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Ono was a prime factor in Tokido and Mago's Mad Catz sponsorship – MarkMan recalls his start with the company and discusses their rise to glory

Posted by Ryan 'Tryken' Tullis • July 19, 2014 at 9:09 p.m. PDT • Comments: 27

The year is 2007. Mark "Markman23" Julio had just been hired to work at Mad Catz, a major change from the odd jobs he had worked before to support himself as a single father. The e27 article describes the Mad Catz of that time as being known for "pushing out third-rate cheap controllers." Even Julio says, "I used to be embarrassed to work with the company in the past."

However, the first major change occurred when Mad Catz partnered with Capcom to create arcade sticks for the upcoming Street Fighter 4. Julio's passion for fighting games made him an instant candidate for the team handling the project.

After the massive success of the fight sticks, Mad Catz decided to begin sending Julio to events as a means to raise sales. This new approach couldn't have been more indicating. "We noticed our web sales going up the more time we participated in these events. I was on a plane two to three times a month," Julio recalled.

Keep reading to find out how a suggestion from Ono-san changed the future for both Mark and Mad Catz.
"At first, we never thought of sponsoring players and they endorsing us like that... but we needed a way to penetrate the Japanese market." Actually, Mad Catz was approached by a group representing Daigo Umehara. The sponsoring became a two-way relationship: Mad Catz would act as sponsor, and Daigo would provide important advice on how to improve their fighting game sticks.

Shortly after, Street Fighter 4 Producer Yoshinori Ono approached Julio. "He told me that what we were doing was great. He added 'If you want to be serious in improving your presence in Japan and the rest of Asia, you should consider sponsoring more players; ones that are more active in tournaments.' In fact, it was Ono who suggested Mad Catz pick up players Hajime 'Tokido' Tanaguchi and Kenryo 'Mago' Hayashi. The Japanese players did indeed boost arcade stick sales to the Asian market. Julio recalled it being "like selling samurais their own swords."

For Mad Catz and his success, Mark Julio gives credit in a way fitting for a figure of the fighting game community. "I really have to accredit it to all the people we worked together with to make things better." Included in the list of those names are other community figures such as Mike Ross, Ryan 'Gootecks' Gutierrez, Zhi Liang Chew and Koh 'Yongde' Yung Tek. And while mentioning these people in his success is touching, it's Julio's statement of their effort that best summarizes the fighting game community as a whole. "From there, it just stems onward; all these guys working together to make great things happen."

From Mad Catz to EVO, the cooperative work of fighting game fans has remained the defining theme connecting the stories of unstoppable growth. This interconnected web of lives work on something greater than themselves while improving one another individually.

For Julio and Mad Catz, that effort has given them a life changing journey. "We take pride in being the number one brand to support fighting games," Julio said, a stark comment when contrasted to the Julio and Mad Catz of 2007, and a testament to the kind of positive change a passionate community working together can bring.

Source: e27.
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