Street Fighter V is known for cultivating Western Capcom Cup champions, historically seeing such names as America’s NuckleDu and the Dominican Republic’s MenaRD take the victory at season’s end — but 2018 changed this trend, with Japan’s very own Kanamori “Gachikun” Tsunehiro winning one of fighting games’ greatest tournaments against a fellow countryman and explosive grappler main in a game known for Western prowess.
From Rhythm Games to Street Fighter Fame
Gachikun is one of Japan’s top SFV pros, boasting a strong presence with series newcomer Rashid. However, he wasn’t always a weidler of the turbulent wind; he also has a storied history from the Street Fighter IV era, where he became known for using the King of Muay Thai, Sagat.
The Sagat-turned-Rashid main has been testing his mettle in the Street Fighter series for quite some time, but didn’t begin his foray into the fighting game genre until he was in high school, after a few fighting games caught his eye in an AmiPara arcade. Since then, Gachikun hasn’t been able to turn away from their competitive allure, and has successfully made a name for himself among the world’s upper echelon of top fighting game players.
In fact, Gachikun called his dive into pro gaming “only natural,” as the AmiPara game center was based right next to his high school in Hiroshima, where he grew up — but Street Fighter wasn’t his first competitive gaming venture. In fact, he got his start in DrumMania before switching to fighters after two years of taking the rhythm game seriously.
Claiming he’d gotten tired of DrumMania, he later sparked an interest in the Street Fighter IV series, having never played a fighting game beforehand. Already armed with the tools necessary to land a few combos thanks to his rhythm game prowess, it comes as little surprise that he soon made a name for himself in Japan’s competitive SFIV scene — a development that would catapult him to Street Fighter fame in just a few years’ time.
Rising in the Ranks as One of the FGC’s First Top Rashids
Having worked as a roofer under his father, the fighting game aficionado later took his talents to the professional circuit, citing fellow pro Masato “Bonchan” Takahashi as his inspiration for making the jump into full-time gaming. Noting Bonchan’s professionalism, sage advice, and perseverance, Gachikun began his own journey as a fighting game pro with USFIV and quickly earned the title of one of Hiroshima’s best Sagats.
However, his talents truly shone upon the release of Street Fighter V, which came packed with a slew of new fighters, including Rashid. Although the stylish Middle Eastern heir later became a popular pick amongst players, Gachikun chose Rashid from the jump before his explosion in the top-tiers, citing how “cool” the character’s animations looked from the get go. Boasting stellar movement and mobility, it comes as little surprise that Rashid has become a regular sight at tournaments the world over — but Gachikun has always been a Rashid main, explaining that he hoped to play a brand-new character for a brand-new Street Fighter game.
His skill with Rashid saw him achieve massive success in the CPT, making seventh place at Japan Cup 2016. This result kicked off a wildly productive 2017 season, where he made top placements at tournaments across the globe to land a qualifying spot at Capcom Cup in December. Making 2nd at both Esports Festival Hong Kong and Europe’s EGX, as well as coming in 3rd at Dueling Dragons Dojo, Gachikun produced continuously impressive results in relatively short time, leading up to what would be his most successful season to date.
The Path to Capcom Cup Champion
Gachikun’s 2018 run was one for the books; coming in 4th place at the season’s first tournament, Final Round, he went on to rank 7th at Stunfest, 1st at Abudget Cup, and even landed in EVO’s Top 8 bracket, making 4th place at the biggest fighting game event of the year. This momentous placement was later eclipsed by his first Premier victory of the season at Singapore’s SEA Major Regional Finals, scoring an undisputed spot at Capcom Cup with just two months to spare.
Standing as a regional winner, Gachikun earned the right to test his strength against the CPT’s best talent at the final Street Fighter tournament of the year. With $250,000 and a place in Capcom Cup history on the line, each fighter went into the fray with one goal in mind — becoming a Capcom Cup Champion.
After a long weekend packed with competition, training, and exhibition matches, Gachikun fought his way to the Top 8 bracket, facing such names as Street Fighter legend Tokido, Middle Eastern pro Big Bird, and even his old friend and rival, Bonchan. As fate would have it, Gachikun and Bonchan faced off in the Winners’ Semi-Final in a nail-biting battle that pitted two Red Bull teammates against each other. Although Gachikun ultimately emerged the victor of their fight, it wasn’t Bonchan — nor his next match with surgical Ibuki main Fujimura — who he would end up battling to take the Cup in the Grand Final.
Remember the Name Well!
Gachikun’s path to Grand Finals was hard-won, having taken out fellow Rashid main Big Bird and fighting game god Tokido to get there. Despite these electrifying matches, it was famed grappler main Hiromiki “Itabashi Zangief” Kumada who met him in the final battle, who’d lost in a convincing 3-0 run to Gachikun in the Winners’ Quarter-Final. Having been sent to Losers’ side by the Rashid user in quick form, their meeting in the Grand Final marked a monumental runback between the two pros — and this time, it wouldn’t be so cut-and-dried.
In a shocking turnabout, Itabashi soundly reset the bracket against Gachikun in an equally stunning 3-0 showing, turning the tide of battle in a jaw-dropping set that marked Gachikun’s only lost set in the entirety of Capcom Cup. It was Abigail vs Rashid in the last set of the season: Would a true grappler finally take the Capcom Cup championship, or would Gachikun continue his upward-rising streak and win it all?
Their next game started with a bang, and it seemed that Gachikun had his opponent’s number, taking the first two sets of the reset in quick succession — but despite being down 2-0 and with Gachikun at set point, Itabashi took a game off of his rival, sealing the deal with an explosive Critical Art and a huge smile that had fans eyeing a game-changing comeback from the Abigail main.
Despite Itabashi’s shocking rebound, it was Gachikun who emerged the victor of their last battle, putting on immense corner pressure without letting his opponent breathe to take the final game. Having just been signed to Red Bull that year, Gachikun’s meteoric Capcom Cup victory marked yet another huge step forward in his professional career, proving that he made the right choice to become a pro gamer — a decision that landed him in the hallowed halls of Street Fighter history as SFV’s first-ever Japanese Capcom Cup champion.