In the world of esports, it’s rare for a player to compete in multiple titles. It’s even rarer for a player to dominant across multiple eras and different titles. CYCLOPS athlete gaming's Ryo "Dogura" Nozaki. Hailing from Japan, Dogura is a top competitor in DragonBall FighterZ while also remaining competitive in Street Fighter V as well as other games such as Guilty Gear.
Dogura sat down with Inven Global to talk about balancing multiple games competitively and reflect upon his FGC career thus far.
You've been competing in fighting games for a very long time. Did you ever think that fighting games would get to a point where we're selling out large venues for spectating, that you have thousands of fans internationally? Did you ever think that, maybe, this could be the thing it is now?
Not at all.
So is it kind of wild for you, now that this is your job? That you get to travel the world, and do something that you love?
At first, I couldn't even imagine going to another country to play video games, but now it's become kind of normal, like of course, so I'm not so impressed by it anymore.
You balance playing a lot of different games at the same time. I know that you play Dragonball and Street Fighter, and you've also played BlazBlue titles in the past. What allows you to be a top tier competitor in multiple games, and how do you find time to balance being good at practicing those games?
I pick one title that is my main game, that I really focus on playing, and then one other title to play at the same time. So about 70-80% of my time and energy is dedicated to the main game, and 20-30% to the side game.
So right now, Dragon Ball is your main game. What is it about Dragonball that appeals to you more than Street Fighter at the moment?
Dragonball, of course it has the Dragonball characters, so it can seem like the focus is on those characters, but actually, as a fighting game, it has really deep and good systems. So the more you play it, the better you can become; it's rewarding like that. But of course, after all, being able to control the Dragonball characters is the biggest appeal.
So when you select a character in a game like Dragon Ball, especially because it seems that you're a fan of the franchise... was there a character that you were hoping, like, “Aw man, I'm such a big fan of this character, I hope they're good”, and then found out that you would have to play something else, or are you pretty happy getting to play the characters that you're playing now?
That has happened to me in other games. When I was playing Guilty Gear, it was the first fighting game I played, and I really like the character Robo-Ky, so I was using him as my main character, but he was weak.
I decided that if I didn't win the national tournament that year, I would change my main character. But I was able to win, even though Robo-Ky was weak, so I kept using him as my main character. But after that experience, I realized that it's not good to practice weak characters, so from then on, whenever I realized a character was weak, I would not use them as my main.
You've had a lot of moments at EVO that have been extremely hype. Is there one that you think is your favorite memory from EVO?
For EVO, the most memorable match for me was 2017; Tokido versus Punk. It wasn't just the material side of the match itself, but kind of the human drama, and the characters of the two players, made it really go down in EVO and fighting game history for me.
For myself, it was when, when I mentioned, that I was playing Robo-Ky in Guilty Gear, and was able to win the 2008 Tougeki tournament in Japan, so those are the two most important memories for me.
You've been doing this for a very, very long time. Granted, we still have people like Daigo, who have been playing for 25 years. Have you ever thought about what your life outside fighting games would be, if you could no longer compete? Or do you think you'll find a way to always be involved in fighting games?
Ideally, I'd like to always continue as a competitor and keep playing, but if there is some kind of situation where I couldn't do that anymore, for whatever reason, I'd like to educate new players, like bring up and give advice to new players.
Last year, a lot of people thought that the DragonBall FighterZ World Tour a lot of people was not a very well-formatted system.. Is there anything that you wish Bamco would do for the Dragonball Tour, going into the 2020-2021 season?
I think that, of course, everybody can be satisfied if there's a system that's equal between all players, like there's no advantage or disadvantage. But personally, I actually don't think last year's Dragon Ball World Tour was that bad, because if you could win the tournament, that was what your goal was.
There was no system like right now, with the point system that we have in, I think, every world tour, where if you're third or fourth place, you still get points. So it kind of changes the goal of players when they go into a tournament, like, “I don't need to be number one; I can be number three or number four, and I'll still get into the World Tour.” So I think it could kind of change the mentality of players. P
Personally, I like that kind of system where you're always aiming for number one, but as a professional, of course, it's better to have the point system.
What is it about fighting games that makes them so great for you?
When you're living your life, you don't really have an opportunity to have a battle with other people, normally. But fighting games are a safe and lighthearted way that you can battle with other people, and enjoy who is the victor and who is the loser between two people
So I think that's a good point about fighting games. But what's really great about fighting games is there's so many different players, with different personalities and backgrounds, that they have drama between each other, and that drama can really move a lot of people.