If you're a fan of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, you've probably heard of RSZ|Umeki. Whether he's at premier US events or in his home region of Kanto, Japan, he's one of a few players who can handle playing Peach at a high level. But few people recognize his larger contributions to Japanese Smash. As the head organizer behind the Umebura tournament series, he helps East Japan remain one of the strongest Smash Wii U scenes in the world. He's also done a lot to foster international competition by inviting top Smashers from abroad to various Umebura tournaments.
Last weekend, Umeki successfully hosted Japan's largest Smash tournament to date, Umebura Japan Major, with the help of MVG League. I thought it would be a great time to speak with him about the series' history and future. The following conversation was facilitated by Umebura staff member Hibari, who was kind enough to serve as translator.
Hi Umeki and Hibari! I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me. The timing is great since the largest Umebura event to date just finished. Can you tell me about the beginnings of the Umebura series? Did it grow out of Piosuma?
Umeki: The first tournament I attended was named "Numabura" and the TO was "Kanzaemon" (he still works for Umebura). And then it changed to "Piosuma." The TO of Piosuma was Rain, and when he wanted to quit TOing, there was no one to take over. From earlier, I was interested in TO's work, so I thought is was good timing to be a TO and I decided to take over the tournament.
Oh right, now I remember when Rain used to host events and win them lol. It's been really great watching the Umebura series grow as much as it has. Umebura Japan Major was a huge success. How involved were you in organizing it? I was a bit confused when you weren't listed as an Admin on Smash.gg. Were you still the head TO for this event, or was it mostly handled by MVG and Vayseth?
Hibari: Oh We forgot to list Umeki in it lol. Umeki is still the host and the head TO of the event. I was mainly organizing the tournament that day. Umeki has all the responsibility of the event, but he wants to do his best as a player, so he doesn't work so much as a TO at the day of the event. And that's the way Rain hosted the event too.
That's understandable. It also connects nicely to something else I wanted to ask: how do you even balance competing and organizing tournaments? It seems like the work necessary for one would draw away from the other. I'm always impressed with people who can manage both so successfully. Having lots of assistant TOs is one thing; is there anything else?
Umeki: In my opinion, having lots of assistants or staff help organizing the tournament is the way to manage both successfully. And I keep in mind that I only think about competing when I am playing the game. When I'm not playing, I think about organizing the tournament successfully.
Still, it must be tough not being able to think about strategy for matches when you're not playing. I was hoping to see you in the final bracket at Umebura. I was sad when you got eliminated, but also happy to see Suinoko get out in winners. Were you surprised at all by the results of the tournament? Or is nothing too surprising anymore?
Umeki: Honestly, I was surprised by takera's Ryu. I knew he was improving his standings in tournaments, but still getting in top 8 was amazing. Takera is living near my house(same region) and also hosts tournament nearby, so I play with him and talk about Smash often. Since he is really motivated in Smash, I'm really happy to see him winning. For me, other results was not really surprising. (The fact that Abadango didn't get in top 8 was little surprizing though.)
At this point, you've hosted several successful majors with international attendance. So what's next for the Umebura series?
Umeki: This time, we had about 500 attendees. But in the future, we want to host a 3-day tournament and have more and more attendees. To make it possible, we need to invite more and more people including foreign players. For Umebura Japan Major, we got Yogibo as a sponser and it was favorably received. So the next time, we would want the challenge of more new things and making Umebura a more attractive and fun event.
That sounds very exciting! I'd like to thank you once again for taking the time to chat. It's been very informative and a pleasure. I hope you continue to take Umebura to new heights.
Hibari: You're welcome. Thanks for interviewing Umeki!
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Umeki Interview: The Past, Present and Future of Umebura