Pre-EVO 2014 Roundtable Discussion: 6 Top Players, including Daigo, talk about the future of Ultra Street Fighter 4's tournament scene.


印刷2014/07/05 23:30


Pre-EVO 2014 Roundtable Discussion: 6 Top Players, including Daigo, talk about the future of Ultra Street Fighter 4's tournament scene.

While fighting game fans worldwide wait eagerly in anticipation for the biggest fighting game tournament in the world, Evolution 2014 (Evo 2014, for short), Japanese fans will watch the action unfold on July 12th. 4Gamer will continue last year's tradition to deliver the excitement directly from the tournament floor, but this report intends to reveal the roundtable discussion among top players held before the actual event.

This particular discussion focuses primarily on the main title of the tournament, Capcom's Ultra Street Fighter 4 (available on Arcade, PC, PS3, Xbox 360), and the opinion of 6 Japanese top players--Daigo Umehara, Tokido, Momochi, Bonchan, Itabashi Zangief and Kazunoko. These players spoke at great length about the current tournament scene including version 1.01 character changes and tier lists, new system mechanics and game balance, and highlight matchups against foreign players. We also look ahead at how the fighting game scene will develop in the near future.

The breadth of this report is quite overwhelming, but we've tried to leave nothing out from the 4 hour talk session. We hope that not only Street Fighter addicts, but fans from all fighting game titles who are waiting together with great anticipation for EVO2014's opening will use this report as a primer guide while spectating this year's Ultra Street Fighter 4 tournament.

*disclaimer* the contents of the roundtable discussion are simply impressions made by the players and any frame data or hit box data are not guaranteed to be accurate.


Ultra Street Fighter 4 Offical Site

Evolution 2014 Official Site

6 player's Introduction

4Gamer: We're right at the doorstep of Evo 2014 and gathered 6 top players who will be participating in the actual tournament. While most of the discussion will be focused on USF4, let's take a moment for self-introduction and a brief statement on how you're feeling at the moment. Let's start with Daigo. You've certainly been awakened to the Dark Hadou.

Daigo Umehara
A proud member of Team Mad Catz and the pride of Japan's pro fighting gamers. He won the Topanga World League using Ryu and is the author of several books.
Daigo: Yes, indeed. Since the beginning of Vanilla SF4 I've been playing Ryu for 6 years straight now, so it's only natural that I wanted something new. Also for USF4, everyone's attack power was raised, but Ryu's attack power did not change that much.

4Gamer: You felt it was very difficult.

Daigo: Yes. I began to look around for characters with high firepower and landed on Evil Ryu. At first, I didn't pay much attention to his strength and selected him. However, once I began to use Evil Ryu, I began to ask myself, "What have I been doing this entire time?"

4Gamer: I see. May we all assume that you will be using Evil Ryu for Evo 2014 and in the future?

Daigo: I suppose. At first I wanted to alternate between Evil Ryu and regular Ryu, but the more I played the more I realized that Evil Ryu is in all respects a superior version to Ryu. In the future, the only matchup where Ryu is more enjoyable to play is against Balrog (Claw). From now on, I'll probably stick with Evil Ryu.

4Gamer: Understood. How about you, Tokido?

A proud member of Team Mad Catz, Tokido has extensive experience traveling the world playing multiple fighting games. As a runner up to last year's Evo for AE2012, he won the last official Street Fighter 4 in Japan, even defeating team mate Daigo to claim the title of strongest. Every Wednesday at 9pm Japan time, you can him on the Topanga TV show as a regular guest.
Tokido: I've pondered this long and hard, but this time I'll stay with Akuma. In every version before Ultra, Akuma has been a top 3 character, but because of USF4's mechanics he has been severely weakened.

4Gamer: Despite the fact that delayed standing has watered down Akuma's all mighty okizeme vortex, you still want to use Akuma?

Tokido: I've always wanted see how much I could win by taking a mid level character and exploring the limits of the character's potential through hard work.

Daigo: In version 1.01 Akuma seems quite fun with his far standing heavy punch now made cancelable.

Tokido: That certainly a big part of it. More than anything, he's really fun to play with now.

4Gamer: I'll ask about the specifics a little later. Next up, how about you Momochi? Who will you use in Evo 2014? I've heard that you're using quite a number of characters, but I remain curious who you will main.

Momochi: In version 1.00, I was using Juri. From AE 2012 she had so many changes and it was fun playing such a strong version of her.....but then version 1.01 came out and I was surprised to find her so nerfed.

Itabashi Zangief (Itazan, for short): Tokido is making a face full of disbelief.

Tokido: I mean come on! Juri is still very good, right?

Momochi: Well it's true that she is still a strong character. But after contemplating for a great while, I've decided that I wanted to return to Ken who I've used until now. His thunder kick (overhead roundhouse) is even on block. Along with such new changes, he's really fun to use.

4Gamer: Many people associate you with the character Cody, how is he in USF4?

Momochi: Well of course I wanted to use him, but Cody is still lacking. If only Capcom would make him a little stronger. (laughs) For now, I'm going to enter Evo with Ken. If there is a favorable matchup, I may possibly counter pick with Juri, but I haven't practiced enough with her yet. If that's the case, I thought it would be best to focus on Ken.

A member of Team Evil Geniuses, Momochi moved to Tokyo from Nagoya this year. He appears alongside Tokido and Mago in Topanga TV. Not long before this interview, he won the championship for South East Asia Major in Singapore using Ken.
Long considered the top Sagat player, Bonchan received 3rd at the Topanga World League, consistently placing well at many major tournaments. Every Tuesday at 9 pm, you can watch him on Kachitagari TV with guest members Fuudo and Kazunoko.

4Gamer: Got it. How about you Bonchan?

Bonchan: Well I've persevered with Sagat ever since vanilla SF4. However, today I want to loudly proclaim, "USF4 Sagat is super weak!"

Tokido: With the overall recovery frames added to his high tiger shot, it seems like his matchups against Guile and Dhalsim are extremely difficult.

Bonchan: Exactly. Sagat's greatest strength was the ability to freely switch between the speed and strength of fireballs, which he can no longer do. In that sense it will be fun discovering a new way to play Sagat, but using him is clearly a long and difficult journey.

4Gamer: Next, let's hear some thoughts from Itazan.

Itabashi Zangief
A member of Team Razer's Fighting Game division, Itazan was very famous on the Virtual Fighter circuit before transitioning to Street Fighter where he mainly uses heavyweight grapple characters. He often appears on the GODSGARDEN show along with other maniac gamers.
Itazan: In USF4, the number of "ultra moves" and "ultra characters" have increased. This includes the super heavy weight grapplers, and the all-mighty condor spire. (laughs)

4Gamer: Condor spire is most certainly an ultra move isn't it?

Itazan: So at first I used T. Hawk. As a grappler, he never saw any playtime on the major circuit. However, in version 1.01, Zangief's light green hand (banishing flat) has now changed from -3 to -2 frames on hit and he's become quite the "ultra character" himself. At the moment, I'm completely torn between who to use.

Momochi: Green hand's overall frames has sped up, so even if you whiff its quite powerful. In that sense, it's not much different from your beloved condor spire.

Bonchan: For both Zangief and Hawk, it's a significant change when they are buffed in ways that allow them to get near the opponent.

Itazan: That's right. If I consider the amount of practice time thus far, then Zangief is the better choice, but Hawk is so entertaining that I'm having incredible difficulty deciding.

A top player of many titles, Kazunoko and his fearsome Yun have achieved many tournament victories, including #2 at the recent South East Asia Major in Singapore. He is a popular member on both Kachitagari TV and GODSGARDEN stream shows.
4Gamer: Last we have Kazunoko. You'll be using Yun, a character that has a notorious reputation in Ultra Street Fighter 4.

Kazunoko: Yes, I've used Yun ever since the beginning, like a true craftsman.

(everyone laughs)

Kazunoko: Wait, why is everyone laughing? I am loyally attached to my character!

Tokido: Alright, I admit that you were brilliant for sticking with Yun even in AE2012.

Bonchan: Wait, didn't you switch to Seth midway? Then you cried out that "fighting against Fei-Long is impossible," and returned once again to Yun.

Kazunoko: Well even now it's the same situation. This is what I define as character love. (laughs)

Rating the 5 New Characters

4Gamer: 5 new characters were added in USF4, how would you rate them?

Bonchan: Among the new characters, the one with the most potential is Poison. Her fireball game (Aeolus Edge) is very strong.


Daigo: Yes. Characters with slow walkspeed, without fireballs, or ways to pass through fireballs will find it extremely difficult to fight Poison.

Itazan: Big body grapplers will land on her HP fireball and eat a juggle combo, so its very troublesome. The hitbox of Poison's fireball is so large that you might even consider it as an anti-air in some respect.

Momochi: However her uppercut (Kissed by a Goddess) has a very thin hit box and is an unreliable anti-air. She must rely on her ground normals to anti-air and thus is very weak against characters who can change their jump trajectory.

Bonchan: Moreover, Poison's damage output is not too high. I suppose it's fair given that her zoning capability is so powerful.

Daigo: Perhaps it's best that all Guile players change over to Poison. The characters basically have the same game plan.

Bonchan: I think of Poison as a powered up version of Rose. In version 1.01, Rose isn't considered a weak character, but I feel that Poison is stronger.

Kazunoko: Is Poison really that strong? I used Yun to play against her and didn't sense anything spectacular.

(everyone laughs)

Bonchan: Will every conversation end this way with Kazunoko?

Kazunoko: From personal experience, Rolento was the most fun to use out of all the new characters, but he's been severely weakened in version 1.01. Previously his rolling attack (Mekong Delta Attack) was overpowered.


Tokido: Characters with no way to punish his rolling attack nor ability to deal with his jumping HP had a real tough time. However I predicted that Rolento would get hit with the nerf bat. While its common that no one will use new characters unless the characters are strong, Rolento was a bit too ridiculous.

Kazunoko: The amount of people using him has decreased significantly huh?

Itazan: The invincibility on EX Patriot Circle was removed too, right?

Momochi: That's right. Even EX Mekong Delta Escape could be punished on reaction with jumpback kick and became a meaningless move. The only useful invincible move for Rolento is his Ultra.

Daigo: Due to this, Rolento may be the weakest character in the entire cast when pressured by the opponent. If he had some better method of counterattacking, maybe then he would be viable.

Tokido: From rolling attack, to jumping HP, to EX Patriot, all his main weapons were nerfed.

Daigo: He was left with absolutely nothing. If you had to pick something unique about his playstyle, it would be Rolento's knife (stinger).

Tokido: When close standing HP on counterhit -> stinger -> crouching MK connects things become fun, but if this is all Rolento can do, he cannot fight against the majority of the cast.

Daigo: It seems that discussing new characters can only lead to a depressing conversation.

Kazunoko: Considering she got nerfed in version 1.01, Elena is quite the case, don't you think?

Daigo: Is that so? I know nothing about her. "Irritating" is the only thing that comes to mind. Is she weak?


Momochi: I felt the pain when they took away her crouch HP cancel and weakened all her jumping attacks. Her sliding doesn't pass through fireballs as well as before. With her jump arc so high, it will be worrisome to fight against fireball characters.

Bonchan: Even in the old version, it seemed as if Elena's sliding attack could not pass through low tiger shot. I never once feared losing to her in a fight.

Daigo: Wow that is amazing. I thought that the Elena vs Sagat matchup was just as difficult as the Hugo vs Sagat matchup.

Kazunoko: Elena's frame advantage from crouch light kick was also reduced, so her low attack options became quite weak.

Daigo: Is that so? In that case I should just stand guard against Elena.

Kazunoko: While I do believe it's fine for people to complain upon seeing her nerfs, her entire gameplan revolved around EX overhead (mallet smash) and low attack 50/50 mixups. If you can imagine how it was to fight against her....

Momochi: If such a 50/50 playstyle was too strong, I imagine it was rather boring to play against Elena.

Itazan: Leaving aside the terms "weak" or "strong," I think Hugo is an amazing character, what do you think?


Daigo: As a character, Hugo is very fun. He has many armored moves and all his command throws have different uses. However, he has way too much trouble against fireballs. How can a character in this time and age just die without being able to get in close? It's almost as if we are playing a fighting game from 20 over years ago.

Tokido: Hrm? Daigo didn't you mention when the game first launched that Hugo might be able to fight against fireball characters? You were practicing very hard with him back then.

Daigo: Hugo can fight against Shotos. You could use EX meat squasher's armor to close the gap, and then if you got a good read on a fireball you could jump in on your opponent. However, against Guile, Sagat, or Poison, characters with very little recovery on their fireball, there was no solution to get close using either approach. Isn't he helpless?

(everyone laughs)

Daigo: Seriously, I wouldn't be angry if they made Hugo very powerful once he got in close after navigating through the fireballs with great difficulty. However ven when Hugo gets into close range his vital okizeme options are very lackluster.

Itazan: Is that so? You can use a meaty HP hand clap when your opponent is rising. If the opponent backdashes, they will get hit and then Hugo can juggle with ex hand clap -> Ultra combo 2. If the opponent stops backdashing and chooses to guard, you can switch to an early LP hand clap whiff and try to command throw. This pattern was the way he fought in 3rd Strike.

Daigo: Shall we try?

Itazan: Oh...I see. Wait, although it is difficult to get into close range, his EX Monster Lariat now has multiple hits of armor. Can't Hugo use this now?

Daigo: That move is only good for a pure gambling read. Because there is a hit stop animation when Hugo's armor absorbs a hit, EX monster lariat is often too slow. You can't use it reliably to punish fireballs.

Tokido: You're right, at this distance you can't use it. But I saw the Hugo and Dhalsim matchup and it seems that you can make good use of EX monster lariat.

Daigo: Oh? This move may be viable in the Dhalsim matchup.

Tokido: However, even if you're within range to hit Dhalsim with this move, you know, a Yoga teleport is coming next.

4Gamer: Dhalsim will escape with Yoga Teleport… (laughs)

At this distance, even if you use EX monster lariat, Ryu has more than enough time to block.
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Momochi: If they were to rebalance Hugo, instead of giving him more options to deal with fireballs, it would be far more interesting to power up his close range game. Zangief and Hawk already have many options to deal with fireballs, so I would like Hugo to have a different character design concept. It would be perfectly fine to make Hugo's butt splash overhead (crouching heavy kick) 200 damage.

Daigo: Yeah it would be great if “moonsault press” were 250 damage. At the very least, they could have left the damage from “Hammer Mountain” unchanged. Because this move gives Hugo a unique flavor, I doubt anyone would have complained about it.

Tokido: Hugo's HP is around the same as Sagat's 1050HP, right? Shouldn't they give Hugo a little more life?

Bonchan: If that were the case, non-fireball characters would have a difficult time to beat Hugo, but I think 1100HP isn't a bad idea.

Momochi: If you look at all the changes in Version 1.01 overall, it seems “broken” moves were removed in order to create a more mild game. However, Yun still remains broken.

Kazunoko: Hey wait a minute! Please stop bringing up Yun whenever it's convenient.

Tokido: The newest character is Decapre. Momochi, you've probably spent the most time with her, right?

Momochi: Yeah I've been using Decapre a lot. You would think that charge characters are easy to maneuver, but Decapre is exceptionally difficult to control.

Daigo: Do you feel that she is powerful?

Momochi: Currently, the consensus is that Decapre isn't that strong, but I don't think she is as weak as everyone says. Conversely, if there were minor tweaks to her game she could be a broken character, so her current build may be just right. Her light rapid dagger is -3 frames on block, but if you hit on the tip, a shoryuken reversal will miss. If you incorporate this move into the ground game, she can be quite powerful.

Itazan: Let's not forget that Decapre's hurt box is strange. After Yun's tenshin command grab, crouch MP -> standing far MP will not connect. Instead, Yun players must switch to crouch MP -> crouch MK.

Kazunoko: Exactly! This is one of the many difficulties Yun players face.

Itazan: …Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned this at all. (laughs)

Daigo: How is her Ultra Combo 1, Psycho Stream?

Momochi: Decapre can use it during many set plays on opponents' wake up, and it can be used against delay standing as well. I think Psycho stream is quite strong.

Itazan: However for some strange reason she can't use it immediately after her air throw combo ender. I wonder why that is?

This phenomenon may be caused by Decapre losing her charge during the air throw animation, as the opponent switches sides briefly before she throws them.
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4Gamer: It seems she is being used quite heavily at arcades.

Momochi: If you look at the rankings for June 2014, mostly everyone was using Decapre. However, there are very few Decapres with a high bp ranking at the moment.

Itazan: I think she has great potential, but she's weak against saving attack right?

Momochi: If only her mid-air arrow had armor breaking properties. Oh, I just remembered. Decapre's close standing HP has a metallic crackling sound at the beginning. If you empty cancel this move into her taunt #3, it looks super cool like a KAMEN RIDER pose.

Itazan: Huh, I didn't know you looked that closely at the animations, Momochi. Even I don't know the taunt animations of Zangief. (laughs)

Decapre's taunt #3 animation

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