Daigo Umehara is the Guinness World Record holder as "the most successful player in major tournaments of Street Fighter," and became world famous in 2004 with his amazing comeback victory at the EVO 2004 Street Fighter Tournament.
In his new book, "勝ち続ける意志力" (The Will to Keep Winning), Daigo describes his upbringing and experiences as a gamer, and offers advice that can apply not just to gamers, but to people from all walks of life. Here are just a few:
Those who win, and those who are winners. A major point in Daigo's book is one of his own personal mantras: "99.9% of people cannot keep winning." That while many people can win, few have, and even fewer understand what it takes to be winners. Being a winner requires losing. Daigo writes that in order to continue to win, "one must find and maintain a delicate balance of neither being arrogant after winning, nor becoming self-deprecating after a loss, and to face and focus on the game itself."
There is no easy path. Thanks to the information age, the internet is bursting with ways to win. Enter the name of a game followed by "wiki" in a Google search and you'll find sites completely dedicated to all you'd want to know (and a little more that you didn't want to know) about how to get through a game. While this information may teach useful methods on how to be better, they won't teach how to be the best. Daigo writes that he intentionally doesn't use methods, strategies, or attacks that the general playing population agrees are advantageous. "Useful attacks don't have wide applicability." Daigo writes, "To rely on them means there is no growth for the player. They're just relying on the system and aren't thinking for themselves."
You can't own a strategy. One of Daigo's own experiences was when he had a strategy that he had discovered used against himself in a match. Spending time and effort to analyse and develop a method, only to have someone else use it seems unfair, but he quickly came to accept that there is no calling "dibs" on a strategy. "So, what is it that you can call your own and allows you to keep winning? It's the effort and knowledge you put in to developing a new strategy." Daigo reflects, "The ability to develop a new idea is far more important than the idea developed."
Don't "read" your opponent or focus on their weakness. By "reading" an opponent (memorizing their habits, tells, and methods), you take your focus off of yourself and what you are doing. While knowing an opponent's habits can vastly improve one's odds in a match, to rely on this knowledge leads to very selective methods that will rarely work on multiple opponents. It also does not allow the player to grow. Daigo writes, "True strength is achieved when you can read your opponent, but defeat them without exploiting their weaknesses."
The difference between an objective and a purpose. Another major theme in Daigo's book is recognising the distinguishing between an objective and a purpose, and that winners always have a purpose. Daigo himself writes that every time he has prioritised the objective or the result of a competition, he ended up failing. It was only when the purpose of growth became more important than the temporary objective of winning at a tournament that he was able to move beyond and the victories followed. "Objectives can give people drive. They allow them to draw on their strengths. But if people become obsessed with the objective and the objective becomes their purpose, then they stop performing as well."
Overall, Daigo writes from a position of experience, and while not necessarily humble, never comes off a preachy. Though there isn't anything that we haven't heard spouted out of the mouth of any motivational speaker, Daigo's own stories of his journey to these lessons give his words a little more weight. I suppose we all could learn a thing or two from one of the world's greatest gamers.