[ThisTalk] 흑운장 (T/N: look at the extended note at the end) Firebathero returns as a GSTL commentator
“I want to become a ‘global’ commentator”
“I want to become a ‘global’ commentator”
Known as a master of flamboyant ceremonies, 흑운장 Firebathero is making a comeback as a commentator for GSTL. Since being discharged from airforce ACE and after considering his future options, Firebathero gave up on returning to Samsung Khan and found a new direction. Famous for his colourful words as a progamer, his newly chosen path is that of a commentator. Now, we get to meet Firebathero in his new position as the newest GSTL commentator.
When Firebathero visisted the ThisisGame headquarters on the 19th, he seemed full of fear about his new position as a commentator. However, that is not to say that his patented full-on confidence from his progaming days had disappeared. He revealed his goal to become an internationally recognized commentator beyond GSL and GSTL and said “I will utilize my experience from programing to the fullest extent as I take on the challenge of commentating for a team league”
With absolutely no qualifications as a commentator, Firebathero is the definition of novice. However, his reasons and aspirations for choosing such a path were crystal clear. As we cheer on his dream to become an international commentator, let’s talk to this wet-behind-the-ears commentator who waits for his debut at the GSTL Season 3 Round 2 Group B on the 22nd.
By ThisisGame reporter Kim, Kyung Hyun
How have you been since being discharged?
I was discharged on the fourth of September and initially, I stayed at home to consider my options and make plans for the future. After returning to Seoul, I did a lot of looking around trying to find my own path.
What was your reason for not returning to Samsung Khan?
Samsung was happy to have me back and offered me a great deal. However, I couldn’t make up my mind. It’s strange but I tend to become very pensive towards the end of a year. Among the thoughts I had was to leave progaming altogether to seek a new path.
Is there a critical reason that made you give up programing?
After the discharge, I did a brainstorm of all the things I could do in the future and had a serious reflection. I considered the possible income, the amount of effort I would need to put in and made sure I took enough time to come to a decision. One of the positions I considered was becoming a commentator and luck was on my side as I learned that Gom TV was looking to hire someone. Things just came together for me.
Any regrets on ending your progaming career?
I would be lying if I said no. However, I have resolved to move on. I am trying hard to leave those regrets behind.
How did you feel when you played Starcraft 2 for the first time?
It was so much fun. And I had high expectations before it came out too. I really hope people at least give it a go. I am sure there are many people out there who haven’t even touched the game but their opinion on the game will change once they play. Just once is all it takes. I am speaking from experience.
Your score in proleague was 1-3. You even changed races.
I just found it too uncomfortable to be playing when I wasn’t fully prepared. Initially, there were only one or two grandmasters on the team and the rest were high masters. It was shameful for us to be playing broadcasted matches when we were so badly underprepared.
You had a flair for words as a player. We expect this will help you as a commentator.
I don’t think so. I thought it would but that’s not the case. Commentating takes a different set of skills compared to just impressing people with words. I am quite worried about my upcoming performance.
Other Gom TV commentators already have a very high level of knowledge about the game. How are you faring in that aspect?
It hasn’t been long since I started playing Starcraft 2. My knowledge about Terran and Zerg is especially lacking. In Starcraft 1, even though I was a Terran player, with the number of games I had played, I was confident to say I knew enough about the other two races. However, that is certainly not the case in Starcraft 2. Compared to my colleagues, my understanding of the game is definitely lacklustre. However, I am confident that I will understand the mindset of the players the best. I think I can become a commentator who not only understands the game but also understands the people who are playing that game.
When news about you becoming a commentator got out, many fans expressed their concerns.
Honestly, I will have to disagree with the opinion that my style of speaking is not suitable for broadcast. Sure, I have a bit of a rural accent and my voice is a bit nasal. However, that’s not what I need to be focusing on as a commentator. It’s how I can convey information to the fans in the most appealing way possible.
So now you are a GSTL commentator. Considering the fact that it is a team league, will you focus on explaining the subtleties that happen outside the game?
Every coach has their own way of setting up a playing order. It won’t be easy for me to figure those out. However, with my wealth of experience both inside the booth and on the bench, I think I have a fair shot at the task. I should be able to provide insight the viewers have never been privy to.
How are you preparing specifically?
Rather than actually playing the game, I’ve been watching VODs and broadcasts lately. I turn the volume off or very low and do mock commentaries. A commentator not only has to explain the game but also has to keep up with the broadcast itself so I’m working on that aspect. As a player, you never learn or care about these things so I’m trying hard to catch up. Also, I meet up with the other commentators and do rehearsals.
You will be working with Mr Hwang, a commentator, and Mr Seo, a caster
It was great to have a caster in the middle with two commentators on each side. Mr Seo does a great job leading us and has great answers to what I say. It’s making rehearsals a breeze. We’ll have to see if that carries over to the real thing. I think the biggest factor is whether I get nervous.
You may receive negative feedback in the beginning
I think I can take the articles but the comments will hit me hard (laugh). However, I went through it all as a progamer so it should be okay. I just need to try my best.
What is your view on commentating?
The main reason I became a commentator was because I wanted to go international. There are a lot of progamer turned commentators but none has managed to go to overseas tournaments. I want to be someone who can perform overseas with fluent English. It’s my dream to commentate at tournaments like MLG, IEM and IPL.
Certainly, becoming a Gom TV commentator takes you closer to that goal
I agree. That was one of the reasons I decided on Gom. In particular, Code A Round 1 held during the days is broadcast in English. GSL is a league recognised not just in Korea but around the world so starting here is great. Once I become confident about my commentating skills, I’ll start studying English properly. My brother lived overseas for a long time so he’s a great help.
How do you want to be known as a commentator?
Currently, I want to be the person who explains what the players are supposed to be doing. Past the early mid game, there are a very large number of choices that the players have to make so I want to explain to the viewers what they should be doing. It won’t be easy but I will try my best.
Do you want to participate in the GSL or other entertainment programs run by Gom?
Of course. However, I also know that I am not ready yet. I think I will get plenty of opportunities once I am skilled enough.
Are you sure you will never want to go back to being a player?
Now, you’re asking too much (laugh). Even now when I see the big stages, I have to hold back tears of longing. However, I will set those feelings aside. I plan to devote myself to commentating only.
Are there any Federation players who impressed you?
I know Lucky and Byul from our days in Samsung. However, MC is the one player who impresses me every time he plays. I have known him since I was an amateur and we’re very close even to date. When I watch his games, I can’t help but be awed at his builds. Then, he surprises me with even better execution of said builds. You can’t tell just from watching but when you are in the player’s shoes, the psychological stress is almost palpable. MC is a player who can be hard to figure out and once I am at a level where I can predict his moves, I think I will have done a good job improving my commentating.
Anything you want to tell or ask the fans?
I would like to apologise to my fans for no longer playing and showing great ceremonies. I’m sure there are those who are disappointed and others who will cheer me on. I would like to show every single one of those fans how I will continue to grow. Be sure to watch me become a commentator recognised by the world.
Anything to add?
I admit I didn’t really think of others when I made this decision to change careers. I would like thank Coach Kim, Ka Eul and Samsung for being so considerate. From now on, I will show you just how awesome Firebathero really is.
T/N: 흑운장 refers to Guan Yu from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. 흑 means black or dark which refers to how Guan Yu was famous for his dark face and Firebathero also having a dark face. 운장 is Guan Yu’s other name. All this came about when Firebathero said he would finish a game before his Kimbap (Korean food that looks like sushi) gets cold (Guan Yu is famous for refusing a drink from a superior saying that he would drink it once he had defeated the enemy general and he managed to return before the drink got cold). Firebathero won that game.