ブログ

クラッシュ・オブ・クランの最新情報!
Logo

Player interview: GAKU

Note: this article is an English translation. Original interview (Japanese) is here.

GAKU took part in the World Championship last year as one of QueeN Walkers’ star players, and claimed a fantastic second place with his team. This interview was conducted amid preparations for the World Championship, following the release of TH14 and the announcement of the Japan No. 1 playoffs. The interviewer is ponta, a blogger on all things Clash of Clans.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“First steps in Clash of Clans, and being an ‘older’ leader”

ponta:

Thanks for agreeing to talk with me today.

GAKU:

Thanks for asking.

ponta:

Apologies that we can’t meet in person and have to do this over Zoom. Last time with yuta14, we did the interview in a restaurant.

GAKU:

I’ve seen the pictures. It looked amazing.

ponta:

It was. Like something from the movies, and what with strolling through Shinjuku Gyo-en together as well... It was almost too romantic.

GAKU:

(Laughs.)

ponta:

That was the first time I’d had a proper conversation with yuta. And this is our first face-to-face chat as well, isn’t it?

GAKU:

That’s right. I’ve known about you since around 2015, but this is our first proper conversation.

ponta:

I’ve been aware of you since that era, too.

GAKU:

Do you remember “Myojohai”? It was around that time. (*”Myojohai” was a TH9-only community championship that took place in Japan between 2015 and 2016.)

ponta:

Yeah, we really went at it, didn’t we? My Gunma Samurai Clan and the TH9 Specialists you belonged to back then. Old times, huh?

GAKU:

I must have been in my second year of junior high at the time, I guess.

ponta:

Second year of junior high! Seriously? I had it in my head you were in your thirties or forties.

GAKU:

Yeah. I lied about my age. A bit unfair on my fellow Clanmates, I guess...

ponta:

No way! So it wasn’t just my mental image of you; you actually told people you were older than you were?

GAKU:

Yeah. I mean, I was in junior high – only 14 years old – but there were lots of over-18 only Clans at the time, if you remember.

ponta:

Right, no kids allowed.

GAKU:

Exactly. So I figured I’d just have to tell people I was a little older than I was.

ponta:

Fool me once, shame on you... So how old did you say you were?

GAKU:

32.

ponta:

Wow, you really were stretching a point! That’s hardly telling people you’re “a little” older, is it?

GAKU:

Other Clanmates kept asking me out for drinks, but I couldn’t go.

ponta:

Yeah, you bet you couldn’t! You were a junior high schooler!

GAKU:

It wasn’t just nights out drinking that caused problems; my parents were really strict about me playing games on my phone. I was only allowed to play until 10 pm.

ponta:

So the crushing 32-year-old leader of the TH9 Specialists was living in fear of his mom?

GAKU:

Yeah. Which is why I had to learn to win fast.

ponta:

Who actually created the TH9 Specialists?

GAKU:

I did.

ponta:

So you were the founder. In Clan Wars, it felt like you were all really highly skilled. Was that the concept behind the Clan’s creation?

GAKU:

Oh, no. There were no Clan Wars at the time I created the Clan. (*Clan Wars were introduced in April 2014.)

ponta:

Right.

GAKU:

At the time, there was just multi-play and trophy leagues. When you got people at TH9 trying to bag trophies, you automatically had a bunch of skilled players. (*TH10 was the highest level at the time, and getting more trophies at TH9 wasn’t easy.)

ponta:

So you’ve been playing Clash from the early days, then. What got you into it?

GAKU:

My older brother was playing it. It was his influence.

ponta:

Is he still playing?

GAKU:

No, he’s stopped now. But he still watches my battles.

ponta:

What a supportive brother.

GAKU:

Yeah. But since I started getting results, my parents, who were so strict about gaming at first, have been really supportive too.

ponta:

Your mom watches “Bonkura”, doesn’t she?

GAKU:

Yeah. She watches every week. But the truth is, I don’t think she understands the rules of Clash at all. She really seems to like a bit of Dozbon repartee, though.

ponta:

Thank you, GAKU’s mom!

GAKU:

(Laughs.)

ponta:

Does your mom watch your championship appearances too, like your brother? Being in Japan, they’re on pretty late due to the time difference.

GAKU:

Yeah. Apparently she stays up until late into the night to watch me.

ponta:

What a supportive mom...

GAKU:

Yeah, I’m grateful for her support.

“The World Championship, Past and Future”

ponta:

So, you made a big impact back in the day on TH9. When did you go up to TH10?

GAKU:

Ah well, I actually gave up Clash for a couple of years after I became a first grader in high school.

ponta:

Why was that?

GAKU:

It’s kind of hard to admit, but I got hooked on another game.

ponta:

Right.

GAKU:

Then after that, I came back to Clash. Thanks in a big way to yuta14’s “Hagure Metal Castle”. That was Mix, so it was like, just boost your Town Hall and quit 9-only.

ponta:

Is that when you first got to know yuta14, then?

GAKU:

No, like you, we knew each other from back during Myojohai. He joined the TH9 Specialists for a while, too. So out of everyone I play with these days, yuta14 is one of the people I’ve known the longest.

ponta:

It must have been fun to travel to Poland and Germany with yuta and everyone, then.

GAKU:

It really was. It was my first experience of traveling overseas.

ponta:

Oh, it was your first time.

GAKU:

After it was decided we were going to Poland, we were basically set to fly there straight away, and I have this great memory of hurrying back to my mom and dad’s house to get my passport. It was all such a mad rush, my parents were like, “Are you sure this isn’t a con?”

ponta:

To which you said, “No no, Mom, Supercell is a reputable company,” right?

GAKU:

Yeah, we made it to Poland and the support and everything was amazing.

ponta:

What’s your most lasting memory of 2019 when you went to Poland?

GAKU:

That’s right. I guess that would be battling Top of Japan in the heats. I mean, it was a fight against a fellow Japanese team, and the stakes were high. We went through three rounds, and the final result really had a deep impact on me.

ponta:

I see... So turning to the future then, you’re taking part in the World Championship again this year, obviously. How do you feel about the warmup tournament that took place the other day?

GAKU:

A lot of people seem to be expecting us to do well, so I feel like we can’t let them down. I mean especially since in last year’s World Championship, QueeN Walkers was the only team out of the 8 that made it to the final to be knocked out in the first round. That was disappointing.

ponta:

Do you have any idea why that happened?

GAKU:

Yeah. We went into it not really having prepared for a World Championship and if you drop from normally getting 14, 5 points, then it’s often going to happen that you’re down to 11, 2. I’m hoping that we’ll go into this year’s World Championship with a more stable team.

ponta:

Well, it’s good that you know why it happened. Are there any teams you’ve got your eye on?

GAKU:

A lot of teams have seen member changes due to transfers and the like, but yeah, since ATN won, they’ve got to be our number one rivals.

ponta:

Right. And what’s your aim amid all that strong competition?

GAKU:

To win. I mean, last year we came 2nd, so...

ponta:

Yes, that’s true.

GAKU:

Even though our win rate is lower than ATN’s, we have beaten them in the past, so I don’t think overall victory is out of reach for us.

ponta:

And what things would you like to change about QueeN Walkers this year compared to last? What areas are you hoping to be stronger in?

GAKU:

Official battles show a team’s combat stats, and QueeN Walkers defense rate isn’t high. So I’m hoping we can strengthen our position this year by employing a builder from overseas. Builders from elsewhere approach things in a different way to us, so that could help us out.

ponta:

Right. So if your aim this year is to win, what’s your aim for three years from now?

GAKU:

Three years from now? Well, ideally to still be playing Clash eSports and still be doing it with the same QueeN Walkers Clan members.

ponta:

At the age of 22, you’re currently looking for employment, but three years from now, you’d be playing Clash while holding down a job, right?

GAKU:

That’s right. I wonder how things will pan out. I’ll have two jobs, I guess. How’s that going to go, ponta?

ponta:

Well, I don’t know, but I do hope you don’t end up with a conflict of interest between whatever job you chose and your eSports career. Let’s hope you have an understanding employer.

GAKU:

Yeah.

“Talking about you and your teammates”

ponta:

Can you tell me about your strengths?

GAKU:

Hm, my strengths...

ponta:

Or to put it another way, is there anything you find easy and can’t understand why others find it hard?

GAKU:

Well, I suppose I can manage a wide range of tactics in Clash, rather than just sticking to one.

I mean, it’s kind of rude to question why some people only seem to be able to manage one or two different strategies, but you know... I just don’t think it’s that hard.

ponta:

Thank you. And how about in your everyday life? What are your strengths there?

GAKU:

Well... Maybe that I’m never late?

ponta:

Oh, that’s really important. (Laughs.) That’s a great strength to have.

GAKU:

Every contest we have, it’s a pain. People won’t attack, they’re making calls...

ponta:

C’mon, guys, what about the clash?

GAKU:

Exactly. So I think not being late is a good quality to have.

ponta:

Yes, yuta complimented your proper approach to everything, not just timekeeping.

GAKU:

Right.

ponta:

So you’ve told me about your own strengths, now how about your teammates? What’s Klaus like?

GAKU:

Klaus is the one who has the biggest ideas. You think of him as coming up with creative attacks, but he’s actually really good at base-building, too. He doesn’t build a lot, but most of what he does build is really high quality. He’s a former Hagure as well. I guess maybe it’s that creativity that’s getting him noticed by all the overseas YouTubers lately. He’s up there on the QW billboard image.

ponta:

He’s got the charisma, right?

GAKU:

That’s right.

ponta:

So what kind of person is yuta14?

GAKU:

Yuta’s the leader of the pack. Obviously he’s great at Clash, but he’s also just super dependable. Originally he was the only member of the team who was in employment, so he was in charge of sorting out flights and things like that. Tax and everything, too.

ponta:

Really? The Yuta I knew in the past was more of a younger brother-type figure.

GAKU:

Oh?

ponta:

I suppose he’s grown up a lot since he’s had some younger people under his wing. They say taking charge of others is a sure way to garner respect. I guess this is an example.

GAKU:

That’s right. He’s certainly earned respect, and I don’t think there’s anyone in the Clash community who doesn’t like him.

ponta:

While we’re on the subject, how are Klaus and STARs with practical business matters? And Stadra?

GAKU:

The three of them are...single-minded.

ponta:

They’re fully focused on Clash of Clans?

GAKU:

Yes. (Laughs.) But obviously everyone likes them. They take on a lot of miscellaneous duties.

ponta:

Do you mind if I ask what kind of person Stadra is?

GAKU:

Stadra is the mood-maker of the team. He’s got a good reputation for designing layouts. We have a lot of air-based attack strategists in QueeN Walkers, so we count on him on the ground (mainly for smash-type attacks). He’s also excellent at rapid planning, so we often let him take the lead out front. We really couldn’t do it without him.

ponta:

Rapid planning, huh? Yeah, that’s absolutely vital.

GAKU:

Yeah.

ponta:

And what’s STARs like?

GAKU:

Well STARs used to be in the TH9 Specialists as well, so I’ve known him a really long time. There’s a player called Xavier that he’s been touted as having comparable genius to him since that time. But he’s not one to give much away about his personality, so he’s something of a mystery.

ponta:

When did STARs approach you, and how?

GAKU:

He joined us after Hagure Metal Castle and QueeN Walkers were in the World Championship together. We got a message from him asking to join after the August heats that Hagure Metal Castle took part in.

ponta:

STARs is often up there on the global leaderboard, so that makes Xavier something special. Ah, it takes me back! A lot of people said how great he was, didn’t they?

GAKU:

Yeah. But then he dropped out of the Crash front line. Personally, I share STARs’s opinion: If Xavier had carried on as a dedicated player, he’d be world class by now.

ponta:

So with STARs joining you last year, do you have any plans to take on more new members this year?

GAKU:

We’re not really looking for anyone at the moment. Occasionally you hear about some amazing new player joining one of the overseas teams, but then you find out it was someone from the top of the legend league. We already have all the ranking regulars we’re interested in on board.

ponta:

Right. I used to dream about the possibility of there being some amazing Clash player out there that hadn’t shown his or her face yet, but nowadays the legend league ranking basically functions as a super-player ranking, doesn’t it?

GAKU:

Yeah. There’s basically a direct link between people’s skill and the current trophy system, really.

“Thoughts on the Clash of Clans Japan Championship”

ponta:

What do you think about the “Clash of Clans Japan Championship” that could potentially reveal a new hero in our midst?

GAKU:

It’s a really novel idea. I mean all current Clash competitions are 5-on-5, and I never really considered individual battles.

ponta:

Will you take part?

GAKU:

Yes, of course.

ponta:

I do wonder if the decision to run the Japan No. 1 Contest as an individual battle competition was influenced by the might of QueeN Walkers. I mean, when you consider 5-person teams and whether there’s a team somewhere in Japan capable of toppling you guys, I think we’d be unlikely to witness a major upset. Not that I’m in any way criticizing QueeN Walkers. After all, honing your skills and becoming the best is a great achievement. But to find new talent while your monopoly continues, I think an individual contest was called for.

GAKU:

That’s right. Who knows how an individual contest will go, right?

ponta:

Yeah, I wonder. People will be coming after you.

GAKU:

With teams, we basically know who’s strong already. But it’s fun to think that on an individual level, there could be people out there who don’t even realize they have hidden talent.

ponta:

Beyond the possibility of it exposing some new star player, do you like the idea of individual battles?

GAKU:

Yeah. I think there are a lot of people who never get the chance to play just because they can’t get a team together to compete in the 5-on-5 format. And you can’t join an existing strong team, because teams like Unicorns Of Love or the M2 Ninjas have fixed members. So I think individual battles are a great idea because anyone can join in.

ponta:

Is there anyone in particular you’ll be watching closely?

GAKU:

I’d have to say STARs from our own team. We were rivals of sorts for a long time in the TH9 Specialists.

ponta:

What do you think are the biggest differences in tactics and practice methods between 5-on-5 and individual battles?

GAKU:

The biggest difference is not being able to pick who attacks which village. With 5-on-5, you can’t pinpoint who’s attacking your village, and when you’re attacking, if you’re in a tough spot, you can leave things to other Clan members. But with a 1-on-1 battle, you can’t do that. Which is why I think it’s going to be really important to research your opponent’s best strategies and work out effective counters for them.

ponta:

Right. And that means a dark horse player with no stats is going to be harder to beat.

GAKU:

Yeah.

ponta:

And on the flip side, given that you’re widely regarded as Japan’s strongest player, your Achilles heel will be the massive amount of data about you that’s publicly available.

GAKU:

That’s right. I’m kind of scared of being researched.

ponta:

GAKU’s meta TH14 layout secrets!

GAKU:

(Laughs.)

“The current state of Clash ”

ponta:

So TH14 is just out. How are you finding it?

GAKU:

Well, we haven’t yet hit a village that’s maxed us out, but I think having hero pets really strengthens the strategies the hero can use. Like doing massive damage with your heroes in a suicide strike, or strong attacks where you put everything into a Queen Walk to rampage over the village.

ponta:

In Japan, we’ve always been good at utilizing hero-centric attacks like Warden Walks and Queen Walks, right?

GAKU:

That’s right. Japanese teams have mostly been about subtle attacks rather than unit-heavy rush attacks and the like. In other countries, you get the impression that power attacks like the Super Witch Smash or GiBoWitch are the staples.

ponta:

What would your pet recommendation be?

GAKU:

People were saying originally that the unicorn was a strong choice, but now it’s the yak. Because a yak will break down walls and does an excellent job as a tanker.

ponta:

What do you think about the difficulty of the game as a whole?

GAKU:

I’m in the wanting it to be harder camp. Right now there seems to be a mindset that total destruction is a given. I mean, there’s serious pressure not to miss anything. It’s kind of like out of the seven types of attack, what tactics do I choose. Thinking of a defendable layout is really hard. But the elite level that considers total destruction a given is less than 1%, I guess, so for the game, it’s probably best as it is.

“Favorite overseas players and a message to the Japanese Clash community”

ponta:

So among the overseas players, who do you have your eye on?

GAKU:

You mean core or famous names?

ponta:

Both, if you don’t mind.

GAKU:

Well, for core, I’d say the player, Lou. He hadn’t taken part in an eSports title before, but since this year he’s been a member of INQ Clan. He’s got incredible suicide laloon technique, and he’s 5th in the legend league global ranking. So he stands out.

ponta:

And among the famous players, who’s your pick?

GAKU:

Well, taking the high road, I’d say BuMm is really amazing.

ponta:

In what way?

GAKU:

This is nothing to do with his playing, but when we met in Germany, he was really smiley! (Laughs.) But yeah, as for his playing, he moved from Tribe to ATN last year and he’s doing amazing things there.

ponta:

That non-verbal communication offline is great, isn’t it? Let’s hope for more competitions where players get together on site.

GAKU:

Yeah. I know there are challenges, but it creates a totally different atmosphere to an online event, so if possible, I’d love to do more offline.

ponta:

Finally then, do you have a message for our readers?

GAKU:

I think the Clash community is really friendly. It’s often said, but what I really like is how there’s this strong connection outside of the game itself that you don’t get in other communities, with people celebrating birthdays and weddings and things going on in people’s private lives. I mean, I know people who keep playing Clash because they just like the Clans and the people around them. That’s what’s so great about our community. I hope it stays that way, basically.

ponta:

Thank you very much. I’m sure that having had this opportunity to get to know you better, the community is only going to like you more too, GAKU. Keep up the amazing work.

---------------------------------------------------------------

GAKU is exactly the nice young guy he looks like, and it really struck me how he answered all my questions honestly and with great care not to offend any other individuals. But the fact is, behind that nice-guy exterior is a Clash demon with skills that can make the world’s greatest Clan members quake in their boots. There’s no question that he’ll be a major player in the upcoming Japan No. 1 Contest. Keep a close eye on GAKU as he aims to become Japan’s number one, and the number one in the world.

(Writing/Photography: ponta)

トップに戻る