"SF6 is my main interest in 2023": EVO World Champion Tokido talks Street Fighter 6, his career as 'Murderface,' and more (Exclusive)
Hajime "Tokido" is one of the most well-recognized names in the world of fighting game players. Hailed as one of the 'five gods of fighting games,' he's dominated some of the biggest tournaments globally for nearly a decade. Hajime is also known for his skill across various games, particularly his skill at playing Akuma.
This was an interview I was very excited about. Akuma was always one of my go-to individuals as a casual fighting-game player. I constantly watched his gameplay footage, and it always looked so easy. I recently spoke to him about his career, various nicknames, and what he's looking forward to in 2023.
Who is Murderface? Tokidodives into his inspiration as a fighting game player
Q. First off, thanks for taking the time to speak with me. For those not familiar with your legacy in fighting games, would you introduce yourself?
Tokido: Hello, my name is Hajime Taniguchi. FGC (Fighting Game Community) people know me better than Tokido. I'm 37 years old and have played fighting games professionally for over 10 years.
Q. You've been playing fighting games since Street Fighter 2 on the Super Famicom, but what kept are you going? What inspired you to keep playing fighting games?
Tokido: It is the FGC. I know a lot of skilled players who are also popular in the community. Playing against them has been stimulating, so I can't help but compete with them. It's a lot of fun.
Q.You're also well-known as a master of Akuma. As potentially the greatest Akuma player in the world, what's special about Akuma that you can't find on other shotokan characters?
Tokido: First, I don't play Akuma anymore. Akuma has low health, so the player has to play the character with near-perfect precision. I like to play Akuma because I can win if I improve my strategy and technique with him.
Q. You're also known as one of the most consistent players in fighting games, playing multiple titles at once at the highest levels. How do you keep such a level of play across multiple games?
Tokido: I quit playing multiple titles when I felt I couldn't win this way anymore. A long time ago, not as many played fighting games seriously, so I could win with shallow knowledge of the games. However, fighting games have become esports, so the player level has become very high. I don't think I can win multiple titles now.
Q. As a three-time EVO champion, you've stood at the pinnacle of fighting games. Perhaps the most impressive was EVO 2017, where you brought Akuma through the loser's bracket and won. You played against some of the best players on the way to victory, but what inspired you to keep going, despite being in the loser's bracket?
Tokido: At that time, I was still confident I could win the tournament in even the loser's bracket because I had done enough preparation in terms of my strategy and technique. It helped that my character was strong. I also researched most of my opponents' habits. My mental conditioning was also very stable, so I thought, "I've got to win this tournament!"
Q. You have succeeded in nearly every popular fighting game, but do you have any favorite fighting games? Perhaps games that aren't as mainstream, like Skullgirls?
Tokido: KOF13 is my favorite fighting game, but I don't have time to play it. I have wonderful memories of the KOF community, though.
Q. You've often been hailed as one of the "five gods of fighting games," but does any ego come with that? Does a nickname or title like that fill you with pride, or does it mean little to you?
Tokido: I am very proud of being called nicknames like this because it shows that I have a powerful presence. I'm happy to hear that, even if it's "Murderface" or "Ice Age."
Q. Fighting games are seeing a real resurgence in 2022/2023. As the best Street Fighter V player, according to the PGRSF, how do you feel about Street Fighter 6? Did you have time to play in any of the beta tests? If so, what were your thoughts?
Tokido: I've played Street Fighter 6 a little bit. I'm happy because there are so many things to attract new players to the game. The most important thing for the FGC is letting non-FGC people know it exists. I hope Street Fighter 6 can do it.
Q. On that topic, what do you think Street Fighter needs to do to improve?
Tokido: There are a lot of things, depending on their position. Publishers need to think about how they can satisfy the FGC people and also attract non-FGC people at the same time. As a player, I want to be a great person and improve my public reputation. Of course, I should take Street Fighter 6 seriously and practice. It's essential.
Q. One of the hardest parts about fighting games is internal negativity. Many players look at the best players and find their lack of growth or skill upsetting. Do you have any advice for players who are struggling to improve?
Tokido: Don't worry about your rivals. You'll find that you are better than you were yesterday. Keep on it every day and practice.
Q. Do you miss the era of tag-based fighting games like Capcom vs. SNK 2 and Marvel vs. Capcom? Do you think those games could make a comeback?
Tokido: It was so fun. I hope that kind of game will be back shortly.
Q. What are you excited about in 2023 in fighting games? Not just games, but are there other players you're looking forward to testing yourself against?
Tokido: Street Fighter 6 is my main interest in 2023. Who will have the best presence in the FGC this year? I want it to be me.
Tokido is one of the most well-known fighting game players of all time. You can find him on Twitter and streaming regularly on Twitch. He will likely compete in Street Fighter 6 for much of the year to show the highest skill level in fighting games.