Magazine S article by Kim Hong Jae (inven)
No TL;DR- If you are interested, please read all of it. They deserve that. And I deserve that translating this 7 page long (word document) interview. T-T I feel this has been all the Boxer Yellow interviews + @
BoxeR, YellOw, their rivalry and E-Sports
All athletes have one goal- to be the best. They compete with others who share the same dream and call them ‘rivals.’
In soccer, there are Ronaldo and Messi. In basketball, there are Kobe Bryant and Lebron James. Nadal- Federer represent tennis as one of the fiercest rivals. E-Sports also has a rivalry so famed that even my mother knows of it.
It is Emperor of Terran, SlayerS_BoxeR and Storm Zerg YellOw. While now, they are respectively called ‘Jessica’s husband’ and ‘broadcaster’, the former nicknames are more comfortable, especially for those who have been following the SC scene from its early days. It might be a hard concept for teens who grew up with LoL as the primary E-Sport, but imagine that there were two Fakers.
Their competitiveness has been a big thing, even after retirement. Many game events and advertisements continue to use their rivalry gimmick. And the two Brood War legends have appeared on the Anaheim stage at Blizzcon 2015.
LOTV Showcased by the Legends, and the First meeting
Q. It’s really been a while and that makes it even better. How did you feel after playing LOTV?
YellOw: I haven’t been able to practice it a lot. I am really happy about the return of the Lurker. I think the game has become better tenfold with the additions of these units. To be honest, LOTV was about what I expected when they first said SC2 was coming out. It’s a pity that it wasn’t like this back in 2010, but I think you can really expect things from LOTV.
BoxeR: A lot of new units have been added. It’s like a Starcraft mall (laughs). With the new units and their abilities, I think there are many new strategies to try out. And there is the new archon mode that made me feel nostalgic. Back in SC1 days, we used to play in team melee mode against strong players for practice.
Personally, making an Archon mode tournament seems nice, and a 1v2 match with the Starleague winner against the Archon mode winners seem like it would be fun to watch as well.
Q. How were the younger days of the Emperor and Storm? Were there any signs of the competitive spirit?
YellOw: I’ve always been a competitive person. Before Starcraft, there were a lot of arcades that I went to. I remember the owners hated me because I beat entire games using only a few coins. I’m the type of guy that doesn’t stop until the ending credits roll.
BoxeR: I wasn’t good at many things, but I found myself fiercely competitive in things I loved. I spent countless hours, even entire nights, finding ways to carve the perfect build for victory.
Q. You two met at an age where the word ‘Progamer’ was still new for many. How did it feel the first time you saw each other?
BoxeR: Back in 2000, there was this server called ‘GameI’ where all the gosus would play at. We had a weekly tournament and I naturally got to know YellOw there.
YellOw: I didn’t think of him as a rival back then. It was a time where many top class players met each other, and we only knew each other through the grapevine(laughs).
The Start of Lim Jin Rok, Coca Cola Starleague
Back when watching games played on TV was an abnormality, a friend urged the reporter, a young BoxeR fan at the time, to see the ‘Coca Cola sponsored OnGameNet Starleague Finals- BoxeR vs YellOw’ together.
While I was a fan of BoxeR’s stylish play style, it was my first time seeing his game played out right in front of me and I was very excited. My friend told me that the player opposing my hero was the up and coming Zerg, YellOw. The gymnasium was filled with people, and middle school me was surprised by the amount of fans that were filled with passion for just a game.
Q. I think the actual start of the rivalry was back in the Coca Cola Starleague.
YellOw: Before then, BoxeR was called the God of Terran and had incredible momentum on his back. BoxeR especially shined in his TvZ with his famed Marine- Medic micro, and I think the fans loved it when I actually put him on the ropes. I thought I could win against anybody back then, but when I actually lost, the guy called BoxeR seemed almost like an insurmountable wall.
BoxeR: It doesn’t matter how two people view each other. If others don’t call them rivals, they never will be. There needs to be some backstory for a rivalry, and I think the start of it was the Coca Cola Starleague. After that, more and more fans were attracted to us and every game we played was just another chapter added.
Q. Do you guys know your head to head stats?
YellOw: Not really. I just know that it’s actually really close.
Q. It’s 35 to 33, with BoxeR on top. However, people always seem to remember you as the loser. Don’t you think it’s kind of unfair?
YellOw: Well, I did lose in a lot of important matches. In 2002 WCG, I went to the finals without dropping a match, then got 2:0ed by BoxeR and got second place.
BoxeR: While YellOw didn’t drop a map, my road wasn’t as easy. I had many re-games and I almost didn’t make it, but I did and I won (laughs).
Now, About That Bunker Rush….
The rivalry between BoxeR and YellOw has been going on for over a decade. There are many stories to tell about these two, but many still remember Ever Starleague 2004, with the triple bunker rush. November 12, 2004, the two players met in the semis.
People were stoked for their matches, the stadium was filled to the ceiling with people wanting to watch the event live, and the Starcraft1 community site was filled with posts about how they were waiting in front of the television after ordering chicken. But the result was a 3:0, with successive bunker rushes finishing the games in less than 30 minutes.
Q. Do you remember November 12, 2004? The fans were incredible hyped.
BoxeR: I really want to apologize to them (laughs). I got over competitive and it resulted in a big disaster. And actually I had different builds for the 4th and 5th games, without a bunker rush.
YellOw: I was really disheartened, but what really got me was the fact that I didn’t prepare at all for a cheese. It was a new thing at the time and BoxeR was always the type of player who prepared some strategic builds, so I focused only on that, and I ended up losing without being able to show anything. I really try not to blame anybody, but I was really mad and sad at BoxeR at the time.
Q. BoxeR was always first. 100 wins in Starleague, the hall of fame, the 100k yearly salary, etc. The funny part is that YellOw always came in right after that.
YellOw: It was really frustrating. I also practiced hard, feared no one, and came back with good results. Even then, I was always deterred on the steps of victory. There was always BoxeR, and I gradually became fearful, like a trauma. My first goal as a progamer was victory in a world class championship, and BoxeR even took that away from me. He actually stopped me a lot of times (laughs).
Q. Time goes on, and new players come in. While you were rivals, did you guys actually cheer one another on sometimes?
BoxeR: There is no denying the synergy between us. There is no better motivation for me than YellOw’s good performance. On the other hand, it’s really depressing when we’re both doing badly.
YellOw: We cheer each other on through slumps. It’s not just BoxeR, its every veteran progamer. The victory of an oldbie leads to the confidence that I can do it as well, so I remembered we cheered each other up with jokes and stuff.
Q. (To BoxeR) I am curious why you played Starcraft 2.
BoxeR: The SC1 market was diminishing slowly, and Starcraft 2 had just come out. I returned to SKT1 after military service, but I couldn’t keep up with the new players and the builds. I thought long and hard. I was worried that some fans might call me a traitor if I transitioned, but I ended up with the conclusion that I wanted to show more games to my fans during my time as a progamer.
Q. Both players have experience as the coaching staff. How were Coach Lim and Coach Hong like?
BoxeR: I had two failures as the coach. Back in SlayerS, I was more of a playing coach and always tried to put the players before anything else. Even back in SKT1, I tried to think of the players more than whatever the front managers were telling me. I feel this attitude has resulted in more harm than good and I regret it.
For the first generation of progamers, the situation was dismal. Because of the terrible experience as one of them, I wanted to have my players focused only on the game and nothing else. Now I realize that players who haven’t experienced hardship tend to have a weaker mentality and crumble quicker.
YellOw: My generation of progamers had nothing, but we hung on with passion for the game. I’m not trying to be your typical racist grandma going ‘back in my day, we didn’t have-‘. I don’t know if it’s because of the lack of hardship, but the reality is that players who haven’t experienced this phase actually do tend to lose passion and resolution much more quickly.
I think players who experienced going hungry tend to play harder because they don’t want to go back to those times. Players who don’t just settle on what they have because they don’t remember hard times.
Q. (to YellOw) June 20, 2009, the team is losing 2:0 with The Revolutionist Protoss Bisu as the opponent. The odds were stacked, but you showed the non believers with your first victory in 735 days.
YellOw: Many people cheered me on and I was so grateful for my fans. It was the bottom of my slump. After going into Air force ACE as my military service, I had to admit my style of playing Zerg was losing its merit. I was practicing a more greedy style, but I always had one or two mistakes and lost.
I was mad at myself. I never did well during practice and I also didn’t believe I could beat the strongest protoss in his favorite matchup. While people cheered for me, I knew that nobody really expected me to win, so I just said ‘heck, let’s do it’ and went back to my old style. I wanted to show them- while skill and physical is important in Starcraft, it can be overcome through experience.
BoxeR: It’s a thought that I just had after listening to YellOw, but a lot of stylish players disappeared from the game scene with the introduction of optimized builds. If a player sets the meta, everyone follows him after looking at his replay.
The problem with this is that the meta makes all the maps look alike and the games begin to look similar. I think it all started with the replay system. I think a ‘pro’ should have his or her own style and view of the game, and their styles should be the weapon, but everybody just follows a player when he painstakingly makes a new build after watching his replay.
As this continues on, more players don’t care about making up new builds, but just focus on optimizing ones that already exist, down to the last second. I want to suggest to Blizzard that Replays should be more secluded on who gets to view them. Maybe just observers, or players on your friends list. I think the game would be much more enjoyable to watch if there was a personal twist for each progamer.
YellOw: I agree with BoxeR. I think too much luxury ends up biting back in the end. While the general community needs replays to improve, I feel there has to be a bigger skill gap between the pros and amateurs for the fans to go crazy during big plays and amazing builds.
(Skipped question on The Genius, a Korean TV show where YellOw and BoxeR appear)
A Second Match Fixing Scandal, Advice from the Senior Gamers.
The life of a progamer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The shining spotlight is only made possible with the shadow created by hundreds of hours of practice. And only the top 1% get the publicity, glory, and riches.
It is a cruel life. If you really want to get into it, the future is still murky after the short life as a progamer ends. This is a continuous problem, even for the top class progamers. Imagine the worries of the lower tier gamers.
Shortly before, there has been a second match fixing scandal in Starcraft. While they were retired, I wanted to know how BoxeR and YellOw, the two prominent players since the beginning of the whole E-Sports scene, viewed the scandal, and the two definitely seemed to have a word of advice for gamers.
Q. Another match fixing scandal happened.
BoxeR: (After long pause) if all players were granted the spotlight, the money, the fame the top 1% have right now, it would have never happened. However, this isn’t a realistic option. The team needs to take care of its players and the players also need to have pride in their profession.
YellOw: It’s not just the players that need to change; it’s the scene in general. While the progaming scene has become exponentially better since the beginning, I still feel it needs to be worked on. Most players invest their whole youth into this job and there has to be some sort of treatment that respects that decision. It has been over 15 years since E-Sports began, and the game industry has come a long way for sure, but the futures of the young progamers are murky.
This is one of the biggest reasons players are so gullible to match fixers. Especially if you are not up there with the 1%, the uncertainty leads to a criminal act that cannot be undone. If a player who just entered the progaming scene received a request to match fix, he or she would most likely refuse. The teams need to continuously help the player keep that mindset.
BoxeR: It is important that the teams or KeSPA show a promising future and educate players continuously on what it truly means to have a pro mindset.
Q. You are the progamers who have played a big part in shaping the scene. Have you ever regretted going down this road?
YellOw: I’m sure people differ on this but I need to do what I want no matter what happens. It doesn’t matter if I fail because I am just happy in the fact that I tried. So I don’t regret this either. However, if I had a child who wanted to be a progamer, I wouldn’t support his decision (laughs). I think that means the progaming scene has still a long way to go.
BoxeR: As I said before, I focus intently on something I like. And I liked Starcraft. If I ever had regret during my progaming career I would never have made it. Like YellOw said, I also think the progaming career has more negatives than positives right now, but I believe this will also change later, when the teens today go into their 30s and 40s.
I think time is on our side. The number of people who love games will only go up as years go by. While it is unstable now, the future is bright.
YellOw: The E-Sports scene has come really far in just a short amount of time. Compared to other sports, E-Sports have grown abnormally quickly in the last years. However, I feel Korea’s E-Sports scene is in a bit of a depression as of now, even though Korea is the founder of E-Sports. Other countries started later, but E-Sports is still acknowledged as real sports by the government.
BoxeR: There is never a 100%. If there is 90% positive and 10% negative, the negative issues will still be brought up like it is the only thing that exists. There is still a long way to go for the gaming industry.
Q. From its highest peak to its lowest trough, it seems you have experienced everything. Is there anything to say for the next generation?
YellOw: The time is short. You get a little more older and soon enough, people start calling you as a washed up old man (laughs). As I grew older with the scene, I learned that you gotta keep on pressing hard each year, especially when you are in your good times. You should never stop and admire. When you perform well there will be more fans and people will treat you differently, but don’t rest, grit your teeth and continue the streak.
Also, progamers are still a new thing for some people. For them, your every words and actions will be representing the entire scene, so be more responsible in your words and actions, especially in public and social networks.
BoxeR: I wanted to stop progaming at times. The work is that hard. However, I asked myself a question. ‘If you take away gaming from BoxeR, what will be left of him?’ Not worth answering. That was all the motivation I need. All the motivation you should need.
Q. Lastly, a word for the rival- and your greatest companion.
BoxeR: I don’t say it much, but I always cheer for you. We’re not progamers now, but once a rival, always a rival. We still meet at events like this, as well as commercials and shows, yeah? I think this is how we’re gonna live until we die. YellOw, let’s do our best to preserve Lim Jin Rok in our fans’ memories!
YellOw: I’ve known BoxeR for over 10 years. I’ve been next to him for pretty much everything, I’ve even seen him marry! Gradually I found myself following him and cheering him for everything he did. Since he is my rival, I want him to be successful even outside of the game and that will make me happy.
After all, if my rival falls, what becomes of me, of us? And since I always lost to BoxeR during my progaming career, I want to be more successful than him, at least in this second phase of our lives. And look at me, I think I am actually doing pretty good, right? (laughs). I wish BoxeR the best in his life as a poker player and hope he keeps in touch.
Do you have a rival that keeps you going?
All during the interview I found myself wondering ‘who is my rival?’
I’m not trying to say find someone to compete with, fight and win. There are many people who try hard but end up asking themselves ‘what is wrong with me?’ ‘Why can’t I do it?’ This reporter is one of them. If you are one as well, try asking yourself if you have a rival.
Rivals always stimulate you. Sometimes, they might be a pain, blocking your rise. You might be jealous, and wish you had never known him. Even so, when you overcome those thoughts and channel that energy into a driving force, it will result in your improvement.
That is what it means to be a rival.