Behind the Story

3/20/2018
STREET FIGHTER 5
CHAMPION EDITION
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  • Tokido
  • Tokido: Seeking Validation in Year Five --I want to see how much I’ve grown.
  • “At the time, I thought Daigo must be using some kind of exploit.”
    Tokido says this as if a bit irked, but also with a bit of humor mixed in.
  • // Chapter 1
  • A Legendary Face-Off
    Mad Catz Unveiled Japan – Daigo Umehara vs. Infiltration
    September 20th, 2013. The face-off happened at an event held by gaming peripheral maker Mad Catz. Infiltration (South Korea/Akuma), who at the time was the strongest player in the world and one of the most prominent, was to take on Daigo Umehara (Japan/Ryu) in a single set, and the community was in a stir. This was the “time” Tokido speaks of.
    The word on the beat had Infiltration pegged as the favorite to win. This was in part due to his greater momentum as a player, but more significant was the two players’ character picks.
    Akuma and Ryu. Though both characters fell under the same category, Akuma could practically be called a version upgrade. How could Umehara hold his own using Ryu? As a sparring partner, Umehara chose Japan’s top Akuma player, Tokido.
    The day before the big match, they conducted a practice set following the same first-to-ten format that the main event would follow. In the final match, Tokido suffered a crushing defeat.
    “My attacks simply weren’t landing. None of my wakeup tactics worked after a knockdown, and eventually I couldn’t even land the hits to knock him down in the first place. And then he came at me with this aggressive pressure. This match-up wasn’t supposed to shake down like that.”
    At the time, Akuma’s wakeup offense was thought to be impossible to fully anticipate. And yet, Umehara had almost perfectly thwarted the onslaught, shifted to an offensive, and ended the practice set with a significant lead.
    “There’s no way he could block all that on the fly. Aha—there must be something going on here.”
    The “something” to which he referred was the technique Umehara was using to automatically evade Tokido’s fierce oki onslaught. It was a reaction befitting of Tokido, who knew perhaps better than anyone about using one’s superior knowledge of a game’s mechanics to one’s advantage. This was also the “exploit” to which he referred in the beginning.
    The disparities that are born out of asymmetrical knowledge. The secret loopholes. As is the case in the real world, the skewed distribution of knowledge can create immeasurable advantage. And Umehara had discovered such a loophole for dealing with Akuma’s fierce wakeup offense. Or so Tokido thought.
    “In a way, that’s what I thought fighting games were all about—the clash of your knowledge versus mine. I was naïve.”
    As Umehara himself said in streams and elsewhere following the set, his bout with Infiltration had all been calculated. Tokido didn’t realize that, even having fought him.
  • // Chapter 2
  • A Broken Formula
    To figure out the winning pattern quicker than anyone else, and choose the character best suited for the game’s mechanics. To place oneself amongst a given title’s top community members, continually renewing one’s knowledge and experience at the forefront of the scene, and using that advantage to stay on the winners’ side.
    For Tokido, this was a tried-and-true method that kept him winning matches in the upper echelon of fighting games since the nineties. But the method was falling apart as the community continued to evolve.
    After Street Fighter IV, the community saw an influx in membership and began to change drastically. The instantaneous spread of information and full-featured online play went a long way toward rectifying the inequalities in players’ environments. The existence of online viewers and sponsors accelerated the efforts of top players. Hopeful new players were emerging in droves.
    Tokido’s special edge was quickly becoming a lot less special.
    “The Daigo-Infiltration set made me feel a distinct gap between my own skill and that of other top players.”
    How would he win on a leveled playing field? His vision was lacking. And so Tokido set out to reform his play method—for the sake of survival.
  • // Chapter 3
  • Tokido’s Reform, Daigo’s Teachings
    “I trained with different people, Daigo among them, of course.”
    He speaks of a period of aimless grasping, and the many discoveries he made training with Umehara.
    “The feedback you get after a training session tends to take the form of individual tips for specific scenarios, since they’re digestible and can produce immediate results. But Daigo didn’t really talk much about that kind of thing. It’s not that he was treating the whole thing lightly—it was more like he knew I’d figure that stuff out for myself if I just gave it some thought. He talked more about assessing situations and thinking holistically about the overall match.”
    Speaking frankly, Tokido says there were lots of lessons that didn’t totally resonate with him. Still, he strove to digest the information as best he could and renew his fighting game know-how.
    “Daigo’s way of doing things takes time. It boils down to a checklist of individual, unremarkable actions. But the combined sum of those unremarkable actions gives way to an inimitable play style.”
    How effective was this time-consuming method at maintaining one’s effectiveness in the midst of rigorous competition? When Tokido finally witnessed this for himself, his own play style started to show signs of change. And as Street Fighter V took over as the main event of the scene, Tokido showed consistent results in the top echelon.
    2017 would close out with Tokido still riding high on an incredible streak. He’d conquered EVO, come in 2nd at Capcom Cup, and acquired 2125 points in the Capcom Pro Tour (ranking 2nd overall). It would be fair to call last season the “Season of Tokido.”
    But despite closing the season with his best performance to date, Tokido felt a twinge of regret. His narrowly thwarted win at the Capcom Cup was the source, but for an unexpected reason.
  • // Chapter 4
  • A Serious Face-Off
    “My opponent was strong and I was satisfied with the event’s results. To begin with, luck is a major factor in that tournament, so even placing 2nd was beyond my expectations.
    “Nevertheless, when I’d survived to the final day and victory was in sight…well, I thought that if I could win EVO and Capcom Cup, I would have earned the right to approach Daigo and challenge him to a serious face-off. Of course I ended up rethinking it and challenging him anyway, figuring 2nd was still a pretty good credential and I ought to do it while I still can. You never know where you’ll be a year later, after all. [laughs]”
    A serious face-off. Were the tournaments and training not enough? The two had faced off countless times, not just in training but in the top ranks of competion.
    “Of course we took it seriously when we played each other in training and tournaments. But the priorities were different. Daigo’s ultimate priority is to get stronger. But at [the Unveiled] set, his ultimate goal was simply defeating Infiltration. I’ve known him a long time, but that was a Daigo I’ve rarely seen.”
    Tokido wanted to face that Daigo. The event dubbed Kemonomichi seemed the prime platform to do just that.
    “It’s a denser format. You can really focus on how to take down your opponent. It also came at a particularly good time. Once the Pro Tour has kicked off officially, it’s just too hard to focus on targeting an individual player.”
    The tournaments of the Capcom Pro Tour require players to face numerous opponents each day. They have no choice but to prioritize strategies that are broadly applicable.
    “Not to mention, this tournament was literally named after him,” Tokido says, and he laughs.
  • // Chapter 5
  • To Beat Daigo
    “If you beat him, do you get to say you’ve surpassed him?” I asked in closing.
    “…Is it a matter of surpassing him? No, I think inevitably the nuance gets truncated in that way, but that’s not what this is really about for me. After this, we’ll both go on competing professionally, so the notion that I might or might not surpass him is somewhat nonsensical. I want to look at the bigger picture when I fight, and I want him to see me as that kind of opponent.
    “Above all else, I want to see how much I’ve grown. I want to know and I want to leave myself satisfied. It’s about proving something to myself. It was Daigo who motivated me to change in the first place, thus there’s no better opponent by whom to prove myself. I will win this, without fail.”
    March 10th. Will Tokido find the validation he seeks?
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  • // Other Story
  • ・STREET FIGHTER 5 :: Daigo

    ・STREET FIGHTER 5 :: Tokido