After his incredible performance at BlizzCon 2016, we sat down with our freshly-crowned World Champion to talk about the event and his future plans.
You said in the WCS Signature Series that after the GSL win and your path to BlizzCon, that was when you were okay with the situation. Well, after BlizzCon, how do you feel now?
When I won GSL, I thought: "This is the pinnacle, I could not be happier than this." But after I won BlizzCon, I obviously changed my mind, I am way happier now than after the GSL title. And as I said in the interview after the quarter finals, I conquered the best Terran and then defeated the best Protoss in the semi finals and then finally won against best Zerg in the Grand Final. I beat them all and won BlizzCon with it. It made me really happy because I could keep my word, keep my promise.
Your baneling targeting on King Sejong Station went viral in the StarCraft II community and is just one example of your insane micro. Which kind of game do you prefer, the macro-oriented one or the micro-intense one?
I prefer the macro style with huge fire power and a lot of pressure over micro - like that baneling targeting - a lot more. If I have a better army than the enemy, it does not require that much micro.
ShoWTimE surprised us all by defeating you 2-0 in the group stage. How did that affect you?
After getting defeated by ShoWTimE, my mind was really broken. I came back to the practice place and watched his interview where he said: "He played the game as I expected him to play". I felt like if I keep playing like this, it will not work out. So I adjusted my style immediately. If your perception is good, you probably noticed my style changed a whole lot after the games against ShoWTimE, visible in my matches versus Dear. If it was not for that loss, I would not have won BlizzCon.
Which game versus Dark did you enjoy or was fun to play the most?
The one I lost, Game 5 on King Sejong Station. It was close and I felt sorry, but the game was fun and it was on match point, so if I had won that match, the final would have felt too easy. Even though I lost that game, I was not mad. I just felt like I had fun and it was an interesting game, and I also told Dark about it.
From the quarter finals onwards, you had all possible match-ups. Which needed the most preparation and why?
TvT probably, in the quarter finals against TY. He is amazing at TvT and in best of threes he has really decent results with a 27-0 ratio.
But at that time I got super lucky to meet INnoVation. He came to BlizzCon for the show match, and his seat was next to mine. So I asked him about practice and he accepted it, gladly. He helped me out and we practiced a lot.
Also Maru helped me, Time from China, and many NA Terran players. I have been able to win with the support of so many other players.
Most people rest after their games and try to reset their mind to be fresh for the next day. You on the other hand, you practiced all night long until they threw you out of the convention. How much time did you spend practicing outside? What was your thought process?
I am kind of a different type of player, not like the other pros. If I do not practice on a daily basis, even if it is just one day, my game sense decreases.
So I do not want to stop at all, I want to practice as much as possible, play my games and have fewer breaks. The day after we finished group stage, we moved from Burbank to Anaheim. They said the practice area was not open yet. When the other players went out, I went to the esports arena to practice.
I really want to thank the staff from the esports arena and I appreciate it a lot that they made it possible. I went there November 1st, they had a note that it was closed from November 1st until November 7th due to reconstructions. I explained my situation to the staff and they let me practice there, additionally to providing a good environment.
You felt pressured by advancing, showing good results, being on expert now. With winning BlizzCon, did it fall off or is it still on?
It is a fact that I felt burdened because I joined expert and it was my first offline game being in the team. I did not feel the pressure of winning because I won in the end, but I think I can work harder with that pressure.
You are wearing your emotion on your sleeves, you always show your happiness after matches you won, but your idol INnoVation is cold and mysterious and that is what you like about him. Are you not trying to be like him in that way?
I like expressing my feelings about a win out of honesty. I am glad to win and I like it. Fans will also want to see a scene where a player is happy rather than a player removing the equipment with no expression after the game. In fact, I would like INnoVation to show more expressions after being the winner of the game, but I still like the emotionlessness, his coolness and his poker face. He looks stronger with it.
What was your most memorable moment of BlizzCon besides winning and why?
As mentioned earlier, I remember when I practiced in the esports arena on my own when all the other players went out and had fun. I thought to myself: "When they go out and enjoy their rest, I practice a little bit more than them, work a little bit harder than them and this will get me better results". I wanted to make these thoughts happen. I really remember this feeling and winning reminds me of it.
Right after I became champion I went back to the practice room, plugged in my equipment and started playing a few more games so I could connect the feeling of winning the World Championship with practicing and not forget it. The staff working there was really shocked about that.
How was your family's reaction?
They were really happy about my victory. Especially my puppy. He still does not like being separated and being away from me and I try to stick together with him.
Players in the community report that there has been a spike of Reaper openings on ladder after BlizzCon. How do you feel about that?
I really appreciate it. When I see Terran players using my strategies, I am very proud of my build. I think it is a great honor and I feel happy about it as a professional gamer when Terrans check my games and use my builds. I have that in mind when I play and it makes me play harder.
Do you have control tips to casual players who don't have 300 APM / your micro?
When I was at Prime, there were players who were famous for their micro like MKP, MaRu and me.
These three players have one thing in common: the mouse speed is really low. When other players touch my mouse, they always say: "Why it is so slow?"
It is nice to be able to control more precisely as the speed is slower. My tip is to slow down the mouse speed.
What are your plans after the biggest tournament concluded? Anything else you're thirsting for?
One competition is over but I still have a lot of tournaments like Olimoleague, WCA and so on. So I do not want to get complacent and will keep trying my best.
There is a lot of VODs of you and your games, so opponents can study you easily. Does that worry you?
I think it is fair to turn that argument around, actually. Without that many online cups and tournaments I have played, I would not have not be able to win the championship. I still do not want to give up on the online cups, because I think they are the reason why I am here now, I grinded so many online cup games when I was not in the competitive offline scene.
What would you say of yourself, are you a mechanical player (like INnoVation) or flexible?
I think I am a good mechanical flexible player. (laughs)
One message to your fans after your victory was that they should continue to watch your stream. What do you enjoy most about streaming?
In the chat, when people say the music is good, I am very proud, because I do spend quite some time to select my music. I like the fans very much. I watch the chat window very closely. For example, I would like to see the reaction after that "insane baneling targeting control".
Can we expect both microphone and a camera for your stream soon?
I have no idea about this stuff yet. Some fans want me to have it, but there are some fans who do not. If I use a mic I could make a mistake, so it makes me a little bit uncomfortable and I do not like my voice that much. But I am positive about a camera, I have used it before and I want to show my puppy, too.
Anything to say for the fans and people out there?
I have been very impressed by BlizzCon and that has been very supportive. I think I was able to win due to the great support I have received from home. Even though it is an uncomfortable time to watch in Korea, I thank you very much for your cheering. And this is what I always say - I can play more than others and work harder because I know my fans and there to cheer me on. I wish I can keep displaying good performances and I will do my best for that to happen. Thank you so much for your support.
(Copyright to every picture by Blizzard Entertainment; Helena Kristiansson and Patrick Strack)
Tags: Starcraft II