Daigo: Formulating strategies and ways to train is the most important part of being a high level fighting game player

Posted by Cheng Kai 'KarbyP' Sim • May 10, 2014 at 1:19 p.m. PDT

Mad Catz-sponsored player Daigo Umehara went on NHK Radio 1's "Suppin Interview" show as an interview guest last month.


On the hour-long radio show, the pro gamer and author answered listener questions and chatted with the hosts on a wide variety of topics, including what are the traits a pro gamer needs to be able to succeed, and EVO moment #37.

We'll get to Daigo's thoughts on EVO moment #37 in a later post.

For now, hit the jump to read about how Daigo makes a living, what he thinks is the most important quality or 'stat' that a pro gamer needs to possess, and his thoughts on fighting games as an e-Sport.
A fighting game fan in his twenties asks Daigo: As a pro gamer, are your earnings just the winnings from the tournaments? Also, how does Daigo spend a typical day, when he doesn't have work or a tournament to attend to?

"Well, rather than not having work on some days, it's more like fundamentally training is the work that I do for this job," Daigo says.

Apart from training, Daigo said he also gets invited to make appearances at events as a guest, and go to tournaments -- that much is obvious.

"But other than that, I spend my time training. Without training, you do get less of all kinds of work, so I see training as my fundamental duty."

As far as his earnings go, Daigo says that other than from tournament winnings, he gets a salary from his sponsors, from writing books, and for making guest appearances.

"That's... about it, I think."

The radio show's female host asks: "What about for consulting work on games development? Or for advising on the manga series based on your life?"

"Oh, yeah, those as well."

Next, the female host asks Daigo a question about the way he trains: "For training, you don't really have to go out much, do you?

Daigo explains that it would depend on what the best conditions for him to train are. He takes a look at that, for instance, when a game has just come out.

For instance, at the moment he goes out to train at the arcades, as he thinks that's the best way to do so for the moment (for USF4). But if it's a game that's available on consoles, he may choose to train on the console version instead, if it means that would let him do so more efficiently -- it's all about the use of time.

Daigo says that depends on what the best conditions are for him when a game he's training for has come out. For instance, at the moment he goes out to train at the arcades, as he thinks that's the best way to do so for the moment (probably referring to USF4). But if it's a game that's available on consoles, he may train on the console version instead, It's all about how to use his free time to train efficiently.

The radio show's male host then talks about something he found fascinating while reading Daigo's book. Whenever a new version of the game is released, it's a new starting line for every single player.

So in that sense, every single time there's a new version, Daigo has to go through the process of becoming the "strongest" version of himself for that game. It seemed to him that the process is amazing and incredibly tough.


"It does sound pretty tough, huh?" Daigo replies.

"But for people who think this is tough, it's merely a problem with the way you manage your emotions.

"When you've been doing this for a long time, you'd naturally get used to knowing what are the things you have to go through in order to reach the peak again. It's not just me; it's the same for all fighting gamers, when they think about how to get to the peak.

"So the tough part is, normally to get to this level you'd need to practice this much. To have to go through all of that practice again from scratch... normally that's kind of a pain, but since I'm a pro now, that's quite alright."

"But to do all of that when you're not a pro... even though I started doing this back when I wasn't considered a pro, looking back at it, that really is quite a feat."

"Do your skills and techniques carry over from game to game?" The show's female host asks.

"You have to look for the parts that translate over

"And as your opponent is always human, you have to take note of certain behaviourisms - like this, and that, and this.

"Regardless of the fighting game, it's always one-on-one, so that rule never changes. There are certain things that you can take note of, that can remain strong for 10 years or 20 years -- and when you manage to find that, you get a really good feeling."

A listener asks: "What's the most important 'stat' required to be good at fighting games?"

Daigo: "If we were talking about the current competitive fighting game landscape, I'd say it's just like sports... so for instance, there are people who have talent, but who are bad at thinking of ways on how they can develop that talent.

"So for those kinds of athletes, they wouldn't be able to make it to the top alone. But if they had a great trainer, they would be able to get there.

"But since the world of pro gaming is something that only came about relatively recently, for the most part this is a world in which you have to do everything by yourself.

"So if I were to look at it from my past experiences... I would say that the most important stat would be the ability to keep coming up with strategies.

"I may be exaggerating a little, but although I do think that being cautious and having a lot of pure technical skill are important traits to have (for a pro fighting gamer), to a certain extent, at some point you start running out of techniques to turn to. So what's important from there on, is your ability to formulate strategies.

"However, as this industry progresses, as we get closer to the other types of sports, and as trainer-athlete relationships become more common, I feel that all of this will change."

Another listener asks: Have you ever felt like calling it quits?

"I did. When I was younger, it would be whenever a tournament is coming up. And after I went pro, in my first year I felt like doing so. The pressure can really do a number on you.

"But even though I did feel that way, I also felt that I needed to continue being a pro. So to get myself to stay motivated, and to keep playing the game, I do try different things to change it up -- I could write an entire book just based on all of the things I tried to motivate myself and keep doing this through out the years."
In the next part of the interview, the radio hosts ask Daigo about how he felt winning the a national tournament in Japan when he was 15. They also talk about EVO moment #37.

Picture credit: @Matsuda_Satoshi
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