Hajime Taniguchi is scheduled to compete in CapCom Cup 2016, and he will surely be a formidable opponent for all of his 31 competitors.
Taniguchi, who is 31 years old and who goes by the name Tokido, is considered to be one of the best professional Street Fighter players in the world, having placed first in two premier events this season. At the 2016 Community Effort Orlando, Tokido defeated Infiltration and qualified for CapCom Cup, which takes place on December 2nd and December 3rd.
Here’s everything you need to know about Hajime Taniguchi, a.k.a. Tokido.
1. He’s Originally From Tokyo
Hajime Taniguchi is originally from Tokyo, Japan, and he graduated from the University of Tokyo at the top of his class, according to a Tokido fan website.
Taniguchi got his start in the fighting game community in the early 2010s, although he had been playing fighting games since being introduced to The King of Fighters in the 1990s, he said in an interview with Red Bull. In fact, his “Tokido” name comes from The King of Fighters; it’s a shortened version of a Iori Yagami combo move: Tonde, Kick and Doushita.
Taniguchi got his start at the Gamer’s Vision arcade center, and he started to become well known when he came in third place in the SoCal Regionals in 2010.
2. He Loves to Trash Talk His Opponents
Taniguchi often approaches fighting game competitions as if they are a WWE show, filing his time on screen with trash talk and the dialogue of an over-the-top movie character. There was, for instance, the moment during 2015’s Red Bull Kumite when he delivered a line that sounded like something out of a wrestling promo.
“If he uses Ryu, I body him. If he uses Sagat, I body him,” Taniguchi said. “I know every tournament, he gets second place. I know he wants to really be champion. But I’m sorry, your opponent is Tokido.”
In addition, many of his over the top reactions during tournaments have been turned into online memes and reaction images. During the SoCal Regionals 2010, when Taniguchi was just making a name for himself, he strategically walked in front of a projector to cast a shadow on the screen a create a highly dramatic moment for viewers.
Taniguchi has said, however, that he’s starting to move away from these kinds of antics.
“I think it’s important that the audience think I’m cool to get their attention so I did things like Murderface or ‘I body you’ a lot,” he said in an interview with Red Bull. “Recently, I haven’t been doing those things because if I’m a pro gamer, I want to show that entertainment in game, not out of it.”
Behind the scenes, Taniguchi has been known to meditate prior to his big matches.
3. He Invented a Way of Playing Akuma
Taniguchi typically played as Akuma in Street Fighter IV, and he was so influential in the fighting game community that he actually invented an entire gameplay style that is now named after him.
While playing as Akuma, Taniguchi would typically corner opponents and trap them in a vortex, which essentially guarantees that they will take damage, according to Yahoo Sports. In the fighting game community, this became known as the “Tokido Vortex,” an arguably cheap but highly effective move.
“I created [Akuma’s] technique,” Taniguchi told Red Bull. “I made him my Okizeme style. His fireball and ground game is very good but I’m not so good at the fireball and ground game.”
When Street Fighter V came out, however, Taniguchi was forced to adapt.
4. He Has Changed His Gameplay Style Over Time
When Taniguchi first started playing fighting games, he would often pick very strong characters that some players would consider to be cheap, but that changed over time.
In an interview with BornFree, Taniguchi said that this was a deliberate choice, explaining that he realized he was losing in the longer matches because players had the chance to adapt to his “cheap” gameplay style.
“[Yusuke] Momochi beat me long set, it [was] a first to 10 or something,” he said. “I beat him 6-0, but he came back…I was very shocked because…I was very good at short sets, best of three, best of five, but in the long set…”
Taniguchi went on to say that after losing to Momochi, he realized that he could not survive going forward without changing up his gameplay style, and so that’s exactly what he did. According to Yahoo, going into 2015, Taniguchi expressed a desire to work on a more grounded and fundamental style, especially with Street Fighter V coming up. Although he did not perform very well in Tokyo Game Show 2015, he bounced back with a first place win at Canada Cup 2015, with many viewers taking note of his new style.
Earlier this year, Taniguchi said that he enjoys Street Fighter V and feels that he is at an advantage since the new game rewards aggressive gameplay.
“In Street Fighter IV, I used Akuma and Akuma is a very aggressive character,” he told ESPN. “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.”
5. He’s One of the “Five Gods” of Street Fighter
Hajime Taniguchi helps to make up the “five gods of Street Fighter,” a group players generally considered to be the best in the world. The other four are Daigo Umehara (Daigo), Naoto Sako (Sako), Tatsuya Haitani (Haitani) and Shinya Onuki (Nuki). All but Nuki will be competing in Capcom Cup 2016.
Personally, Taniguchi says he doesn’t feel that he is the best in the world, although he is working towards that goal.
“I won today, but still I don’t think I am the best,” he told Yahoo Sports after winning at CEO 2016. I am one of the best. So this year, I want to think I am the best.”
In total, Hajime Taniguchi has earned about $95,000 from fighting game competitions, according to E-Sports Earnings.The most he won from a single tournament was $12,000 from CEO 2016, where he played Street Fighter V.
If Taniguchi can win first place in Capcom Cup 2016, he will win $120,000, the biggest prize of his entire career.