John Takeuchi: Year One
April 17 2019
John Takeuchi had an accelerated entrance into the world of esports. Unlike most of our talented players, John had never had a professional sponsor before landing a deal with Team Liquid. At only 20 when the ink dried on his contract, John’s world was about to expand in ways he never expected.
translation: Came to a restaurant [in America]. The mirror is hung too high!
As a professional player on the Capcom Pro Tour, world travel isn’t optional -- it’s required. In only the first month of the CPT 2019, John is scheduled to fly between three continents. An international flight nearly every week. By now, John is a pro, but his first year was a lot to take in.
"2018 was my first year as a full time pro gamer and I feel like all I did was get sick often and fail a lot. Because of these failures, there were a lot of tournaments I was unable to make it out of. If I’d managed to make it out of any of those tournaments I would have qualified for Capcom Cup, so I am still feeling a lot of regret [regarding my performances]. That being said, even not being able to make it out of the tournaments has taught me a lot so I feel my experiences were valuable regardless of the outcome."
John’s first experience in esports and all of its ‘glitz and glamour’ were on display when he came to Los Angeles to visit the Team Liquid Headquarters. The experience presented a stark contrast from what he was used to back home.
"When I visited the AWTF I was surprised by how luxurious/splendid the facility was. The entire time [I stayed in LA] I was very well taken care of and it left a very good impression on me. In Japan, pro gaming [as a profession] is still looked down upon, so visiting the facility made me think about the way pro gamers are treated and how different that is [from place to place/in Japan and America]."
International flights and spending countless hours in and around airports can be a drain, but world travel has its perks. For John, it’s experiencing local cuisine. Of all the places John has traveled, one spot continues to resonate in his mind.
"[For food] without a doubt it’s 100% France. I’m proud to say that Japanese food is delicious, but French bread is just SO MUCH tastier than Japanese bread. While French cuisine is really delicious overall, French bread and sweets were better there than in any other country I’ve been to. It doesn’t matter where you go in France, just make sure you stop by a bakery!"
While French breads were a pleasant new experience, John’s favorite is still at home.
“To this day, I still like Ramen [the most!]”
Going ‘pro’ isn’t simply about traveling to tournaments and wearing a new t-shirt, it’s a new career opportunity. And a new career can bring stability and freedom, helping you grow in ways you may not expect.
"Since I’m now making better money, it also feels like I have more time. I now have time to pursue my hobbies [reading books and drawing] more. I’m not sure just how much I’ve grown as a person, but [I reflect often] about and a lot of new things because of the experiences I’ve had."
While John was able to expand his hobbies and enjoy the freedom his new career offered, tournaments are where his work is done. John’s office is the tournament floor, a Ps4, and a chair. He approaches these events professionally and is constantly taking in information.
"Whenever I’m at a tournament I always like to see who I think is looking good [size up the opponents] and practice fundamentals in training mode to limit the amount of mistakes I have on stage. It’s impossible to not feel nervous, so I just do my best without overexerting myself."
John ultimately fell short for qualification to Capcom Cup last year. His season came down to a single set making a night and day difference. If John had beat CjTruth at the North America Finals, he’d have clinched his position at Capcom Cup. Instead, John lost 1-3 and his season was coming to a close.
Luckily, he had one shot left, the ‘Last Chance Qualifier,’ a brutally difficult tournament held the day before Capcom Cup for the final 32nd seed. It’s win and in; a feat his teammate Liquid`Nemo was able to pull off in 2017. John got 3rd. It was amazing performance but ultimately John fell heartbreakingly short of his mission and his season was over.
"I didn’t really pay much attention to the rankings, though I am disappointed that I was unable to make the cut. I think my skills were lacking last year and my biggest regret is that I was unable to qualify [for Capcom Cup] as that is the very essence of my work. My goal for this year is to put self management first and to not have any regrets."
While he came up short in the end, John still had a phenomenal season full of top 8s and strong wins. It is often said we learn more when we lose than when we win, and John had a fresh perspective after his rookie year.
"I learned last year that those who win tournaments are not these all powerful gods at the game. They are just regular people who put a LOT of practice in and just win through their hard work. So [this year] I would like to stay the course and practice as much as I can to steadily improve my own skill level. I want to focus on practicing as much as I can [to the point of not making any mistakes at tournaments] and keep my self management in check [to not get sick]."
Given that he is a young player, fresh off his first season in the ‘pros,’ he had some advice to offer anyone else out there looking for glory as a fighting game professional.
"First of all, if you want to become a pro, practicing with/competing against strong people is of utmost importance. These people will help make you stronger and at the same time they support you from behind, so cherish the bonds you make with these people. After that, please be careful on social media! In the end, becoming a pro is not as hard as it seems, so hang in there! Just remember, if you ever chase the dream of becoming the strongest player in the world, we’ll support you from behind!"
Inspiring words from a rising young talent. John might have missed Capcom Cup last year but we’re proud of all the accomplishments he achieved and the valuable experience he's garnered. We know John is going to continue to grow and find incredible success. The 2019 season has only just begun and John has already shown tremendous promise. We know it’s early but we’re confident -- c’ya at Capcom Cup.
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