As we continue our Street Fighter V Season 2 interview series, PVP Live had the opportunity to connect with one of the FGC’s legends: Daigo 'The Beast' Umehara. Daigo is a household name in esports, with two decades of experience in the competitive scene.
We asked Daigo to discuss his thoughts on Season 2, meta changes, character picks, and the current landscape of the FGC.
What are your overall thoughts on Season 2?
I think it’s good overall. The game balance is always challenging. Understanding the nature of it, I think Capcom balanced it pretty well. The quality of the game, which is to say the playability, has improved.
How would you describe the new direction for Street Fighter V?
The game is still going strong with the simplicity which makes it available to newcomers.
As for the recent update, the character roster we saw a lot at the top level at the Capcom Cup have been balanced out.
Do you think the game needs additional sub systems or combo variances to give it more depth?
I’m ok with the current direction Street Fighter 5 has been heading. People might dislike the simplicity of a game like SFV with the feeling that there’s not much in it to play around, unlike the complexity of Street Fighter IV which required a player to practice a lot to master the game.
I see the objective of the game as to recruit more new players; otherwise, there’ll be no significant growth of the community. And I think it’s serving the purpose. When there’s a need to switch over to the other side, it will happen. That’s how I see it.
Are you disappointed by the recent balance changes Ryu received? Do you feel he’s a viable tournament character?
A character receives an upgrade or downgrade as a way to balance competition out. I don’t care so much about that itself. What I do care most is, however, the depth of game strategy.
Simplifying the command inputs and game depth is a totally different quality, and the latter should not happen. If the input simplification creates a shallow game strategy, it leaves not much for the audience to watch. If a character becomes too simple, it would flatten out gameplay by minimizing the ability of a player. I would hate to see that happen.
You’ve recently expressed an interest in Akuma. Any chance you’ll pick him up next year?
Probably not. I may play Akuma as a sub, but he would not be my main character. I prefer Ken over Akuma, and Guile over Ken. In fact, I have been playing Guile as well as Urien. I’ve known Guile from the older series, and he is one of the characters which benefited overall from the changes though Ken too has gone through a change.
Compared to previous entries, SF V has a far more offensive gameplay style. Do you feel the update will allow players to play a more reactive, neutral game?
I think the update may have turned players to be reactive though I thought the game was moving forward on the offense-oriented concept. But after assessing how players play, it may be readjusted.
Why do you feel some old-timers have struggled to get accustomed to the meta in Street Fighter V?
I hear that here and there, but I personally don’t think it’s true. The game is new; only the first season has just ended. We are all different - some are slow starters, so I believe that we’ll see more of the people you are referring to next year.
Who do you foresee being the strongest character in 2017?
My first impressions of top tier characters for 2017 are Ken, Chun Li, and Karin, as well as Dhalsim, Guile, Laura, and Zangief as new additions to the old faces.
North American players have demonstrated tremendous skill in Street Fighter V. What advice would you offer this up and coming region?
It was great to see new faces performing well at the top this year. They brought a new breeze and excitement to the scene. I would love to see more of it.
How are you balancing competing professionally with other projects?
I started to stream as my new project, in addition to playing competitively, and I traveled so much. I was gone most of the days in a month; I go back home for a day or two and fly out internationally again for a tournament. I had a hard to time finding my own rhythm.
2017 will be filled with similar activities, and my time will be limited. So just as in 2016, time management will be really crucial. I have to pay even closer attention to make the most out of limited practice time.
Where would you like to see Street Fighter V a few years from now? And how do you personally plan to help create more interest in the series?
We have a massive audience who watches us play. They are bigger than the players in volume. While they are an important member of our community, we need more players; otherwise, it’s not fun for the players. If players don’t have fun, it won’t be fun for the viewers either.
How can we stir up interest among more people in Street Fighter and inspire them to join us and play? That’s the subject I literally think to myself every day.
It’s my personal project.