This is from the 2010 DCC booklet. Thanks to Brian for picking it up. Haitani won Vampire Savior at SBO. Lately he has one of the best Makotos in both Third Strike and SSF4AE. See also: Index of Multi-game Champs
What got you started playing fighting games regularly?
When I was about six my mom bought me my first game console (SNES) and I got Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting with it. Since then I've played mostly fighting games, so you could say that got me started playing them regularly.
My local friends played RPGs and sports games but at my house it was just fighting games like SF2, Samurai Shodown, Fatal Fury and TMNT plus Mega Man.
What kind of game is Vampire Savior to you?
Since it was the first game I started playing seriously I have the strongest affection for Savior.
Lately I play different games but my fundamentals definitely came from VS. The game meshes well with my own personality and strengths so I was able to get stronger than I imagined I could. *
You have a lot of freedom. Savior is a game where you can readily make use of your own strengths.
Compared to other games Savior has hardly any moves that "you must not use," plus various individual plays are extremely strong so you can find your own way.
For example if we compare an all-rounder well versed in poking, anti-airs and combos with someone who is incredibly good at finding and converting on combo chances, in Savior the latter player will probably have a big advantage.
With this type of game where it's important to break through in one key area each individual can elevate their own play style to fighting strength and challenge people. That's a great thing about this game.
What is your practice routine for fighting games?
Normally I practice special moves and combos. Even after playing for many years input misses and dropped combos never cease. Both can have a huge effect on your win percentage. If you practice Dragon Punches regularly, when you go the arcade and they don't come out you'll definitely know why.
Say you're missing straight down or your motion has unnecessary directions you should be aware of that. I've seen players who regularly screw up bubble trap chances with Aulbath. They should run drills and get in the habit of knowing what kind of joystick they're using.
In addition, when I'm done fighting I try to inspect problem areas and counters when I get home.
When you play a long set with someone what are you looking out for?
For starters I gauge my opponent:
- Spacing, desired spacing.
- Distinct weak points (heavy attacks, moves they can't counter.)
- Go-to plays when they get cornered.
- Are they thinking risk > return or risk < return?
- If a certain play creates risk for them, given the same circumstances will they repeat the play? If so, how many times?
- Do they act on anticipation or rely on experience?
- How quickly do they act (in terms of how quickly the match unfolds?) When the pace exceeds their limit how do they act?
There is a lot more, but that's enough for now.
My own style is to pressure my opponent. Set a quick tempo and prevent them from playing like they normally do.
This is all standard stuff but I focus on it heavily in a long set.
How do you hone your power of concentration for a tournament?
I set my expectations: I go in to the tournament committed to live and die by my own intuition.
Of course one-and-out style is scary and losing is scary, so you're liable to do something out of the ordinary.
For example, if Sasquatch is right next to you with an okiseme chance, based on past experience you'd block low in anticipation of a low chain combo. In a tournament, however, one-and-out style makes you want to avoid a mortal wound from a Big Brunch [command throw] or overhead so you hold up and wind up getting hit by the low chain combo after all.
Do away with that kind of soft-headedness. Whether attacking or defending, believe in your own intuition.
If you wind up getting caught by the Big Brunch, chalk it up to your own abilities that day. Do this to get rid of idle thoughts and get the most satisfaction win or lose.
What do you think about being called one of the 5 Gods [of Fighting Games]?
Well that's just an internet meme so I don't take it seriously but from my perspective there are tons of people who are more skillful than me. When people say that I feel uncomfortable. If people would say "he's pretty strong for his area" that would be fine.
It's not self deprecation or anything like that that's just objectively how I see myself.
* There was a miscommunication with the second question but Haitani's answers were interesting so they printed them both.