During our time at gamescom asia 2023, we had the opportunity to speak with Daigo Umehara, a professional Japanese Street Fighter 6 player who’s got well over 30 years of experience in both playing and competing in the fighting game scene.
His long career is seen as a rare thing in the competitive gaming scene, and this is further evidenced by his world record as “the most successful player in a major Street Fighter tournament” for the Guinness World Records, having six total wins at the EVO Championship Series under his belt.
Interview has been translated from Japanese and edited for clarity.
It feels like you know Street Fighter is more popular than it’s ever been because more and more casual people are suddenly seeing your match with Justin Wong especially at EVO 37. Do you ever think back about that match?
Daigo: That match took place twenty years ago, and I don’t really remember much about it. What I do remember is that I was so focused, I didn’t even notice all that cheering you hear in the video. It had a huge impact on my career, and I am very grateful for that match.
As someone who’s been in the FGC as long as yourself, what would you say motivates you to keep on playing?
Daigo: The biggest motivator is, of course, that I really like fighting games. Other than that, I have a great, supportive community, and I take joy in always trying my hardest. I’m very thankful that I still love fighting games so much.
I think SEA has a pretty good fighting game scene, are there any players from the region you’d be interested in fighting?
Daigo: I know a lot about Xian, who has been leading the SEA scene, and I am also looking forward to seeing how the fighting game scene develops in the Philippines. It has a huge population, so I believe we are about to see more prominent players and pro players emerge from the region.
With new players, I think there’s this expectation that you’ll lose your first tournament but then immediately take top 3 in the next one. Do you have any comments about charting your own growth in tournaments?
Daigo: I think one of the best things about me is how I bounce back. When you’re in a slump, I think the important thing is simply to not give up. It doesn’t matter what others tell you; what matters most is that you yourself don’t throw in the towel. Believing in myself is my most important mantra, and it’s one that I may hold more strongly than other players, which is why I think I’ve been able to keep growing.
What do you think about all the Vtubers who got into Street FIghter 6 recently?
Daigo: Fun and casual events like this aim to recruit young, new players, and CAPCOM has put effort into promoting these activities. Whether it’s hololive or NIJISANJI, I think this is really effective user engagement.
Capcom Cup X having the 1 million USD grand prize really inspired a lot of people to get into SF6, does it make you happy seeing so many people get into Street Fighter like that?
Daigo: Of course I’m for it, and what I’m looking forward to the most is facing very, very strong players. People may come for the prize money, and I’m ok with that, but I’m more interested in what I can gain by fighting strong players.
With players competing using Modern Control, it requires you to train against the same character twice, so basically one for Modern, one for Classic, has that affected your training?
Daigo: In Japan, about 90% of pro players still use classic controls. There are probably some who use both, but it depends on the character. Luke and Marisa, for example, are two characters who are particularly viable with both control types, but most players still use classic controls, mainly.
Any final words you’d like to share to our audience?
Daigo: I have not come to Singapore for a long time, but this is a very comfortable place. I’d like to come back here again for a holiday, even if there’s no competition going on. I will try my best in this tournament, and I hope everyone will lend me their support.
We would like to thank Daigo Umehara for taking the time to answer our questions. We would also like to thank Capcom Singapore for setting up the interview for us.