FSD Interview: Touching Base with Master

No doubt it has been some time since we last had a one-on-one discussion with our Team NINJA CM, Master and now with the release of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty the busy Super NINJA has finally been allowed some space and room to breathe before engaging with the next series of Team NINJA project(s) including Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty DLC and Rise of the Rōnin. We're very lucky to have him as a CM because he's not strictly business with the community and truly puts on a spectacle with each Team NINJA project showing complete loyalty and passion for the Team NINJA brand.

Before becoming the Team NINJA CM, Master was a G4 television star, Dead or Alive 4 2008 World Champion, a 2013 Guiness World Record Setter and also had the most complete and successful Ryu Hayabusa in all variants of Dead or Alive 5. Now that he can no longer compete in Dead or Alive, he is setting records with Team NINJA's magnum opus NINJA GAIDEN: Black. You're encouraged to walk the way of a real Super NINJA by following him at his regular
Twitch Stream.

DOAN: Hello, Master! Can you illustrate to us how a day of working for Team NINJA as the community manager works?

MASTER: What's up DOAN/FSD! I am Emmanuel “MASTER” Rodriguez, former DOA pro and currently the Community Manager (CM) for Team NINJA Studio. When working, I usually have a bunch of tasks to look at or do but my primary task is to engage the community through social media, see what the response is to our games or franchises and report any major concerns that people are talking about. I try to be that bridge between community and developers.

Additionally, I sometimes assist with various other things like interviews, game break downs, esports topics or on occasion capturing for media or promotional trailers.

When you heard about Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty's success just when it comes to sheer Steam numbers alone what was the reaction from the team. More specifically, what was your reaction? It's quite a feat to double Nioh 2's all-time numbers on launch day. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is looking to be one of Team NINJA's most successful games of all time in this modern day of how things now work in the industry.

I’m always thankful to be a part of any project the team puts together and happy to see their work create great experiences for players around the world. This is actually my 4th project with the team and I’m happy to see the amazing response behind Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty.

Do you miss the spotlight? How have you dealt with no longer being a competitor as an esports gamer that's competed on television and big streams. I imagine there must have been some type of a transition.

Haha! The spotlight as a competitor is something I do miss from time to time, but I also understand this was a necessary transition for me. I’ve been in the esports battlegrounds long enough to know that it can be a difficult transition from top competitor to your next career move. Even if it were an option, it is unrealistic, at this point of my life, to try to juggle both and would be a disservice to the communities.

I believe it's important to keep focus on our players that enjoy Team NINJA's games and help their voices be heard when possible. I am redirecting my spotlight back to the community because they deserve it. They’re the reason I am here in the first place.

Does Team NINJA have any plans to work with Microsoft again on Game Pass in the future? What's your thoughts on this platform, and has it helped Team NINJA reach a new audience of players?

The head of the studio is probably better equipped to answer such a question, but I am, personally, happy that there was a new title that the team could create for nearly all platforms. With Wo Long being on Game Pass, I am sure many tried it out and refreshed their memories of the Team NINJA brand and that’s always good to see.

What is something that would surprise the community about you? Something none of us in the community would know.

Haha! That’s good question. Here’s something people may not know. A lot of what I do is mostly self-taught. Rather it be editing, streaming, compiling data for the team, a good chunk of that was learned on my own through video/reading or through real life experiences.

I initially went to college for computer engineering, but soon after was given an opportunity to go to the esports pro leagues. Fast forward to 2023 and here I am now on this crazy ride. I mention this snippet of my life to hopefully encourage others to always continue learning about themselves and what they love to do. Whether it be through an expensive school or having the discipline to learn on their own to become successful.

No matter what path you take, never give up on learning. It’s an investment to yourself.

Well said. When can we expect to hear announcements pertaining to Wo Long's season pass?

All I can say on that is please look forward to the coming months for Wo Long DLC information @WoLongOfficial. I can’t wait myself.

Everyone is talking about the Lu Bu boss fight. Who is your favorite boss in Wo Long, and which boss fight stuck out to you as the most difficult.

I think Lu Bu is a very rewarding fight in New Game+. He really tests your mettle but for me the final boss in the last mission is probably my favorite. I don’t want to spoil it for those that haven’t made it there, but he is a little tricky at first and his ability to deflect you felt more engaging to me than most other fights. I’ll leave it at that.

What's your message to the community pertaining to the future? Do you have a message for the community now?

I hope the community continues to enjoy and support Team NINJA games. We all thank you and look forward to bringing more great Team NINJA experiences in the near future.

Before Wo Long's release you were becoming quite the speed demon in NINJA GAIDEN: Black. What ignited in you to start setting records with NINJA GAIDEN speed running?

That’s a really good question and I’m actually going to tell you something no one knows. So, the first thing to mention here is, before NINJA GAIDEN: Master Collection was even announced, I knew I needed to get my NG skills back in order. The second objective was that I wanted the community of NG to know that someone internally on the team had completed all NGMC games and Xbox NG versions on the hardest difficulties.

Within the NG community there is a certain level of respect for accomplishing that. The last part, which is the actual speed running, is for two reasons. The main reason was to show that I am willing to dedicate myself to the franchise and community to even get a decent time on the speed run boards. I believe there is a level of importance with having someone internally committed and also has comprehensive ability with the products Team NINJA sells in a way that the community will respect or appreciate. The second reason is a bit more personal, and I don’t feel comfortable sharing that at this time. For those that don’t know, Ryu Hayabusa and I go many years back now. When the time is more appropriate, I will share that with everyone.

Thank you everyone for the continuous support all these years and I hope you look forward to the upcoming DLC & Season Pass content for Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty.

Contact & Follow Master: @oMASTERo | @TeamNINJAStudio

Follow Master's Official Projects: @Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty | @Dead or Alive 6 | @Nioh 2 | @NINJA GAIDEN: Master Collection
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I never touched that thread.

Oh, that’s true. I saw some other posts from you I was like eck oh god here we go and fit you in the same type of department.

Seriously though. It’s not like you are so identifiable that people know who you are by any means. Generally, everyone in the community (that Rob doesn't believe exists) that has been here long enough or has competed at one tournament or has watched one DOA trailer or watched one tournament knows who Master is and knows he is the CM.

The very fact that Full Cup Bounce doesn’t know who he is and had a tournament with next to nobody in attendance proves that Master does his job fine. If he would have went to Master for help he probably would have gotten somewhere with it.
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The very fact that full cup bounce doesn’t know who he is and had a tournament with next to nobody in attendance proves that master does his job fine. If he would have went to master for help he probably would have gotten somewhere with it.

This is a lie. He had 14 people sign up for the tournament which is avg DOA tourney numbers.
This is a lie. He had 14 people sign up for the tournament which is avg DOA tourney numbers.
The tournament was done in 2021 and no progress was made on the leaderboards that I can see for this girl only and swimsuit preferred tournament.

He has three tournaments in total. Two with zero players. So yeah. Keep grasping for straws.