eSports are more popular than ever and have become a thriving industry worldwide. However, since the movement originated in Asia, these countries still hold an advantage. Japan is one of the nations that treat eSports as a true industry and includes it in economic plans. The top gamers have managed to earn trophies and excel at almost every video game with an active eSports player base. This year is a big year for the Japanese industry, thanks to the government’s investments into eSports academies and tournaments. Furthermore, the Integrated Resorts bill could mean including eSports facilities at the new locations being built nationwide.
With so many promising players, it’s hard to keep up with the ones breaking barriers and pushing the game to the top. Today, we’re going to talk about those who have redeemed themselves to being absolute masters of their craft and innovators in their field. You want to keep an eye on them in 2022.
Wataru “Posesi” Ishibashi
Little is known about this popular Hearthstone player from Japan other than his achievements. They started off competing in 2018 and managed to secure the 3rd spot at the Hearthstone World Electronic Sports Games Tournament, which sky-rocketed his popularity. In the subsequent years, they improved their decks and constantly placed very high in Hearthstone tournaments. Everybody should keep an eye on Posesi in 2022 because last year, they managed to win the biggest tournament of them all, the Hearthstone World Championship. Posesi went home with $200,000.00 and, most importantly, the title of being the best Hearthstone player and the respect of their peers.
Shunsuke “Evi” Murase
Evi started playing in the League of Legends Japan League (LJL) way back in 2015 when it was first introduced. Currently, he is playing for team DetonatioN FocusMe which won the LJL 2021 Summer championship and playoffs. Being a top laner, you can expect him to always be the key decision-maker when it comes to games. Even though he and his team did not manage to succeed at Worlds 2021, this helped them focus more on the upcoming year, and they might produce a surprise at this year’s edition. So you definitely want to keep an eye out on Evi.
Tomoaki “Crow” Maruoka
Tomoaki is a veteran of first-person shooters, which clearly shows when you glance at his career. He started his professional career for team SCARZ Absolute in 2017 and managed to win the eXTREMESLAND 2017 Japan Regional Final and the WESG 2018 and 2019 Japan championships. When the other popular FPS was released, crow switched over to Valorant and dominated the Japanese peninsula with ZETA DIVISION. It looks like his high skill also carried over to the game because they have been dominating tournaments. However, their lowest ranking was 3rd place, which speaks a lot for Crow and his team.
Shin “Raina” Okubo
Raina rose to the top with his 2nd team in the LJL Spring and Summer Tournaments in 2020, where they managed to place 3rd and 1st. Even if he is playing support, he has single-handedly won V3 eSports a lot of games due to his game knowledge and dedication to the game. When he picks his signature champion Thresh, you can expect a lot of aggressiveness on the map, leading to kills and finally to victory for his team. Currently, he is playing for Fukuoka SoftBank HAWKS, a gaming division of a baseball team in Japan. The team aims to conquer 1st place in Japan and establish dominance over the other participating teams. Currently, they are in the Group Stages of the LJL Spring championship.
Tsunehiro ‘Gachikun’ Kanamori
Until he retires, there won’t probably be a list of upcoming Japanese players that won’t include Gachikun as someone to keep an eye out for. He rose to prominence with his unique Sagat techniques that he used to win a lot of tournaments back in the day. Now, he plays Street Fighter V sponsored by Red Bull eSports and is a well-known Rashid player. Although he has plenty of experience in the field, he is not looking to retire or to coach other players and is still competing at big tournaments to this very day. Due to his unpredictability and ability to recover from challenging situations, he is a player worth keeping an eye on this year.
It’s always worth knowing exactly whom to look at when trying to figure out who you cheer for during gaming season. The industry is still expanding every day, and it’s hard to keep track of every new player or an old one that keeps delivering. Hopefully, you now have a better idea of where to put your soul and money for the upcoming games for making the most of the eSports experience!