And I have yet to hear from my alma mater…

While I enjoy a good round of Q*Bert as much as the next young person today, I could never get into eSports. The reason is that to do so would require a level of practice and dedication that would seem to drain all the fun out of the game.

Especially in a fast-paced line of work such as mine, covering breaking egg sandwich and Christmas tree news, I couldn’t possibly put in the time and effort it’d take to win a competition, even in my favorite game Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers.

But maybe the problem has been me all along?

Standing as an inspiration to us all is 26-year-old Masato Ohnishi of Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture. His most recent achievement was winning the eFootball Open World Finals 2019-2020, a competition in the Konami soccer title Winning Eleven.

Ohnishi rose through the ranks by first earning a spot on the Japanese national team. This part was especially tough, as Winning Eleven has its strongest fan-base in Japan, partly due to it having had exclusive rights to the J-League and Japanese national team during some of their strongest years.

Winning Eleven also let you have 11 Keisuke Hondas go head to head with 11 Shunsuke Nakamuras

After that, Ohnishi became one of the top three Asian finalists and thus eligible for the World Finals. There, under the handle “madakanachappy” he defeated Brazil’s “MayconDouglas99” in the semifinals and Indonesia’s “akbarpaudie” to win the whole thing.

▼ The finals took place online last August and can still be watched in its entirety

That all is impressive enough, but in his spare time away from gaming Ohnishi was also working through his sixth and final year at Tokushima University Graduate School of Medical Science. Soon he will take the national exam and, if successful, will begin his internship at a hospital in his home prefecture.

Up until now he has been able to meticulously balance both the medical studies to become a doctor and eFootball training to become a world champion. This feat had caught the eye of his school who decided to bestow an official commendation for his achievement on 24 November.

However, once he begins his residency, Ohnishi said he will retire from professional eSports to focus on his work. But thanks to his experience, he wants to enter the field of psychiatry and particularly game addiction treatment.

“I came as close as you can get to game addiction,” he said, “so I hope I can use that to offer guidance in distancing oneself from games.”

Unlike the conventional thinking that games in themselves are the problem and restricting them is the answer, Ohnishi sees the positive effect they’ve had on his life. He accredits his own self-confidence and communication skills to his gaming and would recommend others to seek these benefits while developing their own sense of self-discipline.

“I think this is an area where anyone can enter without feeling disadvantaged,” he said of eSports, and hopes to continue to be involved in it in some way down the road.

Wise words from a wise man, and hopefully my own university will hear this and apologize for getting angry when I installed Neo Geo emulators all over a computer lab. It’s clear now that the academic benefits of that far outweighed the many viruses I accidentally unleashed on the faculty network.

Source: Asahi Shimbun
Top image: Pakutaso
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