Daigo Umehara is a lot of things.
A legend in his own right, the Mad Catz competitor has spent decades highlighting the upper echelons of fighting game competition, and is one of the few players in our community who can truly be called a professional gamer because of it. You ask anyone with an interest in video games to name the best Street Fighter in the world, and nine times out of ten their first answer will be, “Daigo.”
As a celebrity, Daigo’s renown has grown thanks to high-profile television appearances and interviews, and he even has a manga series based on his life. He receives recognition in the gaming world normally reserved for StarCraft or League of Legends players, but has managed to remain humble during his lifelong journey to the top.
But, above all else, Daigo is our community’s truest embodiment of Street Fighter protagonist Ryu. Calm, collected, and just a little dangerous, his meticulous play and tendency to gamble on uppercuts that have no reason to hit (but typically do) has graced the shores of numerous countries across the globe, leaving battered opponents and awestruck onlookers in its wake.
Legend, celebrity, world warrior; Daigo is truly all of these things. And now, we can add one more onto the list: philanthropist. Shoryuken recently received an email from the Japanese competitor detailing a desire to donate his second-place Capcom Cup winnings to the Evo scholarship.
I would like to donate all my prize winnings from the Capcom Pro-Tour Finals to the community. It’s simply because I would not have existed without community and I owe you. My “professional” gamer life has given me such invaluable experiences. I get to give all myself to fight against top players around the world and meet and engage with fans across the globe. I can express myself through my gameplay to the audience, the community. Just as you need an opponent in fighting game, the community is equally important to me.
My pro-gaming life started with SFIV. The CPT Finals were to conclude one chapter of my life. I worked hard everyday. I grew a lot. I had so much fun in the process over the year. I felt fulfilled. Being content, I came to the finals. I was thinking that if I had had won any prizes, I would want to give it back to the community, which has supported me all these times. Not only was I able to win the prize, I was able to play my game and express myself. I had great matches, and I had a great fun.
I sincerely hope the money I donate will help the community thrive further. The stronger the community grows, the further my career expands, doesn’t it? That is not so bad. At least, it would be a much wiser and prudent investment than an Ume-Shoryu?!
I cannot express my gratitude to the community. But I would like to say that I’m looking forward to seeing you next year again. Hope you all have happy holidays.Daigo Umehara
For those unfamiliar with this program, here’s a quick breakdown: the Evo scholarship began in 2012 as a way to help members of the community pursue an education in game development at the New York University Game Center, located in Tisch School of the Arts. Though it was created by the Evo organizers themselves, spectators directly contribute to the fund every year by subscribing to the official tournament broadcast. It’s most recent recipient was longtime competitor and commentator skisonic.
Thanks to Daigo’s generosity, the scholarship will have an extra $60,000 (give or take) to work with. In order to accommodate the influx of applications they will likely receive from this news, the NYU Game Center has decided to extend their deadline to January 15. A full statement can be found below.
The NYU Game Center is honored to continue support the fighting game community by offering opportunities to study game design at New York University.
This generous donation demonstrates Daigo’s spirit. It indicates that the qualities that make him such a great competitor extend far beyond the game. His donation also demonstrates the capacity that competitive games have to bring out the best in people. Even though these are games of intense competition and stylized conflict, they create a context to demonstrate the very best qualities of character. This is an irony that might not be obvious to those outside of fighting games looking in; having a heart big enough to donate all of his winnings is actually an indication of what it takes to win in the first place.
This complicated richness of fighting games is one reason why the NYU Game Center is so proud to be a part of the community, and also why we feel the scholarship is so important. On an individual level, the goal of the scholarship is to help members of the FGC channel their passion and mastery into avenues beyond just becoming a professional player. For some, competitive games will be a lifelong pastime, for a few, playing professional games can be a career, for others, perhaps with the help of the Evo Scholarship, they are a path to a profession that builds off the skills and qualities developed to master the game.
In addition to the life-changing possibility on an individual level, we believe the Evo Scholarship will foster the long-term health of competitive games as a whole. By enabling individuals from within the community to be leading the charge, competitive games will continue to evolve and become an even richer field of games.
Recognizing that Daigo’s donation now makes school a possibility for many more people, applications to join the fall 2016 class have been extended to January 15th. For more information about the program visit: http://gamecenter.nyu.edu/evo/ We’re also happy to answer any questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Evo Scholarship is entirely funded by the generosity of the fighting game community. If you would like to make a contribution of any size to the Evo Scholarship, you can make tax-deductible donation online here: https://www.nyu.edu/
And last but certainly not least, here’s a quick statement from Evo themselves.
The Evo team is thankful to have Daigo as part of this community, and without him we wouldn’t be where we are today in the FGC. We look forward to watching his success in the years to come!Evo
We here at Shoryuken are blown away by Daigo’s selflessness, and we can’t wait to see what the eventual winner (or winners) does with this extraordinary boost in funds during their time at the NYU Game Center.
(Featured image c/o Mad Catz)