Daigo “The Beast” Umehara is one of the few professional gamers in the world who doesn’t need an introduction.
He has already accomplished everything in his illustrious gaming career, from winning multiple Evo championships, to writing books and being featured in his very own manga.
So what’s left for The Beast to accomplish in his career? ONE Esports asked him just that at the recent Japan Esports Grand Prix, and the answer may surprise you.
“I want to organize a large-scale, 10,000-person tournament,” answered Daigo.
Daigo elaborated that in the golden age of fighting games — from the late 90s to early 2000s — when arcade culture and fighting game competition was at their peak, “they would hold tournaments with as many as 10,000 attendees for a single title.”
Then there was a gradual slump in fighting games shortly after when arcades started to decline and new fighting game titles were less frequently released.
Discussing the resurgence of fighting games with Street Fighter IV, Daigo continued, “Fighting games have made a comeback, but they still haven’t caught up to where they were back then. In order to recharge the fighting game player population, I want to really focus all my efforts on polishing my play and activating the community through streaming and events. For that reason as well, I want to hold a 10,000-person tournament.”
As for his short term goals, Daigo is preparing for Capcom Cup 2020 after he qualified with his best performance in years back at the Asia East 1 qualifier in July, where he beat Mildom Beast teammate, Keita “Fuudo” Ai in the grand final to win the tournament.
“That was my first major win in a while, so I was really happy about it,” said Daigo. “Since it was one of the few, precious opportunities to qualify for Capcom Cup, everyone was playing for keeps and I knew it would be a really high-level competition, which made me nervous. That made me all the happier to get the win.”
However, Fuudo was able to get his revenge against Daigo at the Japan Esports Grand Prix, winning 2-1 with his new character, Poison.
“When we faced each other at the Grand Prix, Fuudo switched over to his new character, Poison, and since it’s Fuudo, I imagined he would have gotten quite good with her in just a short period,” said Daigo. “At that point in time, I hadn’t come up with a good strategy for Poison, so I already knew I’d be in danger if I had to face Fuudo.”
Daigo also took the time to discuss the differences between online and offline tournaments.
Surprisingly, unlike many players, he’s not completely against online formats, saying, “There’s less of the physical, mental, and economic burden you get from globetrotting on a tight schedule.” Although he did acknowledge the downsides: “Everyone has to play under laggy conditions, which gives such an extremely limited qualifier a different vibe than you’d get with an offline tournament.”
Daigo further went on to explain that each offline tournament has its own unique feel.
“There’s a feel to each tournament venue you can only get in person, as well as a sense of community solidarity and opportunities to interact with local fans and players. You get to experience all the things that are important to the FGC, and you can feel the sense of gratitude running through the community.”
For now, Daigo is looking forward to competing at Capcom Cup 2020 and gave a special shoutout to his Mildom Beast teammate, DC “Infexious” Coleman, who he might face at the event after he qualified through the CPT Europe West 2 online qualifier. Daigo also said that he’s excited to go up against top-caliber contenders from outside of his region, primarily players from Europe and North America.