Daigo “The Beast” Umehara, or just simply Daigo, is a legend in the fighting game scene. Mostly known for his skill and mastery in the Street Fighter franchise, he holds the world record of the most successful player in major tournaments of Street Fighter.
In case you missed it, he was in the Philippines for the first time for REV Major 2019. Daigo gave people a show as he showed up on stage after the Finals of Street Fighter V Arcade Edition tournament and faced fellow Japanese, Tachikawa. It was a one-sided match but it was such a treat for everyone in attendance to witness The Beast play on stage.
The level at which Daigo plays, at this point, is a given but this wasn’t always the case. He began playing fighting games at a pretty young age with Street Fighter II and Fatal Fury: King of Fighters as two of his first. This was where his love for the genre began and the transition to going pro, while at the time was a big risk, was pretty much clear.
“One thing about fighting games is that I’ve been playing it since I was a kid. One thing I like about fighting games is that it’s really fast-paced so it forces players to react quickly,” he mentioned when asked how fighting games differentiate from other esports titles by Allen Silva from ReimaruFiles.
Daigo cemented his name in the hearts and minds of many gamers (as well as the history books) with EVO Moment #37, or The Daigo Parry. The moment happened in EVO 2004 against fellow legend, Justin “JWong” Wong in the final round of the final game. With Daigo literally one hit away from defeat, JWong looked to finish the match with Chun-Li’s Hoyokusen. It was one of Chun-Li’s special attacks that consist of 15 hits. Daigo had only one way to survive, parry all 15 strikes – which he did. Not only did he parry for his life, but he also won the series with a super of his own.
A lot has changed since the early days of Street Fighter and fighting games and even after The Daigo Parry moment. Esports has grown and has brought in a new wave of fighting game players that all hope to have great moments like Daigo did.
We couldn’t help but ask him what he thought of the difference between then and now in the world of Street Fighter. “When I was a kid, a lot of people played Street Fighter for a variety of reasons. You know, like they were fans of anime or manga or liked the aesthetics but as time passed more people play Street Fighter because they want to specialize in the game and get good at the game. The reasons why people play the game now are different.”
Among those changes in the world of Street Fighter is the Capcom Pro Tour. It was first announced in 2014 and brings the 32 best players in the world for the chance to be crowned the Capcom Champion. At the end of the Global Premier Tournament Circuit, the top 26 players with the most points will have qualified. They will be joined by defending Grand Champion, Tsunehiro “gachikun” Kanamori as well as players that will qualify from the open-bracket Capcom Cup Last Chance Qualifier.
Daigo is currently ranked 16 in the Circuit with 845 points to his name. When asked what he thought of this year’s Capcom Pro Tour, he simply said, “I think Capcom Pro Tour this year is harder than any previous year. I’m training even harder to prepare for it this year.”
The Beast has inspired a whole new generation of fighting game players from around the globe, especially after The Daigo Parry. From being a casual fighting game player as a child to the professional esports athlete in this day and age, the time and effort he puts in continuing to learn and compete is just inspiring, to say the least.