You’ve just won the Nordic Championship, congratulations! First an obvious question: I’m sorry that I have to do this, but how do you feel?
Good, because I lost most of the online series against Namshar, and on ladder it was 50-50 for him, if not better. I always had much better win percentage against everyone else, but he seemed to have some sort of style advantage going for himself. I was very concerned going into it. Before I came here I got some hope because I played a lot of ladder on the new maps, and my ZvZ win rate was just absurd, like 85 %. That gave me confidence to — it’s not like confidence is super important, but it made me expect a very real probability of winning.
Would you say it’s mostly due to your ladder practice, or did you practice with someone else as well?
I talked about the new maps with TLO, but mostly it’s because of the ladder. I’ve been trying a lot of different things.
How effective is ladder practice for you in general?
I like it a lot, because you see so much variety. I think it helps in becoming more solid. Sometimes it’s not that great at producing good practice for certain situations. For example, ZvZ is very different when you hit 200/200 compared to anything that happens before you hit 50 supply. Those are very different scenarios. You always get to practice sub-50 supply on ladder, but you don’t always reach 200/200. It depends on where you’re weak and where you’re strong, but on average I feel like ladder practice gives me a lot of experience. It helps me identify problems, and if I feel like it’s worth the time, I can play custom games to fix those issues.
You’re one of the veterans of the scene, and one of the most successful European Zerg players around. At the moment there seems to be a real lack of European Terrans. Do you feel like there are some top names we’re just not seeing?
It’s really unfortunate that MarineLord quit. Dayshi has been playing for a while, but it seems he hasn’t reached the level where he was before. HeroMarine not being active in the tournaments is kind of damaging for European Terrans as a whole. Beastyqt is going for a bit more casual approach, making videos and tutorials. He’s still playing a little bit, I think he did really well in WESG. It seems that all these different reasons combine together, and I think uThermal is pretty much the only one who’s reliable, so to speak. If we only have one player like that we’re not necessarily going to get a very strong scene for the Terrans. It’s just different reasons, but they all seem to falter in different ways.
The GSL vs the World tournament is going on as we speak this weekend. Have you been following the matches at all?
Yeah, I watched most of them, as many as I could.
Any surprises you’d like to point out?
I think Neeb played pretty well, but that’s to be expected now I guess. I think ShoWTimE performed very well. I would’ve loved to see him win, but soO is very good. I’m not surprised by ShoWTimE’s results. I expected him to take at least two maps. Besides that, I guess nothing too special. I’m a little bit surprised by Serral losing, but he’s struggled a bit in ZvT. As a whole I wouldn’t say it’s too unexpected.
Do you feel like this is an accurate representation in terms of foreigners vs Koreans? What kind of conclusions can you draw from this tournament about how BlizzCon might go?
I think it seems similar. I think it’s a fair representation of what people can most likely expect. I think this tournament gave a more clear representation of for example a top 16 BlizzCon scenario. I think it’s probably going to be very similar, but you never know. It’s also down to chance, so we’ll see.
You’re seventh in the WCS rankings, with still Montreal to go. What do you think of your chances of qualifying for BlizzCon?
I’m not too sure about this, but I think I need to make at least Ro16 at DreamHack Montreal. Bad things can happen in the third group stage, so I’m not too sure, but apparently if I make it to the top 16, it should be okay. I’m just going to hope that — the last two WCS tournaments, I did make it to top 16, even if I lost there — so I’m keeping my hopes up. That’s the condition. If I don’t make it, a lot of it is down to luck. Someone really far down, like ShoWTimE, can get the seed and push every down one spot. Something like a ShoWTimE victory with a good Cham performance would mean I’m out, right. My chances are probably a bit shaky, but it could be worse.
Blizzard has confirmed WCS for this year and next year with the same format. Do you think there should be some changes for next year?
When this year was released, I heard the format was going to change, and I was very happy initially about using group stages in the top 32. The third group stage is nice, I think, the Challenger is nice, I think also. I’m not really too happy about how the top 16 is played out as a single elimination bracket. I think it’s very unfortunate in terms of competition and skill, since we don’t have as many tournaments to even out the averages. People get very volatile results. Like in my case, Ro16, another Ro16, then second place. You can have some really unfortunate examples like TLO or ShoWTimE. It’s not exactly justified. In terms of TLO’s actual skill level, he should be higher. In the system ShoWTimE is the most definite example of a player who should be higher. I think if the quantity of games was increased, we would see a little bit more justice. I think it’s very important to change that going forward. But you can only hope for so much when it comes to the production of a live event. What I would love to see personally is the 24 man format. Six player groups, where the first place finishers get a winners’ bracket of four players, and the rest go into the losers’ bracket. It’s a little too much to hope for, sadly. I do hope though [laughs]. But it takes a 24-player format, right, so you need to change things up a little bit.
Some of the Korean players have to start their military service either this year or next year. Is this is something you’ve been thinking about? Do you feel like such big changes in the Korean scene might have an effect on the European and North American scenes?
In general the level of play coming from Korea seems to be high enough, so I don’t think it’s going to make that big of an impact. There are very few opportunities for foreigners to play against Koreans outside of SHOUTcraft or BlizzCon, or stuff like IEM. It doesn’t happen too often. Almost always, the Koreans who go to these international tournaments, are the very top players. I think even if the player pool would decrease — it’s of course decreased over time — even if it does, it’s not going to affect tournaments too much. It’s still going to be high quality, but we might not have as much content coming out of Korea. Stuff like GSL Code A for example — or GSL qualifiers I should say, Code A doesn’t really exist anymore — so we lose out a little bit on documentation and replays like that. But a lot of those tournaments weren’t really very well broadcast in the first place, like the GSL qualifiers, IEM qualifiers. It’s always been a very closed off environment. So it seems very similar to me, but it’s of course regrettable that a lot of good players will have to retire or go to the military and such.
Can you go through what happened in game 7 of WCS Valencia finals?
I got a lot of comments about the 13/12. It’s just a very simple reason. It’s a build that I tried out in practice. I think I would’ve been a bit more clear headed against a hatchery first opening, or something like a mirror 13/12. I think the 13/12 speedling expand works out well against most scenarios. The crucial mistake I made was that I thought I could stay [at the enemy base] a little longer and be a bit more aggressive up the ramp. I misjudged the timing, then I missed my window to right-click the hatchery down. It was just being greedy, it wasn’t really intentional, it kind of just happened. Typical mistake. I think I needed a bit more practice in that situation. If I had encountered a situation like that bit more often it would’ve been easier. I just didn’t think clearly in that game.
Thanks a lot, Snute! Any last comments?
Thanks to everyone who reads the interview. Going to do my best to improve and do well at DreamHack Montreal. If I do make it to BlizzCon, I’m going to practice really hard for that too. Thanks to all of my fans and Team Liquid, and of course our sponsors. Please check out teamliquidpro.com and show them some love!
Photo credit: hexhaven