In the Japanese Virtua Fighter community, there are two titles that SEGA gives away to strong players. They are Tetsujins and Star Players.
I’ve talked about the history of the Beat-Tribe Cup series years ago and I also mentioned that SEGA gave the Tetsujin title to six players back in 1995, around the time while VF2 was out. I don’t think I went into detail on what a Star Player is in the VF community and that needs to be explained more. Thanks to the Dem Flaminico Gamer’s Roundtable article featuring the three of the six Tetsujins: BunBunMaru, Ikebukuro Sarah, and Kyasao, we got an idea on what Tetsujins had to do once they were granted the title. I’ll be relying on this article, along with a very old article from Fuudo, as a reference for this blog.
So where did the Tetsujin name come from? I’m sure that if you played Tekken Tag Tournament on the PS2, you would already know about the metal alt for Mokujin, who also bears the same name. However, this is related to Virtua Fighter, not Tekken.
The official Tetsujin Certificate from SEGA
The Tetsujin name in Japanese translates to “iron man” in English. The name’s origin in the VF community originally came from the show, Iron Chef, aka Ryouri no Tetsujin. While some of the players were already calling themselves Tetsujins, SEGA officially awarded the title to the following six players at the Official VF2 Tournament in 1995: BunBunMaru, Kyasao, Ikebukuro Sarah, Kashiwa Jeffry, Shinjuku Jacky, and K.K. It’s common that every Tetsujin competes in a 100-man Kumite, which later became a social phenomenon in Japan. They travled to 47 different prefectures in Japan and played in several arcades.
In order to become a Tetsujin player, you need to participate in a 100-man Kumite session and make sure you beat 95 out of 100 players in one sitting. Kashiwa Jeffry is the only Tetsujin out of the six that won all 100 battles in the 100-man Kumite twice, and Kyasao competed in a 100-man Kumite record with a 99-1 record. It was told that back in the 90s, Ikebukuro Sarah was so occupied with VF, his wife was fed up with it. He was given the ultimatum of VF or his wife, and to no one's surprise... he left his wife for VF. You can't make this stuff up.
Left to Right: BunBunMaru, Ikebukuro Sarah, Kyasao
When Virtua Fighter 5 was released in arcades, SEGA introduced the Star Player title to the new generation of players in the VF community. It was included in the arcade version of VF5, VF5R, and VF5FS. Whenever a player logs into the game and uses their Character Access Card, they’ll get a special “Star Player Comes” message rather than the standard “Challenger Comes” message. In addition to that, their username will be in gold to stand out from the rest of the players.
In a 2009 interview with Fuudo,who was a Star Player during his VF5-VF5R days, at the World Cyber Games, he gave more insight about what it was like becoming a Star Player. He mentioned that Star Players are asked to do official VF5 events for SEGA and they receive benefits for it such as salary, free accommodation and travel expenses, etc. It was more like a freelance job. This was two years before Fuudo made his transition to competing in Street Fighter and winning his first EVO back in 2011.
Unlike the Tetsujin title, the Star Player title can be taken away from you. In order to gain that title, you have to win SEGA-themed VF tournaments in the arcade. While the Star Player system is no longer under use now that SEGA has moved on to VF5US/VFes, some of the players such as Chibita for example still have the title to this day.
If you want to read more on Tetsujins and Star Players, Akai from VFDC has provided a translated interview from Den Faminico Gamer, which talked about life as a Tetsujin, and other things that I’ve talked about in past VF Month blogs. In addition to that, I’ll also include Fuudo’s 2009 interview from WCG.
And that’s it. VF Month is officially over. I want to wish you all a Happy New Year, and please look forward to more VF5US action in 2022! I’m happy to have VF back again!
Until then… Train Up, Fighters!