Flash’s Past Shared by.Flash
(T/N that title though...)
With regards to Korean eSports, Lee Young Ho (Flash) is truly a special person. That such an influential person decided to retire was very heartbreaking for many fans. This sadness must have come from the realization that fans would never be able to see Flash compete anymore. In his retirement ceremony, many fans came to watch the Ultimate Weapons take the stage one last time.
Fans readily welcomed Flash when he came back after his short retirement. His first personal broadcast on Afreeca pulled in such a crowd that his streams kept crashing until he disabled chat. That day, the largest simultaneous viewer count numbered over 70,000.
Due to the immense amount of interest towards Flash, we thought Flash would have already shared everything about his former pro-gamer life. Now that we’ve met him through Afreeca, we wanted to hear more of his story as a civilian who streams rather than his story as a pro.
Flash introduced himself as a “BJ who just started his first broadcast, a former pro.” Having successfully finished his first stream, Flash shared about his past 9 years as well as his future goals.
This interview will be split into two parts. Part 1 covers some lighthearted stories of Flash, and part 2 will cover Flash’s plans for the future.
This is the first time seeing you since you retired. How have you been since retiring?
I didn’t do much. I rested a lot, and I had a lot of time to think about things like what I needed to do in the future. After my contract with Afreeca was confirmed, I thought a lot about how I would run the stream. I also practiced a lot of BW to raise my skills.
Did you ever regret retiring? Did you ever think about restarting life as a pro-gamer?
As of yet, I have not had those thoughts. Every once in awhile, I’ll have thoughts of the past, but they’re simply that--the past. I don’t regret retiring, and I think it was the right decision. I tried my best as a pro-gamer up until the point I retired, but after retirement I have no regrets.
You must have had many offers, but why did you choose Afreeca?
I had a lot of parties ask lightly if I wanted to do something with them, but the first to formally offer me a position was Afreeca. They didn’t simply talk about streaming, but they had prepared a more holistic plan of what and how things would run. I felt Afreeca’s passion, especially from director Chae.
But I think the timing of the broadcast came a lot sooner than I had expected. I wanted to perfect my BW skills before showing anyone, but due to certain circumstances, the stream happened at the time it did. On the flipside, I wanted to announce that I would be streaming earlier. I wanted to announce my streams at an Afreeca Freecs ceremony/press conference, but certain issues pushed the announcement back to after the Starleague Finals.
You retired an SC2 pro. Why did you choose to stream BW?
I’m not going to stream only BW; I just chose it as my first game. I also had some lingering disappointment with the forced transition from BW to SC2. I’m sure I’m not the only BW pro who has these feelings. Even SC2 pros who are very successful still share these regrets. It only made sense for me to start with BW, but I plan to play other games in the future as well.
Then what do BW and SC2 mean to you?
To me BW and SC2 are the same game. I tried my best in both. In SC2, I didn’t have the success I did in BW, but that doesn’t mean I dislike SC2. It’s just as important of a game. But objectively speaking, if the interest I received in BW was 100, then the interest I had in SC2 was about a 10. I wonder whether I would have been able to draw such a crowd if I started my first broadcast with SC2. I’m pretty sure many people came to watch remembering the Flash of the BW days.
Interest in SC2 has died down due to a myriad of circumstances. I tried my best to garner more interest, but it wasn’t easy. I wish the best to the pros who still play the game, especially those who came after me. BW, LotV, all are still StarCraft, and I wish that fans would show interest in both rather than criticize the other.
I think the SC2 pros need to continue to be successful for me to be remembered. Most pros think fondly of all games they’ve played. I was an SC2 pro for 4 years, and the game was fun for me throughout that time. It’s a task the current SC2 pros need to continue to succeed in.
You were an SC2 pro for 4 years. Did you play any BW during that time?
I didn’t play a single game. That’s why it was so hard to get used to the BW user interface after playing SC2 for so long. I had to remember and relearn everything from the interface to control groups, and my hands were definitely not as quick and precise as before.
How did you practice before the first stream?
When I first picked up the mouse, I questioned whether this was the game I used to play. It felt like such a different game. But I thought since I had played SC2 my hands would move quickly, but that was far from the truth. On top of that BW is not a game you can practice in the mornings. You have to play other BJs at night, and it was hard to play just 15 games a day. My skills were returning at a quick rate, but I wasn’t satisfied. I could have improved even more, but it was hard. Other hard circumstances also existed.
I also never revealed my new ID, but everyone seemed to know. Even if the skill level is different from the past, many people have a feel for ‘This is X player’ just by playing against them. I never said anything, but Sea hyung was like, ‘This is 100% Flash.’
There must have been other things you had to prepare outside of gaming
I tried my best to learn about streaming, but it wasn’t easy. I didn’t have anyone to ask about streaming, so that sucked. But on the day of the stream, someone from Afreeca came and helped set up everything so it started without problems. But once the stream started and the masses started coming in, the room couldn’t stand it. We tried restarting the stream, but in the end we had to freeze chat.
The stream started and I was super nervous. I don’t normally drink Pocari Sweat, but I drink it when I’m nervous. I drank it like crazy yesterday. Every second seemed like a competition. I was so drained after each game. But for the first time in forever, I had butterflies in my stomach (T/N: in a very good way. Kind of like when your CFA smiles at you. The Korean word is most used in a romantic/getting to like something setting). The largest crowd was over 70,000, and I was thankful for the faithful interest of everyone who watched.
Yesterday on stream you said you wouldn’t enter any competitions. Any particular reasons for this?
People asked me if I was going to participate in the Cheolgoo Starleague. I said I wouldn’t, not because I have a personal thing against the person but rather because my skill is just not up to par yet. I had a PM today asking if I would play, and I firmly, respectfully said I would not participate. There’s no other reason.
Whatever that person might have done, it hasn’t affected me, and I won’t misinterpret what others have said. If he had done something against me, I might have to reconsider, but this was just a request to participate, and I declined. I can’t fine control my units yet, and I’m not satisfied with my early game. When I improve on those points, I might enter some contests. At the soonest, it’ll take a month, and at the latest, three. He might have hosted the tournament to earn money, but at least we both share our love for BW, so I’m sure he’ll understand my reasons.
If you plan on streaming different games, is League of Legends on your radar?
I’m looking at this broadcast for the long run, so I can play any game. When I played League (when he was injured in the hospital if I remember correctly), I got to diamond 2 just playing Evelynn. But now, instead of ranking, I just play for fun. I’m currently at diamond 5. Back when I played only Evelynn, I’d win around 18 out of 20 games. I think I might have been on a lucky streak.
If you’re that good, shouldn’t you be considering going pro?
I’m not that good (laughs). My wrist isn’t the best either… If I focus too much on gaming and play too much, my wrist still hurts. But it’s been a long time since surgery, and I know certain practices to limit pains so I’ll be ok. It used to get bad to the point where it would burn when I was player. The doctor strongly recommended surgery and said life would be hard if I didn’t get it. Surgery and rehab was hard as well. I also gained a lot of weight during that time, so I’d work out for up to 6 hours a day.
When I said my arm hurt a bit yesterday, people kept telling me to play more. So I said that my true fans would tell me to rest if I was tired. I probably shouldn’t have reacted that way, but I was a bit frustrated when I saw the people who kept telling me to play.
You said that the reason you started streaming was to interact with fans.
As a pro-gamer I didn’t have much news/rumors about me. Honestly, I’m not a very interesting or important person (laughs). However, my fans are curious about stories I couldn’t share back as a pro. I wanted to comfortably share and talk with people.
You’ve spent some time outside of the team house now. How is it?
The hardest part is the loneliness. From that loneliness, I contacted a lot of people around me. I contact Jaedong hyung a lot. Jaedong hyung also lives alone, and we talk a lot. It seems like we’re all the same. If you live alone, you don’t have much to do, so you play a lot of games. It’s regrettable, but I think there’s a fun aspect to doing things by yourself.
I can’t imagine Flash doing laundry for himself.
After retiring, I did laundry for the first time. I have a drum laundry machine, so it was easier than I had expected. More than laundry, the meals are the problem. I normally order food, but cleaning it up is a pain. If I make my own food, I just need to do the dishes, but cleaning up after ordering is annoying. So I eat out a bit too. Or I just eat with my KT friends or with by.Rain. I did enough dishes when I was the youngest, so I’m confident in my dishwashing skills as I am in my gaming skills. At that time I didn’t even dream of a time like this coming (laughs).
How are you doing with Rain?
He’s like a brother to me. When I was a pro-gamer, I had a strong image. I was shy and I didn’t relax when I spoke easily (T/N from the respectful voice in Korean). So I don’t have any deep friends, just a lot of average friends with everyone. When I first met Rain, I felt like we clicked and I thought he was a pretty good guy.
You lived in the KT house after retirement.
After retirement, I needed to decide what to do, so living in Seoul was convenient. The team was generous enough to allow me to live there for a month. At the time Coach Kang gave me great advice and always directed me to the best path. A lot of players were very surprised when I told them I would retire, but they didn’t really react when I left the house because they knew that we’d see each other often enough. And there weren’t any players who spent a whole lot of time with me.
You’re the same age as Stats and P7GAB/Zest/Wooki and you spent a lot of time with them, no?
I’m the same age, and I’m close with them even now. When I moved into the place I am now, Stats, Zest/Wooki, Ty/Baby, and Rain came over and had a housewarming party. They stayed up late sharing stories even though they had practice.
I say this now, but 8 years ago when I first met Stats, he was the most clueless and common senseless person I’ve ever seen in my life. Everyone probably agrees with me on that one (laughs). It was so bad that everyone didn’t like him. He had no social skills because he was a high schooler, and he even was sent home once. After he came back, he was a completely different person. It seems he got his head on straight at home. Now he’s called the harmless-god, and he takes great care of the team. It truly was a 180 degree turnaround. It’s amazing.
When I had surgery on my arm, Wooki came to KT, and his first impression was very scary. His eyes are scary (laughs). So I couldn’t even talk to him properly. After some time passed, we found common ground and we became friends. I once told him he was awkward on TV, but I shouldn’t have said that. Even though we’re the same age, as a player with more experience, I should have helped him first and I regret that part a little.
I knew Ty/Baby from his amateur days, and he’s like a younger brother to me. He’s working very hard even now, and I wish him the best. These 4 came on my first day when I moved in. They didn’t do anything extraordinary, but the fact that they came was much appreciated. They’re special friends for me.