IEM Season 8
Detailed information on Liquipedia
Interviews by Waxangel
The $100,000 Dollar Men:
The $100,000 Dollar Men:
Revival and Oz
On March 13th, some of the best StarCraft 2 players in the world will gather in Katowice, Poland for a shot at winning the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship and its $100,000 grand prize. Not just the grand prize, but only prize.
IEM's decision to make the World Championship winner-take-all has been controversial, with some fans eagerly anticipating the heightened stakes, and other fans angered by the inequitable distribution of prizes.
But what do the players think? We begin our pre-Katowice interview series with two ex-Evil Geniuses players in Revival and Oz.
Interviews have been edited and condensed.
CMStorm_Revival"If I get second place at IEM Katowice, I'm only half kidding when I say I might never be able to play again?"
We haven't seen much of you since the WCS Global Finals last year. How have you been?
I left Evil Geniuses after BlizzCon, so I was busy looking for a new team. Of course, I practiced a lot while I was looking.
Was it tough practicing while you didn't have a team? How's your skill level ahead of IEM Katowice?
Since I was playing by myself without anyone to direct me, I was really able to feel myself getting lazy. Lately I've gotten myself back in gear and have been practicing hard. I'm nervous ahead of a big tournament like IEM, and I'm also nervous because I haven't been to a foreign tournament in a while. Still, if I can keep practicing like I am now, I think I'm capable of going all the way to the championship, though it will be difficult.
You're qualified for the IEM World Championship because you took first place at IEM Shanghai, a tourney that took place quite a while ago. How did you feel when you heard that the World Championship would be winner-take-all for $100,000?
I don't think the format of giving all the prize money to the winner is that good. I mean, it's true that people only remember the champion, but shouldn't second place get a bit of prize money, too? I think most progamers would agree with me. It's too much of a difference.
How do you think you'd feel if you came in second?
Well, the prize difference between first and second is big in the GSL as well, and I've always thought that the GSL runner up must feel sad.
If I get second place at IEM Katowice, I'm only half kidding when I say I might never be able to play again?
You joined CMStorm recently. How'd that come about?
CMStorm contacted me first, but I declined to join on the conditions they offered initially. But they kept contacting me and tried to offer me conditions that were the best for me. In addition, the manager treated me very well, so I decided to join.
Along with aLive and Oz, you weren't able to re-sign with Evil Geniuses despite getting pretty good results. What did you think when that happened?
Personally, I expected that since I won a championship and took second place in another tournament (WCS America Season 1), re-signing would go smoothly. However, the conditions I was offered were so bad that I just declined and left the team. I always try to think about the position of the person on the other side, and I fully understood EG's position as well. I achieved good results on EG, so I'm thankful to them.
Marketability seems to matter more than skill in the foreign StarCraft 2 scene. Do you plan to promote yourself more on your new team?
Honestly, I do feel that being a star matters more than skill in the foreign scene. Of course, nothing would be better than to have both qualities.
I'm not sure - from my standpoint I think skill is more important. I have to be skilled to achieve my dreams, and I think being skilled is what will earn me popularity and make a star. Of course, teams and sponsors think skill is important as well, but I think there are a lot of places that put a bigger focus on star power.
There's been a lot of talk about Protoss being OP lately. With so many Protoss players competing at IEM, what do you think about your chances against them?
Protoss has been nerfed to some degree lately, and Hydras have got a little bit better. Even so, I still I think Protoss is strong.
It's a relief that vs. Protoss has become a lot more playable than before. I'm confident.
Any players you are worried about or would want to avoid?
I think everyone is a difficult opponent and a good player. If I had to pick, I'd say all of the Protoss players will be tough opponents.
This will be the first European tournament you compete at. Anything you want to do outside of the tournament?
I've really wanted to go to Europe in the past but I haven't been able to, only going to the USA a lot. I've always wanted to go to countries like Spain, France, Germany, etc. and just walk around the streets and see the architecture, try the food, and feel the local culture. Of course, I'm excited to be able to go Poland now.
Will we see you at many more foreign tournaments now that you've joined CMStorm?
Yes, I plan to go to a lot foreign tournaments. I'm starving for a championship, so I want to go to a lot of tournaments and win high placements.
Anything you want to say to conclude?
I want to play games I won't regret at IEM. Even if I lose, I want to do my best so I don't have any regrets. Also, thanks to CMStorm for supporting me, and thanks to everyone who cheers for me!
You can follow Revival @CMStormRevival
Oz"I hoped that if we were all on one team, it would be more of a family atmosphere. I think that was kind of lacking. As if we had just signed contracts, obeyed the conditions of the contract, and were two separate entities outside that."
We've barely seen you since the WCS Season 3 Finals in Canada. What have you been up to?
It feels like I've been forgotten ever since I couldn't re-sign with EG and ended up teamless.
As always, I've been practicing hard. As soon as I left EG, Incredible Miracle head coach Hirai took care of me and allowed me to stay at the IM house and practice there. Though I don't have a team, I've continued on with the same kind of lifestyle.
So you'll be in good condition for the IEM World Championship?
Yes, I've been keeping up with my practice and been living the same way as other players, so it shouldn't be any different from other tournaments I've played at.
Were you looking this far ahead when you took second place at IEM Shanghai? How did you feel when it was announced that the $100,000 prize would go solely to the winner?
I think that was my first IEM tournament, I just learned later that I'd have a chance to compete at the World Championship.
One day I woke up and HerO was telling me "Hyung, the IEM prize money is $100,000. They're only giving prize money to the winner." I thought he was joking for sure.
I was surprised, and I thought it was pretty bad for the players. Players practice so hard for a single tournament, and I felt negatively about only one player being rewarded for his effort. However, it does have some merit in terms of drawing interest as an esport. It just feels kind of disappointing for the players.
Some players like MC and PartinG actually reacted positively. Do you think players as a whole didn't like the choice?
I don't know, I think it depends on the individual.
You've taken second place in two tournaments in the past. How would you feel if you took second place at IEM?
Players joke around about IEM, saying that the runner-up is going to have to retire. That he would take that much mental damage.
If I took second place, I think it would be really tough on me. In other tournaments, the runner-up gets encouragement. People say "You were so close!" or "Good games, you played well." If ended up taking second place at IEM, I think I'd prefer if no one said anything to me at all and just left me alone, lol.
There's a lot of Protoss players competing at IEM. How do you feel about your PvP?
I've never lacked confidence in PvP. Even if I lose in practice, things seem to work out well for me in tournaments. I'm looking forward to this tournament because there's a lot of Protoss players and few Zergs.
Did the recent balance patch change the game a lot?
I think it was a terrible patch. Because of the MSC vision nerf, Protoss lost their way to scout Terran in TvP. Robotics facility has become a must, mines have become too strong against Zealots, and Protoss has been forced into making colossi. Lately, everyone has been using blink stalkers and colossi, and I think you'll see the Protoss players play very similarly to each other in the tournament. It wasn't wrong to nerf Protoss, but I'm disappointed in the way Protoss was nerfed.
There's a joke on TeamLiquid.net that originates from you. You once said "PvP is not a coin flip, it's about skill," and your record immediately got worse afterward. Ever since then we've noticed a pattern of players who say PvP is a skill game instantly getting worse. What do you think about that?
LOL. I haven't stopped thinking that PvP is about skill.
It's not a complete rock-scissor-paper relationship, but build order fights play a big part. It's true that if you're on the wrong end of the build order fight, then a gap opens up. In PvP, I think the most important thing is playing mind games with your opponent, and winning the build order fight.
Even in PvT or PvZ, where the flow of the game can go back and forth regardless of your starting build, the build you choose first is still very important. That's why I think it's correct to look at the ability to choose builds as skill. Knowing how a player likes to play, how he likes to follow-up certain plays, watching VODs to analyze all of that and tailor builds accordingly - I think all of that is skill.
I guess now that I've said PvP is a matter of skill, I'll lose if I face a Protoss at IEM.
You teamed up with a manager lately. How's the process of finding a team going?
After I became teamless, I wanted to find a new team quickly so I looked around and met with a lot of teams. However, none of the teams gave me the feeling that they really needed me.
As a part of big teams like Evil Geniuses or Fnatic in the past, I always got this feeling, how to put it... Obviously the players and the coaching staff had come together for business reasons, but I hoped that if we were all on one team, it would be more of a family atmosphere. I think that was kind of lacking. As if we had just signed contracts, obeyed the conditions of the contract, and were two separate entities outside that.
I was a bit disappointed in that, so this time around I want to look for a team that really wants me and is like a family, regardless of the size. So I'm going about looking for a new team very carefully.
Okay, any final comments ahead of IEM?
I haven't competed at many tournaments and have been without a team, so I haven't had many chances to talk to the fans. Starting with IEM, and WCS after that, I want to put on my best face for the fans. Also, I think there might be good news about finding a team.
Playing as a teamless player I've felt the need to interact with the fans, so I'm planning on streaming. Instead of just laddering like other players, I want to try and plan a stream where I can interact with my fans. So please keep cheering for me!
You can follow Oz @SC2Oz