button).

A possible solution to the theory that Guile is the winner

Now, many people might say that not every ending has to happen exactly as shown in the game with every little detail intact. Maybe they only happened on broad strokes.
This way, the important part of each ending can still happen: Ryu still walks into the sunset, looking for the next challenge. Dhalsim still goes home to his family, just that the scene with the picture doesn’t happen or the picture shows something else, like Dhalsim standing among all the other fighters. And T. Hawk still promises to rebuild his land, but without confronting Bison first.

O.k., fair enough. I believe that this is what happened anyway.

But if you can alter the endings as you like, as long as the core idea remains, then Tiamat’s theory is invalidated again:
If you say that Ryu’s ending of him walking into the sunset can happen even though the scene with the podium didn’t, then I can just as well say that Guile’s ending of him going back home to his family can happen without him confronting Bison. You know, you just have to alter Guile’s ending in the same way you have to alter T. Hawk’s ending.

If endings only need to happen on broad strokes, then Ryu can be the one who defeated Bison, Chun Li can be the one who brought his organization to an end and Guile met his wife and his daughter and abandoned his revenge plan because Bison was already defeated.
Or, alternately, it could be possible that Guile still confronted Bison, only that it wasn’t Guile who had defeated him, but Ryu.

Guile’s revenge isn’t based on street fighting. Unlike Sagat whose revenge against Ryu requires a fair one-on-one battle, Guile wants to get Bison for actual real world reasons, especially the death of Charlie.
So, for Guile’s ending to happen on broad strokes, it isn’t necessary that Guile defeats Bison in an official tournament battle, or any battle at all. If he gets a chance to get close to Bison, he might do it. His ending only requires him to be in the position to kill Bison for his crimes. This can happen if Guile fights in the official tournament final, but it can also happen if Guile just picks up Bison after he was defeated by Ryu or it can happen if Guile confronts Bison at the award ceremony.

As you see, the game itself gives you no hint about who won the tournament. All of the endings cannot be harmonized with each other anyway. All you can do is assume that all endings happened on broad strokes.
But if they happened on broad strokes, then Guile’s ending doesn’t require him to defeat Bison in the tournament. There are several ways how his ending could have happened in a slightly different way, but with generally the same outcome.

Tiamat’s theory that Guile is the most likely winner because his ending requires him to defeat Bison personally is null and void because his explanation is already based on wrong premises.

Introduction to the next part

If Tiamat’s theory is out of the way, we’re actually at the beginning again: The question who won the tournament is still unanswered. As I mentioned above, the plot guide even says:

The champion of the Street Fighter 2 tournament has also never been
stated.  Contrary to what some people think, there is no evidence or
official statement whatsoever that Ryu won it […].

But this statement is wrong again.
The champion of “Street Fighter II” has been stated and yes, there is evidence and an official statement that Ryu won it.
I will write about it in the next passage.

An official statement

There is an old Japanese artbook from 1992, called “Complete File Street Fighter II”. It was published when “Street Fighter II – The World Warrior” and “Street Fighter II’ – Champion Edition” were already known, but before “Street Fighter II’ – Hyper Fighting” came out.
The book contains mostly the official artworks for the game, but also a bunch of storyline details: Background data for each fighter, information on the fighting stages, a character relationships chart etc.
And a collection of artworks that are not just the fighters in various poses, but images that show a certain situation in their lives with a caption that describes what’s going on. For example, there’s a picture of Zangief visiting New York (wearing a shirt with an image of some Mickey Mouse rip-off) and catching a purse snatcher. Or Blanka buying ice cream and some students wondering about him.

And then there is this image:

M. Bison artwork

The plot guide knows it as well and it provides a translation of the artwork’s caption:

[…] an old official SF2 
artwork from a set of SF2 artwor of the SF2 characters where Bison/Vega's 
art is just his hat with the caption, "After Ryu's magnificent battle, 
news of Vega ceased. However the guy will surely return. Becoming a revenging 
demon......."

A little remark for the few people who still don’t know it:
The names of three of the Grand Masters were switched around for the American market:

In the Japanese version, the boxer is called M. Bison, in the American version, he’s called Balrog.
In Japan, the Spanish ninja is Balrog, in the United States, he’s Vega.
And the final opponent, the leader of Shadoloo, was originally called Vega in the Japanese game and M. Bison in the American translation.

The reason for this change was the fact that “M. Bison” was supposed to be a parody of Mike Tyson and Capcom USA didn’t want to get into a lawsuit.
So, please keep in mind that whenever a Japanese source speaks about “Vega”, they mean M. Bison, the leader of Shadoloo.

Alright, let’s have a look at the artwork’s caption again:

After Ryu’s magnificent battle, news of Vega ceased. However the guy will surely return. Becoming a revenging demon.......

Here we have it: An official statement by Capcom that it was indeed Ryu who defeated M. Bison.
This is not just some statement in some random magazine. That book was made by Capcom itself. It contains official artworks and official story-related information. It doesn’t get any more official than that.
And the translation of the text is taken from the plot guide, the very document that denies that Capcom has ever said anything about the winner of “Street Fighter II”, so the translation surely isn’t biased towards Ryu’s victory.

Now, I have heard a whole bunch of arguments why this artwork doesn’t support Ryu as the canon winner. I will present them and tell you why I think they aren’t valid.

Argument 1: Maybe the scene takes place before “Street Fighter II”

This could actually be a valid explanation: Ryu defeated Bison in the past and Bison had to flee. And “Street Fighter II” itself, that’s the event where Bison returns as a revenging demon.

But there’s one reason why this is unlikely to be true:
The book was published in 1992, many years before the “Street Fighter Alpha” games that serve as prequels to “Street Fighter II” were created.
Back in the days, there was only “Street Fighter I” and two versions of “Street Fighter II”, so there was no known backstory between Ryu and M. Bison.

Similarly, one might argue that Ryu’s magnificent battle refers to his fight against Sagat in the first game: Ryu knocked out Sagat, and Bison, seeing that his champion was defeated, went into hiding.

This explanation fails to notice though that Sagat didn’t join Bison’s organization until after his defeat at Ryu’s hands.
Sagat joined Shadoloo specifically so that Bison helps him to get revenge on Ryu. Bison had nothing to do with the tournament from “Street Fighter I”. Even if he had, there would have been no reason for him to disappear and to plan revenge because Sagat had nothing to do with Bison either way.

So, from a point of view of 1992, there’s no real reason why this artwork should display “Street Fighter II”’s backstory since no past connection between Ryu and M. Bison was established yet. The only realistic context for this image is that it is supposed to show what happened during and after “Street Fighter II”.

Argument 2: The caption doesn’t explicitly mention that Ryu defeated Bison and won the tournament

Some people point out that the artwork doesn’t actually say that Ryu defeated Bison, nor that it was the tournament final.
In their opinion, many scenarios are possible:

Maybe Ryu’s magnificent battle refers to a fight between him and Balrog and Vega that they had after the tournament was over. Guile had defeated Bison, then Balrog and Vega intervened, Ryu defeated them and Bison took his chance and fled.
Or maybe Ryu actually did fight Bison, but it was some non-official fight after the tournament, when Guile was already the new champion. It’s not even necessary that Ryu won this battle. Maybe he was defeated by Bison, but weakened him enough, so that Bison wasn’t able to kill his enemies anymore and had to disappear.

You can make up hundreds of scenarios where the artwork and the caption work, but where Ryu didn’t win the tournament. But again, there is a problem with it:

The artwork is not part of a longer story. It’s a standalone picture with a standalone caption. If there’s really some convoluted scenario behind it, then the reader of the caption would have no way to get the reference.
The only thing that he has is the game itself and whatever information the artbook provides.
So, if the text was really referring to a battle between Ryu, Balrog and Vega or some additional battle against Bison outside the tournament, then the artist would have referenced something that is not known at all. He would have referenced a story that he made up in his own head. He would have drawn an image and created a caption that requires knowledge of a plot that is just not available to the reader.

Pretty nonsensical, right?
You can do this if you have a tie-in manga that tells the complete story. But this is not the case here. There is no information on any specific additional battle that Ryu fought during “Street Fighter II” that made Bison flee.
So, if the artwork really refers to something like that, it refers to something that was never published and the reader would have no chance to make the connection.

But if you accept that the artwork actually talks about Ryu winning the tournament, then everything is very simple and everybody who sees the artwork and reads the caption and knows about “Street Fighter II” would get it by simply assuming the most basic things:

It’s Ryu’s magnificent battle. Not “Ryu and Vega’s magnificent battle”, but Ryu’s magnificent battle. So, the most basic assumption is of course that Ryu indeed won this battle, otherwise it wouldn’t have been called magnificent on his part.
And since Ryu and Bison are the only two fighters mentioned in the artwork at all, the most straightforward assumption is of course that the battle was between them and not that Ryu fought some unnamed third person.
And in the game, Bison is the final opponent. If you defeat Bison, you win the game. So, an artwork that mentions somebody fighting Bison, especially if Bison disappears afterwards, is most likely talking about the big final battle of the tournament.

That’s the most basic conclusion that you can come to by just seeing the artwork and knowing the game: Ryu fought Bison, defeated him and won the tournament. Bison fled and is preparing his revenge.
Everything else would require additional knowledge that isn’t provided anywhere. Every other explanation requires making things up out of thin air.
But assuming that the artwork refers to Ryu’s victory in “Street Fighter II” and Bison’s defeat and whereabouts, this is the only explanation that’s intuitive, straightforward and self-containing.

Argument 3: Maybe this is just a what-if scenario

It is correct that some of the artworks in the book present a scene in which it is assumed that the fighter that the image is about has won the tournament.

The most obvious one is this here:

Dhalsim artwork

Again, have a look at the picture in the background.

Likewise, an artwork of Balrog shows him sitting in a bar and the caption mentions him winning and that the title means loneliness.

And yes, the caption in one of Guile’s artworks calls him the world’s strongest.

So, some of those artworks mention the specific fighter as the winner. But surely, it’s not possible that Guile, Dhalsim and Balrog are all the tournament winner, so the artworks are clearly just what-if scenarios.
Same with the above M. Bison image and its caption, right? Well, not really.

The difference between the Bison artwork and the other ones is that the other artworks mention the portrayed fighter as the winner: A Guile artwork mentions Guile as the winner, a Dhalsim artwork mentions Dhalsim as the winner and a Balrog artwork mentions Balrog as the winner.
But this one here is a Bison artwork that mentions Ryu as the winner. (Ryu has his own artwork in the collection, some unimportant, random scene.)
This is a completely different situation.
If Bison’s artwork shows Bison losing, this is not just a what-if scenario anymore. According to canon, Bison did lose the tournament. And if the caption mentions the winner by name, then you can take this information at face value. There’s no reason why this should be a random what-if name.

Argument 4: Official isn’t automatically canon

It’s true: Obviously, not every official artwork is part of the canon storyline:

Chun Li artwork

Besides, the Bison artwork even contradicts the game itself in which Bison stands on the winners’ podium in Ryu’s ending. Apparently, he didn’t have time to pick up his hat from the ground after his lost battle, but he had time to go away, get a new hat and return for the ceremony, only to flee afterwards.
Yeah, trying to align the game with the artwork is not really possible.

Still, if such an artwork mentions something as important as the actual winner of the tournament, I guess we can be pretty sure that this piece of information is canon, even if the artwork itself isn’t.
After all, can you imagine that the artist would have ever used the following caption?

“After Honda’s magnificent battle, news of Vega ceased.”

I don’t think so.
Nobody considers E. Honda a likely winner of the tournament, so unless the artwork was printed 11 times with each caption having another name on it, there’s no way that the artist would have ever created this image with a caption where Honda is mentioned as the one who defeated Bison.

The details of the artwork itself maybe never “happened”. But that there was supposed to be one tournament winner, this is a fact. And if the artist chooses to name this winner, then the scene in the artwork might be made up, but there’s no reason for the artist to name a specific winner, but to name the wrong winner.
The scene isn’t even about the winner himself. He’s just mentioned in a side note.
So, if an official Capcom artwork mentions the tournament winner in passing, you can assume that it’s really the canon champion.

Besides, that book where the information comes from was the most important “Street Fighter II” story book of its time. If the artist had invented some random nonsense, they probably wouldn’t have allowed it to be included in their official book of the game. Especially since Ryu winning the tournament is not even the point of the artwork and just some comment in a side sentence.
So, it would have been easy to change the caption to include either Guile’s name if he was supposed to be the winner or no name at all if the winner was supposed to remain a secret. The fact that they allowed the caption to be like that shows that Capcom originally intended Ryu to be the tournament winner.

Think about it:

Either Capcom wanted the winner to remain a secret. Then the artist wouldn’t have been allowed to include any name.
Or they intended Guile as the winner. Then the artist would have included Guile’s name.
Or they intended Ryu as the winner. Then the artist included Ryu’s name.

Which of the three possibilities is the one that happened in reality?

Argument 5: Why just some obscure reference?

If Capcom really had a canon winner in mind, why did they reveal it in such a small, unknown piece of information instead of declaring it in a much more prominent way?
That might be a good question for someone today who tries to decide if Ryu or Guile is the canon winner. But it’s not really a very difficult question from a point of view of 1992.

What I mean is:
In my opinion, Ryu being the canon winner of “Street Fighter II” has never been in doubt until Tiamat presented his theory in the plot guide. Before that, Ryu being the winner was simply a given. He is the protagonist. He is the hero from the first game, he is the most prominent fighter, he is “The World Warrior”.
Guile’s revenge plot was just a side story. The actual plot was about finding out who is the best fighter.
Guile and Chun Li might be the ones who have a personal reason to fight M. Bison, but Ryu is a fighter who actually participates because of what the tournament is officially supposed to be: A competition to find the best and strongest fighter in the world.

Yes, I have to admit: Ryu winning the tournament isn’t pointed out that prominently. But that’s not much of a surprise if him being the protagonist is an unquestioned given that everybody assumed anyway.
I mean, have you ever found any reference to the fact that it was indeed Mario who grabbed the axe, let Bowser fall into the lava and rescued Princess Toadstool and that it wasn’t Luigi? And yet, nobody would say that the canon outcome of “Super Mario Bros.” is unknown, right?
Same with Ryu. Now that they have expanded the backstories of all the fighters in a huge way with their prequels and sequels, it might not be that clear anymore who won the “Street Fighter II” tournament, especially since the winner isn’t important for any storyline details of the later games (unlike the canon ending of “Street Fighter I” that spawned a whole story arc of its own). But back in the old days, it was pretty obvious who the main protagonist was supposed to be.

Besides, if you dismiss the validity of Ryu being the winner based on the fact that the artwork is so unknown, but if you think that Guile won the tournament because of Tiamat’s statements, then you should see what he has to say about, for example, the question why Bison held the “Street Fighter II” tournament:

Bison devises a plot to get revenge on and destroy his
enemies.  He hosts the next Street Fighter tournament and sends out
personal invitations to many of the contestants who used to be old enemies
of his.  The next Street Fighter tournament has begun. [Official? Saiki
told me this but now we're trying to track down the precise book it's 
stated in where Bison sent out official invitations.  Supposedly, it was
stated as the storyline for SF2 in a magazine, which COULD mean this
was the case even before the Alpha series was introduced and conceived,
possibly, if the Japanese magazine was getting its data correctly.
Vasili10 hasn't been able to find revenge specifically mentioned, but says
that sources thus far implicitly reveal that Bison holds the tournament 
to extinguish any threat or obstacle to his total world domination (whether
it means recruiting the opposition to his side or obliterating it 
altogether), and for his pride as a fighter to be the best of the 
world warriors so to speak.

You see how he tries to find out if revenge has been part of the story even before the “Street Fighter Alpha” games came out? Even a reference in a magazine would have been enough for him.
So, please don’t tell me that I base my argument on sources that are too obscure if you base your opinion on the statements of a person who would have been content with a random magazine article to include a certain fact into his document about the “Street Fighter” canon.

For his argumentation, Tiamat even uses the very artwork that I’m talking about here as a possible reference. Because right after the above text, he continues with the following:

The closest thing is an old official SF2 
artwork from a set of SF2 artwor of the SF2 characters where Bison/Vega's 
art is just his hat with the caption, "After Ryu's magnificent battle, 
news of Vega ceased. However the guy will surely return. Becoming a revenging 
demon......."  This art may take place after SF2 (thus it was retconned) or
may have taken place before. […]]

The artwork isn’t too obscure for Tiamat, so whoever bases his opinions about “Street Fighter”-related topics on Tiamat’s plot guide shouldn’t tell me that the artwork that I reference is too obscure and therefore invalid.

By the way, it’s important to point out that in the end, Tiamat obviously didn’t find an actual source that mentions revenge as Bison’s motivation, so this was pure speculation and hearsay. As he admits himself, the old sources merely imply eliminating any threats to world domination, but don’t speak about revenge.
This means his idea that the artwork might play before “Street Fighter II” can be ignored since it’s based on apparent sources that never turned out to exist at all.
If you think otherwise and still consider it a valid theory nevertheless, then please go to the section “Argument 1: Maybe the scene takes place before “Street Fighter II”” again.

Some words about Akuma and later canon

One thing that I haven’t mentioned until now is the fact that with the inclusion of Akuma in “Super Street Fighter II Turbo”, the story might have been messed up a bit.

In this game, if you play well enough, Akuma appears when you’re about to fight M. Bison, kills him and then you fight Akuma instead.

The way this scene is supposed to have been played out in canon is a bit ambiguous and it might conflict with what’s actually shown in the game.
There are a few questions about it:

When did Akuma kill M. Bison? Was it before or after the final battle?
If it was before, was it right when the finalist was about to face Bison or was it long before, when there were still a bunch of fighters in the tournament?
If it was right before or after the final, did Akuma fight the finalist or did he kill Bison and simply walked away again?

So, yeah, it might be possible that with the arrival of “Super Street Fighter II Turbo”, the story was retconned in a way that, from then on, the tournament wasn’t supposed to have a winner anymore because Akuma ended it prematurely.

But even if this was the case and Ryu was not supposed to be the winner anymore, then Tiamat’s statement is still wrong:

The champion of the Street Fighter 2 tournament has also never been
stated.  Contrary to what some people think, there is no evidence or
official statement whatsoever that Ryu won it […].

That the champion has never been stated and that there’s no hint whatsoever that Ryu is the winner, that’s clearly a misinformation.
At least he should have written something like this:

“The champion of the “Street Fighter II” tournament was originally intended to be Ryu, as can be seen in the caption of the artwork with Bison’s hat. However, this piece of information might have been invalidated with the inclusion of Akuma into the storyline. Depending on when Akuma killed Bison, there might be no winner at all anymore.”

Although I have to point out that, even with Akuma, the question of the tournament winner didn’t necessarily change. Maybe it did, but maybe it didn’t.
Because if we go by the game itself and the way Akuma appears there, his inclusion would speak for Ryu as the winner again:

As I said, in the game, if you have fought well enough, Akuma appears right before you’re about to fight M. Bison, kills him and then challenges you.
Now, from a storyline perspective: Who is the most likely fighter that Akuma deemed worthy for a battle?
Akuma’s intention is not to challenge whoever gets to the final. Only if that fighter is worthy does Akuma interfere, otherwise he doesn’t do anything and lets the battle between the finalist and M. Bison take place normally.

So, if the story is supposed to work out as shown in the game and if Akuma indeed appeared and killed Bison, then who was Bison’s opponent that ended up fighting Akuma instead of Bison? Who is the one fighter that would really be the only candidate for being Akuma’s opponent in “Street Fighter II”, both, from a dramaturgical point of view and from Akuma’s in-universe behavior?
I give you a hint: If they ever decide to produce a canon anime of the game, the big climax won’t be Akuma vs. Guile.

Also, I know that Capcom makes a big secret out of it today. I don’t deny that. I’m pretty aware that Ryu winning the “Street Fighter II” tournament might not count in today’s canon anymore. I just want to point out the following:
No matter how much they updated the story in the later years, originally, Ryu was supposed to be the winner of “Street Fighter II”.
Tiamat claimed that Capcom has never specified a winner. Which is simply not true. There exists a clear reference.

Closing statement

Ryu is the winner of the “Street Fighter II” tournament. This was said so in a caption of an official artwork in an official Capcom publication in 1992.
You can consider this artwork obscure and you can disregard it altogether on a story level or you can say that it doesn’t count anymore. But it nevertheless shows Capcom’s intention back then.
The same intention that is reflected in many of their other drawings: That Ryu is the protagonist. And therefore, he is M. Bison’s destined opponent.

“Street Fighter II’ – Champion Edition” arcade flyer

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