Daigo “The Beast” Umehara welcomes everyone in the FGC to make it “bigger and better” than ever before
Cygames Beast’s Daigo “The Beast” Umehara has had quite an interesting run in his Street Fighter V career for the past 3-4 years so far. Placing consistently high with Ryu in 2016, Daigo then switched to Guile in season two after his former main was weakened in the Season Two balance patch and hasn’t looked back since.
While in Season Two he still found some success with Guile, it seems like he has stumbled a bit in the past two seasons with lower and inconsistent placings. Regardless of whether he wins or loses, however, there’s no denying that “The Beast” is still respected and admired for not only his skills in fighting games but for his contributions to the community at large to this day.
In this interview that was conducted via email after Evo 2019, Daigo discusses his current views on the Capcom Pro Tour as well as his different playstyle with Guile. He also talks about his Evo 2019 performance as well as how he deals with critics who judge him based on whether he wins or loses.
Marcos Blanco: What is your current view on competitive SFV: AE and the Capcom Pro Tour in 2019? How do you feel about the game’s future in the competitive circuit? Anything you would like to see changed or improved for future CPT events for the rest of the year and beyond?
Daigo Umehara: I think it depends on whose perspective you’re speaking from. If you look at the game’s recent updates, even though they’re supposedly targeting a more mainstream audience, they seem to be made specifically for the segment of users taking an active part in CPT. From the point of view of the myriad average players who don’t take part in the pro tour, I imagine the recent updates feel somewhat lacking in terms of what they’ve changed. I think you could say the game’s gotten away from its original form as a piece of entertainment.
On the other hand, for pro players participating in CPT, I think you could argue that the relative lack of extreme changes has made it easier to get through the season.
MB: Do you think everything going on with the CPT regarding the format, payouts, and point distribution is fine the way it is and why?
Daigo: I can’t speak to how reasonable the payouts are so I’ll put that one aside. Players spend all year struggling to earn the right to compete in Capcom Cup, and then it’s over in a blink.
Considering how long the road to qualifying is when it comes down to the main event you have no idea who’s going to win and it all ends so abruptly, and that’s kind of a drag. Players work so hard to get the chance to compete in the main event; I’m sure I’m not the only one who wishes the fun lasted a little longer.
MB: How do you feel about your overall performance in the CPT so far this season with Guile? Do you still consider him a strong character despite some setbacks to his move set? It seems like you’ve adopted a more aggressive playstyle with him in tournaments as of late. Why is that?
Daigo: I still haven’t entered that many tournaments this season, so I’d call it a so-so run as of now.
For us, a year is short. The game balance receives frequent adjustments within that time span, meaning we have to pick things up in a short amount of time while attending CPT tournaments. I feel that Guile is the most viable character among those with which I have a high mastery.
Guile has gotten weaker so if I stick to playing him the way people know, I won’t get anywhere. It’s not that I’m specifically focusing on an aggressive play style. Likely, I’ve become more aggressive as a result of trying to incorporate newness.
MB: So Honda, Lucia, and Poison have been added to SFV: AE‘s roster. What are your thoughts and impressions of these characters so far? Of the three, who stands out to you the most as a competitively viable character and why?
Daigo: I haven’t tried out Poison or seen anyone who’s using her. I tried the others. Lucia is fairly strong and interesting. As for Honda…
MB: You placed 33rd at Evo 2019. What was your mentality and game plan going into Evo 2019 and how do you feel about your performance in the tournament? What do you feel like you need to improve on in order to try and win the remaining tournaments for the rest of the year?
Daigo: I can say that I was well prepared for Evo and had my sights on the top eight. It’s really just too bad I didn’t get there. I haven’t had a strong showing at Evo in a while now so I was determined to make this the year I got back into the top eight.
My physical condition took a dive right after I got into Las Vegas and in hindsight, I think it was due to a lack of nervousness, which comes with experience. The right amount of nervousness is necessary. No excuse though, this is my own shortcoming.
MB: You are currently ranked 16th on the CPT Global Standings. What are your goals for the rest of the CPT season to make sure you qualify and to get a higher seeding for Capcom Cup 2019 and to hopefully win that event as well?
Daigo: I want to do well in the coming tournaments and secure my spot in the main event. I’ve reflected on Evo and reclaimed my determination. I’ve refocused my energies and I am training hard so please keep an eye on me over the coming months.
MB: At this point you’re a very well known player all over the world and with that comes not only a lot of fans who admire and respect you for what you’ve done throughout your career, but it also comes with a lot of backlash from people who criticize you when you don’t place high or win a major tournament especially on social media.
What are your thoughts on the subject of these types of fans holding you and other longtime pro players to this high standard where if you don’t win every tournament, you’re not good enough anymore? Do you pay attention to these sorts of things regarding your status as a player in the fighting game community? If so, why and if not, why not?
Daigo: As I see it, even when I was winning frequently, I still went through slumps. Looking back, even though there were specific moments or matches of great renown, it wasn’t always so glamorous in real-time. I’ve gradually amassed a list of those highlight moments over many years, so I think the difference between “then” and “now” appears more extreme than it is (“now” is shorter than “the past,” after all).
My drive has never waned and I’ve been competing continuously for twenty years. With each new version that comes out, I’ve studied hard and honed my skills from scratch as best I can. With no false modesty, I can say my drive and perseverance toward gaming are second to none.
MB: Which tournaments will you be competing in next before the year ends? Would you like to give and any final thoughts or thanks regarding Street Fighter V, the Capcom Pro Tour, and the fighting game community in general?
Daigo: I’ve been given an environment where I can play the games I love to my heart’s content and I’m grateful for that every day. It’s a reality I never would have dreamed possible twenty years ago and it’s all thanks to the amazing community. You can’t get here alone. I’m also thankful to the sponsors who support me—HyperX, Red Bull, Twitch, and Cygames.
Now and then I see top players who are seriously considering quitting. It’s not my place to speak to their situation, but I can say that I’m always looking ahead positively. I’m an exception—in my ten years as a pro, I’ve never questioned it. I enjoy the growth. It’s what motivates me each day. Not the prize money. In this sense, I feel that I’m unbeatable.
Little kernels of passion and perseverance are what have made the FGC so big today. I’m going to keep going. Please join me and let’s make it bigger and better than ever!