Echo Fox Street Fighter V pro Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi walked away with $20,000 after taking out Team Grapht's Keita "Fuudo" Ai in a contentious Brooklyn Beatdown Round 2 grand finals Sunday in New York.
The games at ESL One New York's SFV final were fast and frantic as each player looked for their first opening for a grab and bread-and-butter combo. Fuudo would try and push Tokido's Akuma into a corner, but Tokido was seldom fazed and would found a way to jump out and get back into the center. It wasn't a wash, however, as Fuudo was able to adapt and counter Tokido's V-trigger setups. Fuudo also showed great reaction times, taking a single hit to turn it into a critical art counter.
In the first game of Set 2, Tokido was able to prevent a critical art with fast reactions and come in for the kill. Ultimately, Tokido was too much for Fuudo, taking the set 3-0.
For Tokido, his match against Fuudo was another day at work. Since both hail from Tokyo, they often practice together, about three to four times a week.
"Sometimes I beat him, sometimes he beats me," Tokido said. "But recently I've beaten him, so it's good timing for me that in the tournament I played him."
During his game with Fuudo, Tokido was quick to analyze and adapt.
"I don't use counter anti-air," often, Tokido said, "but in the tournament I saw my notes -- sometimes it works. I used light kicks [and] he got hit a lot."
Years ago, Tokido coined a nickname for himself: Murderface. It was a reference to the face he makes in between matches that's serious, focused and unintentionally sinister. But at Brooklyn Beatdown Round 2, he would close his eyes and take deep breaths in between matches.
"I went to a temple in Japan," and learned meditation from a master, Tokido said. "It's not difficult; if you do it every day, it's very good. But I'm kind of lazy."
Walnuts have also been a key tool for Tokido; he's been eating them during tournaments as an energy-boosting snack throughout the day. And he'll need that energy, because he knows that after winning Evolution 2017, and now Brooklyn Beatdown Round 2, he has a target on his back.
"In fighting games, the winner is going to be not winning because if he shows his strength, everyone will want to beat him," said Tokido.
And being the competitor that he is, Tokido will not get complacent with his win in New York.
"I don't want to be satisfied with this result because our fighting never ends. So I'm thinking how I can improve much more."