When I was really young, maybe around third grade, I saw my friend's older brother playing StarCraft: Brood War. I don't remember exactly how things went down, but shortly after my dad bought me a copy because he saw that I was interested. As most children would, I gravitated towards the campaign and UMS games (shoutout to stacking cannons in photon cannon D). As I got older, I became more capable of actually finishing and understanding the campaign, but I also got into other games like Call of Duty and WarCraft 3. For years, I played WarCraft 3 and StarCraft: Brood War UMS games and never touched competitive play. I was also extremely afraid someone would find out because I had this idea in my head that these were "nerdy" games and not "cool games". In high school, this began to change.
StarCraft 2 came out my sophomore year in high school. I remember pre-ordering it because I had played so much StarCraft: Brood War. I immediately played through the campaign and looked through the Arcade, which wasn't called the arcade then, but it was dead. At this point in my life, I had a really tight knit group of friends, but none of them even knew what StarCraft was. Rapidly, I became hooked to playing the game at a silver league level, at best. I would talk to everyone about StarCraft, including my teachers (one of whom also played), my friends, and my parents. I tried to get anyone and everyone involved, and eventually a little StarCraft-playing community developed in my school.
By junior year I had hit a pretty dark place. I was quitting a lot of things that were a part of me, like baseball, which I had been encouraged to do since I was 8. I was starting to feel relentlessly pessimistic (props to anyone who sees where this is going). I was feeling the crushing loneliness that I imagine most people have felt, at least some point. This was made worse by the fact that a lot of my friends had girlfriends and so I missed out on time with them.
Day Daily #100 really impacted me, as it did so many others. I showed my mom and tried to explain why it was so important. I quickly became a disciple of Day. It was the first time where I became unabashedly myself, even to strangers. There was something infectious about his passion, the way he used humor, and the way in which he seemed to speak directly to me. If #100 was a kind of origin point for accepting myself, "Day's Musings - Being Relentlessly Positive" changed my life.
I honestly don't know what I would be like or what I would've done had I not watched that video. I took Day's message to heart and put all my will into being relentlessly positive. I don't really know how to explain it, but it changed me in an utterly profound way. Almost overnight I went from being a complete pessimist to a complete optimist as though I had some kind of divine revelation. My relationships with people started to change, and I started to once again enjoy going to school to see my friends and talk about StarCraft. From that point, I continued to appreciate Day's wisdom, even when it had nothing to do with the game.
During the summer after my junior year I entered into my first romantic relationship. Naturally, I shared Day and my love for StarCraft. Now that my life was intertwined with this other person (at least, to the greatest extent possible in high school), I felt like sharing StarCraft was necessary. I reached a point where things seemed perfect. I loved my friends, I loved my girlfriend, I was doing well in school, and I was finally starting to get good at StarCraft. Things went on like this up until I was getting ready to leave for college.
My girlfriend and I had planned to break up because we agreed the long distance and the excitements of college might cause a nasty break up. I really thought I would be okay, but the morning I left, I burst into tears saying goodbye. That was the first time I burst into tears saying goodbye to someone (some of you may have already read about the second). The first few weeks without her were hard. Eventually, weeks turned to months and I hadn't fully recovered. That's when I became more involved in the gaming club at my school and eventually met Day.
The gaming club gave me all the support I needed to flourish. The president of the club welcomed me as a fellow StarCraft player and I naturally befriended his little brother, who was also a freshman and would become one of my roommates and best friends. I also met another weird fellow who played on a laptop keyboard at the time. He too became a roommate and best friend. Fortunately, the people I met in the gaming club were also the people who would host most of the social events I would end up attending. While the drinking was fun, the camaraderie was better, especially because much of it revolved around the game that had such an important place in my life. We also all competed in the Collegiate StarLeague (CSL)... but more on that later.
In November of my freshman year (2013), the gaming club took a trip to New York City to attend Red Bull Battlegrounds. As a Terran, I rooted for Bomber and was devastated, as were my two new friends, when Scarlett's burrowed banelings destroyed any hope of a Bomber championship. After a great weekend of matches, we went to the after party. We knew Day was going to be there and we were all big fans. At the venue, we were denied entry because we were too young. We stood in the cold, along with some Rutgers university players (shoutout to Carnage and Aria) for hours waiting for Day. In the brutal November nighttime weather, I thought I would die before Day arrived and I was almost ready to do that.
Eventually, when morale was at it's lowest, we saw a hooded man scurrying into the bar. We all recognized the face under the hood and shouted for him to wait. Without perfect information, he told us to come inside because it was too cold outside. We all did our best to shout out why we couldn't and the message seemed to get across. Immediately, he took off his hood and we actually formed a line to say hello, which seems truly weird in retrospect because there were only about six of us.
"Hi, I'm Sean" were his first words to everyone. Different people had different things they wanted to say. Carnage asked him about the times they had played on the ladder, others said they really liked Daily #100. When it was my turn, I was starstruck for the first time. At "Hi, I'm Sean" I lost it. I didn't know if my name was Gloob or Tyler. I immediately confessed that his relentlessly positive video changed my life. He said something that you'd expect, though I forget what. It didn't matter, I just had to let him know. We got some stuff signed and then we all went to our hotels to pass out.
Fast forward a few months, I applied to be a StarCraft writer for the CSL. I had always been alright at writing (though I'm sure some of you will disagree) and thought it would be a good outlet for my passion. I also began casting (thanks CHL for that opportunity). I wrote and casted for a while, but ultimately dropped casting as the years went on. I got to know a lot of people at CSL as online friends and generally enjoyed my time doing CSL-related work.
The summer after freshman year, I applied for the CSN Training Camp Team Polt versus Team Violet competition. Surprisingly I made the team, even though I was not a great player. Also on the team was Zombiegrub and Shalashaka (who I knew from Reddit). I got knocked out after the first round for playing like trash (which I expected), but it was great to later meet Polt and Axeltoss in real life. I'll link my audition video here if anyone is interested.
Sophomore year, I finally hit masters league (before my roommate, Sugar). At this point, I was running the gaming club, along with my two StarCraft-playing roommates and we were doing our best to organize events. We had a Red Bull contact in the DC-area that really helped to hook us up with Red Bull or tickets to events. We also went to the DC LANs where I met some OG TL people. At this time, I had really cooled on my Day infatuation and was just really focused on being a good player. Participating in CSL as a player, writer, and caster took up a solid amount of time (as did taekwondo and some other hobbies I had picked up in college).
By junior year, I felt as though I had settled in. I had the same two roommates as the year previous plus another guy who is awesome and loves games. We had our computers set up next to each other and would play throughout the day. I started falling out of love StarCraft for the first time. I got into Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2. I was playing StarCraft, but I was getting bad and I wasn't watching it as much. I was, however, going to Korea for my second semester. Surely, this would re-ignite the passion.
I arrived in Korea before I could move into the dorm because, well, I'm a fool. The night before my flight, I noticed this and the proverbial jets were scrambled. Fortunately, my mentor, friend, and superior at CSL, Theresa aka JadedShock, came in the clutch. I was able to spend a night or two crashing at her place before moving into the dorm. This was the first time that I realized how cool it was to be working at CSL and it ultimately brought me closer to Theresa and the rest of the CSL people.
I grinded super hard in Korea. I had switched to Protoss and wanted to prove that I could be masters league in Korea. Unfortunately, I'm an NA scrub. There was a time where I was beating masters players and, by points, I was the number one diamond league player in Korea. After a rough losing streak, I took a few weeks off. I tried getting out to GSL and Proleague matches. I met GTR through a mutual friend who was studying abroad at the same time and then through GTR I met the rest of the casters. Of the casters, I befriended one most, Sean's brother, Tasteless.
The first time I met Tasteless it was kind of an accident. I just kind of ran into him when I was out one night. The next time, we went out for food after he casted. I brought a few friends and we all got along. One (hi Alius) was a Brood War guy who I had met on TL and he ended up coincidentally being my neighbor in the dorm. Another was a non-StarCraft fan who was curious. It was awesome to see Tasteless (Nick) off camera and relaxed. He was genuinely cool, and I began looking up to him almost as much as, four years prior, I had looked up to his brother.
Unfortunately, I stopped playing StarCraft while I was in Korea. I watched more than ever, but playing just made me unhappy. I started going out more and more (and drinking more and more). I missed a CSL match one night because I was so drunk at 3am (when I was supposed to get online to play). I did, however, continue to write my articles about CSL. During this time I also posted a few blog posts on TL, so more about this time can be found in my previous posts. To save myself the embarrassment and to stay on topic, I won't recall here the major story arc of my time in Korea.
Eventually, back in the US, I picked up the game again. I realized that any attempt to totally quit or remove myself from StarCraft would be pointless. I had grown up with it and owed it and the community so much, that I couldn't bring myself to turn my back. Through meeting players at PsiStorm Cup LANs and other DC area LANS my passion began to grow again. I've never played as hard as I did sophomore year of college, but I'm okay with that. At this point, I just appreciate the game and anyone who is involved with it.
After returning from Korea, my plan was to eventually go back and teach English. Last weekend, when I was in Toronto for the CSL finals, I had a change of heart. I think a big part of the reason I wanted to go back to Korea is illegitimate. I'm not going to relive my study abroad days and it's probably better for my mental health, my liver, and my future if I don't. I haven't fully ruled out the possibility, but I'm not as sure as I once was.
At the CSL Grand Finals, I met many of the CSL people that I had been working with for so long. For the first time, I met the chair stealing mastermind himself, Duran (or Xeris, to many of you). I also met my old casting buddy and mentor CheeseheadLogic (CHL). Theresa, who has helped me so much in terms of meeting people and becoming a better writer, was also there. The people I met working on the CSL's other games like Dota and Counter-Strike were also awesome. I can't thank them all enough for the opportunities and friendships they've given me.
I loved every second of my time in Toronto: waking up early, getting back late, hanging out with collegiate StarCraft players, joking around with my fellow CSL staff, doing interviews, writing my recap article, everything. A few nights, I was so excited for the next day I couldn't even fall asleep. There was a new kind of passion, related to the old one, that I hadn't felt before.
It wasn't the game alone that I loved, it was much, much more. I wanted, and want, to devote my life to esports. I'm sure to many of you that sounds delusional. I'm sure I'll have to find a job that pays the bills and I'm sure I'll fail all over the place trying to get into the industry. A week before my graduation, I think it's finally coming together. For so long, StarCraft has been important. I've been working for CSL writing or commentating. I've been hosting or attending LANs and viewing parties at my school. I think I have to just go for it.
Just like that, a year of planning to go to Korea has been tossed out the window. Maybe I'll still go, but if I do, it will be in some different capacity. Right now, all I want to do is throw myself at esports. I don't care what game, people don't have to love StarCraft as much as I do. I don't even care what I have to do, I'll be the equivalent of a roadie if it's what gets me in. Of course, I'll keep writing for CSL (or doing anything for CSL) so long as they have a place for me.
Here I am, days before my graduation, writing my first TL post since Korea. I woke up a couple of hours ago and wrote this in something of a frenzy, but honestly that's what all my TL blog posts have been. Even if my mind changes again in a month, I think it's okay. Here, I captured a mood and expressed something that I've been trying to for years. I'll be moving back to Boston in a few weeks and there I will start my journey into post-grad life. If anyone has any ideas on how to get involved, feel free to DM me or comment.
Before I finish this, I just want to again thank some people who have been important to my own life of StarCraft:
-My family, especially my parents who encouraged my StarCraft shenanigans (for whatever reason)
-My friends who have been supportive of this passion of mine, especially my current and former roommates who played (and my roommate Sugar, in particular)
-Everyone at CSL, particularly Theresa (who hired me), CHL (who let me cast), and Duran (who is the reason I have any of these opportunities)
-The Plott brothers, Day for getting me through high school and Tasteless for getting me through Korea
-Everyone who has ever been involved with GW Competitive Gaming
-Anyone I may have forgotten...
Thanks for reading!
I love StarCraft and am graduating in a week. Thanks world.