Tokido on Infiltration after CEO 2016: 'I could read his mind'
He took a roundabout route, but Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi managed to win Community Effort Orlando 2016 on Sunday, defeating Razer's Lee "Infiltration" Seon-woo.
With a Shinku Hadoken into a low kick on a nearly flawless Ryu in front of thousands of screaming fans, Tokido toppled arguably the best "Street Fighter V" player in the world in Infiltration.
After a loss to Infiltration in the winner's bracket, Tokido managed to turn things around in the losers'. He defeated the likes of Red Bull and Twitch legend Daigo "The Beast" Umehara, YouDeal Majestic Athletic's Tatsuya "Haitani" Haitani and Evil Geniuses' Yusuke "Momochi" Momochi.
After four tournaments in which he was only inches away from a title, Tokido had won an international competition and a Capcom Cup bid in the process.
"I'm very fine and very happy," he told ESPN. "Finally, I win a premier tournament."
Tokido is one of the best Ryu players in the game but he had always fallen short of victory in the final moments of crucial matches. CEO was different for him, he said.
"I reset the bracket," he said. "This was my tournament, I think. So yes, at first I didn't understand what Infiltration thought but honestly, I could read his mind."
The element of outsmarting and outplaying your opponent is something that the team at Capcom has actively sought to develop in the newest version of Street Fighter, Capcom community manager Peter "ComboFiend" Rosas told ESPN in an interview.
Tokido's play this weekend personified this aspect of the game. He says he came prepared to face Infiltration and his character Nash. He focused specifically on that matchup beforehand, he said, and it certainly paid off.
One particular moment in Tokido's matches against Infiltration was a highlight of the whole tournament. In the second round of the first match in the grand finals, Tokido seamlessly parried Infiltration's wake-up super, something both extremely rare and difficult to accomplish. Doing so allowed Tokido to stun Infiltration and then finish him with a combination of basic attacks and a hurricane kick.
The crowd lit up as thousands shouted in shock. Even Infiltration smiled and gave Tokido a thumbs-up.
"Actually, I wanted to use parry because parry is very strong," Tokido said. "I used it with the correct timing, and the parry makes people get hyped. You know everytime someone uses parry? That's why I want to use it. It's strong and people get hyped."
The changes from Ultra Street Fighter IV to Street Fighter V have favored Tokido's play style, earning him greater success in competitions for the new title. In IV, he played Akuma, a heavily aggressive character. Now in V, the game itself caters to the more aggressive player.
"In 'Street Fighter IV,' I used Akuma and Akuma is a very aggressive character," he said. "So in 'Street Fighter V,' attacking is very strong so this game is very aggressive. Because I played Akuma, I've come into 'Street Fighter V' as if it's a game meant for me. So far I enjoy 'Street Fighter V.'"
This aggressive style paid off for him at CEO, where roughly 900 were competing. His next goal is the Evolution Championship Series -- the world's largest Street Fighter V tournament to date -- boasting over 4000 contenders thus far with registration still taking new entrants.
"Evo, like this tournament, is a very, very big tournament," Tokido said. "But Evo is bigger. So many people, I'm very excited. It's gonna be a very difficult tournament, but I hope that maybe I have a good chance, or the best chance. I need to prepare."
When I ask about the future and the Capcom Cup, Tokido said his focus, for now, is solely Evo. Now that he's taken the CEO victory, he'll be confident going into the event in three weeks. This might be his shot to cement his name at the top, something he's hesitant about currently.
"I'm one of the best, but I don't think I am the best, so far," he said. "I want to be the best. I want to be able to say, 'I am the best.' But not yet, I have to keep practicing."
To become the best, he'll need to practice and prepare. And when asked for any final thoughts, he reaffirmed this path to victory: "I will keep on training and practicing to be the best."