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Team Liquid Nemo & John Takeuchi's interview at Japan

EVO2018 John Takeuchi interview

Jul 262018

Evolution Championship Series, also known as EVO. It is just like Wimbledon in the field of tennis or Masters in golf — you can also imagine a boxing heavyweight title match. Just like those, EVO is definitely the name which fighting gamers would first mention when they are asked “What is the world’s best fighting game tournament?”

Over the summer, more than 10,000 fighting game players from all over the world gather holding their own controllers to the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. The maximum number of the viewers for the Street Fighter V Grand Final, which is the event’s biggest title, reached nearly 5 million people, and everyone can see the crowning of the top player in the world representing the fighting games of that year.

A young Japanese man is challenging the rest of EVO.

A 20-year-old man, John Takeuchi, plays for Team Liquid, which is a prestigious team in North America. John, who is participating in it for the second time in his career, talks about EVO:

“It was in 2015 that I first seriously watched EVO. It is when the Japanese player, Momochi, won the championship. Since I was a player around the top 10 ranking in Japan among those who were using the same character at that time, I did not imagine that I would be a professional game player or even could be a pro at all. However, I still remember what it was like watching the games while being moved by the big title match and wishing that I would like to be that strong.”


Although John had won on multiple competitions, he still thought that EVO was a special stage.


“By that time, I was already conscious of becoming a professional gamer, but I thought nothing would start unless I participated in EVO. I remember that I thought ‘OK, now I can take part in EVO with this money’ when I won a competition in Cannes, France in the beginning of 2017 and received my prize money."


But as I did not know how to get to Las Vegas at all, I asked my senior gamer to arrange an airplane and accommodations. I really appreciated his help.


I lost at a very early stage in the competition, but it was really a valuable experience where I really learned a lot.

"As gamers from all over the world were there, so many partners for practice were available. And the atmosphere of the final match was amazing, so I’ll never forget the sense of unity, excitement and the feeling which I had not seen before, through live streaming”


And in 2018, John decided to challenge EVO for the first time as a professional player under Team Liquid. It is common to all competitions, but it is many times more difficult to remain professional than to become professional. What does John Takeuchi want from the tournament?

“As a precondition, professionals are expected to achieve excellent results. This year so far, I have not been doing good on the pro tour. Also, my results are not good enough to participate in Capcom Cup at year-end, where only the top 32 players participate. So, EVO is a great opportunity for me to obtain a lot of points. Needless to say, I will do my best.”

However, for John Takeuchi, it has more meaning than that.

"In my case, I became a professional because I thankfully won second place in EVO Japan. So, I realize that my life will change dramatically if I achieve good results at big competitions. But, if I win EVO, what will happen? To be honest, I cannot imagine at all. Could I catch up with some top players, including Umehara and Tokido by any chance? :)"

"The size of the amount of the prize money is also a topic, but I think that the EVO is a tournament that will have a bigger influence than that. People all over the world will recognize me, and I’d be invited to invitational matches and the range of the activities as a professional gamer are likely to expand, aren’t they? I am really looking forward to those much more.”


EVO 2018 is from August 3rd to 5th (4th to 6th in Japan time). Preceding the tournament, it is said that John is also planning to conduct a “special training” in the Team Liquid’s Alienware Training Facility in California. Team Liquid is one of the esports teams belonging to the Monster Energy family who sponsors various star athletes such as Luis Hamilton of F1, Valentino Rossi of MotoGP, Ayumu Hirano of snowboarding and a fighting game player, Infiltration. And now John Takeuchi is also a member of the Monster Family.

There is a possibility that the environment may trigger a big leap for John Takeuchi.

“Since the practice environment is extremely important, I believe it will be an opportunity to change something. Since all of the equipment and a high-speed connection is available at the facility, and I can feel free to drink Monster Energy as much as I want, I think my concentration lasts for a long time. The team really supports everything for me to challenge EVO in my best condition, and I am pleased to get lined up together with great athletes and artists all over the world.”


It was an 18-year-old Dominican who won the final match of the 2017 season. Therefore, it is no wonder at all that a 21-year-old Japanese would cause a major sensation all over the world at this time.