Japanese media site DenfaminicoGamer caught up with Hajime 'Tokido' Kaniguchi, touching on a number of points related to Street Fighter V, personal training, and his journey as a pro gamer. Thanks to an English translation shared by Sonigo via TwitLonger, here's some notable highlights.
Who motivated Tokido to become a pro gamer?
Tokido explains his motivation to become pro was influenced by Daigo Umehara. Though he was already working on getting his Masters degree at Tokyo University, Tokido felt “extremely bored.” So seeing someone being able to take their hobby and turn it into a professional played a big factor.
Though the decision was initially tough, Tokido eventually left the university in order to pursue his path as a pro gamer. Fortunately, he received support from his parents to explore whatever path would bring him happiness.
Growing up and the eventual discovery of fighting games
The interview briefly winds the clock back and goes over his initial challenges during elementary school. Tokido explains he was often picked on a lot as a kid, which eventually led to him having to change schools. He took comfort in playing video games and recalls fond memories playing Super Mario Bros. back when he was between 3-4 years of age. He also developed a love for fighting games upon discovering Virtua Fighter 2, which he regularly played with his cousin at a local arcade.
Though he didn't hate school or allow his grades to suffer, Tokido often felt bored. Playing Virtua Fighter 2 on a regular basis helped him to cope with daily life. Plus, his parents were good at creating incentives to ensure his education didn't falter. As such, coming home with good grades would occasionally be rewarded with a new video game.
Tokido dedicated an entire year of training to hone his skills, where he eventually defeated his cousin. In time, Tokido made the transition from Sega’s fighting game series and developed an interest in Street Fighter III.
He also offered insight on how his mindset has shaped his approach to fighting games. From Tokido’s perspective, winning shouldn’t be the absolute objective, stating that “winning is only worth 51%.” His approach is based on establishing a playstyle where he can show the results of his training — described as “flashy plays.”
Four years ago, Tokido dedicated an extensive amount of time into Street Fighter IV. Tokido recalls losing a critical match against Momochi where he was initially up 6-0, only to lose the entire set in the end. He realized his approach needed adjustment and he needed to take the game more seriously. Instead of continuing to focus on using cheap characters, Tokido decided to use stronger characters who offered more depth.
For Tokido, his philosophy is: “if you really give your best, you can grow as a person.” In time, Tokido came to realize video games was a good avenue that allowed him to see his development, both as a person and a dedicated competitor.
When asked what advice he would offer to aspiring pro gamers, Tokido urged others not to treat it solely as a “game” (in other words, take it seriously). He also added that the goal shouldn’t be just to aim for tournament winnings, but to strive for giving “fascinating play for the audience.”