What a handsome guy! Picture by 7mk
Q: Hi, Im sure most of the people who might read this will know who you are already but please briefly introduce yourself for those who may not.
A: Hi, I'm Jared 'PiG' Krensel a professional Zerg Starcraft II player from Sydney Australia.
Q: You are considered to be one of the best SC2 players in Australia. What do you think it is about your training or mentality in general that allows you to stand above the majority?
A: Since I quit uni to pursue a career in SC2 I've treated it as my job. As such I train quite diligently and try to hit 30 ladder games 6 days a week. I think in general to be a successful SC2 pro you need to put in 100% effort every single game, even in practice. However you also need to handle the inevitable losses well. When you're putting everything into winning and you still lose it can be a very frustrating experience.
It takes a certain amount of discipline to not let those frustrations run away with you. You also need to constantly be analytical without falling into the trap of overthinking or trying to play too slow and not taking enough opportunistic risks. I don't think I'm amazing at all of the above just yet, but I'm aware of what it takes and have steadily worked towards a healthier and more robust practice and tournament mentality.
Q: I know you were university before you made the switch over to professional gaming. What factors did you have to take into consideration when making this decision? Would you have done anything differently looking back?
A: I was very much a creature of impulse growing up and being naturally smart enough to breeze through school with decent grades meant I wasn't very good at planning ahead. I'd started to really apply myself at university in 2009 but when I found myself with this insane passion for SC2 I began neglecting my uni-work and the decision was kind of forced onto me. I'd sit down to write essays and all that was running through my head was Starcraft.
It was seriously all I wanted to do. Saying this sounds like something an addict would say, but I guess the difference with SC2 is that it never felt like a destructive addiction. I felt like I was becoming smarter and better at applying myself and discovering new things constantly. I actually felt like studying and practicing this game was making me a better person.
Realising that, it was a clear choice to focus on SC2. The evidence out there showed that there were legitimate ways to make money in the scene, even if they take a lot of work. Coming to this realisation was a bit of a struggle but the real pain in making the choice was societal. How do I explain to my girlfriend what I'm doing? What do I tell my family? My friends? I had no idea I could actually make it as a pro so just trying to "go pro" wasn't enough. So I decided to become the best coach in the Starcraft scene (I couldn't believe people charged money for such crappy coaching that I'd seen) and work on getting my play to pro level on the side.
When I finally sat down with my girlfriend (the first person I told) I was expecting fireworks and instead was met with her telling me that it was clear I loved the game and that my decision made sense and she would support my decision.
As I withdrew in the middle of a semester of uni I did have Centrelink for a few more months while I got my coaching business up and running but beyond that I was completely self-sufficient, and actually saving some money despite charging only $15/hour and often giving 60% extra time in each coaching session. Some weeks I was coaching 40 paid hours in 2011.
Q: As an Australian gamer what kind of challenges do you face that perhaps gamers from other regions do not.
A: Internet troubles are a massive pain here. It's so hard just to get companies to actually fix issues without spending hours on the phone and then having to deal with my company arguing with Telstra to fix the lines. I mean there are times where I have to practice at internet cafes which are honestly pretty terrible ergonomically as well as incredibly musty and filled with noobs yelling at each other! I love net cafes for casual gaming but when you're trying to practice seriously it's far from ideal.
Also being so far from events makes competing at international events a huge stretch due to flight costs. My friend Shinkz likes to joke that the creation of Scoot airlines has literally made Aussies competing in Europe a viable option - and it's definitely made it a lot cheaper for me flying over there a few times this ear. Luckily the Australian economy is incredibly strong right now and we have a lot of purchasing power. As such we're seeing comparably large sponsorships for some of our teams and events as well as circuits like ACL are thriving. With the advent of conventions like Comic-con, PAX and EB Games Expo there are huge opportunities for eSports to go to the next level but unfortunately no-one has grabbed the bull by the horns just yet (unless you count Riot and Wargames.net who've put on massive tournaments at these events). I think the next big step for our scene is to see things like the home grown gaming area at EB Expo hold some more big prize eSports competitions. If we can put on good shows at these events it allows us to share our love of SC2 with so many casual fans.
Q: So you are going to IEM Singapore soon, how do you feel going into it.
A: Pretty good. I'm not ready just yet but I think I have enough time to get in top shape. I think by the time I go there I won't be afraid of facing anyone. I'm already very confident in my ZvT and just need to refine my ZvZ and ZvP minutely.
Q: Any specific opponents you would like to meet? Perhaps KingKong?
A: I'm not sure of the line-up but I'd really like to play against as many top-tier Korean terrans as possible. Facing Innovation or Flash would be a lot of fun and I'm confident vs their style of TvZ. I never wish to face Kingkong as my ZvZ hasn't been dominant since the middle of this year and it is a very volatile matchup. If we do face off I will go in confident and with a healthy dose of YOLO (something you need in ever ZvZ).
Q: Do you have any specific plans going into 2014? Any changes to how you approach the game or being a professional player?
A: I aim to compete abroad more than I did this year and to reach my immediate goals of making top 8 in international events consistently. How I train and my mindset is constantly an evolving process. I aim to make my efforts this year appear amateurish in comparison.
Q: With the possibility of region locking in the next season of WCS, how would it affect you personally in your ability to participate in future seasons?
A: Region-locking people to their own regions would probably benefit me as those areas without their own region would still be able to pick. Without so much Korean opposition WCS America would certainly be easier. However as a professional player my focus has to be on what I know. At the moment I am assuming that the Koreans will stay in WCS America and this doesn't really change my plans. The fact that I didn't qualify for WCS this year I blame on my own shortfallings as a player, especially in my tournament mindset in the last qualifier. Even in its current state I find it hard to imagine myself not qualifying for WCS season 1 2013.
E-Sports in Oceania
Q: What do you think about the future of E-sports in Oceania? Where it might head in terms of Starcraft 2 specifically? We lost the City Hunter Tournaments in Sydney this year and the only LAN all year round has been ACL Sydney.
A: I think it's easier to answer this specifically with regard to Australia as the progress in the rest of Oceania is still very slow. Not to say it's THAT much faster in Australia but it's a scene I definitely understand a lot better.
I think SC2 will continue to thrive as the only RTS eSport but there will be a natural ebb and flow in popularity and tournament frequency. We still have LOTV to look forward so I can only imagine the scene growing over the next few years. At the moment the lacking elements are tournaments in big conventions, direct Blizzard-sponsored or organised tournaments and support for existing tournaments such as ACL (though part of their issue was partly down to communication issues).
Q: What would you like to see more out of the sc2 community in Oceania? What could the average community members do to help grow the scene.
A: I'd like to see more passionate people with skills volunteer to WORK for both teams and events. Whether just writing preview content and reviews or write-ups, helping set up tables at an event or helping admin a SC2 team, all of these are great ways to get super involved. However what I'd say to average viewers is all you need to do is enjoy the game! Watch it and love it! Don't get sucked into drama and negativity on forums or reddit, the internets can be stupid!
Instead of always going back online to share your love of SC2 get your real-life friends involved, invite them over to one of the big events like Blizzcon or a WCS global finals. Loving the game and sharing that love is all I can wish there was more of.
Q: What advice would you give to any up and coming Aussi or SEA amateur players who are thinking of committing to pro gaming?
A: Be prepared to work very hard and have set goals and a plan. Everything won't go according to plan but at least it'll give you a measure of how far off your goals you are. For the actual playing side get in control of yourself and stop raging, I know you all do it! You can never shut down your passion completely but don't let it rule you. If you can use your passion as fuel rather than being led around by the nose by it, you can improve at this game incredibly fast.
Q: Any shout-outs for your fans or sponsors or anybody else?
A: I'd love to give a massive shout out to team Exile 5 and our sponsors Nvidia, Coolermaster and CM Storm as well as my personal sponsor Gigabyte Notebooks. I'd also like to say a big thanks to all of my fans and just anyone that loves Starcraft, it's a great feeling knowing there's so many people out there that love the same thing I do!
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