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This interview is from Famitsu vol. 1422. Shoutouts to Twitter user @karubiimunomono for the scan.
Pro Smasher: aMSa
The first professional Japanese Smash Bros. player, sponsored by streaming organization VGBootCamp. At EVO 2013, he lost a hard-fought set during quarterfinal pools against one of the top Melee players of all time, Mew2king, and quickly rose to fame. He became a pro Smasher starting in 2014, and has numerous, impressive results at domestic and international tournaments. He also runs his own NicoNico Douga community, “The Essence of the Red Yoshi,” where he streams and discusses hot topics in the Melee scene.
Working two jobs, one as a pro Smasher
Interviewer: Please tell us the story behind how you became a sponsored player.
aMSa: I was contacted by VGBootCamp in May of 2014, and signed a contract with them. VGBootCamp is an American streaming organization that streams and uploads videos of Smash tournaments, and they mostly support me by providing financial assistance if I’m traveling to an overseas tourney or helping me procure equipment I need to stream, for example.
Interviewer: What do you mean by “financial assistance”?
aMSa: Paying for flights or finding me a place to stay. So my primary source of income as a pro gamer is tournament winnings.
Interviewer: I’ve heard that you have another job. Is that because you’re not confident you can make a living wage off of just prize money?
aMSa: Of course that’s part of it, but that’s not the whole story. I work as an IT engineer at my company. I could have tried to make a living solely as a professional Smasher, but I thought that by learning IT stuff, I could use that knowledge to help the growth of the video game industry.
Interviewer: So you’re always thinking about video games.
aMSa: That’s right. In my mind, the ideal image of a professional gamer is someone who can properly communicate and convey what’s so amazing about the game he plays, and can share that knowledge to improve and energize the game industry. I think a big element of that is going to tournaments, and commentating or analyzing sets, for example.
Smash tournaments are only getting bigger
Interviewer: Please tell us how you felt when VGBootCamp first approached you with their offer to become a sponsored player.
aMSa: To tell the truth, I was honestly shocked because I hadn’t thought at all about being a pro or anything like that. I just stuck with Yoshi, kept playing him, and eventually I became a pro! (laughs)
Interviewer: In Melee, Yoshi isn’t what you would call a strong character.
aMSa: Yes. I love Yoshi, which is why I used him at tournaments, but my hard work paid off, and I was able to go to American tournaments and place highly. I think that VGBootCamp offered to sponsor me because I gained some fame from my results and play.
Interviewer: How many pro Smash players are there in the world?
aMSa: I think there are somewhere between 20 and 30. It’s a paltry number compared to fighting games or PC games, but it’s grown a lot. We got a lot of attention from having Smash games at big tournaments like EVO and Apex, and the number of companies sponsoring players has increased in recent years.
Interviewer: It seems like there’s going to be a lot of Smash tournaments in the future. What do you think we should focus on to make watching them even more fun?
aMSa: Smash has a lot of famous characters, so people might be drawn to that, but I think people should also focus on the players as well. If you learn the context behind a match, or really feel the explosive energy at a tournament, it’ll make watching it even more fun!
A day in the life of aMSa
By day, he’s an office worker at an IT company. “On weekdays, I watch VODs on my commute, and after I get home, I practice tech skill for about an hour,” he says. He prepares for his work the next day, and goes to sleep by at least 1AM. He practices heavily on weekends, going to a fellow Smasher’s house. He says that “on intense days, we might even play for upwards of 12 hours.”
0:00~1:00: Go to bed
6:30: Wake up
7:30: Leave for work, study VODs
8:30: Arrive at work, eat breakfast
9:30: Start work
19:00~20:30: Leave work
21:30: Get home and eat dinner
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