One of the fighting games community’s most skilled and competitive players, Tokido has made an impression upon the competitive scene since his debut in 2002. A highly capable player with a unique attitude towards the genre, his recent winning performance at Evo 2017 has proven that he’s still at the top of his game.
Introduced to Street Fighter at an early age, Hajime Taniguchi began to dabble in the genre as early as the 1990s. He was originally a King of Fighters player but claimed the EVO Championship on Capcom vs SNK 2 in 2002, as well as the Super Street Fighter II Turbo Championship five years later. This cemented him as a force to be reckoned with.
Compared to most Street Fighter players, he was quite late getting into Street Fighter IV, guided by his Madcatz partner and Street Fighter legend Daigo Umehara. He was urged to pick the character Akuma as his main – a low health but high damage character, who was simple to play but tricky to master. He performed well with Akuma but was never much of a fan favourite. However, this all changed in 2010.
During the SoCal Regionals that year, he matched up against ClakeyD, managing to remain dominant throughout. During the final round, however, Tokido pulled off Akuma’s ultra-combo to finish off his opponent – a combo that is considered one of the trickier moves to master due to its high amount of input.
As the animation finishes, the character stands with their back to the viewers, a burning kanji symbol lighting up on their back and Tokido himself got up and stood in front of the screen, mirroring the character’s pose with the symbol projected onto his back. This display of showmanship and crowd-pleasing went down a storm and coupled with his famously serious expressions when playing earned him the nickname Murderface. He has since developed a reputation for mimicking Akuma’s taunts and disrespecting other players, although he has resolved to try and cut down on this behaviour.
He went on to master Akuma, even developing his own signature techniques. His aggressive, high-pressure gameplay left his opponents very little room for error and he was able to punish them heavily for the slightest misstep.
He also created the Tokido Vortex, a technique designed to put even more pressure on a cornered foe as the combo ensured they took heavy damage, no matter what they did, strengthening Tokido’s approach of high chip damage and aggressive pressure.
In Street Fighter, Tokido has an impressive record – ranking second in Evo 2013, even defeating world-famous Akuma player Infiltration in the Losers Finals. He has performed in quite a few Street Fighter IV matches and tournaments around the world but Street Fighter V is where he truly began to shine. The game’s mechanics were far more suited to aggressive gameplay and perfectly matched his unique playstyle.
The Japanese player practiced with Ryu in the new game as Akuma did not initially feature, and he performed extremely well – his success at Community Effort Orlando 2016 proving this beyond doubt. Here he overcame impressive opponents such as Infiltration, Momochi, Daigo and more to claim the top prize, dominating the tournament with his expert parries and high-offence strategies.
He went on to win the South-East Asia Major 2016 and placed a close second in the Capcom Pro NA Regional Finals of the same year, all with Ryu. However, in 2017 he had a change of heart, returning to his tried and tested character of Akuma, who by then had been introduced to the game. Although quite different in Street Fighter V compared to previous games, Tokido demonstrated the same level of mastery over him.
With this new Akuma, he won the coveted Evo 2017 Championship, overcoming top-level player Punk despite the disadvantage of entering from the Losers Finals. He defeated Punk’s Karin with his unique approach to the character, his mental fortitude and wealth of experience with the game granting him the discipline and patience that Punk sorely lacked.
And to top it off, as well as winning the most important fighting games championship in the world, he also took home the gold at the Brooklyn Beatdown Round 2, beating legendary opponents like Justin Wong and Fuudo to take the prize.
Tokido is one of the top players in fighting games out there right now, having taken to Street Fighter V like a fish to water. He seems to be in his absolute prime at the moment, and with a return to his trademark character, is an absolute delight to watch. The serious-minded player always offers a breathtaking performance and has truly earned his spot amongst the Five Fighting Game Gods of Japan.