June 12, 2018
Sako and Ryuusei join FAV Gaming, and we talk to them about it
Table of Contents
Sako and Ryuusei have joined FAV Gaming to start their fighting games division. This famitsu article has an interview with them, and I thought it would be fun to translate it.
Just a little bit of background information on G'z Brain: they are a publishin / web site / marking / consulting company that is most well known for publishing the Famitsu gaming magazine, and are part of the larger Kadokawa publishing family of businesses.
1 Sako and Ryuusei join FAV gaming's Fighting Game division, and we talk to them about it!
The "FAV gaming" team is produced by Gz Brain. The team slogan is "Fun and Victory", and is also used as the abbreviation for the team. They already had a Crash Royale team, and now they are adding a new Fighting Games division. As part of that, Sako will be the team leader, and Ryuusei will join as a younger developing member. We'll talk to them about their feelings on joining the team, and see just how enthusiastic they are.
He's been playing fighting games for 30 years. The first game he ever played was "Street Fighter". He was most passionate about "Vampire Savior". He's been a pro gamer since 2011, and in 2013 won the Capcom Cup World Championship.
He started playing figting games with the home console version of BlazBlue Calamity Trigger. He started to go to the arcades and became serious about playing with "BlazBlue Continuum Shift II". He won "BlazBlue Central Fiction" at EVO 2017, the largest fighting game tournament in the world.
2 How do you feel now that you have joined FAV gaming?
Sako The first thing I had to do since I joined was take some pictures, and now this interview (laughs). Everything seems new and fresh, like I'm starting over from the beginning again. I'm really looking forward to it. I want to work with Ryuusei to liven up the scene.
Ryuusei I just really can't believe that I've joined. I'm sure everyone is thinking "Oh man, there's another new weird pro gamer now!", and I actually think that they're right (laughs).
―― (laughs) Sako-san, what impression do you have of Ryuusei-san?
Sako The "BlazBlue" series is for young people, and I think that he plays it with a young person's sensibilities, and I thought "Yep, he really is young." But when I actually met him and talked with him, I thought that he's actually a bit strange.
Ryuusei Wha, really!?
Sako You're a bit mysterious, and have a unique vibe all your own.
Ryuusei Um, well, I think I'm pretty normal…
―― Ryuusei-san, did you know about Sako before this?
Ryuusei Of course. He's a legendary player from the "Street Fighter IV" series, and he's amazing with combos. When I first met him, he was just like the kind person that I imaged from watching his streams.
――You were already a pro gamer, Sako-san, but how did you feel when you got the offer from FAV gaming?
Sako I was simply overjoyed. I've always been a huge fan of the Famitsu brand, and I have also been on some of their shows. When I think that I'll be able to work with them to "Help cultivate eSports" I get excited. It's like a dream, being able to join a team that is run by the company (Gz Brain) that publishes Famitsu, which I loved ever since I was a kid. I want to try all sorts of new things with that company of my dreams.
―― On the other hand, Ryuusei-san, you have just now become a pro gamer. Why did you want to become a pro gamer?
Ryuusei First, I worried about what it meant for a someone like me, who hasn't proven himself in Street Fighter or left any marks in tournaments, to call himself a pro gamer? But, we talked about how by joining a team, my goal should be to become stronger, and since they said that I thought it would be a great chance.
Sako You never know where your next chance will come from. The question for you is, what will you do with this chance you have now?
Ryuusei Yes. Please Sako-san, give me your support …
Sako I'll help you as much as I can, but in the end, it is up to you, right?
Ryuusei I'll do my best!
―― What kinds of activities do you two want to do now as part of FAV gaming?
Sako I feel like FAV Gaming will allow me to do some things that up until now I have not been able to do. I think that it will be much easier to reach out to non-gaming regular people as not just part of Game Media that started with Weekly Famitsu, but also the larger Kadokawa Publishing business. Actually, I have many fans that are overseas, and I'm happy that I'm able to reach out to them. If we can work together on that, I think I can grow not just as a player but in the business sense as well.
Ryuusei I'm sure everyone is thinking "Ryuusei? Who's that?" I think now there are many different types of people that can become pro gamers. I'm an example of someone caught up in that wave that isn't your typical pro gamer. I mean, I haven't won anything yet. So while I might be a bit atypical now, I'll keep practicing and I'll show people through my game play that "Yeah, he's really a pro gamer".
―― So what do you two think about the team concept of FAV Gaming, "Have fun and win"?
Sako That just fits my game life as I am now perfectly. My whole life until now, I've been having fun playing and winning, and I can't think of any other team concept that would match so well with what I have become.
Ryuusei Well, I don't have the record that Sako has, and I'm worried about what I'll do if I can't get good results … So I'm a bit worried about it. I wonder if I really will be able to have fun and win in the future …?
―― I see. So for you, Ryuusei, your style is that more than having fun, you enjoy winning?
Ryuusei I always felt that winning was everything in a tournament, and "it isn't fun if I don't win". But the more I play, the stronger I get, so I keep playing. But personally, I think at any competition Street Fighter V is the most interesting game. Because the overall level of play is very high, all the competitors are super serious, it's like a different world. I'm so nervous my hands shake, and you really try to defeat your opponent with all your strength, it just isn't the kind of experience you can get living a normal life. I want to experience more of that in Street Fighter V. In that way, I really think I can have fun playing games, and I'm super excited about it.
―― Ryuusei-san, while you will be active as a pro gamer, I also heard that you will take part in Famitsu productions and work as a writer as well. Can you tell me about that?
Ryuusei I was really surprised when I heard that "What? I'll be employed there!? I'll be typing on a computer and stuff!?" I couldn't believe that a day like this would come, all of a sudden. I've been able to help out with preparing a few articles for Famitsu, and it's been a lot of fun. I really would like to try to interview some pro players once I've become good enough to handle that kind of thing (laughs).
3 Ryuusei and his fighting game history
―― Ryuusei-san, why did you start playing BlazBlue?
Ryuusei My friend had the "Guilty Gear XX" console game, and we used to play a lot against each other. I also played BlazBlue, but I didn't have any money so I couldn't play it at the arcade all that much. Then the BlazBlue console version came out, and I could keep playing without spending money against other people over the net, so I got really into it.
―― So you really got into netplay, and then started going to the arcades?
Ryuusei That's right. I took a bus to school, but on the way home I went to an arcade that was completely in the opposite direction from home, and then after that I'd go home and spend time normally.
Sako Yeah, me too. When you don't have any money, you look to see where else you can shave down costs so you can play more. Of course, I would skip meals, and sometimes I would walk kilometers just to get to the arcade (laughs).
―― And that kind of life leads you to winning tournaments. So Ryuusei-san, why did you make the change from the BlazBlue series to Street Fighter?
Ryuusei Once I became the king of the world, I didn't have any more goals. I had taken the stance that I just wanted to win more and more at more tournaments. I had played BlazBlue with the strongest players out there, and thought "Now I want to take on excellent players from other games", so I started with Street Fighter V. I also wanted to play against people who made their living from gaming. How would people who really put their livelihood on the line actually play? I was interested in that.
―― Were you confused at all by the change in the system when you started Street Fighter V?
Ryuusei Very much so. I was flummoxed by everything. For example, when Ryu throws his fireball, and then walks forward and sweeps. This is completely normal to anyone who has played the Street Fighter series. But it was the first time for me to experience that basic pattern. In BlazBlue you can block in the air, or air dash, or you could attack someone who did a dragon punch while they're still in the air. So all of those normal Street Fighter things were new to me. The very fundamental things were new to me. The top players of this game know minute details about the systems, and so first of all I need to build up that kind of knowledge myself.
―― Sako, you, on the other hand, I feel like are able to swiftly adapt to any game.
Sako Well, I think that comes down to my age (laughs). I've played all sorts of games, so even when a new one comes out, I'm able to apply all the knowledge I've cultivated over multiple titles. It's one of those things where you're like "I might as well use my experience with other games in this title too", so I usually don't have many problems.
―― You also play a lot of games other than fighting games, right?
Sako That's right. I just love all things that are "games". Board Games, Simulation Games, Adventure Games, anything that has the name game.
―― Ryuusei-san, other than fighting games do you play any other games?
Ryuusei I am the type of person that focuses on one game at a time. If I play some other game, I really get into that, and that cuts into the time I should be spending on my main game, so I just decided not to play other games. There are lots of games that I would like to try out though (laughs).
Sako Just focusing on one game, that's very serious of you (laughs).
Ryuusei Well, I need to practice or I get worried.
Sako It's not good to focus on any one thing too much. It is important to take breaks. If you don't, your life just becomes a single-note and really drags on.
―― Is that advice from your own experience, Sako?
Sako That's right (laughs). Actually, back when I first became a pro gamer, I used to think that "Because I'm a pro" I needed to practice from sunrise to sunset. My family life almost fell apart because of that (nervous laughter). You really do need to take a break, spend time with your family, and do other things like that. As a result, you are able to become stronger yourself.
―― Have you ever discovered something while player other games or taking a break that you could apply to Street Fighter V?
Sako Many times! It's not like I'm trying to think about Street Fighter V while I'm playing other games, but there comes a flash when I think "Huh? What was that?" The other day I was playing the town building game "Cities: Skylines" and I was building a road when I thought "huh?" and got a flash of inspiration (laughs).
Ryuusei Realy!? Even though you weren't thinking about Street Fighter V… When I hear that, I really do want to start playing other games.
Sako Times like that are really important.
4 The players talk about their enthusiasm for the future!
―― Is there anything specific that you will teach Ryuusei-san, Sako-san?
Sako If he asks me about something that he doesn't understand, I'll answer him. I won't teach him everything from one to ten though. I'll just teach him about things that he has though about himself, then investigated and still doesn't understand. I think questions like "What should I change to win? What am I doing poorly?" are most likely to be useful.
Ryuusei Thank you very much. I thought that maybe most concrete questions about a specific situation would be better, but it seems like you prefer more vague questions. I'm surprised because that's exactly the opposite of what I expected.
Sako I think a lot of people when they start out generally think that "In the end, for head-to-head fighting games, you just need to win." From that, you start to learn about your opponent, but you need to learn about suitable ranges for attacking your opponent. I'm not going to teach you about those small things that you can easily find out from your own research or talking with people around you, but instead about the strategic portions that create the competition.
Ryuusei Now that you mention it, I haven't thought about that kind of thing before.
―― Ryuusei-san, doesn't BlazBlue also have that kind of neutral game?
Ryuusei In BlazBlue, I fundamentally played on instinct. There was someone close to me that would teach me about the logical parts of the game, particularly when I was playing in a low efficiency style they would help coach me. So I would improve that situation, and then I would take that with me into real tournament play. But I didn't take the short term too seriously, and tried to play in a way that was serious for the longer term.
Sako People who think like that often think things like "You choose to do that in this situation!?", and so it is fun for people who are watching too, and it helps to increase the sorts of tactics that we see within matches. So I really like the way that you think about things.
―― By the way, Ryuusei-san you are the EVO 2017 BlazBlue World Champion, but do you have confidence that you can win in Street Fighter Tournaments?
Ryuusei I can't say that with confidence at my current level. I just don't have that confidence right now. However, I can objectively say that in the future after some time has passed, I might be able to. Games are a kind of thing where the more you play, they better you can become.
―― Sako-san, right now you are in contention for Capcom Cup 2018, do you think you can win?
Sako I'm still not satisfied with the way that I'm winning but I feel like I have a strong response. Especially in the current version, I have synchronised very strong with Menat. She's able to move in an ideal way for me, and she really responds like my own hands and feet. If I can get a bit more in-depth experience with her I think that I can win.
―― By the way, just how synchronized with her are you?
Sako It's almost close to the level I was at with Bulleta in Vampire Savior. That's how much I like Menat right now.
―― It looks like we might have a chance to see the strongest Sako-san ever. Ryuusei-san is there a player that you would like to see win?
Ryuusei There isn't a specific player. I want to fight them all. I want to be a challenger that can face all the pro players on equal footing.
―― Sako-san, is there a player that you would like to defeat this year?
Sako I really want to beat Tokido and Fujimura, the two at the top right now. If I can beat those two, then I think I can win the tournament. On the other hand, if I can't beat those two, I definitely can't win the tournament. I think that I've closed the gap between those two, so I'll win next time.
―― What do the two of you think is good about Street Fighter V?
Sako The game itself is simple, and is easy to play. When it first went on sale, I was a bit worried about that, there weren't complicated defensive options, you could easily defeat an opponent's defense, would you be able to defend well against the opponent, would you have those experiences where you really feel that hard victory. Once I started to understand the character of the game, it became a lot of fun. It's simple, and yet still quite deep. It's a bit hackneyed, but I think that is the charm of Street Fighter V.
Ryuusei For me, it is that I can play against normal people in my life with it. That's lots of fun, and I can show them just how serious about games I am by playing with them. For me, I think that any game that you enjoy is a good game. If your opponent is serious, then that is all you need to have fun. I think letting everyone feel that is what Street Fighter V is about.
―― Thank you. Do you have a final message for our readers?
Sako I'm currently in contention for Capcom Cup 2018, and I'm aiming to win it! I'm going to win and become the World Champion again, so thank you for your support!
Ryuusei There are more pro gamers in Street Fighter V like me that nobody knows about (nervous laughter). But, I'm serious about my practice, and I'm looking forward to the day when I can show you how well I can play.