By the end of Season One, one thing was made very apparent to Capcom; both Nash and Chun Li were too strong. Both characters saw a lot of their tools either removed or nerfed, leaving many people to leave the characters in a dust. Often referred to as the “Last Nash.” Masato “Bonchan” Takahashi has refused to leave the character behind. Despite the inherent weaknesses of the character, Bonchan has pushed the character to the brink – even taking a string of 1st place finishes at The Colosseum ‘17, Battle Arena Melbourne 9, and the Saigon Cup.
Considered a potential Top 8 favorite, Bonchan fell into Losers after taking a loss in his first match of his Round 1 pools. After pools were over, I was able to chat with Bonchan about Nash and life outside of Street Fighter.
(This interview was originally published on PVP Live July 20th, 2017. PVP Live is now defunct)
How did your Round 1 pools go?
I lost my very first match. I thought I was comparably better than everyone in my pool so I thought I had a better chance than other years to win Evo. I’m pretty shocked right now
You’re still sticking with Nash. How do you think Nash currently fits in the meta?
So when the season 2 just came out, he was probably in the worst five characters, and right now he’s gotten better but he’s still in the worst ten characters
Comparatively to Rainbow Mika, matchups with Rashid, matchups with other top tier characters. How do you think Nash matches up with characters like that?
The hardest matchups for Nash are against Ibuki and Cammy, and for other matchups obviously it’s not in favor of Nash, but I think I can work it out.
Based on your bracket, who do you think your toughest matchup is going to be, and who is going to be free?
In terms of players?
The hardest matchup probably was Smug. Initially, I thought I would advance in Winner’s, so I would meet Smug somewhere. But I heard that Smug is also in Loser’s, so I will meet him anyway. So that’s probably going to be the hardest matchup of the day.
The person I wants to play the most is Xian. I have been practicing my Ibuki matchup. In my simulation, I would have played Xian in Winner’s Top 8, which would have determined who goes into the third day of EVO, so I thought that would be a super good match to watch for everybody because I’ve been practicing for it and he wanted to show that in EVO but that’s apparently not happening.
What is your day-to-day schedule like, since I imagine it isn’t Street Fighter 24/7?
Well he thought about it for awhile, but he just cannot think of anything that he’s doing outside of playing Street Fighter. But he usually sleeps a lot, and when he’s not sleeping he goes out to drink, he goes out for a good meal.
If you weren’t doing Street Fighter, what would you be doing?
As a profession?
I used to play KOF or Guilty Gear, so I would still be playing fighting games. I don’t think I’d be a pro gamer though.
Despite taking the loss in his first match of his Round 1 pools, Bonchan was able to battle his way through his next set of pools all the way to Losers Semifinals. The road to Top 8 was not easy for him either. Killers like Brolynho, 801 Strider, and Justin Wong were all in his way. Bonchan was able to defeat each one, with only MOV left in his way. Unfortunately, Bonchan was not able to overcome the Chun Li specialist, and finished Evo at a respectable, but disappointing, 9th place.
Not wanting to leave things as they were, I was able to track down Bonchan for a followup interview.
(c) Red Bull Japan / Stephanie Lindgren
So yesterday you told me you were really shook after that first loss, how were you able to collect yourself to make it as far as you did?
When I started today, I was in the Losers of my Round 2 pool. I really wanted to, while looking at the brackets and everything today, I wanted to really be collected and win through the Round 2, and after that, anything can happen in EVO. I mean, round 3 is full of killers, and look at the bracket. There were a lot of matchups that were hard for Nash and me.I just thought “okay, i’ll have a lot of tough matches from now on, but as long as I get through Round 2, I’ll be fine.
Justin pulled out Ed, which seem to be a character he’s been using to shake up his matchups and surprise people. When he selected Ed, what was going through your head?
The first two rounds, I beat Justin really bad while he was using Karin. I thinks that Justin really just wants to use Karin, in my opinion, but I beat him too hard so he had to change it to next possible character. When I saw Justin select Ed I thought “Shit, I did it too much.”
You’ve been very competitive and a high tier competitor for so long, what do you think it is about yourself that allows you to stay pretty high up as you are?
Well. I grind hard, and that’s it. I’m always thinking long term when I’m training, and not just short term, so that’s what has let me stay on top so long.
How difficult is it for you to do EVO, which is a very long plane flight, and is a much longer event than some others. What do you do to make sure you can handle those issues?
I think when it comes to these big tournaments overseas, I really need to have physical strength as well as mental strength. So, when I travel to events overseas like this one, I really manage my time wisely to keep the mind going, and keep the head alert, but let the body rest. So, I go to my room to rest. But I’m always thinking about my matches
You don’t seem to get as salty as the other players when you lose, why is that?
I think if the whole community had long term round robin style tournaments where I would know who to play against and I would be training against them, then I’d be really really salty, because I know it’s my fault I didn’t train hard enough. But in these tournament style settings you don’t know who you’re going up against, anything could happen. Even if I am by far the strongest player in the world; I could still lose. The results have some randomness. If I get salty every time I lose, I could not compete on the Capcom Tour.
Anna Sakagawa acted as Bonchan’s translator during this interview