Interview: MCZ|Daigo Umehara on His Evo 2014 Performance, Practicing as a Pro

By on August 15, 2014 at 9:57 am
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Shortly after Evo, I asked several accomplished fighting game community members to analyze John Choi’s win over Mad Catz’ Daigo Umehara in Ultra Street Fighter IV at Evo 2014. One of the people I asked was Choi himself — who pointed out that I should probably ask Daigo what he thought of the match, too. Read the brief Q&A below to find out what Daigo thought of his performance at Evo 2014, adapting to Ultra Street Fighter IV, and more.

Patrick Miller: How did John Choi beat you in Ultra Street Fighter IV at Evo 2014?

Daigo Umehara: Well, I know everyone must have seen the play footage and known it all, but if you ask me then, simply put, Evil Ryu is known for his better offense ability over Ryu, but John was adept at blocking it. So I lost the match without being able to fully take advantage of his strength.

PM: In a prior interview with 4Gamers, you were quite vocal about Ryu’s problems in Ultra compared to Evil Ryu’s. Do you think the match would have played out differently if you had played Ryu instead of Evil Ryu?

DU: I have no regret over my choice of character and gameplay. True, could have, should have – Ryu vs. Ryu has a higher winning probability over Evil Ryu vs. Ryu, and Yun is a stronger choice to match against Filipino Champ. But that’s not me. I don’t change my character depending on my opponent’s. I had chosen Evil Ryu for a good reason (which I am going to explain later). And I stand behind it.

PM: Did you learn anything in particular about Ultra from Evo? What do you think of it as a game? Have any of your opinions changed as you learn more about it?

DU: You might be expecting something dramatic or philosophical, but nothing changed. In terms of the character selection, I took my action based on my learning in the past. Since the game release, with merely four month of prep period given, it’s easier and safer to pick the character you are familiar with. If my goal as a pro had been only set on Evo, I would have chosen Ryu.

But as a pro, I don’t just aim for an immediate goal. Evo is not the only objective. I have to keep winning. Evil Ryu is good in the long run, many months after Evo. I prepared for Evo by picking an unfamiliar character, for my long-term goal, and by focusing on matchups against strong characters, considering the game balance. Dhalsim and Ryu are not strong characters, so I was less familiar with those matches.

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PM: This is the first year you haven’t made top eight at Evo in Street Fighter IV. Were you surprised by your results?

DU: Well, I knew it would happen someday. Sure, it would have been nice if I could have made it to the top eight, but I acted on my own philosophy and challenged against the odds. I did the right thing by my own standard. I have no regrets. Not to mention, both John and Filipino Champ were really solid and played impressively. So I felt they were treated unfairly. They deserved a better treatment! I was also happy to see that my good old friend John Choi fought really well. My loss was justified in a way and I felt actually better than you would imagine.

PM: What’s the secret to the Umeshoryu?

DU: Hmm…I want to know that too! It comes out when I am riding on my groove.

(Featured image courtesy of Mad Catz)