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Street Fighter 5
Street Fighter 5

Bonchan: "I feel that I’m here as a professional gamer because of Sagat"

Masato “Bonchan” Takahashi has been pretty outspoken about his thoughts on Street Fighter V, landing himself in some hot water in the past. But whether he loves or hates the game, he hasn’t stopped competing on the Capcom Pro Tour. Since the end of Season 2, the last Nash has added a pretty fierce Karin to his arsenal and this has lead him to pretty strong finishes in Season 3. But with Sagat now out, who knows how strong Bonchan may get. At Evo 2018, Ginx’s Amanda Stevens was able to have a chat with Bonchan about why Menat is so boring, the point disparity between Premier and Ranking events, and how he hopes he can start playing some Dragon Ball. You’ve been playing a lot more Karin this season. Is it more matchup dependent, or is it because you feel Nash can’t do everything? At the end of Season 2, I was switching to Karin. So, Karin was my main character in Season 2. In Season 3, I really wanted to try with Nash again. I’m back to mainly using Nash as my main character. But, you know, he has limits. Whenever there is a matchup Nash can’t deal with, I bring Karin back out. Speaking of characters, I remember that you played a lot of Sagat in season 4 and he’s the last character to come out this season. Do you have high hopes for the character, or are you a little worried considering how people received Blanka’s release or Sakura’s release? I mean, if he’s good and he’s strong then that’s wonderful. I’m not expecting too much, actually, from the character but I feel that I’m here as a professional gamer because Sagat was there. I feel an emotional attachment to Sagat. No matter how bad he is or how unbalanced he would be, I will use Sagat. I really just want to show my Sagat at Capcom Cup this year. A character that has sort of rose in popularity right now is Menat, who a lot of players find kind of boring to watch and play against. What is your take on the different styles of Menat, cause you have more of the rush-dance style that Sako uses, versus the keep away style that Justin and Infiltration use? I think that the reason why people think it's boring to watch is that they feel that all the Menat player has to do is press one button to do a lot against any of the characters. So, if you are playing against a Menat, you definitely feel salty because your opponent is just pressing one button. I think if top players really put time and effort into making a strategy against Menat, then I think the matchup wouldn’t seem so impossible to play against. In that sense, Menat is well designed, but to be on that level - a lot of people will even just give up against Menat, so it’s unbalanced basically. I know that last year you had some not-so-kind words for the direction that Street Fighter 5 has been going in. And now we have more V-triggers, they’ve been actively trying to balance characters, whether you feel like they have been balanced or not is a different story. What are your current thoughts on the state of Street Fighter 5? I definitely think the title, the game itself, has improved. I can see that Capcom is actually listening to what the players are saying, but I do see minor issues especially on the crush counter system where they changed the system so that you can’t really reset your combo. That kind of minor problem is not intended, I don’t think that Capcom intended to make it that way, so they didn’t think through enough to make a new version this season. But I do appreciate the fact that they were actually listening to the players’ opinions and thoughts, 'cause I can really see that. So, I’m not going to stop saying what I want to say about it basically [laughs]. Focusing more on the competing side, last year we sort of talked about the struggles of travel. What is it like to spend a lot of time on the road, and then how do you relax when you get back to Japan? I mean, travelling, physically, is really, really hard because you have to fly multiple hours to a new place every week basically. I do feel that physical stress as well as emotional stress. But I think that for me to travel so much on a tour, means a lot to the community as well because I’m representing the Japanese community. And it also hypes up the local communities that I travel to, so I think it’s good that a lot of top players are travelling so much. When I do get back to Japan - I want to get a massage or have like, one day without any plans at all and just focused on resting. Speaking of travelling every week, the new format for the Capcom Pro Tour forces players, especially sponsored ones, to have to go to every event. Do you feel that this new system is better? Or do you prefer the old system where you had more options to pick and choose the events you went to? I definitely prefer the old style, “pick which one”, better. This year’s point system definitely has some issues. I think the ranking tournaments are way undervalued this year with the new point system, and I think that those local events, the smaller ranking tournaments, mean a lot to the community and that they should have more value. Top players do not travel to these ranking events because they give so little points. So in order to hype up these local communities, I think that Capcom should give these rankings more value. And I do understand that the premiere tournament should be above rankings, but the gap is too big. Who is a player that when you look at pools you think “Oh no, I really don’t want to face this guy”? I don’t want to face Menat players [laughs] because, I mean, Menat is my devil right now. Like, I can’t beat them and I really need to put more time and effort into playing against Menat. So, Infiltration, Justin. The players I want to see in my bracket are the grappler players because Nash is really good against them. We’re seeing a really big resurgence in fighting games across the board, not just in Street Fighter, but we have Dragon Ball FighterZ now, we have Dead or Alive 6 coming out soon, we have Soul Calibur 6 coming out soon. As a fan of fighting games, are there any games you have ever thought about maybe putting some time into outside of Street Fighter? Out of all the titles that have been released I definitely am thinking about Dragon Ball. My plan was to get points in CPT, get enough points so that I could focus on other titles, but I can’t do that yet. I have been watching a lot of gameplay, a lot of tutorials, tournament videos of Dragon Ball. I still think about playing it later, but that’s the only title I’m really interested in.