With the conclusion of WCS America and the crowning of Song “Liquid’HerO” Hyeon Deok as the champion, the time is upon us for a look back at WCS NA’s run, in particular at two of its strongest competitors. While these two may be household names to the viewers of the Collegiate StarLeague, there is more to these players than meets the eye. Zifeng “Hellokitty” Wang and Conan “Suppy” Liu are more than just a, "solid PvZ player” or, “an early adopter of that quick hive play.” These two men stood on the front line against an influx of Koreans, Australians, and even a few Chinese players to defend America in the only way they knew how: StarCraft.
Zifeng “hellokitty” Wang is a man on fire. He received his invitation to play in the WCS America Premiere League, and not long after qualified to play in Shoutcraft America. Known for his early aggression, Wang demonstrated incredible micro, quick wits, and a strong understanding of timings when opponents would be weakest. Even more than that, Wang has demonstrated solid macro play throughout his career. When asked about the reason for his recent success, his answer was simple: “I just practice hard.” Wang is a ladder-monster, sporting grandmaster league finishes for the last 8 seasons on the North American server, as well as fighting against Korean GMs despite terrible lag.
Wang is also a crowd favorite of the Collegiate Starleague and an impressive member of the University of Texas, Austin team. Austin rocked through their division last fall, dropping only six maps throughout the season. The Texas University also fought hard in the March Madness qualifiers, but fell to other powerhouse teams late in the brackets. Regardless, Wang is a force to be reckoned with, and since having recently been picked up by Fnatic he can only become an even more impressive player. Even with all of this success, Wang still stays down to Earth. He works hard and keeps a solid understanding of what is important. He’s appreciative of all he has going on. “I would like to thank everyone for their support of me,” he says. “Especially to Suppy and all of the other players who took their time to practice with me for my matches.” Keep an eye on Wang, he has much to show us in the coming months!
Conan “Suppy” Liu is a student at the University of California, Berkeley, and a professional StarCraft 2 player for team Evil Geniuses. Besides posting impressive results at WCS America and navigating undergraduate studies at one of the most prestigious universities in the United States, Liu has also helped the UC Berkeley CSL StarCraft team ascend the winners’ bracket in the CSL March Madness tournament. The Berkeley team strives to retain their title as CSL champions, continuing their success from the previous season where they prevailed over Chunnam Techno University.
Balancing such a demanding schedule is a strategy for the American Zerg player, “The first thing I do, I try to balance my schedule so that it’s the best for me to play StarCraft. So, first of all, I don’t take an obsessive amount of units. The other thing I do, I try to put all my classes and have them stack Tuesday through Thursday, which leaves Monday and Friday a little bit more open, so I do not miss too much class when I go to a tournament.” When asked which obligations take precedence, he responded, “It comes down to prioritizing. When, say, a big tournament is coming, I play a lot more StarCraft. When CSL was coming up, I didn’t do homework for a little bit. When a big midterm or final is coming up, then I kind of have to stop playing StarCraft for a little bit and focus a lot more on academics.”
Last American Standing
In the first season of WCS America, Liu was the last American standing. Liu blazed his way to the round of sixteen, where he finally hit a roadblock in a tough series versus Song “Liquid`HerO” Hyeon Deok and his teammate Kim “EG.Revival” Dong Hyun. Liu reflected on his preparation for and performance in WCS, “The biggest thing was that I was able to practice a lot with DeMuslim. The way I planned for my ro32 group was to focus only on ZvT, because that was the only way I was going to make it out of my group. The practice really helped and I made it out of my group. Obviously, I was very happy to represent the US and make it to the ro16. But, I definitely felt that I could have done better. In the ro16, I beat Revival, but he came back from groups and beat me in the final match. I had been practicing a lot of ZvZ in that group. So, I feel I could have done better…but sometimes things don’t happen the way you want them to.”
Concerning his series versus Deok and his thoughts on the Zerg vs Protoss matchup Suppy commented, “I do think ZvP is one of the harder matchups right now, because the one Gate expand has changed the game a lot and the scouting timings have all changed. The main thing is that I didn’t practice much ZvP for the group. My plan was to win both matches against Scarlett and Revival, if I faced them, and to lose against HerO, because that would guarantee me a spot out of the group. When I lost to HerO, I was kind of expecting that, but I thought I would be able to beat Revival in the final match, but that didn’t happen.”
CSL and the NA Scene in Context
Liu also commented on the developing e-sports player base and the role of the CSL in fostering growth: “I have been pretty vocal about how CSL is probably the most important thing in the development in e-sports right now. It makes it possible for people to have a stepping-stone before they decide to go pro or do more with Starcraft. It provides an avenue for people to get involved in e-sports. There are a lot of Collegiate Starleague clubs on campus, e-sports association groups in large part because of CSL. That is what you see in football, basketball and other mainstream sports. They have the collegiate level and the professional level. I think that is the biggest next step in creating a sustainable place for people to develop their skills.”
There is no doubt that the CSL community stands proudly behind Liu and Wang in their efforts in the WCS and with their collegiate teams. Both players are great examples of how to bridge experience in school-based play with experience in the wider competitive North American scene, and it will be exciting to see how they, along with other CSL alumni, face the challenges ahead.
Maybe, just maybe, the future of the NA scene will be found on a campus near you.
About the Collegiate Starleague:
The Collegiate Starleague is the premiere collegiate gaming league, with over 318 universities participating in its fifth season. The Azubu Collegiate Champions is sponsored by Azubu! In addition to the league, we run contests, tournaments, and work with universities to host and promote LAN events across North America. Check out www.cstarleague.com for more info!
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