Keiji Okamoto (Garireo), winner of EVO 2014’s BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma tournament, has made it known in a 4Gamer interview that a pre-competition bungee jumping session was key to him gaining the fearlessness that was to propel him all the way from loser’s bracket to the championship podium.
In the same interview, it is mentioned that Okamoto – like his countryman, FGC legend Daigo Umehara – is a firm believer in the benefits of regular physical endurance training for e-sports athletes, as it helps “strengthen resolve, so as not to give up easily in tough tournament situations”.
In a later one-on-one with Witty Gamer, Okamoto also reveals that “Just as important as improving your mental state is breaking down that of your opponents’. It’s not as harsh as it sounds – this can actually be achieved discreetly.”
“For example, before my loser’s final match with BE|TSB|Dora_bang, Dogura (Ryo Nozaki) came up to me and said: ‘Let’s settle this once and for all. I’ll be waiting for you at the grand finals.’ With that simple statement, he made himself look cool, encouraged me, and at the same time put a lot of pressure on me. Amazing, isn’t it?”
“So of course, I had to fight back in my own way, at the same terms that Dogura had set. Whenever I won a particularly tough set, I made a war cry. But notice that it was always a shout aimed at the screen, or at the heavens – I never yelled at Dogura’s face. And with that, I made it easier for myself to ‘stay in the zone’, hyped up the audience, and intimidated Dogura, killing his momentum. He was putting on a poker face, but I’m certain. It got to him.”
“See the brilliance of it all? Seemingly trivial gestures, but they all add up, affecting concentration and judgement. Multi-pronged psychological warfare. And it’s all non-confrontational.”
Okamoto also credits another source of inspiration – his namesake, 15th century astronomer, engineer, mathematician, philosopher, and physicist Galileo Galilei.
“In Japan, the BlazBlue community thinks that I got my gaming handle from the TV drama (Masaharu Fukuyama, the actor who plays Manabu Yukawa in ‘Galileo‘, shares a slight resemblance with Okamoto). But really, I nicknamed myself after the famous Italian,” Okamoto says, laughing.
“That guy wasn’t just an expert in multiple fields, he had the balls to satirize Pope Urban VIII, one of the most powerful authority figures of his time! And all because of his firm belief in Copernicanism. Sugee–na.”
“And… this is going to sound weird, but for laughs, sometimes I imagine myself having conversations with him. Stuff like this:
“Anyway, back on topic. You know how Galileo essentially invented kinematics and strength of materials, right? And these sciences – not only do they help solve real-world engineering problems, but you can also take the concepts behind them and think about them philosophically. For example, elasticity. An elastic object can return to its original form even after being subjected to stress. In the same way, people should always try to be elastic. Don’t let your problems distort your personality – you have to remember who you are and stay true to that.”
“And there’s kinematic analysis. It’s used to find the range of movement for a given mechanism. Let’s try to relate that to fighting games. You have to be aware of the ranges of your chosen character’s normal and special moves, and how the current spacing between you and your opponent dictates their appropriateness as ‘answers’. Kakkoii, ne?”
“Lastly, let’s talk about legacy. Galileo was forced to recant his beliefs and charged by the Roman Inquisition to spend his last days under house arrest. Not exactly the height of glamour. And yet we still remember him 400 years later for his contributions to humanity. It really puts everything into perspective. Sure, I’ve won EVO, gotten my day under the sun. But I can’t let it get to my head. And even when no one believes in me anymore, I have to be able to believe in myself, and be worthy of that belief.”
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