Daigo Umehara Answers Capcom Unity’s Questions!

Mar 16, 2010 // s-kill

You might remember that I posted a blog a while back where Daigo Umehara, one of the greatest Street Fighters in the world, asked to hear your questions.  As promised, he’s picked a bunch from the hundreds that were submitted and answered them. 

Although he’s considered notoriously reclusive, he’s been very welcoming lately and I’ve been really impressed by his warm attitude towards the West.  There’s some really great stuff in here from one of the finest competitive Street Fighter minds on the planet, so check it out–maybe your question was one he chose to answer.  Even if he didn’t choose your question, the good news is that this is part 1 of several–more goodness coming soon!

I should also add that Daigo has opened up a work-in-progress website for himself at daigothebeast.com !  It’s still under development, but it also has a link to a Japanese site that has a great collection of Daigo videos across a bunch of fighting games–hot stuff. 

Unity:  Thanks so much for all the collaboration reaching out.  This is a very exciting chance for Capcom-Unity and the Street fighter community.

Thank you for having me and thank you to the members of the community for so many questions, which will help my project that I’m getting ready to launch. I found at my previous interview with Eurogamer.com that the Western community members’ questions far more profound and interesting than I had ever came across in Japan, and I enjoyed them so much. So, I’m very excited for this opportunity as well. I’m all yours, let’s discuss the quesitons I chose. 

Question 1: (all chosen by Daigo from the questions submitted in the first post) What inspires you to stay at the top?  How are you able to stay so calm?

Each game requires different skills and strategies to win but there are some universal formulas across fighting games. I get to discover that formula while playing fighting games. I really enjoying the moment of discovery, and it makes me really happy. The excitement, the idea that I’ll be able to find a brand new formula that can be applied through out fighting games, is what has kept me going for over an decade. I’ve never gotten tired of playing fighting games.

How do I stay calm? There were times in the past I would get nervous and I could not concentrate on my gameplay. Simply, my experiences have played a huge role in overcoming that obstacle. The more you play at big tournaments, the better you’ll become handling pressure and nervousness.

Do you have a protege?  Do you have a rival?

I don’t have any protégé per se. I’ve never taught a particular player on a regular basis. But I do not hide anything from other players. I openly share my knowledge and wisdom with other players when they come up to me and ask me a question on how they can improve their gameplay.  In terms of rival, in this large fighting game community, I don’t have any specific set of players in my mind. Those whom I consider a rival change each game and each match. During a match, an opponent showcases his skills and spirit, and we create a great game together. That’s my rival.  

What is your monthly arcade bill?

My monthly arcade bill differs quite a bit from before when I was younger and nowadays. I now spend about 10000 yen or about $100 per month when I’m not competitively practicing for a tournament, and 30000 yen when I’m intently practicing. But before, it was in the range of 50000 and 60000 yen all the time whether a tournament is coming up or not.
What makes fighting games stand out above other competitive titles for you?

First of all, I love a one-on-one match. That is the major factor I stay with fighting games. Additionally, I enjoy the real time mind-reading game. Each second, I’m required to make a quick decision based on reading opponent’s moves. And that excitement is something else. If you were playing a physical sport, your physical ability plays a large role whether or not you may be able to enjoy playing it. But when it comes to a fighting game, everyone can pick up and equally enjoy the game with less physical disadvantages.

How are you able to adapt your fighting style to a new opponent quickly?

You should play as many varieties of player as possible, and learn about the variety of play styles. That’s the first step. And the next step is to think about a reason behind his actions, like “why this particular player did this?” and “why did he do that?” in light of his particular style. You have to analyze his thinking process. By doing so, you’ll start to see a formula that runs through a given category of players. That way, you can pretty much quickly adapt your style to a new opponent in a short span and will be able to make decisions based on your analysis and formula, which would also help you stay calm.

If Togeki and EVO were on the same day, which would you attend?  Why?

Without hesitation and without doubt, EVO! I’ve been telling everyone about this (Seth, I’m not trying to get on your good side!) There are several reasons. The biggest reason is the tournament rules. Not limited to Togeki, but many tournaments in Japan do give players only one chance, one match. You lose once, and you are done. I find that very dissatisfying. A player like me who practices so hard for a tournament doesn’t get to try out what he has worked for. If we lose in the first round, which can happen to every dedicated and strong player, there is no other chance. We are just left with frustration. The amount of efforts we pour into the event and the moment do not match up for the opportunity we are given.  On the other hand, EVO gives every player a fair chance and every player can have fun playing and leave with satisfaction. We all can show the result of days and hours of our hard work. Even if you lose, you can admit your loss and leave in content. And the prize is bigger! That certainly helps too. All in all, EVO is kind to all fighting players. EVO is dedicated for us, and that’s why I love EVO.

Do you care about story in SF games at all?  If so, is there some story element that attracts you to Ryu?

It was nearly 10 years ago when I decided to pick Ryu as my character, so to tell you the truth, I don’t really remember the specific reason why I picked him (lol).  But I would think the story behind him played a role in my selecting him. Rather than his storyline, I was more attracted to his wholesomeness and straightforwardness.  

If US is behind Japan in rankings, what do you think American players should do to improve themselves?

The absolute differences between the US and Japanese players are skill levels. Yes, the Japanese players have had advantages of having a rich arcade culture and game releases normally earlier there than in the US, but regardless of the advantages, it is definitely apparent that the Japanese players take it more seriously to practice and acquire skills they must have for their victory. As long as you have software at home, everyone can practice fundamental skills from anywhere in world, like combos and counter moves. The US players first have to close the skill gap that is now apparent from the Japanese players. Once you do that, I believe the almost all the improvements are made, and there will be nearly no differences between the US and Japanese players.