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« KOFXIII: Exclusive Pre-EVO Interview with Top Japanese Player Kaoru, aka "Kansai's Strongest Legend" »

If you ask anyone about the top KOF13 players in Japan, the two names you'll always hear are Dune from East Japan and Kaoru from West Japan (Kansai). We had the opportunity to interview Kaoru, who'll be at EVO to beat the crap out of me (we're in the same pool). Known as the "Kansai's Strongest Legend" and the SBO 2006 champion at KOFXI, Kaoru is renowned for his low-risk playing style, bad-boy attitude, and as of more recently, an astonishing 884 winning streak on KOF13's ranked match (PS3).

While Kaoru is known for making wild remarks on camera, we got to see the gentlemen side of him in our interview, which he kindly accepted right on the day before his departure to Vegas. Will he be a serious contender against America's best? We'll see how one of the best in Japan does with vVv|Romance and Qanba x eLive|Dakou in the B Bracket at Evo. 

Special thanks to Professor of The Madman's Cafe for helping us conduct this interview:

- You're well known overseas in the KOF community, particularly for SBO 2006 KOFXI and the KOF13 "Kansai vs Kaoru & Uuu" video series. Please give us an introduction of yourself. How long have you been playing KOF and what motivated you to do so in the first place?

Kaoru: I'm a player living in in Osaka Japan who loves the KOF and the Gundam vs. series. I've been playing KOF since 98'. I got into it after a friend from school persuaded me into doing so.

- What made you decide to participate in the KOF13 tournament at EVO?

Kaoru: The reason why I've decided to enter EVO are the prize money and money matches. We don't have those in Japan.

- About how many hours do you play or practice per day? Has that increased since you've decided to enter EVO?

Kaoru: The scene here isn't that great [in Osaka] so I don't play every day, but when my friends gather up, we do stuff like pull an all-nighter playing each other. I've been been putting in more hours after deciding to enter EVO, but I think I still need a lot more practice.

- KOF13 is said to be balanced. But if you were to still pick the top 5 and bottom 5 characters, who would they be?

Kaoru: Top 5 would be Karate, Ryo, Daimon, Kim, and Maxima.Bottom 5 would be Elisabeth, Mature, K', Ash, and Kensou.

I don't think the game is balanced.

- K' and Kensou seem like all-purpose characters, but why do you place them at the bottom? (In the US, they're considered somewhere around mid-high and mid, respectively)

Kaoru: K' has bad match ups against the top tiers, and he's also got low damage output despite being meter dependent. As for Kensou, it's about the same reasons as well.

- Some players in the US say that King and Leona are amongst the bottom tiers. What do you think about that and why?

Kaoru: King might not be too strong, but I think Leona is pretty strong as long as the player has the lead. As for King, it's because she's not good at breaking down the opponent. So [she's not a problem] as long as she doesn't dictate the pace of the match.

- You previously said on Twitter that you want to money match. Is there anyone in particular you want to fight (to win and prove) against? In that case, how much are you willing to wager?

Kaoru: I don't know too much about money matches, but I'd love to play against a lot of people. If I get heated up, I might throw down a lot of money on my matches.

- We've seen Tokido and Mago perform in US tournaments (MLG Anaheim, CEO2012). Do you think they represent the level of KOF players in Japan?

Kaoru: Tokido and Mago's talent in fighting games are overwhelmingly better than mine. They're really amazing players. But with KOF13, I believe there's many other players in Japan that are stronger than them. So when it comes down to the question of whether they represent the level of KOF13's game play in Japan, the answer would be NO.

- In the USA, BALA, Reynald, Romance, and Mr.KOF are considered to be the top 4 players. Who do you see as the top 4 players in Japan? (you can of course add yourself in the list.)

Kaoru: In Japan, Uuu and Haitani [from West Japan] are definitely two of the top players. The remaining two players, I can't really say. I don't know about the players in East Japan too well either. Sorry.

- There's going to be plenty of top international talent at Evo. Korea's Madkof, Singapore's Xian, China's Xiaohai, Taiwan's ET, and USA's BALA and Reynald, to name a few. Is there anyone or any country in particular that you're anticipating?

Kaoru: I've never played anyone aside from the Japanese when it comes to KOF13. So I'm going to have my eyes on all the countries and their players outside of Japan.

- This is your first time leaving Japan for a tournament. What do you think about the disadvantages being in a foreign country surrounded by people who are all rooting for their local players (seeing you as an enemy)?

Kaoru: Yeah, I'll be totally away from my 'home field'. But I've never really had times when I've received support even in Japan, so it's not a big deal.

- Online, you almost recorded a 1000 win streak on ranked match, but it stopped right beforehand at 884 wins due to Hwa. That's a pretty good record by itself, but what was the issue? Are you going to take on the challenge again after EVO?

Kaoru: I was picking Hwa and using him on point so that I can get some training, and I ended up losing with a perfect (laughs). But no, I have no plans to take on the challenge again. After all, the whole purpose of that was to see how much I could keep on winning until I got a loss.

- Do you plan on attending other overseas tournaments after EVO?

Kaoru: I don't have any plans in particular after EVO. If there's another overseas tournament, I'd love to go if I can afford it. I'm interested, but I'm not a sponsored player so I have to pay for my own travel expenses. So it wouldn't be realistic for me to enter them frequently.

- Since this is the first time that you're traveling to America, Is there anything aside from EVO that you're also looking forward to (things to do, places to go, stuff to eat)?

Kaoru: I'm traveling to America without any plans laid out, so nothing in particular at the current time.

- Any last words to the other competitors at EVO?

Kaoru: Greetings to everyone. I'm looking forward to meeting up.

- Thank you for your time.


And for our Japanese viewers, we're providing the original transcript below.

- カオルさんは海外でも有名です。主にKOFXI闘劇06やKOF13「関西vsカオル・ウー」シリーズ動画で知られています。でもあまり詳細が知られていませんので、自己紹介をお願い致します。あと、KOFシリーズはいつごろから初めて、きっかけは何だったのでしょうか?
「日本の大阪に住むKOFシリーズとガンダムvsシリーズが好きなプレイヤーです。 KOFは98からやり出しました。きっかけは学校の友達に勧誘されたからです。 」

- 今回、EVOのKOF13に出場しようと考えた理由は何でしょうか?

- 大体毎日、何時間ほどプレイか練習していますか?EVOに出場を決めてから増えましたか?

- バランスが取れていると言われているKOF13ですが、しいて5強と5弱を言うとしたら、どんな風に感じますか?
「5強はカラテ リョウ 大門 キム マキシマ あたり 5弱は エリザ マチュア K' アッシュ ケンスウ あたり バランス取れてるとは思ってません。」

-  K'、ケンスウは万能キャラに思えますが、どのような考えで下位に置いているのでしょうか?(北米でK'は中の上、ケンスウは中ぐらいに思われています。)
「K'は上位キャラに相性悪く、ゲージ依存しやすいのに火力が低いからです。 ケンスウも同じような理由です。」

- 北米でキングとレオナは最弱に入ると言われたりしています。これに関してはどう思いますでしょうか?そして理由は?

- 以前、Twitterでマネーマッチをしたいと言っていましたが、特に対戦してみたい(勝って実力を証明したい)相手はいますか?その場合、いくらほど試合に賭けたいですか?(一般的には20ドル以上が最低ラインです)
「マネーマッチに関しては何も知らないのでよくわかりませんが、色んな人と対戦してみたいです。 熱くなったら大金を賭けるかもしれませんね。」

- 既に日本からはときどさんとマゴさんが北米のトーナメントに出場しています。彼らは日本のKOFのレベルを代表するプレイヤーだと思いますか?
「ときどさんとマゴはゲームのセンスは自分よりは圧倒的に上で、すごいプレイヤーです。 でも日本で彼らより13が強いプレイヤーはまだまだいてると思うので日本を代表するか?の質問の答えはNOです。」

- 北米ではBALA、Romance、Mr.KOF、Reynaldの4人がKOF13のトッププレイヤーとして有名です。日本の場合、トップの4プレイヤーは誰だと思いますでしょうか?(自分を含めて結構です)
「日本のトップ4人ですか。ウー、ハイタニ、の2人は間違いなくトップです。 残り2人はわからないです。 関東のプレイヤー事情も詳しくないので。申し訳ないです。」

- EVOでは世界中から多くの名プレイヤーが参戦します。韓国のMadKOF(Akuma),シンガポールのXian、中国のXiaohai、台湾の阿仁、北米のBALAなど。特に注目している国、またはプレイヤーはいますか?

- 今回、初の北米遠征になると伺っています。完全にアウェーな状態になりますので、観客は応援してくれません(どちらかといえば倒す相手として見ています)。不利な立場で戦う状態に関してどう思われますか?
「完全にアウェーですね。 ですが日本でも元々応援されるようなことは無かったので気にしても仕方ないと思ってます。」

- オンラインのランクマッチで1000勝の記録まであと一歩の所(884勝)で止まってしまいました。それでも十分脅威な記録ですが、ホアの何が原因だったのでしょうか?EVOの後に、また再挑戦しますか?

- EVOを終えた後も、海外の大会に興味はありますでしょうか?

- 折角のアメリカ旅行ですので、EVO以外に楽しみにしている事(やりたい事、行きたい場所、食べたい物など)はありますか?

- では最後に、EVOの他の参戦者達に言いたい事がありましたらコメントをお願いします。

- お時間いただきありがとうございました。

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