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      We have moved to Discord   08/04/2016

      There has been a strong desire among the community to migrate to Discord for quite some time. As of today, our community will be using Discord and as a result, we will no longer be actively using our TeamSpeak Server.  The TeamSpeak server will temporarily stay active to help inform all of our move to Discord. Within the next couple of months, it will be shut down completely.  For a quick invite to our new Discord server, you can click here.  
      For a full detailed guide visit http://www.vVv-Gaming.com/Discord
    • vVv Bagzli

      New Supersonic Series Start Time   10/17/2016

      We would like to thank everyone who participated in our recent survey regarding the start time of our tournaments.  After reviewing responses from the survey sent out to tournament participants we have decided to make changes to the start time of our events to try to better accommodate everyone.  Beginning on Monday, October 24th, all of our tournaments will start an hour earlier - at 8PM Eastern.  This means that registration will close at 7:30 EST, and that check-in starts at 7:30 EST and closes at 7:45 EST.
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About this blog

StarCraft 2, e-Sport, ramblings.

Entries in this blog

BabyToss

End of the year. Yup, here comes the end of 2012. There's so much I wanted to do, things I've not been able to fit into this busy part of the year. My videologs were neglected for longer than intended. My practice became rather erratic last week again, due to so-called pre-christmas madness. You know, the chores around the house, families keeping us busy. Well, me complaining about the hecticness of year ending, that's not really the purpose of this writting of mine.

2012 - My year of StarCraft!

Originally, I actually wanted to make this into a videolog, however, time constraints. But, I would like to look back at this year. Share the upsides, small victories, but also the downsides, struggles. Every story has two sides and the main character of this story is not without struggles and happy moments either.

Diamonds are forever!

Sufficed to say, that I made it into Diamond sometime in January. That was a good way of starting my year, isn't it? For those following my story so far, as a reminder, and even for those, who are unfamiliar with my story - I originally started out as a really, really low Bronze player, with no RTS/StarCraft/Brood War experience. So yes, for me, that was huge achievement. I was really happy and my motivation was going through the roof. It was certainly one of these small steps on my journey I was happy about. Back then, I was still part of one Czech team, however, the team wasn't very active and I haven't learnt much from them, which was my main grief. I didn't want to be just that "token female" or a team mascot. So, around January, I left the team, to try and join Fem-FX, which used to be female-only team.

The worst enemy - myself

At the beginning, things seemed all neat and nice with my new team. The team seemed really tight, even though I really struggled with them, as my notorius anxiety was kicking in, and I was really shy around them. There were some nice people along the way, Lydia, who was the team's CEO, was nothing but a super, Austin, who was one of the managers, been a good friend ever since as well. Sufficed to say, by the time I decided to join them, I was already struggling with myself, as depressions seemed to re-emerge, but I didn't want to admit that to myself, I didn't understand the signs, I didn't even understand myself at that point. Around March, things got really bad, and I suddenly dropped everything I had passion for. I was hating on myself, all I could feel was this ever-present fatigue, everything felt like a chore. I couldn't find any enjoyment in my life. I was simply surviving, it wasn't even living.

At the top of all, Team Fem-FX's activity dropped. People stopped showing up at practices, and overally, everyone saw StarCraft more and more casually. I knew I needed to have highly motivated people around myself. I knew, that this alone should help me through my depressions, as I somehow seem to be highly motivated by people, who are likely to be highly motivated as well. Forwarding to the end of March, I announced my retirement from Fem-FX. I needed a change and I needed it fast. I needed to find like-minded, highly motivated, and positive teammated. A place, where I could grow not only as a player, but also as a person. Of course, I knew there would be obstacles, given my anxiety issues, which cause me to be really shy around new people, but at the same time, leaving things as they were, that'd mean me withering even further.

So, around the end of March, after I left Fem-FX, I actually finally found courage to apply to vVv Gaming. I didn't understand how the team/community operated back then, but I was familiar with their tolerant approach to people, as well as they'd accept you no matter where you were, personally and gaming speaking. Simply said, I hoped I'd find my chance to gradually grow as a StarCraft 2 player, to get over my depressions and solidify my practice at last.

The Academy - under construction!

Few of those familiar with the situation in vVv Gaming will remember, that vVv gaming's StarCraft 2 community lacked a person, who'd push things forward. I needed something to do, so I basicly did writing and graphics. At that time, my depression was still at it's peak though. I still missed a solid team of like-minded people. An insane idea then sparked my mind. It's something I wanted to find for along time. A team dedicated to growth in StarCraft 2. And since I still had no luck in this regard, an insane idea struck my mind - Why not to try and make an Academy team in vVv Gaming? Both it takes the "Entertain, Educate, Dominate" on the next level, and I'd also be able to have something I've only dreamt of - A solid, dedicated team, who live, breathe and shit StarCraft. I made a very, very long write-up and sent it to the vVv management, crossing my fingers, well aware of the fact that their previous Academy ended up with a huge fail.

DreamHack Summer, the personal Trial of Fire...?

I have to sidetrack here a bit. The Academy project was still in discussion between me, LordJerith and some other people from the management. But, I was starting with practice again. After solid 5 months of erraticness and lack of practice, I was getting back to it. I saw a hope, something to aim for. Despite of me still struggling with depressions, I felt a bit more energetic once more. So, when an opportunity to travel to Dreamhack to Sweden emerged, I was shitting gold bricks. I saw it as an opportunity to learn, grow and also to fight my personal struggles. And surely I did fight them. I also learnt a lot. I was on emotional rollercoaster. Sheding tears after defeat by Merz, but also happiness, that I could breathe that all-StarCraft 2 atmosphere. Happiness from meeting White-Ra, who is someone I truly look up to. Being glad for meeting some of the people I've known only online until then!

After DreamHack, I've made many realizations. How much StarCraft 2 means for me, and how much I needed to grow stronger as a person, if I was to pursue this passion.

The Academy - Emerges!

On 4th July, while still being on holidays with my family, after being in a car-crash (yeah, rough patch there), the vVv Academy team was announced officially on the team's page. Me being me, I had to get online for the launch day, despite of being on holidays. It was a big day. Of course, I was put in charge of the team, so I was a team's Captain, manager and player in one. It's just how I do things. I wanted to lead by best possible example, as that's how all good leaders should be. Well, it's something I truly believe. Take it as you wish. The team started with mostly Diamond players, a bunch of guys, who were to suddenly act as a team. It was time for all of us to learn to be a team. And for me to learn, how to be a leader.

The only pain you feel, is the growth one!

No growth is without pain. Something I learnt during the couse of the time I've been with my Academy team. I see my self-doubts emerging quite a lot. Am I doing my job correctly? Am I truly the captain, manager and player this team deserves? I won't deny it, I've often been feeling really down from the fact, that I am the weakest player in the lineup. I often call myself, literally "a fucking excuse for a player". Depressions in and out, they make me an emotional bomb at time. It is really easy to doubt one's self. Especially when things get out of my control. When self-doubts and lack of good performance occur.

The Academy team gives me a purpose, a drive. Something I didn't have for a long time. There are glimpses of moments, when I feel that maybe, maybe I am worth of something to others. That I can be of help. A light in the darkness. I should also mention that to combat my anxiety/shyness, I've began making videologs, to learn expressing myself better while talking (after that disaster in my first ever video-interview at Dreamhack, lol). I believe that during the time I've been doing them, I've actually became less awkward - enough to be bold and if someone asks me ever again (I hate, hate that question), if there's any advantage to being a female progamer, I'll just tell them "Of course, no queues on the female toiletes." with a nice troll-face grin. :D

I've grown very fond of my team. They are my second family away from home. Seeing all of them progress, seeing them grow, I couldn't be more proud of them. Despite of all of my personal bullshit, I've been able to hold, and I know I am not going anywhere. A big part of why that would be would be that team. I don't care how much crap some people throw at vVv Gaming or my Academy team. They don't know us; living in the past. And well, it is true we are not the best players out there, wrecking tournaments, but I have some of the most passionate people on my team. That is what counts. You can't learn that, unlike in-game skills. These can be gained if you train properly. But you can't teach your heart to love something, if it's simply not there.

It is my job to cherish this passion, this dedication, not just in myself, but also in them.

Epilogue

Coming to an end. Everything has an end, and this writing is no exception. What to look forward to? My personal wishes? First of all, I want to become a more solid player, with a good, healthy practice habits. To learn to accept losses and setbacks, not just in StarCraft, but also in general; and that they are not the end of the world. To accept the fact, that I too am just a human being, making mistakes, without going and hating the shit out of myself. To learn to forgive to myself, to be more patient with myself. To be able to see the good, positive things about myself, both in regards to StarCraft 2, but also in general.

I want to compete more in StarCraft. Really hoping to go to DreamHack (Early Bird Dreamhack Summer tickets on, Secret Santa, anyone? Wink-wink ;)) and show a progress! I want my team to have a reason to be proud of me, as a player! And a reason for me to shed tears of happiness! I know I will once the time comes! To feel is to exist, and for a change, I want my feelings to be the happy ones!

A new year is closing in. What it will bring? You all are welcome to continue walking this journey of passion with me. As I am nowhere close to the journey's end - after all, I am BabyToss, so to 2013 onwards!

PS: Sorry, no pictures this time! Except this one!

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OP, OP, OP Zerg style!

:D;):P

BabyToss

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It's December, a month usually circling around appreciation for others, where we share our thoughts about them and show how much we appreciate them. A month, where we appreciate all these small things. It's also a chance for me to let out that closet fangirl - I don't do this often. Well, could you blame me? I'm 28 years old woman, so it would be it bit odd, to say at very least, to scream like crazy how much I admire someone who can be considered famous. Heh. But, since it's December & I just feel like giving some appreciation to someone I'll probably not talk with to tell them in person during all this upcoming Christmas/December craziness, I'll make a small exception and let the fangirl out of her closet for a while.

What or who am I talking about? (You probably know, assuming you read the topic of this article tho!) Here, here, fangirl, come out, you can do it today, I won't shun you away this time. I want to dedicate this little blurb of mine to Aleksey "White-Ra" Krupnyk, my favourite StarCraft 2 player and personality, who's been very inspiring not just to me, but to thousands and thousands StarCraft 2 players out there.

What makes White-Ra so special for me, though?

His personality. His wittiness. His passion for the game. He is down-to-Earth man, who loves what he's doing. He has his own unique sense of humour. Not only that, for me, he is a perfact example of what a professional StarCraft 2 player should be like. He sets positive trends, which influence the community widely. A natural role model & leader personality, people just want to be "like White-Ra". Showing people how it should be done! I know I do aspire to be like White-Ra! To me, being a "good StarCraft 2 player" means much more than winning a GSL or any other notable tournament. It's the combination of skill & attitude. And White-Ra is exactly like that. He is personable & friendly. A lot of famous players get this "celebrity syndrome" and they'd not come anywhere near "mere mortals" - but White-Ra? Nah, he'll have beers with you if he finds the time :)

His mindset is humble and a yet another reason why I am a fan of White-Ra. Always looking inwards, how to improve himself. His trademark slogan "More GG, more skill" comes into mind. Remember what I said about positively influencing the community? Well, this is another example as to why he is so admirable for me. White-Ra won't even turn you away, even if he loses his games - he always seems to have a genuine pleasure when he can interact with his fans.

Another reason, and that is purely subjective is, that White-Ra is close to my own age group. Even though, funnily enough, he played StarCraft for at least half of his life, whereas in my case, it's not even 1/10 of it. Yeah, yeah, BabyToss in her true colours, still a Protoss Baby. That fact makes it easier for me to relate to him; and I also don't feel so "old" in this community. Would you believe it, that all these teenage guys think of me as a "oldie" and I get to be called "MamaToss" in my team?

Meeting White-Ra at Dreamhack Summer was a small dream coming true for me. Of course, all cool composure was kept, but you know, the fact I met THE White-Ra in person, that was just priceless. Not only that, he was his perfect, genuine self, doing what he always does - shows good games, interacts with his fans and at the top of all, he really enjoys it.

Do I wish there were more players like him? Oh yeah, you bet. The community would be much more heartwarming place. Do I wish to meet White-Ra again? Yup, for sure. Maybe I can finally give him those beers I had to take home last time we met! But you know, share some drinks, laughs, witty StarCraft 2 love or even play some... yup, yup.

So, at the end of all of this - my message to you, mister White-Ra, would be - Keep being yourself. Love the game and the community. Keep being the role model & inspirational player not just for me, but also for other aspiring StarCraft 2 players. People like you are iconic in the community and it wouldn't simply be the same without you. Just like you say, win or lose "More GG, more skill!" Also, merry Christmas to you :)

And with that, I am wrapping this up. A bit (well, okay, a lot) different from what I usually write, but hey, it's December and it's good to sometimes unleash that fangirl and allow myself to share that appreciation I usually can't under normal circumstances. Now though, back to my closet! And, if you excuse me, I'm off to watch White-Ra's stream. Time for some SPESHUL TAKTIKS!

BabyToss

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Written by Ott Madis "Oakwarrior" Ozolit

Hi guys and gals, I'm back with another interview with the vVv's StarCraft 2 Aspire team, this week it's going to be Jake "vVv_Virulent" Smith, a 23-year-old Zerg player. Currently he's focusing on Wings of Liberty as much as he can, but since he got his Heart of the Swarm invite, he can be seen actively playing the beta as well.

Interview with Jake "Virulent" Smith

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Hey Virulent, how is it going?

"It's going pretty good. I got into the HotS beta recently, so having some fun with that."

Could you give a short introduction of who you are and what you do?

"I'm vVv_Virulent. I’m a junior at Western Carolina University, studying Psychology major and a Japanese minor.

I play Zerg right now and I'm loving the fact I actually get to micro in HotS!"

Looking forward to HotS myself! Fun times to be had. Could you talk a bit about your early days in StarCraft 2, and how did you end up playing it?

"Well, I played Brood War a bit as a kid, but it was just messing around and using the cheat codes on campaign mainly.

When SC2 was coming out I was really excited for it. I ended up getting myself into the beta pretty early.

I was really really bad at first, I remember when I watched a stream and it dawned on me you didnt have to go one base every game.

SC2 is the first RTS I ever played with attempts of getting better."

So besides your Brood War expeirence, how did SC2 work out for you and what led you to vVv?

"I actually took a break from SC2 when Star Wars: The Old Republic came out. I was playing that for a while and got an invite, into vVv on SW: TOR. Didn't take long to become an Officer, Main Tank, and Raid leader. After I got tired of SWTOR, I decided to start SC2 again and stayed with vVv."

How are you doing in vVv right now, being a trainee in the Aspire team? Everything working out?

"I'm doing really well. I like the people, there are always good practice partners looking for games. Everyone has a good sense of humor and they are all just solid people. Aspire is set up really well and it just feels like a really refreshing community."

How has Aspire affected you as a player, in general? Also, do you think your education (psychology) is helping your play?

"Well, under Aspire I have worked my way from mid-diamond to mid-masters, so it’s been going great. As far as psychology goes – not really. You can’t get much about your opponent out like on ladder, but I think it helps after getting to know someone, you can get a deeper insight into how they play I guess :P"

I guess it's pretty hard to read people when they're miles away behind another computer. But, what's the story behind your choice of race and your nickname?

"Well I was always named, Idgaf... Then when I started up SW: TOR someone had already taken my name. I was really disappointed but, I was going to be a Sith Warrior. So, I wanted something that sounded Evil and all that good stuff so I went with Virulent. It's stuck with me ever since."

How about your playstyle though - do you like to keep it on the offensive or macro up and play defensively?

"I would say I'm a reactive player. I don't often start a game with an aggressive strategy in mind. But, I will look at what my opponent is doing and if something triggers a response out of me I will go all-in on a dime."

Who do you follow and/or admire in the StarCraft 2 scene, so far?

"Well, Jaedong is probably my favorite Brood War player and I'm really excited to see how he will make a name for himself in SC2. I also really enjoy watching Stephano play and I have taken in a lot of his play and incorporated it into my own play. But the player who has probably influenced me the most is vVv_Glon. He’s been coaching me and is an all around great guy and a great player. I really hope he keeps gaining fame and a solid following in the future."

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Can you tell me what are your short/long term plans concerning StarCraft 2?

"Well, my short term goal is to get high masters in WoL! But more of a long term goal is getting into GM in Heart of the Swarm."

Pretty sweet plans if you ask me! How would you say StarCraft is affecting your other interests?

"I find whenever I'm looking at something or learning something new, I consider it in terms of StarCraft.

I actually, at my last univeristy, had a really good group of friends who all played StarCraft so most of my life was dedicated to it.

Sadly, however, at my new school, I there’s hardly anyone who plays. I'm teaching one of my friends who picked the game up to play Zerg so hopefully he’ll start kicking some ass soon. :D"

Maybe have him join vVv too! :)

What would you say is your most memorable moment in your StarCraft 2 career?

"Well, my favorite moment that's purely SC2 related was the last MLG Raleigh. I was riding with some friends from my last university, and one of them was trying to get rid of half a handle of fireball whiskey. So – he decided it was a good idea to give it to me on the 6 hour ride from Tennessee to Raleigh. I lost my wallet and keys 4 times. Got out of the car in gridlock traffic to smoke a cigarette while walking down the highway talking to other cars, and took a leak in the parking lot of our hotel. By the time I actualy got to MLG I had lost my wallet again and had no money on me to buy my ticket... Thank god I didn't lose my phone, because I texted vVv_Doomhammer and he ended up getting me in and I wandered around drunkenly making fun of League of Legends players and watching awesome SC2 games. My other favorite moment was when some friends from StarCraft and I played Diablo 3 together and one of our group, vVv_Einherjar, played a Barbarian. We got everyone we knew and played with to carry around a stack of pink armor dye. Every time a good item dropped for him, we would dye it hot pink before giving it to him. He thought Blizz was trolling barbarians *laugh*."

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Just to wrap this baby up – special thanks to anyone?

"I'd like to thank Jesus, and my momma, and my baby momma. Wid out y’all, I ain't never be here yo. GAME HARD!"

BabyToss

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We are often being approached as to if our lineup in this and that tournament is our main vVv Gaming's lineup. It came to our attention that there's not a huge knowledge about the so-called "vVv Gaming's Aspire StarCraft 2 Team". And thus, allow me to shed some light on the team. Take it as a belated introduction, if you will.

Aspire.SC2 team was officially launched in July 2012 - with the intent of accepting hardworking, dedicated players, who aim higher than playing couple of games per week, to help them grow, as equivalent of an Academy team, to fill a void on the scene, where only the top players usually have the chance to compete in tightly organized and motivated team. We strive to reach higher levels of the competition and thus, proper commitment and dedication are required, as well as tight organization, similar to one in a professional team, adjusting it to the conditions of the individuals, who are part of the team, as well as the fact, that we are an Academy team, thus a training team.

The idea is to harbour three players per race; both to make the team small so people can relate to each other and create positive team atmosphere in the team, as well as to give the team enough space for practicing with each other, further encouraging the team spirit and growth within the measures of team. The players are encouraged to play in individual tournaments, as well as the team managment looks out for the opportunities when it comes to playing in the team leagues. We aim to provide the competitive part of the venture, as we see, that it is needed to further motivate the players to try even harder, especially if they wish to eventually break into the competitive scene of StarCraft 2. We've seen it many times, that an Amateur/Academy team was established, but it's members quickly lost interest, because nothing was really happening within the team, to promote the activity and motivation of it's members.

Furthermore, the best behaviour is required from every member of the team; traits like responsibility and ability to communicate are a must. We do not want players, who just show off their rank, we want players, who put in the time and dedication, who have a sense for team-play and understand, that becoming a top tier player means more comittment than just playing the game.

Players are hand-picked by the Team Captain and the team management. We look at attitude, will to improve and in order to accomodate current team roster when it comes to practice, for players to fit into current skill level of the team. Team currently caters Diamond to mid-Master level players, but as the time goes and our players progress, this will naturally be raised upon needs of the team, should openings be created. We are currently developping and changing our internal procedures, in order to make our functionality as effective as possible. There are currently two mandatory nights, when the team practices together, other than that, we put huge emphasis on the teammates practicing together and we are attempting our first tokens of competitions in two team-leagues, with the major goal being our improvement & tournament experiences, rather than winning alone.

As a side note, our team originally started out as a bunch of inidividuals in Diamond league. As of now, five out of our nine members reached Master league & turned into strong teammates, who aim to improve each other, and we intend to keep that trend growing, in order to provide stronger competition for our adversaries in upcoming competitions.

Of course, the team doesn't run on player base alone. We have management and leadership positions, which help the team to run properly - coaches, caster, manager & assistant manager. These are the backbone of the team and are vital part of the organization, in order to provide the players with the strongest experience possible.

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p.pngcz.gif Jana "BabyToss" Otahalova - Founder

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t.pngus.gif Johnatan "Ein" Ballard

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p.pngcz.gif Jana "BabyToss" Otahalova (captain.png)

p.pngus.gif Chris "PoSeR" Clauson

p.pngus.gif Ryan "NazguL" Thorton

t.pngus.gif Adam Son "SonTran" Tran

t.pngca.gif Nathan "Wakai" Pigeon

t.pngca.gif Thomas "TuFF" Parker

z.pngus.gif TJ "Fearful" Lopez

z.pngee.gif Ott Madis "Oakwarrior" Ozolit

We are hoping that this little introduction post clarifies all of the questions, as well as that it would prevent the future possible misunderstanding as to who we are and what our main goal is.

You can follow our team at official vVv Gaming's Twitter - @vVv_Gaming.

BabyToss

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Written by Ott Madis "Oakwarrior" Ozolit

Hello everybody! My name is Ott Madis "Oakwarrior" Ozolit, a vVv community member and lurker (lol), bringing to you an interview series, with vVv's Aspire team. With the Aspire team in vVv well underway with its endeavours, I was asked by our very own BabyToss to complete the interview series with Team SC2 Aspire. First up, or rather fifth up, is actually Jana “vVv BabyToss” Otahalova herself!

As a brief introduction to her doings, Jana is a 27-year-old Protoss player, and team captain for vVv’s Team SC2 Aspire. She joined vVv Gaming in the first half of 2012, and has been working hard on her skill and gamer persona ever since. But enough of that, let's hear from Jana herself :)

Interview with Jana "BabyToss" Otahalova

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Alrighty then, lets start! How are you doing today?

"Hey! Well, I had rather rough week, so kind of tired. But eh, gotta fight when it matters."

I see, I hope you will get some rest soon enough. Could you give a short introduction of who you are?

"Introductions... I am oh so good at those (laughs). My name is Jana Otahalova, although my StarCraft 2 handle is BabyToss and it's how you'll most likely meet me. I'm nearly 28 years old soon - yes, birthday incoming! I live in the Czech Republic, I am married and have a 8-year-old son."

Well now that the hardest part is over, lets move to the fun! To the people who haven't seen you around and/or read your blog, could you talk a bit about your early days in StarCraft 2, and how did you end up playing it?

"Hardest part over, hm? Getting tricky, aren't we? (laughs) It's a long story actually, so, let me try and shorten it a bit. Originally, I come from an RPG'er background. I love a good story and heroics, so, StarCraft 2 is actually my first RTS and I originally played it only because my husband and son enjoyed it and they simply needed mommy to come play with them. Naturally, I was terrible, as I had literally no idea how to play - so you can imagine, my enjoyment was close to zero. Although, me being me, I didn't want to be the one who was the worst, so I looked into the game and began to learn the ropes of the game. this is how I got to know about Day[9] too, and partially because of his knack for explanations and humour, I finally began delving deeper into the game.

Honestly, if you told me, that I'd be so passionate about the game when my husband first brought the game home, I'd just laugh at you. But today, I am happy for that little discovery."

Tricky is my trademark I'd say! I reckon it must have been quite the leap from one genre to the other, but you have managed to keep it together in an exemplary fashion, in my humble opinion. How did the next steps in your StarCraft 2 career pan out and what led you to vVv?

"Well, the leap was huge, that I can confirm. You know, in RPG's, when you die, you either just load your old saved game or get “rez'd” by teammates if it's an online one. So, much easier (grins). In StarCraft 2, every little thing matters. One mistake and you can easily go and type “gg”, even if the game lasted for half an hour, where you fought a fierce battle. Let alone, the aspects of the game, they were very foreign for me. But, I guess, the fact that the game poses so many challenges in front of me, is the exact reason why I love it so much.

The first team I joined was from the Czech Republic and I hoped to learn a lot from them. But, you know what, they only picked me up because I was a woman and I never really got anything from that. I wanted more and this whole female issue in the community really bugs me. I want to get better. Not to be a mere team mascot. That is why I looked elsewhere, ending up in female-only Team Fem-FX; only to find out that both I work better with guys as well as the team was way way too casual for me. I needed more motivated and dedicated people around me.

Which is how I actually found out about vVv Gaming. In fact, I'd been watching them since like end of 2011, but I never had the courage to ask to join. In the end, it panned out wonderfully, because I was originally approached by SugarBear if I wished to write for their SC2 section."

Talk about a bumpy ride. I guess that's something to be expected when you are in the search for "your own place", so to speak. :) How is it in vVv right now, with you being the captain of the trainee Aspire team? Everything working out?

"Things got really up to the speed once Aspire was launched. It helps to be around like-minded people greatly. Of course there are occasional bumps here and there, but that is to be expected. Nothing is flawless, there always will be stuff which needs to be improved. But you know what? I always wanted to be part of the team, which accepts me for being a StarCraft 2 player, not because I happen to be a woman. And I have to cut slack to vVv Gaming - they never treated me any different because of that. So, it is easy to feel like home, part of the team."

That's really good to hear! How has Aspire affected you as a player, in general? You mentioned starting out as a writer, but I reckon that did not stop you from tearing up the ladders and/or training.

"Actually, I never took up the offer of being an official writer for vVv Gaming. I straight out came to SugarBear and Jerry, that my main dream was to pursue the dream of improvement as a StarCraft 2 player and a person. I was looking for serious improvement and then idea to form an Academy team in vVv came into my mind. I wrote up a couple of pages about the idea, sent it both to Jerry and SugarBear, with hopes they would support the project. It took some nagging - yes I am highly impatient (laughs) - but here it was.

I didn't expect to be put in the charge of the team though, so that came as a surprise, but when you think about it, it makes sense. I know the best what the vision and goals of the team are. Who else was supposed to lead the team than me? Can't blame the old guys, and in the end, I find that particular experience truly enriching for me. I love learning and growing, so, this is an awesome opportunity for me.

Annnd well... it is no secret I am not a fan of ladder for practice. In fact, since I began playing with Aspire, I barely even laddered. Either I practice on my private account or pick up my teammates for practice. You know, it helps immensely, when you can go to your teammate and say, ask them to 1/1/1 you a couple of times, so you grab firmer grasp as to how to deal with it. Imagine anything you struggle with, and you can compare it to power-leveling with a higher level group in a MMO! (laughs)

Aspire gives me motivation to go on. Before Aspire was formed, I was on a huge depression and it stopped me from playing for nearly 6 months. Because of Aspire, I have a road in front of me again. (smiles)"

Wow, your perseverance really paid off, and as for ladder, every player has his own way of improving :) Now, as indicated by your handle, you're a Protoss player. What's the story behind the race choice and how does it equate into your nickname (cute Zealots aside :D)?

"I was actually wondering if you'd ask! Yes, of course. “My life for Aiur!”, Protoss is the race of my choice (laughs). I originally picked Protoss, because you know, I played Protoss campaign in original StarCraft, purely because of their awesomesauce lore. Remember, I am a RPG'er, so it makes sense. Protoss have the most moving lore and story. And no, I never played Terran nor Zerg and I even used cheats to get through the campaign! (laughs) Just for your information, I was like 12 years old by then, so laughing is not acceptable.

My handle is actually a funny story too. You know, originally I went by my old RPG name I was using literally everywhere. But then, my friend and me began playing 2v2's - his handle being PapaToss - and since he was basically helping me with the game, an idea to change my name to "BabyToss" came; it sort of represents the fact that in terms of StarCraft 2 experiences and skills, I am merely a baby, who learns to walk, fight and tear stuff apart, as well as by then, he was really my Protoss daddy back then - symbolically speaking (laughs)."

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Ah, good ol' “power overwhelming”… I, too, hold a very special place in my heart for the Protoss lore, although I am a Zerg player - I find it's very well written. How about your playstyle though, are you more of an offensive player or do you like to play it more on the safe side?

"Well, I am in love with long played out macro games. It's, I'd say, my biggest strength, as back when I started, all I'd hear hurled around at me, would be "learn to macro, learn to macro". It's literally the only thing I ever did since my early days. I play way too safe, sometimes sadly to the point of playing "scared" rather than safe. It often costs me the games, as you have to take a risk at times. Although, this is where mindset kicks in - I am not exactly confident in myself, nor my skills, so it actually soaks into my gamestyle. Something to address, so to speak.

On a funny note though, because of that, I am probably one of few Protoss players, who never proxy gated nor cannon rushed! (laughs)"

Whoa! Even I tried out cannonrush at one point :P

Who do you look up to, as players or idols, in the StarCraft 2 scene?

"The first person coming to mind is always White-Ra. His attitude as well as wisdom, its something I really look up to. He is what I believe should represent the term of "pro-gamer". Being a professional is not only about kicking every ass you meet on the tournament. You need to be a personality. Because, frankly, if we want this industry to grow, we need people, who inspire others, who make others to say "This is what I want to do, and this is how I want to be.". White-Ra is a genuine personality, has a great love for the game and for the scene. I'd like to be like that one day, if I manage to reach these heights, in terms of skills. There are more people I look up to, but White-Ra is the one who I admire the most, thus he is getting a little shout-out here. (laughs) Reminds me I still owe him some beers since DreamHack Summer."

It's very heartwarming to see a player with such a mentality, makes me warm and fuzzy inside (laughs). Can you tell me what are your more immediate goals concerning StarCraft 2? A little birdy told me you are visiting the Ministry of Win house early next year!

"Ohhh, now I regret plaguing the people I interviewed with this question! (laughs) But it's almost a must, so, let me think about this. My goals are, to actually prepare for my training at Ministry of Win - damn birdies flying everywhere and sharing my oh-so-not-secret... secret (laughs). Right now, because of my personal struggles, lack of self confidence and being prone to tilting/frustration from not playing well enough, my practice tends to be erratic, unorganized and inconsistent. I need to grow stamina in order to be capable of enduring the house's schedule, as well as more immunity to tilting. Of course, will have to hit the ladder, as when in the house, it will be the quickest way for me to get games in. Another goal would be to fix my personal schedule, as even that one is pretty bad at the moment, me going to bed around 4-6 am, waking up at 10 am, barely sleeping at all.

So, my goals kind of encompass more than just StarCraft 2 - but again, the mental side, physical side and the game are very interconnected. To fix certain issues you have to work on other, seemingly unrelated issues. It's a challenge in front of me. But I want to face it, and face it fully. Hoping that my teammates will help me on this little quest too.

I want my stay at Ministry of Win to strengthen me, both as a player and a person. For me, StarCraft 2 has become part of my life, a way for me to grow as a person, due to many aspects and layers the game hides within. And hopefully, want to cause couple of upsets and all-kills in the team leagues upon my return from Ministry of Win (laughs)!"

Noble goals :)

I hope it'll work out great for you! And wow, look at the time flying - I promise, only a few more questions. How would you say is StarCraft affecting your other interests? It would seem that your family, at least is quite hooked on SC2, reeling you in over time.

"Well, StarCraft 2, to be totally honest, affected the person I am, completely. I had some rough times in my life, which caused, the loss of all self-esteem and self-confidence. Before, I'd give up on stuff when facing struggles really easily. While I still have the struggles with me, I now have something, which I love so much and which makes me to push forward.

I began practicing Karate a year ago as well, to improve my physical shape and mindset, purely because of StarCraft 2 as well.

As for my family - well, no, they actually gave up the game, when I began playing better than them. My husband, when we played our last game and I beat him like, 5:0, flew away with his Command Center and was like: "Not playing again, this game is a stupid speedclick" - and this is how he was done with the game (laughs) But, they do support my ventures to grow as a person and player; it's why I actually can go to Ministry of Win, because my husband took it on himself to handle the household and our son during my absence. So, I am not complaining, I am hoping that I can give it all I have, both for my own sake, as well as for my son and husband, who trust in me, despite me being really difficult at times."

It's really nice to know that you have their support. Do you have any suggestions for other aspiring (pun intended) players as well, who want to "Go Pro", so to speak?

"I cringe when someone says "I want to go pro". Frankly, my goal is not to be a pro and I am not even remotely close to that skill level either. My highest goal is to be as strongest player as I can be, as well as better person, while doing something I love. And this is what I would suggest to anyone "aspiring" to be a pro. Just put your heart and best effort into what you love doing. StarCraft 2 can be an awesome journey, if it's something you truly enjoy and love."

Agreed! Another quick one: most memorable moment in your StarCraft 2 career?

"Definitely attending DreamHack Summer. I had to face my personal struggles and fears there, being really shy and anxious person, as well as I got to see the most awesome StarCrafty atmosphere in my life. I felt joy, I nearly cried when I lost my game against Merz, but in the end, such an overwhelming event. And I got to meet White-Ra as well! I am hoping to attend DreamHack next year as well... and cause some upsets too! (grins)"

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Hope to see you kicking ass soon :D

So, wrapping this up, do you have any special thanks you want to give out?

"Yeeeah, my favourite part! So, my shout-outs to team Aspire, vVv Gaming - glad I can be part of something bigger, then, my thanks to certain Ryan Rushia, he knows why, can't forget to mention people like Rob Feeley, Allen Rulo and Fraser Bedwell, they also know why, love you guys, of course, huge appreciation and hearts to my husband and little son, who keep me going despite of me being a difficult pain in the ass at times and also to my mom, who still waits for me to stream my games. Hearts all out! (laughs)"

Thank you so much for the talk! I hope you enjoyed doing this as much as I did, and I wish you the best in your coming ventures.

"It was the biggest interrogation I ever went through. Thank you and will see you around!"

BabyToss

Time for some balancing. After short break, due to reasons specified in the vlog, I am bringing up talk about my team, vVv Gaming's Aspire StarCraft 2 team, where I try to summarize the events and how we were doing in these past 2 months. I am talking about how we started, bilancing the players at the beginning, going deeper into how we progressed in terms of skill levels and such.

I am pointing out the positive, as well as focusing on what is in need of improvement, addressing each player of the team separately, ultimately, leaving a message for each one of them.

Lastly, I am talking about our future plans and things we will do in the near future.

BabyToss

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Written by Dakota "Rapture" Lasky

After jumping from game to game, it seems like TJ "vVv Fearful" Lopez has found his home not only in Starcraft 2, but in vVv Gaming's Aspire program. Despite his experience in many other titles, including competitive experience in Warcraft 3, Fearful is confident that he has made the right choice in Starcraft 2. Let's learn a little more about this wandering, yet dedicated Starcraft 2 hopeful.

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TJ "vVv Fearful" Lopez

Alright, so first off, introduce yourself. Tell me a little about who I'm interviewing.

"Hey, my name is TJ "Fearful" Lopez. I am a Starcraft 2 player as a Zerg and I am a part of the Aspire team for vVv Gaming. I am a fun personality and am always out there to improve."

Good, good. Let's start from the beginning here. When did you start playing video games competitively and why?

"I started playing games at the age of 4. Resident Evil was my first game ever (shocker lol). It wasn't until 8 years later that I was introduced to Starcraft. I was in 6th grade at the time and my friend introduced it to me. It was a game of skill and strategy. Both of the things I loved. So, I started playing and was hooked. I loved the competitiveness and the fan base for it. After a while though, my friends left the game and I got bored by myself, so I switched to Warcraft 3 where all my friends started to play. That game was just as competitive and I felt that it was more since we had clan support and everything. But once again, they left and I was the only one. After a while of quitting, I heard of Starcraft 2 and I decided to get back into competitive gaming because that was what I loved to do in some of my spare time. And here I am today; playing Starcraft 2 as a Zerg."

You're also a member of vVv Gaming. Tell me a little about why you joined vVv.

"Well, I used to be a part of the team nYq. It stood for Nyquist Gaming. My friend, Zorro, left us and went to join vVv. After I found that out, I looked into it and noticed a player by the name of vVv Titan. I watched him stream and even got some coaching from him and realized that this was the community I wanted to be in to improve my gaming. I applied and after about a month, I had my interview with Jerry. He was an inspiration to me because of all the things he has accomplished and at how well he can manage his time. I knew that when I got accepted, I had made the right choice."

So, with all of that said, what is your main goal as a competitive Starcraft 2 player?

"I would really love to go pro one day. At the moment, I think it is near impossible because I have college and work to deal with to pay for college. But I still think it is possible and with enough dedication, I can make an appearance at a tournament and hopefully leave with a good run. That way, I'll have a small fan base of my own and I can start streaming and improving as I am helping other players improve as well."

Well, I certainly assume that you are a member of vVv Gaming's Aspire program to achieve that goal, correct?

"Yes, I am. We practice twice a week and we all have a good time doing it. Sometimes, myself included, we get frustrated and don't 'gg' after leaving, but we all have some sort of emotion for the game and some of us can't suppress our frustrations sometimes. But we are all out there for each other and we are all making sure that we are all improving. You will see more of us in the near future. We have goals and we will fulfill those goals together."

So far, how has Aspire helped you as a player?

"Well, it helped me analyze other player's play just by observing what they are doing and what they are not doing. In that, I feel that I can coach from bronze-diamond without much trouble because of the analyzing skills that I have acquired. Also, I have learned to control my emotions more and to stay calm. I play a lot better when I'm calm."

Have you specifically learned anything as a Zerg player that weren't otherwise aware of or hadn't mastered yet before joining Aspire?

"I learned how to make better use of my units. I learned how to control them better and how I can use them at any point in the game instead of wait for the right moment to use them. I learned that if I am more active the entire game with my units, I will pretty much know everything that is going on and that I can be prepared for their "surprises"."

What part of your game do you think is the strongest? What part do you think is the weakest?

"I think my macro is my strongest part of the game. And the weakest part for me is decision-making or lack of knowledge. I sometimes see a new build and not sure how to deal with it, so I make bad decisions for my lack of knowledge. I also just make bad decisions sometimes and pay the price for it."

How are you planning to or currently working toward fixing those issues?

"I plan on fixing those issues by asking a more skilled player who has more knowledge of every match-up what I could have done and how I should have executed it during that stage of the game. If I ask someone about something like that, I usually fix it right up and I improve my play."

Alright, cool. Let's go back to Aspire for a bit. You're one of numerous Aspire members looking to improve their game. What separates you from the rest of them?

"I feel that I show my emotions more than the rest. Like, they can tell if I'm pumped or sad, etc...This is a tough one because we are all working towards the same goal for the most part, but I feel that I am a fast learner and can improve very fast with the right practice."

Compared to the other Zerg players, do you have a particularly different style of play?

"Compared to other Zergs, I am more passive and should become more aggressive in my play, but I am all about reactions and surviving. I feel that if I can survive into the late game, I will be unstoppable because my macro is super strong towards the late game."

In the current Starcraft 2 metagame, is playing Zerg in a reactionary way beneficial?

"I believe that it depends on the player, but Zerg was meant to be a reactionary race. We are the evolutionary race where we react to what's coming so that they won't be prepared for what's coming. Yes, switching it up is beneficial, but the first thing to do in the early game is to react and then take control. I like to react to what I see and once I do, I like to take control where they have to react because I now have tech switches up my sleeve."

What do you think is the next step in the Zerg metagame?

"That is tough to say because Zerg is the most diverse race in my opinion. We have many different insanely good players who all play different styles. We have the aggressive Zergs, macro Zergs, reactionary Zergs, and it goes on and on. Some go for cost for cost trades until their opponent can't support their production, whereas others wait to have the better composition to win and tear everything apart. So, I think the next step for Zerg is for us to come up styles and strategies that no one has seen yet."

Finally, before we wrap up here, do you have advice for other aspiring competitive gamers out there?

"My advice for those aspiring to become competitive gamers is to believe that you can do it. You have to believe that you are great and that you will show others that you are great one day. Don't let others tell you that you can't do something. If this is what you want, work for it and it will come with time. It may take longer than others, but with the right mindset, you can achieve what you want if that is what you truly want."

Any shout-outs you'd like to give?

"I want to thank vVv for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this awesome community and I would like to say thank you to Toxsik for being a great coach and a good friend. I also want to say thank you to Titan for his vast knowledge of the game. He really helped me out back in the good ol' days."

Thanks so much for the interview!

"You're welcome!"

BabyToss

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Written by Dakota "vVv Rapture" Lasky

With vVv BabyToss hard at work as captain of the Aspire Team, I have taken over the duties of delving into the vVv Aspire roster to learn more about the players that make up its class. Just as Babytoss did, I shall be interviewing all of the players one-by-one and this week, it's vVv WaKai's turn.

After beginning his Starcraft 2 career in gold league, Nathan “vVv WaKai” Pigeon worked his way all the way to Masters by the end of the summer of 2011. After a brief recess, he made a race switch, and since then has been enjoying the components and style of the Terrans, commenting that he just did not like how the Protoss race was meant to be played.

In the midst of his growing SC2 career, I caught up with WaKai to learn more about this up-and-coming Terran player.

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Nathan "vVv WaKai" Pigeon

Alright, so first off, tell me a little about yourself. Give me a nice introduction of who you are.

"Hi, I'm Nathan Pigeon. I'm a very competitive person. I strive to do my best and don't settle for anything less than that. Outside of gaming, I'm a cheerful, outgoing guy."

Good to hear. So, where does the name Wakai come from? Doesn't seem to be from your real name at all.

"Nope, it actually came from a Japanese friend, he gave it to me a couple years back because of my personality. It means "for ever young" or to be young."

That's actually pretty interesting. Mine's only because I liked Bioshock so much. xD

:D

Anyway, you do also have vVv in your name. Why did you join vVv in the first place?

"When I was playing Protoss, I was looking to get better, but lacked the practice partners and atmosphere that a team provided. I tried many clans/teams but none of them really fit. A friend suggested we should apply together. It was one of the best choices I've ever made. I met many great people and had a great time playing SC2 with them. Although some of them have left, vVv gaming is still the best place to be and my skills have greatly improved because of them."

I'd say that's awesome if you didn't begin it with mentioning Protoss (uggghhh), however, that all makes sense considering you're now a member of Aspire. You simply wanted a way to continue getting better and have practice partners, correct?

"Lol. Yes, Aspire really helped me through my race switch and my Terran has become very strong since joining."

Ah, there we go, a fellow Terran!

:P

Now, you say your Terran has become very strong since you've joined Aspire, can you tell me more about that? How exactly has Aspire been working for you thus far?

"Being able to play against better players than me really puts my mistakes into focus. My macro has gotten much better with the help of our Terran coach, vVv Einherjar. He helped me find the flaws in my macro as basically my micro was carrying me through some games. With the team practices it really gave me a benchmark other than ladder, as I used to not be able to take games off my higher level teammates, now, I can trade blows with them. It's a fun learning environment."

As an amateur gamer myself, I definitely know that you and I, as well as tons of other gamers, struggle with improving in games like SC2 and avoiding hitting plateaus in their improvement. Would you say that, overall, Aspire has helped the learning process and your maturation of skill and how?

"Yes, I believe the general communication between my teammates and I, exchanging tips and tricks that help you snowball even more or to make comeback. it's about setting yourself up for success and making small, challenging and attainable goals. This is especially hard in SC2 as their aren't any small ways to see that you're improving. Small goals such as trying to learn 1 aspect of play like marine split, or forcing yourself to use an extra hotkey. It's not about only playing ladder but using the other maps that help with learning these skills like Darglein's micro/multitasking trainer."

You're right, for most (if not all) players, it's hard to see improvement. Do you feel like this makes SC2 a bit unfriendly to newer or less-skilled players?

"SC2 takes time, a lot of time. Because they is always something that you could have done better, win or lose. Given that fact that an average person only has 1-2 hours of time to play reduces their proggresion rate, this makes it harder to see that you're improving."

So, with that said, how have you, "broken the mold," and continued to work hard and better yourself? Is it an extreme amount of dedication or do you have a bet with someone?

"I would say I'm very passionate about improving and competing. This has been my nature for my whole life. When I played physical sports I always strove to be with the best and play with the best, only doing something at low intensity made me feel like I was throwing away an opportunity."

Alright, let's back-track a little here. How long have you been playing SC2 and why did you start playing?

"I started playing SC2 about 2 years ago, I started playing because my friends and I would always play Brood War in our dorms and stay up competing against each other. I loved it. WhenIi heard SC2 had a competitive background as well as the scale at which it has grown, I couldn't resist."

Do you play any other games or kinds of games, or is SC2 the one and only title you focus on?

"I enjoy playing League of Legends because it's a relaxing environment compared to SC2 and your improvement can be measured easily as well as learning it because each champion has a relatively low skill cap. I also enjoy playing FPS games as they are always fun and of course playing Smash Bros with friends gives lots of laughs."

So, you play all these different kinds of games and, especially LoL and Smash, many of them have dedicated competitive communities with tons of opportunities. Why pursue playing SC2 at a high level over any other game?

"SC2 relies on only your skill, and it was a nice change at the time because I was part of these highly competitive sports teams like football and lacrosse that I wanted to rely on me for a change. In Smash Bros, I'm an annoying button masher, so my future in those types of games is very grim! ^_^"

What is your goal as a member of Aspire? Is it just to become a better player or is there more to it than that?

"I would like to generate an income through SC2, that is my big goal, as getting to play something you love while making money is the greatest thing a person could ask for."

Who is your biggest role model in competitive SC2 and why?

"MKP, at first he lured me in with his micro, but I can also relate to him with my aggresive play and I love his personality as well as dedication that I can relate too!"

Do you think you can ever be good enough to beat MarineKing? That'd be quiet the victory to have under your belt.

"Indeed, I do believe I can do it. I don't how I would feel if I ever do beat him, happy that I won but sad that he lost."

Well, that's certainly a lofty goal, but having high expectations can lead people to great things. A lot of people seem to be satisfied when they hit a certain level in their skill, like reaching Masters then being comfortable without moving onto Grandmasters. You're not one of those people, it seems. Why not?

"Each rise in rank is like accomplishing a medium goal. I know I can do it. I reached masters with Protoss, I tried my best to suit Protoss to my play style but at the time it just wouldn't fit well. I knew I would be delayed but Terran would be a change for the better, as I love being aggressive and tricking my opponents with sneaky plays."

Alright, I think we've gotten a lot done here. Last question - even though you've only been in Aspire for a short time as of right now, is there anything you've learned thus far that you'd like to share with other aspiring amateur gamers out there, playing SC2 or not, that has truly helped you as a player or you find otherwise informative?

"There will always be a mistake, in SC2 or life. It's about finding them and making sure you improve on them to the point where it becomes a positive force to push you to do greater things."

Any shout outs you'd like to give or anything else to say?

"I would like to shout out to my friends and family who have supported me through tough times and gaming. As well as vVv LordJerith for giving me the right advice at the right time."

Awesome. Thanks for the interview!

"It was a pleasure!"

BabyToss

In this vlog, I talk about the very own SC2 community I've been apart of for a year. I'm touching the highlights of the community, why this community is awesome and giving some spotlight to Day[9] and White-Ra, who are one of the nicest people the community has (in my humble opinion), also highlighting some of the people I've met through the course of my time with SC2 community, who are not necessarily progamers or known personalities, but who do inspire me in one way or another. Kudos to ReereSC, darkomicron, Glon, ToXSIK and Virulent.

I also talk about the dark side of our SC2 community, how people can be harsh to each other, showing some not so nice moments of the community members, where they bash, insult and wish death on each other after they lose a game. Images are courtesy of Teamliquid's famous "Awesome/Confusing SC2 BM" thread.

Briefly touching the issues with sexism and the way women are threated as well - might return to that topic in a separate vlog in the future, as the problem is huge enough to warrant a dedicated rant of mine.

BabyToss

This week, I'm talking about tournaments, mentioning my first ever experience from a biggest LAN tournament in Czech republic, and of course, can't forget mentioning my experience during DreamHack Summer 2012. How these events affected me, how they helped me to grow as a person and a StarCraft 2 player.

Briefly touching the subject of tilting, choking and anxiety as well, the common things occuring during the tournaments, as well as the enviroment differences which ultimately affect one's play as well.

BabyToss

In my second vLog, I talk about my team, specifically vVv Gaming's Aspire.SC2 team. What we are about, what our goals and motivations are, what we require from our players. It's a short introduction of the idea behind the team; rather than it's members.

Comments, suggestions, ideas, they all are welcomed and appreciated!

BabyToss

An introduction vLog of mine, where I talk about how I got into StarCraft 2, about why I love the game, also briefly touching my goals and dreams. I also wittingly make fun of my very first ladder game ever at the end of the video.

:)

I'm taking these videos both an opportunity to talk about SC2 related subjects, as well as a small personal theraphy for myself, to combat my shyness, to be able to react better to people, if there's a chance someone might be watching me and I could fall into so-called "performance anxiety". Another venture for personal growth, so to speak.

To touch briefly what will be coming in the coming vlogs - I will talk about vVv Gaming's Aspire.SC2 Team in my next vlog, as well as about my experience during my participation at DreamHack Summer 2012 as a competitor later on and so much more.

BabyToss

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Another week has passed. Our Aspire Team is steadily coming up, establishing practice times. Some people already showing signs of improvement, the last person interviewed (PoSeR) went 8-0 on the ladder the next day after practice. Awesome? Awesome! Alas, as promised, that we would bring you weekly interviews with our members, today is the day again, when we pick up one Aspire member and interrogate them to the fullest. Today, we will talk with Adam "vVv SonTran" Son Tran.

Adam is 22 years old, comes from Sewell, New Jersey. He picked Terran as his race of choice, joining vVv as an enthusiastic, hard-working person. He also streams regulary, so make sure you do pay him some visit, you can find his stream right here, to show him the love he deserves. Without further addo, let's talk to him for a bit.

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Interview with Adam "vVv SonTran" Son Tran

Hey Adam, how are you?

"I am feeling good and feeling fine! I feel like I am ready to conquer the world! (ahem) I am doing well."

Introduction is in order. So, can you please briefly introduce yourself?

"My name is Adam Son Tran, and I am known as SonTran on Starcraft and I happily play for team "vVv Gaming". I am a friendly, loose type of person and I love to have fun as much as possible."

Thank you very much. Let's browse your history for a bit. How did you get into gaming? What other games did you play before StarCraft 2?

"I got into gaming when I was just a kid. My first gaming console I ever had was a Super Nintendo and the first game I ever played was "Megaman X". I almost had every single console and I can tell you a list of the games I play, but it'll be too long. And when I had my first computer, the first game I played was the Original Starcraft, and Starcraft: Brood War in 1998 (8 years old)."

Of course, getting to the game in the center of attention - StarCraft 2. How did you get into this popular RTS?

"Like I said, I always playing Starcraft: Brood War and when they announced it with Dustin Browder narrating the changes, I was stoked! I pre-ordered the game from my local GameStop, and on the first day, I bought the game! I drove home with joy and I started playing the campaign but I never tried the online multiplayer because I wasn't into that. So I took the big step and tried out the game and I was really impressed, but I stunk so bad! So I searched up some videos, asked for tips, and soon enough I got better and better."

You picked up Terran as your race. Any particular reason for this choice? Mechanics, gameplay? Something else?

"I picked up Terran since Starcraft 1 because of the connection with the human race. We all depend on ranged weapons and explosives, so I feel a connection in how we should engage the enemy, or which type of weapons we have in the arsenal. My favorite units are the Ghosts and Siege Tanks. Mechanics and gameplay wise is that I love how the Terran race has all of these variations! It's like going into a Super Store, so much to choose from and so many options! And also, not only because they are variable, I also chose Terran because of Lim Yo-Hwan (SlayerS_BoxER)."

What do you believe is your biggest weakness in StarCraft 2?

"My biggest weakness in Starcraft 2 is that..I feel a bit "intimidated" when playing against someone. There are times in which I get scared to do drops in their main bases and take out some tech structures because i feel that if I were to do a drop, they would either deny it right away, or send a huge force and take out mine waiting at home. Also my macro tends to slip at times when I'm heavily concentrating on how to engage the enemy. My worst matchup is TvZ because the Zerg is just so mobile that I become afraid to actually move out."

And, on the opposite scale of the spectrum, what do you think is your biggest strength when it comes to StarCraft 2?

"I have excellent micro, and I know which units to build to counter the army of my opponents. Also I love to do some "guerilla warfare" by hiding some units in spots. So when my enemy attacks, I can have a huge arc and destroy the army. My decision making is fairly good when playing against certain matchups and my favorite matchup to play in is TvT. If I am not being pressured and I'm calm, my opponents are going to see a world full of hurt heading towards them."

You've been part of vVv Gaming for a while. What would you tell everyone about your experience with us?

"It's an awesome feeling being part of this team. It's like a second family! I love how when people from the team tune into my stream and we all have laughs, serious conversations on improving myself, etc., and it's really heartwarming. If you haven't tried to join vVv, I suggest you do. We all love and tolerate each other too damn much!"

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What were your thoughts and feelings, when you were invited to vVv's Aspire team? Tell me about it.

"I felt completely honored when I was added to Aspire. I feel that this is my chance to prove to everyone on how I really want to improve myself and go for pro at MLGs, IPLs, Dreamhacks, HSCs, and possibly the GSL! (Hey! like what Day[9] said "If you want to do something with E-Sports, just do it!")"

There are always sacrifices needed, if you want to truly commit to something. Here at Aspire, we ask for a dedication well beyond the casual players. How do you feel about that?

"I feel that this is needed for any team you join. Dedication shows how much you want to become this certain person you have in your mind. if you don't have the dedication then where are you going then? I'm always willing to give my 120% (and more) to my support, hard work, and dedication here to the Aspire team and my fellow teammates."

What are your expectations from the team? Have we disappointed you in any way so far?

"My expectations from the team is that we will become this strong force of nature and we will become better than what we already are. So far, there has not been any dissappointment. Practices are always fun and educational, we have a good time in the Mumble chat. I just love it!"

Tell me, where do you see yourself in a year from now on, as a player and a person?

(laughs) "I hope to see myself winning a GSL! But all in seriousness, I see myself as a player that people can look up to. All of my friends and family are giving me a lot of support and fandom that I actually need at the moment and it just warms my heart that they know that I can go far in becoming a player. I just hope I don't let anyone down but so far they see me as a hero."

What other activities besides StarCraft 2 do you engage in? Other passions, hobbies you may have?

"I work at a sweatshop in my father's company (JOKE!). Besides Starcraft 2, I like to play other games and hang out with my friends playing some Airsoft. Airsoft is fun until you get shot where you don't have protection (for example, your pant's leg goes up and you get shot in the shin T_T)."

We are going to wrap this little interview up. Your chance for last shoutouts, mentions. StarCraft 2 players do have fans, so, you know, something for them? (grins)

"I would like to thank my family (mom, dad, sister, grandma, etc.) for all of the support. I also want to thank my fans and team vVv for the support and knowledge as well. And... (laughs really loud) I would like to thank everypony for showing me the discovery of friendship and kicking butt in Ponycraft!" (I am a brony btw, and I have fans from the Brony Community)"

BabyToss

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With our own vVv Gaming launching the StarCraft Aspire, it is time to get deeper into this little project of ours and first, and foremost, meet the members of the Aspire itself. With this little series of mine, I'll be bringing up individual members and coaches of the Aspire, questioning them a little, so we can get to know them better, what their motivations and goals are and so much more.

This week, I'm bringing up Chris "vVv PoSeR" Clauson up for the interrogation. In short, Chris is a Protoss player, he is 27 years old and comes from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He joined vVv Gaming just recently, but that doesn't matter at all. Let's talk to him for a bit.

Interview with Chris "vVv PoSeR" Clauson

Hi Chris, how are you?

"I'm great!~ Super excited about joining the vVv family!"

Could you briefly introduce yourself?

"Well my name is Chris. I m 27 years old and live in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I have a gf(pretty much wife) named Sarah and a 5 years old son named Emerson. I own a bar not too far from home. So between the family and business keeps me pretty busy. But I always find time to get my games in."

Thank you. You and games. It's the usual question I always ask. So, tell me, are you a gamer by heart or StarCraft 2 is your first one? Tell me about it.

"I would definetly say that I am a gamer at heart. But my passion for gaming has always come from startcraft. I started playing Brood war when I was 12yrs old back in 98. Have been waiting for Starcraft 2 to come out every since. In that long wait for sc2 to come out, I played WoW with real life friends to pass time."

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Another question, which I must ask you. How did you get into StarCraft 2?

"Like I said before, I had been waiting for this game to come out FOREVER. I played the beta as soon as that came out. Then on release day I went to my local gamespot at midnight and got it right away. Me and my buddies pulled an all night playing it for hours and hours."

You picked up my favourite race to play (grins). Why did you end up playing Protoss in particular? Were it the mechanics, which appealed to you, the style, which the race utilizes? Something completely else? Just tell us, don't hold your breath.

"I m not totally sure why I picked Toss to play. In BroodWar I was a B+ zerg, but I guess playing the beta and seeing the warpgates really caught my eye."

Of course, we can't forget mentioning our very own team. How did you get to the idea of joining vVv Gaming? Some people join to meet new people, some people seek improvement, some others just want more practice partners. What were your motivations before you were invited to the Aspire team?

"I used to play Brood war with Rocker (Colbey). I was on a team w/ Incontrol, Idra, Clawson, Jiang and Artist (Colbey). So when I seen that Rocker joined vVv it really spiked my interest. I asked him how I could join and he guided me to applying. I know he is no longer with vVv, but I have really grown to love the community. Also it has a very impressive history with a lot of different games."

Aspire Team, what was your first reaction and thoughts, when you got invited to firstly very unnanounced and "secret" project?

"I was super excited. It is exactly what I am looking for. I want a good atmosphere to practice in so that I can use my full potential. Then reading all the details about the Aspire team, seemed very extensive and perfect for making me (and team) a better player."

Of course, now that you know what we are all about, with all the details, teammates and stuff like that revealed, can you tell me your current thoughst on the team?

"All I can say is that I'm super excited. Got to meet a lot of the players last night b4 the town meeting. They all seem like really cool and Good Manner guys. A lot of different skill ranges, that should help us all to compete."

There are always expectations. So, what are yours? What do you hope to achieve with the team and with yourself, in regards to your personal growth, as well as StarCraft 2 growth?

"My expectations of the team is to be able to get a lot of good practice in. Find partners of each race to be able to play with and work out builds and weakeness. If anyone ever needs my help or coaching I am always willing to help. But I find the best way to get better is just play."

StarCraft 2 again. A good SC2 player must be able to assess himself/herself. What do you see as your biggest weakness and why? And naturally, what do you think is your biggest strenght in terms of StarCraft 2 gameplay? Elaborate on this for us a bit.

"My biggest weakness is definetly my PvT. I have a good understanding of the mechanics of the game. Sometimes I just dont execute them as well as I know I can. Finding the best spot to engage and best time to engage is definetly a weakness of mine. My biggest strength is my passion for the game. I ve been playing BW/sc2 for a long time and I still love playing it as much as I did when i was 12yrs old."

Your goals in the upcoming year?

"My first goal is to make Grand Master. From there I would like to play in a lot of tournaments and place high. Not sure if it will be this year, not sure when the next MLG is close, but I would really like to attend one of those and play."

Besides StarCraft 2, what is it, what you enjoy doing? Your hobbies, other passions?

"I really enjoy spending time with my family. Playing Soccer with my son, and softball with my gf. We do a lot of camping where I can take the kid trouting fishing, swimming, minigolf and the list goes on. I m also a huge sports fan. I love watching anything sports. Packers, Brewers, Bucks, Badgers, any of the wisconsin teams. Fantasy Football I love!~ So Hopefully we can get a vVv league going."

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Chris & his family.

Last one! Any shoutouts, mentions? You know, to your fans, friends. Anything. I'll be nice and won't censor you. Maybe. (laughs)

"I want to give a shoutout to Rocker. I know he isnt part of the team anymore, but thx so much for giving me the confidence to join vVv. I also want to thank Jerry for

accepting me into the vVv Family, it means a lot. Then a special thanks to BabyToss. Without her, this Aspire team would not exist!"

BabyToss

Published on Thursday, 22 June 2012 01:08 | Written by BabyToss

Finally sitting down to write down for a bit. I would like to share my experience from Dreamhack Summer & my participation in StarCraft 2's Eizo Open tournament. Now, some quick facts, before I even get to the whole thing. First of all, this was my first international event. I've never had chance to compete in an international offline event before. This is why there were many unknown factors for me in there, I'll go more in depth about that in the write-up itself.

Second - the first part of my write-up will be purely from my personal view, as a player and participant, the other part of this will cover more summarised review as to how I felt Dreamhack was like, in terms of organization and stuff.

DreamHack - Being the player!

The trip, Day 1

My trip to Dreamhack was long. I didn't fly there, as obviously, the expanses would be even bigger. I had the opportunity to travel along with the fellow Czech people, who are part of the biggest Czech e-Sport club/Team, also known as team eSuba. Needs to be said I had to wake up really damn early in the morning, which I oh so much love, as every nerd. However, I felt this opportunity was well worth the hassle. So, packing my stuff day before, I was all set and ready to go on Friday, 15th June, to arrive at the meeting point with my fellow Czech friends. Me being "lucky" as always, the weather was incredibly hot, despite of whole week's raining before. Some cursing occured, as there's nothing worse than train full of people breathing at you while the damn hot ball on the sky is burning like mad. That awfulness took around three hours, until I arrived at the actual meeting point. Meeting and greeting ocurred, nothing really special there; I'm quite sure that my dear readers are not even interested in reading that. We were supposed to set off towards Sweden past noon, but some people got delayed, so we headed towards our destination three hours later. We had two cars capable of containing at least 8 people, and I was lucky to go in the bigger one with less people.

I'm generally easily bored and I need some sort of stimulus for my mind to stay focused. You can imagine my mind going all crazy, when I just briefly touched the thought of me finally travelling to Dreamhack. I can't deny that it was one of the most anticipated events in my life. My love for StarCraft 2 and the game becoming part of my life, it all was there, and I was going to be on one of the biggest festivals on the whole damn world. Nothing else mattered for me, not even the fact I'm so damn shy person in real life. Opportunities like that don't come easily to me, so my excitement was probably similar to a kid's happiness while in a candy store. Or a kid looking forward to Christmas. Or a Zerg seeing that their Protoss didn't wall off their friggin ramp, so they can just six pool and laugh like maniacs afterwards. Take your pick. So, based on that mindset, I just needed something to occupy myself with. That, or just sleep over the damn trip. Eventually, I just listened to my music, my mind being completely elsewhere, mostly imagining myself already being on Dreamhack, which had me to fall asleep few times along the way. It's very easy for me to sleep in the car, somehow, I find traveling very soothing and I just fade into mild sleep easily.

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All nature, food and whatever breaks were like pain in the ass. Really. As they prolonged the time which it'd take for us to finally arrive to Dreamhack. I knew I'd be willing to starve just to be there as quick as possible. I also missed my ol' good StarCraft 2 fix, but I'm not gonna admit that without torture. Oh, I just did? Whatever! These are not the droids you are looking for.

All the waiting was gone after roughly 18 hours of travel, including the 2 hour wait for the ferry boat and 2 hours trip with that thing. Not a fan of sea travel, my stomach usually gets upset.. although this time I somehow didn't pay attention to that. There was more at stake, more on my mind. Too much excitement. Dreamhack was in front of me and I knew that time of personal test of courage was getting closer and closer, each passing minute.

The tournament, Day 2

Of course, I have to mention my participation in StarCraft 2's EIZO Open tournament. Dear reader should know, that I'm not too confident person and in fact, I am very anxious and shy personality. It's easy to present myself on the internet, as there's so much anonymity, so there's even place for awkward people like me. Granted, I always do my best to behave at my best, to present myself and my team in the best possible lights, but, when it comes to real life contacts, I just don't cope too well. I want to point out, that I knew, that this participation in the tournament was going to be a huge test for that, as well as experience for me, which would eventually help me in the long run to overcome these issues. I often talk about StarCraft 2 being my personal quest to not only become a good player & role model, but also a quest to become a stronger, better person as a whole. These were to become one of the most tough proving grounds, but I didn't know that yet. I felt my stomach grumbing, as my feet stomped on the Dreamhack's venue for the first time.

There were some issues by the enterance, as I was supposed to get a press pass & player pass but apparently didn't get either right after I arrived. It took some time to even find out I needed a player band and the staff mostly didn't know about that either. This is where the organization was lacking and you can imagine me becoming all frustrated after running around the venue like a fool, trying to find out how things were. One hour later, I finally got all the correct bands, my left hand looking like a Christmas tree with an event pass, press pass & player pass (funnily enough labelled as "pro-gamer", now it's official, kids!), but I was content with all the organization things being in order now. I brought along my laptop for the event, because I thought this was going to be a regular BYOC tournament and I'd be playing my games hidden in the BYOC arena. I couldn't be more mistaken!

I knew my group since Thursday. I knew who I was going to face and I even knew that facing one of these people would be maybe harder than facing Hero from Team Liquid and Merz from Team Dignitas. One person off my group was a friend of mine, also a Protoss player. For me, facing a friend, that was something unknown to me before and it just felt off and out of place. However, I still knew I would have to give it my best. My games were set to start at 6pm local time and I was told we would be playing at the designated Tournament area, so I'd need to bring my keyboard, mouse, mousepad and headset a half hour before start. This was admittedly the big shocker for me. Like I said, I thought that I'd be playing my games in the BYOC arena, hence why I brought my gaming laptop along. These stations also had a huge monitor at the top so the people wouldn't have to breathe on player's necks behind them, while playing. I could feel my heart pounding and my stomach doing really odd things by just thought that people could see my games if they really wanted. The fear was creeping out and I thought that if I knew about that particular thing, I'd probably not sign up for the tournament. Part of me wanted to slap myself for that thought, but my worries were too strong. As the time was nearing, these feelings were becoming stronger and stronger. Each single minute passed felt like an eternity. I knew I couldn't back down, not now, when I got so far and comitted to this. It'd be disgrace not only for myself, but also for my team, wouldn't it? My good friend always reminds me that to be brave doesn't mean absence of fear, but the ability to face it. With that, I was set on doing this, despite of all the difficulties. But I won't lie; it was not becoming any easier for me.

I knew I should've warm myself up with the time I was given during the setup phase. But my mind was too cornered, too afraid. I'm even ashamed to say this. Because after all, it may be hard to comprehend for many people, that I could feel so worried and out of it, just because of the game. I love the game, it's part of my life and yet, I fail to face small obstacles like that? How could I even think about becoming good? Self-doubts and berating myself in my mind, that's what I was doing, while I stepped away to throw some cold water on my face, to at least force myself to focus and calm down a bit.

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I sat down into the "chair of death" few minutes later, logging onto StarCraft 2, having bunch of people messaging me immediatelly after I came online. Some of them knew I was playing in Dreamhack, despite of me not telling them, so you can imagine me freaking out a bit. Nothing too unusual though, I couldn't be any more freaked out than I already was. The refree was by my side few more moments later, asking me which map I wanted to veto. Mumbling "Antiga Shipyard" more to myself than him, he still seemed to understand. And I was in for more surprises. I was asked by some guy, whose's name I already forgot, if I could invite them into the game, as they wished to stream my game. Can you imagine me so wanting to tell him to not do it? But how would I look like? How would vVv Gaming look like, if they had such a damn coward in their midst? Mumbling "sure", I gave in and sent the guy an invite. Wasn't the official Dreamhack caster duo, think they were from GLHF.tv.

My first opponent was a Terran player, Dignitas's Merz. Game loading, my hands all cold, my fingers numb, my heart beating as if it was a race. First game was on Daybreak. I managed to not misclick my probes. Good job! However, I misrallied my Nexus. Girl, you fail. Hands still refusing to do what I told them, I luckily noticed soon afterwards. I cannot even describe state of my mind. I was making many mistakes. It's usually called "choking" when you make mistakes you'd not normally make, but all the stress just causes you to play so much worse. Nothing feels worse than supplyblocking myself. Or even blocking my two immortals by other buildings. The tunnel vision incoming, it was so hard to focus. Writing these lines, I feel so ashamed of myself. It just should not happen like that. Mistake after mistake creeping into my play, me getting gases way too early. The brain just shut down on me. I was not thinking clearly. My build, my opening, it all was way too flawled. I cannot find words of excuse or even comfort for myself. Mere drop happened, my reactions were way too slow and I knew the game was lost anyways, my "GG" followed.

A miriad amount of feelings crossed me, I had to bite my lips to not begin crying. My friend Sophie, she was immediatelly by my side, comforting me, saying I played okay. But, it just didn't help. Nothing would help at that time. I knew I didn't give my best and I just wanted to be gone, to not know myself. It is always important for me to give my best. Therefore, it is just way too easy to blame myself when I don't. I was invited into next game, but I just wasn't ready at all, so I requested few minutes downtime. I knew my mind was way too disturbed, touched by that loss. To be realistic, I could've not take a game from him, I very well knew that, however, I wanted to fight with all I had. And, to my knowledge, I wasn't able to do that, not even remotely. That is why the weight of loss was so difficult for me to bear.

I couldn't just let them to wait for too long. I had to soldier on. Despite of my feelings. I knew that if I am to become a stronger StarCrafter and a person, I'd eventually have to face situations like that, as they serve as true test of one's preparadness and willingness to fight. So, I had them to begin the second game; this time playing on Cloud Kingdom. I was slightly calmer after Sofie spoke to me for a bit, but even in the second game, I just felt my anxiety striking, causing me to still make mistakes I shouldn't be making. It is really hard for me to write out anything positive about myself, really. If you aim to be good at something, you can't just lie down in comforting yourself. You have to be as critical of yourself as possible, in order to be able to progress further. Merz was able to beat me with two prong attack yet again, as I had no confidence nor means to defeat him. My another "GG" went up, me needing these 10 minutes of break really badly.

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My next game was supposed to be against the korean player, Liquid Hero. All of you probably know him. Most of you would probably even see it as honor to be able to play versus him, as it's something you do not gain easily with a player of his caliber. But, I didn't see it that way back then. I saw it, as if I needed to prove myself, to be able to yet again show my best. It's just how I roll. Always aiming somewhere, always trying to show that I can manage, no matter the odds. But, maybe I'm just lying to myself. Maybe it's just a wishful thinking. Is it wrong to aim somewhere? Is it wrong to want to learn, in order to grow? No matter where the road takes me? Where the end barrier should be? Where is the line between being downright harsh on myself and on trying to learn so much?

Again, the refree would come, asking me which map I wished to veto. For some odd reason I didn't veto Antiga Shipyard - yes, I just hate that map, so of course, my first game versus HerO would be on that particular map. I admit I was not too familiar with the map at all, due to me downvoting it on the ladder and never really playing on it vs my practice buddies. So yes, a handicap, added up to already existing nervousness. I'm probably really good at making stuff harder on myself, am I not...rhetoric question, dear reader, yes. Protoss versus Protoss... is it late to say that it's my least favourite matchup? All these 1 base thingies, I just don't like those. I prefer a juicy, exciting, fiercy macro game. I have yet to discover a way how to expand early in this matchup, in order to make it worth digesting. My Protoss builds are kind of messy in general, so HerO had it easy, rolling me with no effort with some ridiculous pressure I was apparently supposed to hold no problem. I gg'd out, facepalming really badly. At least these fails weren't streamed, to my and the audience's health! Finding positive here, can you see? Growing an optimist here. :)

Another game on Cloud Kingdom followed. Ever felt that you knew a cheese was coming, you scouted the base and then realized you had to make a decision, as to what kind of cheese was coming? Not scouting these things on time usually means a really miserable death. Even a Silver leaguer knows that. I know that. But, that knowledge alone didn't help me. I just wasn't in time to see what was coming and before realizing it, I had HerO's Zealots having party in my damn base. I had to smile on that one, giving HerO a "GG" with a smile sign at the end. I had nothing to lose afterwards. I knew that my next game, the game against a dear friend of mine, would be my last one in the tournament. Well, a set of games, to be precise.

The burden of fear was gone. I had nothing to lose, nothing to gain. I just wanted to play my last games with dignity. Admittedly, because my last set of games were Protoss vs Protoss yet again, I wanted to change the pace and played really greedy in the first game. Which of course didn't pay off, but I wanted to try it. My first game was therefore lost. But, I wasn't keen on just going without giving a proper fight. Not my style. I took other two games. I don't want to comment on these too much, as I do respect my friend and I do not want that friend to feel any bad. We had good games though, I can say some of these battles just had me going and they reminded me why StarCraft 2 is just so exciting and awesome game. Me and my friend shook hands in friendship, hugging each other right after the game.

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There's this sentiment of never giving up, of just going no matter of the odds, as long as you can, to have the old fashioned fun with something you love. This is the very valuable lesson for me to yet learn. To learn to relax, breathe and focus, even when the situation kicks me out of my comfort zone. That is how we learn. It's something, which the participation in this tournament gave me, even though it's something I have to constantly remind myself of. I hope to take more courage with me from this and that this courage would be growing with every single game played. I don't care how many tears I'll shed, I don't care how many hours, days or even years it'll take. A wise friend of mine always tells me "Anything worth having is worth fighting for." By that, I am trying to live day by day.

Shoutouts & thanks!

I met many awesome people. Ferry "Darkomicron" van de Pol, Sophie "Sophie" Yngman, who was truly helpful when it comes to mindset and helping me overcoming the really rough spots. Caroline "Guilly" Danielsson, a friend of mine, who is of a kind heart and always so cheerful, Tobias "OneStep" SÖRLING, a fellow Protoss player, who has endless amount of courage and I'd like to have at least bits of that. I can't forget mentionimg some of the famous personalities, like Liquid Ret, who even greeted me and told me he remembered me. Although it still beats me how he could remember me, as I never really met him before? Maybe he was just mistaken. I also met Liquid's HerO and TaeJa. Then there's Aleksey "WhiteRa" Krupnyk, who has really special place in my heart. He is a true role model and an awesome player. I aspire to be like him, in my own way.

I know following people weren't with me on Dreamhack, but a special mention goes to Allen Rulo, who is an old friend of mine, always trusting in me, always supporting me and always pushing me forward, then to Fraser Bedwell, who is also a good, old friend of mine, always cheering on me, always giving me good laughs and odd jokes. Can't forget mentioning Ryan Rushia & Rob Feeley, who were an inspiration to me, and who taught me a lot about StarCraft 2 and myself, and last but not least, my mom, husband and son, whom I truly love and without them, I'd never really aim anywhere, as I'd not find worth in myself. Thank you for all. I won't let you down.

I also have to thank my team, vVv Gaming for having me in their midst. I hope that one day, I can make you proud with this passion of mine. I know I'll be trying.

Dreamhack - the overall experience

The venue itself was huge. It's really easy to get lost there, especially if you are there for the first time. A lot of the staff crew in place had no idea about the very basic things like as to where the "sleep area" is. That is kind of disturbing. I mean, nobody expects people to know every thing, but there should be basic outlines as to what the staff crew should know. Things like where to sleep should be among those. But, that's just me. I feel like when you are tired, you shouldn't need to spend another hour running across the venue, packed with sleeping accessories, tired from previous day, only to try and find out where exactly you are supposed to rest your physical body.

I mentioned this issue with having the correct ID bands as well - this should be a non issue, especially if you ask at the Info booth. These people had no idea. I had to talk to an admin from some other booth to be able to get the correct informations and corresponding ID bands and that too took quite a lot of unnecessary hassle. However, to the defence of that kind lady, who heled me, she was truly forthcoming and helpful, once I explained her what my problem was. I didn't even have to wait in that huge queue, as she realized that this was a mistake done by the enterance crew and I really shouldn't be paying for that.

The tournament refrees seemed to be considerate and knowledgeable of the game. That is always a plus. Nothing worse than having some sort of guy, who has no idea what's going on and they just happen to be there.

The BYOC arena is not really any good. The tables are way too high and the chair, I just slumped too deep, so if I really wanted to play, my hands would be all broken oddly. I know I am just a midget, but I still think that this could be handled somewhat better. Not to mention that the table space you are alotted. I could barely fit in there. The event like DreamHack should have it really better than some unnamed LAN here in Czech republic, where I have much more space for myself, my laptop and its accessories. On the plus side, the whole venue didn't feel all "breath out", the air was fairly breathable and the temperature was just good enough to not have a headache.

The tournament area was overall a good idea. You got enough space for your own equipment (mouse, mousepad, keyboard, headset) and you also got enough time during the setup to get comfortable with the settings and set your own if you truly wished to. The organizators should really keep this trend up, it was a good thing.

Last thing - Massage for the players - awesome, I didn't want to go, but I did in the end, after my friend pushed me to do it - so, again, awesome! :)

Epilogue

There are lessons to be learnt, in everything we do in life. Dreamhack, at least for me, happened to be that kind of event. I think, it made me stronger, even if it may be only by a bit. Some of my readers may even ask why do I do all of this. And I already explained that, on several ocassions. I may be a "small" player today. Worried, not having confidence in myself, struggling with myself, but having a big heart for what I do. Rob Clotworthy, a voice-actor, who voiced Jim Raynor once told me a wise thing - "There are no small players. Every journey begins with one step.", and I believe, after looking back, that he is right. We all have to take small steps to grow. If we expect ourselves to run straight away before learning to walk, or heck, before learning to crawl for the first time, we will of course trip and hurt ourselves. I admit I am good at that. I struggle at objectively judging myself. I struggle with finding positive stuff about myself and my games. But I know, more than ever, that this is what I love doing and I am not going anywhere. If I could, I'd attend Dreamhack again. Heck, If I had the money & opportunity, I'd subject myself to the Poland's StarCraft 2's Training house "Ministry of Win" for a month or two, despite of being a shy nimwit, a training house, which I heard have really rigorous training regimen, just to focus on my passion and overcome myself. I know I have to fight for what I love. Right now, I am my worst enemy. I'm going to be facing myself more than anything else.

Who knows. I certainly do not know what the future holds. The only thing I know, is that the community, StarCraft 2 and this whole journey of self-improvement, learning and growth is going to be awesome. We don't enjoy just the end goal. The journey itself is what is making this so exciting for me.

I'm not going anywhere. That is a promise.

BabyToss

Published on Thursday, 14 June 2012 23:32 | Written by BabyToss

My habit of randomly (ok, ok, not so randomly) picking up interesting StarCraft 2 personalities is not going anywhere, if dear readers were wondering why the little me was quiet for some time. I've been focusing on some stuff behind the scenes as well as on my preparations for DreamHack. Alas, enough of me, I'm bringing you yet another small venture out, meeting awesome personality, this time a member of compLexity Gaming; maybe not the one in the front lines at the moment, but a compeling, interesting personality nonetheless - a Protoss player us.gifRyan Rushia, also known as coLRyan.

Why picking Ryan Rushia over someone who's been tearing up recent tournaments? I admit it's for the first time, when it's really, really difficult for me to stay completelly level-headed and unbiased, as Ryan's been a good friend of mine for most of my SC2 'career', however, his warm, friendly personality is one of a kind and he is a perfect example of the fact, that a good player is made of more than just game skills. A good player is defined by their personality as well. That is why and I intend to keep this trend in my "Personality Spotlight" series.

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Ryan Rushia is 23 years old, coming from New Hampshire, and upon first meeting you get to see a smiling, cheerful personality. There's this positive vibe around him, not afraid to show his passion for something, if there's some. An open-minded, witty and incredibly funny guy; that is Ryan Rushia for you in a nutshell.

Of course, Ryan is quite capable StarCraft 2 player as well. His career started back in SC2 Beta and he certainly wasn't without achievements. For these, he was later on noticed by compLexity Gaming and joined the team. Besides these qualities, Ryan is an entertainer. He enjoys making fun for people. When streaming, you'll certainly have a reason to smile, or laugh even. His stream's signature music is, how he calls it "girly-manly music" - so beware of that, it may be a repelent for some of you.. heck, even I can't stand listening to that... sorry Ryan . His personality is welcoming and his laugher contagious.

Ryan's huge passion is teaching. That is why he recently finished his studies, that is why we've not seen him tearing it apart on StarCraft 2 much, and that is why he is going to travel to Italy in August of this year, to pursue a career of teacher. The same passion also led to him to being one of the most capable coaches I've have the honours to see in StarCraft 2. He knows the art of teaching and his real-life knowledge nicely interwines with his StarCraft 2 knowledge and his ability to pass it down to others. There's this genuine helpful personality of his coming on the surface.

Ryan is not afraid of talking with the community. In fact, he interacts with the community on daily basis. You can see him still being the entertainer, attending BarCrafts and still keeping general interest in StarCraft 2. Not to spoil anything, but there's this little birdy, who told me that Ryan is going to be rekindling his SC2 skills, to put them in further use in the near future too. You heard it here first, more in the coming interview!

You can follow Ryan Rushia on Twitter, to know when he streams and for your amusement & follow his stream - You won't be bored with him for a bit.

And as always, my interrogation abilities are put to test, in a short interview with Ryan Rushia about StarCraft 2, life and the man himself.

INTERVIEW WITH RYAN RUSHIA

Hi Ryan, happy to have you - And as always, an introduction is in order, there may be people who are not familiar with you, so briefly introduce yourself. You know, what your name is, and all that stuff. You can begin... now!

"Hello! My name is Ryan Rushia, and I play for compLexity.Starcraft 2 team as “coL.Ryan.” I am a recent Master’s Degree graduate from the Univ. of New Hampshire, with a focus in Elementary Education. I have been gaming for my whole life, and have been blessed to have something come of it!"

Thank you, Ryan. Some jump into the past before we move on - you and gaming. I know you used to play WarCraft 3, a common ground for many SC2 players, so maybe you could tell me a little about that? How succesful you were, you know, whatever comes into your mind and feel like sharing?

"I played Warcraft 3 on a semi-professional level as a member of the (at the time) top-level USA Team “Team Skynet” as OwnagE[skynet] for several years, and I played competitively for team “Knights of Cydonia” as KoC.13.LadyLuck (Yes KoC), which won several prestigious American leagues, and competed internationally against European teams. I ended Warcraft 3 when SC2 came out, and was a player-manager for “Team Pokeroff,” A Russian-based organization that the well-known player Empire.Kas played for. Individually, I was in several solo leagues, but was always a middle-of-the-road player, never acquiring much notice. I was recognized usually because of how long I had been in the scene for."

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What is your gaming background? Which games you used to play besides WarCraft 3 and which one was the most influential for you?

"I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been a fan of fantasy/RPG games, but my true love lied with RTS genre, and was totally AGAINST BroodWar for a longgggg time (Probably earned some haters right there!) as I wasn’t a fan of the futuristic genre. However, that all changed when I got a beta key for SC2."

This is about StarCraft 2 personality, so of course, we are going to talk about StarCraft! *grins* The first, common but necessary question - How did you get into StarCraft 2 and why did you pick Protoss in particular?

"I acquired a beta key through a professional WC3 friend way back at the beginning, and played it simply because it was provided for me; I had no intention of playing it much as I was still into WC3 back then. However, I enjoyed the game WAY more than expected, and instantly fell in love with Protoss, as it reminded me of Orc, the race I played in Warcraft 3."

Transition from WarCraft 3 into StarCraft 2 - how difficult was the transition for you? Easy? Struggling? What was the most difficult part of transition for you?

"I’ve always been lucky enough (I believe) to have a slight natural understanding of RTS games. I played all of the Age of Empires games, and Warcraft 1 through 3 growing up, and was pretty proficient in them without much practice. Starcraft 2, however, was a game that took a lot of adaptation, especially after having played WC3 for so long. The entire mentality was different. Even still, I find myself heavily favoring micro-oriented playstyles, and clearly my macro play tends to slip. That being said, I’ve always loved the entirety of SC2, so it’s been a welcome shift in mentality."

So tell me Ryan, what is your most proud moment in StarCraft 2? It doesn't even have to be a high placing in a tournament, as it may happen that sometimes we are not exactly proud of ourselves, despite of winning. Just tell me about something, which has a high value for you as a person, something you are really proud of?

"My most proud moment individually was receiving a personal invite to MLG D.C. in the first season of SC2, where it was still a much smaller tournament. My most proud team moment was winning ESEA over EG (twice) with the Pre-ROOT compLexity squad; we were the heavy underdogs but took EG out twice 3-1 and 3-1 in Upper finals and Grand Finals to take the season!"

Downsides. These are always here, so we have to look at the opposite side of the coin as well. What was your biggest letdown during your SC2 career? Something, which made you particulary sad? Anything you'd want to do differently in order to change it? Tell me about it.

"My biggest let down personally would have to be my practice habits and time. I’ve always been a player that loves to compete, but puts in less practice time than I’v been able to due to work and outside obligations. As some of you know I took a hiatus from the game to focus on my Master’s Degree, but I would like to get back into the scene and compete at Dreamhack Winter, when I’m living in Europe."

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There are many people who "plan" to "go pro" and make elaborate posts about that, you can see these posts on Teamliquid nearly every day. What it was like for you? Did it just happen that you were good or you actually wanted to reach the top, to become a professional in StarCraft 2?

"What I find to be humorous, and which some people don’t tend to believe, is that I never went into SC2 trying to go pro. It was merely a byproduct of how much I played. I LOVE SC2, I love playing, and I love the competition and drive I get from playing. Losing in practice or on ladder has never been something that I care about, ortry to avoid, so I’ve always been able to avoid “rage-quitting” or reacting differently after having lost a game. I’m very proud of my personal mentality regarding the game, as the simple act of losing seems to prevent so many players from improving. Obviously at one point I realized I had acquired skill on my own, so I looked to form relationships with other teams and high-level players to continue my growth."

You are currently part of compLexity Gaming, a renown team, which has developed quite a lot in the past year. Can you tell me a little about how did they find you and how did you feel about being picked up by a professional team? What did it mean for you as a player and a person?

"CompLexity Gaming is an amazing organization. I was a CS 1.6 fan of them WAY back in the day, so it’s a personal dream come true to be part of their team. Back in SC2 beta I was part of a group called “Team NOVA” with members Antimage, Stalife, RSVP, Firezerg, Ganon, and several others. We were a group of friends that formed a team with our player manager Brett to compete in smaller American tournaments that were forming. Brett did all of the work, he was an incredible manager, and scored us a shot with compLexity. At the time, we were a respected team but not one that was considered a top-level team, so compLexity took a gamble picking us up. However, only a few weeks after getting signed we won the ESEA season, which helped cement our place there. As a player, they’ve been an incredible support for my development as a player and in understanding the eSports team better. I’m incredibly happy here, they’ve continued to support and respect me even in my time where my schooling and work took priority over eSports."

Being on a professional team is a commitment and not just "playing games", contrary to popular belief. What did change for you, when you joined compLexity? What did you learn from this experience? Tell me about your experience with compLexity.

"I have never had a negative experience regarding compLexity or by being a professional player. Haters come and go, but the fans and friends I’ve made through it have lasted over the years, and will continue to do so, which I’m incredibly grateful for. Joining compLexity took weight off of my teammate’s and my shoulders, as we are able to practice solely on gaming."

What is your most memorable moment with compLexity? Share the best one with us, why it does it matter for you?

"I can’t choose one most memorable moment, as every time I hang out with my teammates at MLG’s it keeps getting better and better. If I had to pick, being with my teammates at MLG Grand Finals Providence has got to have been the best experience so far for me."

You used to coach StarCraft 2 quite a lot. Let's talk about that for a while. There are many coaches out there, who offer their services, either for free or for ol' good bucks, but frankly, not many realize that teaching something, no matter what, requires more than just a stamp "Grandmaster". What do you think, is what makes a good StarCraft 2 coach?

"A good Starcraft 2 coach has to be able to explain what they do. A GREAT Starcraft 2 coach has to verbalize and teach it so that the student fully understands what is going on, rather than simply repeating words verbatim back and following instruction. It pains me to see coaches saying “okay now build pylon, okay now build gateway” and so on, as it is only a short-term benefit. When I coach, I strive to change the player mentality of my student, as well as providing them with knowledge and skills that they can continue to develop on their own long after the lesson has ended."

What gave you the idea to actually coach others in StarCraft 2 in the first place? By the time you picked this effort up, the whole coaching thing seemed to be in it boom and there were plenty coaches out there. What do you think was, what made your teaching style unique, compared to others?

"I used to coach and help out my struggling friends for free, and have had a natural affinity to it (considering I’m a teacher in real life!). They recommended that I should broaden my search and begin to charge for it, which is what I did, and had reasonable success with it. I was asked to be part of a well-known coaching organization, but it conflicted sponsor-wise, so was unable to follow through with it. That being said, I was rather successful coaching independently. I think my (what I think at least) welcoming personality and ability to work with all level of players draws students to me."

What do you think is the hardest aspect of StarCraft 2 to teach to a student and why?

"I know this one easily. That losing a game isn’t the end of the world, and that getting better takes time. People get frustrated without immediate results, or are tooafraid to ladder because they don’t want to lose. Frankly, no one of worth cares about your win/loss rate on ladder, with the exception of maybe one Blizzard event a year. Unless you are THAT HIGH up the ladder that you are even capable of getting an invite, the ladder is merely a tool for practice."

Any memorable moments during coaching your students? Tell me about them.

"I haven’t had a specific memorable moment that’s worth mentioning, but what I’d have to say is ALWAYS amazing to hear is that click in a student’s mind when they all of a sudden GET what you are saying, and are a better player for it."

As a teacher & former StarCraft 2 coach - what do you think is the most important aspect of StarCraft 2 that you'd put before anything else?

"This answer is different regarding the race you play, but I think the willingness to accept a loss is incredibly important. Mechanics-wise, as a very passive, reactive Protoss player myself, I believe that scouting as Protoss is incredibly undervalued and used."

Moving onto yet another topic - You are moving to Italy in August, where you will work as a teacher. What do you hope to learn from this experience and what do you look forward to the most?

"I am looking forward to competing at Dreamhack Winter woohoo! Beyond that, my move to Italy is a chance to travel and see the world, while still doing what I love."

Speaking of Italy, and here, your StarCraft 2 fans holding their breath now, because this is a question they all would like to have answered from you - Any plans in regards to you and your StarCraft 2 future? Planning to make a comeback? And if so, in which form? Playing, coaching, making content for the community? Just tell me, can't hold the breath for much longer, Ryan!

"I actually just started playing and streaming again recently. I used to be a pretty popular streamer, but obviously as I stopped playing my popularity has died. I want to train to compete at Dreamhack Winter, as I’ve already stated, as well as MLG events on my return. That being said, I want a full return where I’m a better player than I was before."

Me and my interrogations. Just endure for a little while longer. Of course, I want you to tell me what your other hobbies are, as we are not only live by StarCrafting... well, some of us! (winks) Any other games you enjoy playing? Anything you love doing in your free time?

"I’m a huge soccer (football) fan, so currently my life has been work, starcraft, EuroCup 2012! I have a very good Brasilian friend I’ve known forever during WC3 years, and are hoping to stay with him during the next World Cup :)"

Obligatory question - your plans for the coming year? Goals, wishes, dreams?

"I don’t like to set goals as daily things can upset them, but my wish is to become a strong, recognized player in the SC2 scene again."

Time to let you breath a little. Thank you for your time, Ryan, it's always a pleasure to talk to you. Any last shoutouts, anything else you'd like to say? Anything, really, not going to censor you, promise! (winks)

"Huge shoutout to compLexity Gaming, my teammates, and our sponsors Creative Sound Blaster, QPAD, Gamma Gamers, Origin, and Crash the System! Beyond that, huge thanks to my ever-so-supporting girlfriend Sarah that always has my back regarding my gaming and nerd habits :). Thanks so much for the interview Jana!"

BabyToss

Published on Wednesday, 23rd May 2012 00:29 | Written by BabyToss

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We all use them. Well, most of us. We want to keep in touch with the gaming world. We also want to share our own thoughts and ideas, to shout them out to the world. Yes, talking here about social media, such as Facebook or Twitter. To those, who are part of prominent teams, that is even a must thing, in order to be able to promote their brand and themselves, to attract even wider audience. Howewer, there are many ways of doing it, and not all are exactly the best, or even correct way of doing it. I'm going to talk about Twitter specifically, in this particular rant of mine. So, be seated, take a deep breath, because I'm going to be blunt about this.

Followers, following and you.

It's always important to be able to make a positive influence. To have colourful ideas and interests. You have to be able to attract your audience somehow, without being obnoxious about it. I've seen it at least million times, when people literally beg to gain followers on Twitter. That is so wrong on so many levels. To be frank, nobody is going to follow someone, who can't really attract their audience, and even if they do, there's a big chance an unfollow will follow, because people want to read interesting stuff. Be personable, simply be a personality. Write about your interests and build a community around that. That will give you a healthy level of followers, who will actually read your content. Don't be just a dry person. Have people relate to you. Inspire them. Show them your dreams, passions, goals.

For example - My main focus and interests go around StarCraft 2. So, logicaly, my content goes a lot around that topic. But also, I actively look for expanding my overview, searching for interesting personalities, who have something catchy to say. I often follow people with similar goals and dreams to mine.

Make sure you do communicate with your followers. Make sure you communicate with the people you follow. Get out there. Be a personality, and yes, stressing that again. You can build an awesome community of people, who have the same interests, motivations, dreams, wishes.

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Retweet button, don't be a tool while using it...

Retweeting and you

How upsetting it can be, when whole your timeline gets flooded with irrelevant retweets? Everything comes with moderation, and so does retweeting. Think about what you retweet. Don't just mash up that retweet button as if your life depended on that. Think of your audience, your followers. Are they going to be interested in that? Generally, to keep things interesting, support your interests, because if you follow the step one and build your audience around your own interests, there's a big chance they will want to read your retweets, thus leading to them widening their own areas, maybe gaining some more informations about their (similar) area of interests.

I've seen people retweeting all sort of stuff, even these so-called 'follow me, I follow you back', repeating it as if they lacked any resemblence of reason. This is not a way how to gain proper followers. This is a way how to gain something, which I refer to as 'Twitter Sheeps'. They collect followers, you often see them following thousands of people, having around thousand of followers. But, humour me - do you really think these people actually read what the people they follow tweet about? No frickin way! It's literaly impossible to keep up with that many people. Besides, these kinds of 'follower hunters' are rarely interested in what the others have to say, they just find an odd pleasure in having a high number of followers on their account and you should see that face, when that number drops a bit.

To bottomline it - retweet, but think about what and how often you retweet things. Retweet stuff, which is relevant to your interests and interests of your audience. I'm not going to retweet stuff about say, women's fashion, because I am not interested in the slightest about that, and neither is my audience. Same goes for the games and genres I don't really partake in, as there's high probability my followers wouldn't be interested in that either.

I make sure to retweet interesting things happening in my team, because I of course want to get them out there, but even then, I make conscious choices on what I retweet, so there's also big chance that my followers will read it and that it may get them interested. Because in the end, that is the main purpose of retweeting and promoting something - to get your followers interested in it, so, again, emphasis on the content to be interesting both for you and them. think of it as a commercial - sure, you get these obnoxious, generic ones on the TV, but when you come to gaming convention on LAN, what do you see? Brands, which are connected to that. Focused commercials, on specific group of people, with specific interests.

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If you are like this - There's big chance you are doing it wrong...

Few last words

Nowadays, Twitter has become a mainstream thing. Major companies have it, politics have it, actors have it. I want all of you to just stop and think for a while, why are you using Twitter. What do you hope to do with it and how. The 'how' part is kind of key, as it may either make you an obnoxious presence within the network, who gains little to no followers or you can really build an awesome group of people around you. I also want to say, that quantity doesn't mean everything. In fact, quality over quantity, always. especially if you are trying to get out there, to promote yourself and your team. Some may argue with that point, that the more followers you have, the more exposure you get, but, refer to the point about 'Twitter Sheeps', who basically don't give a damn about what you talk about, as long as their follower count is high.

Think about it, and think about it hard. Especially if you are representing a brand or your team.

Good luck.

BabyToss

Published on Monday, 21 May 2012 02:51 | Written by BabyToss

Note: While an older work of mine, written on my personal website some time ago, I wanted to share this piece, as it is still very relevant. There's always a lot of crap stirred when some women appears and even openly admits she's a woman. There are so many crappy stereotypes about the gender of female or even male (I hate them with passion), which lead to mess we often see in the general public, when StarCraft 2 & women pop out on the same line. Now, I do not want to claim I know everything, so please take my following write-up as my own, personal take on the subject. In no way I claim it to be 100% true. It'll be partially my ranting, mixed up with my own assesment as to why I think we have very few women actively/competitively playing StarCraft 2, as well as to why we currently do not have a woman at the level of a professional players on professional teams.

Women & StarCraft 2 - The common problems in the community

Everyone to some degree cares as to what others think or say about them. In my experiences through the life, women tend to judge each other a lot. A lot of my female acquaintances from my earlier life just couldn't stand me, because I was different. I enjoyed other things they considered stupid. I didn't dress-up, I never was into going to discoteques, never put up a make-up, because I perceived it as waste of time. I could go on with the list as to why they saw me as 'weird'. Why am I mentioning this? Because frankly, a lot of these women wouldn't want to have anything with me, let alone try to understand me! Why? Because I was different to so-called "common standard"! Now, I never really cared for that, I just did what I enjoyed through my life, but imagine girls, who just won't do something because other women or even the society would judge them? Gaming is still in many countries seen as fun for lazy, awful people, who are at the bottom of the society. Would a girl, who cares about her reputation engage in activity she'd get ridiculed for? I don't think so!

Women are less inclined to play also because that they are often raised to be overly practical, selfless & caring to the point that they just don't have desire to do something they'd actually WANT to do, for themselves, because they'd enjoy it. It's cultural, gender roles and stereotypes crappy thing in many societies creeping into a mindset of many women. Gaming may be seen as selfish and in a way, it even is. Because of this, a lot of women just wouldn't engage in gaming - it's not "real", therefore it's useless, boring and all that. Now, don't get me wrong; being selfless and caring are very admirable traits - I do appreciate selfless & caring people, hell, a lot of my fellow SC2 friends are just like that, but it is common misconception and belief by society that gamers are completelly self-centered jerks who just 'don't have a life'. I won't get into topic as to what 'having a life' means in this particular entry, but this may as well be the underlying problem of women being so rare as gamers in general, not just in StarCraft 2. My personal belief is, this sole belief may deter woman from even trying playing games.

Appearance discussion problem - About every time a woman who plays StarCraft pops out, someone makes comments on her looks. Sooner or later, there are these snide comments, totally unrelated to the game. I mean, come on. This is what deters me personally from even bothering to admit I reside in a female body (not that it matters to me, really) in public, when I talk to someone and they refer to me as 'he'. There's no secret, that as long as people think I'm a guy, I can just enjoy the game, without getting any additional crap. Maybe some women do enjoy the additional attention they get because they are women, but I certainly do find it annoying and disturbing, when people make a difference in the way they treat me, because I happen to have my reproduction organs on the inside instead of on the outside and I am quite sure I am not the only one thinking that way!

And it goes even deeper than that. Humour me, and remember how all the female hosts on last IPL were dressed like, hmm? It comes down to words like 'slutty' or 'barbie'ish'. Women are simply reduced into being objects, to attract the male audience during these events. Again, the emphasis on their appearance is the very first thing, put on the first place before anything else. How can we make a difference, when even the major tournaments just support this crap? One of reasons why I personally even refuse to come anywhere near to the whole concept of gender is, that all the crap connected to that is just plainly unacceptable for me. It's humilitating, lacks dignity, suppresses individuality and self-respect. And before you jump on me, saying they wore 'a formal attire' - oh please. Why there's even such thing as dress code, and why women's stuff is always some sort of barbie'ish, princess, revealing crap or slutty dress? Why does the society feel the need to suppress one's individuality, dividing, labeling people as if they were jars? Wouldn't it be just enough, if we all were well-groomed, adhering to healthy level of hygiene, letting people to actually look like and behave the way they wish to (without hurting others, of course, goes without saying), regardless of all of these damned gender stereotypes?

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Women as SC2 dedicated professionals? Possible future...?

What should the community do? The answer is not simple, or to rephrase - the answer is simple, the solution is not. Currently, women in StarCraft 2 are seen as something unusual. There's no denying of that - there are still vastly more guys interested in StarCraft 2 than there are women. I believe some people just do not know how to treat a woman in mostly male-dominated enviroment, again, "thanks" to all of these so-called gender stereotypes and clichees, instilled in young people even up to these days. Guys treat women differently, when they are not around other guys. No matter how much I dislike that, it's true, at least in most cases. Ie - guys can be blunt and vulgar to each other without feeling too badly about it. They do try to avoid that when they talk to a woman. It is also not uncommon for guys to enjoy that 'guy talk' about women - ie 'I'd f*ck that' & this whole 'Wow, she's hot' kind of discussions. Exactly these comments might seem natural for them when among other men, and it has become rooted in their mindset to judge women based on their look.

I believe the whole community (so not just guys, no way I'd be putting the blame on just one side, because that'd be so untrue) should put an effort into accepting each other and just be mindful when they talk to each other. Women should try to fall-into the community without trying to differentiate themselves from the guys too much. We are not special, we just happen to enjoy the very same thing as guys do! I believe that as one community, we all should strive towards having fun together. After all, this is not physical sport nor activity. StarCraft 2 is a battle of minds, not muscles. All points considered, it's currently better for a woman to just stay anonymous and not reveal she's a female. The community should decide what they really want. If there's wish for women to compete, women need to be accepted as part of the community, not getting finger-pointed at, as if they were ET, to not always make comments on their appearance, nor their skill in a way 'You suck at SC2 because you are a woman'; so the woman can actually feel comfortably and truly become part of the community. The community needs to put away the gender stereotypes, which are so deeply rooted in the society. An easy task? Nope. Me, being of the very firm belief, that gender is nothing more than a societal construct, I always say, that people slowly, but surely need to get away from this messed up concept of gender and the stereotypes connected to that, in order to fix things, not just in StarCraft 2 community, but in society in general.

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Sad, but very common attitude...

Women & being a Pro?

So, how come we have such huge skill-gap between the best women players and their male counterparts? There are currently very few women who are strong in StarCraft 2 - by strong I mean professional level players. There's been countless discussions about this myth, if even women are capable of achieving that. In my opinion, they are! But, why it seems so unrealistic in the eyes of the general public?

Well think about it - most women didn't play BW (and I'd guess that there were even less women in old BW than there are in SC2 too) and don't have years of RTS experience under their belts, to the degree they'd be able to immediatelly transition to SC2 professionals. I think that women who even tried to play SC1 competitively on any professional level can be counted on the fingers on our hands only. It's hard for any woman to catch up to these people who have years and years of BW experience; my guess would be they'd have to practice as twice as the guys who actually came with BW background.

Most of girls are either newbies to gaming in general or newbies to StarCraft, compared to their male counterparts, so they have a hell a lot of catching up to do. Also, most women do not have chance to practice with current professionals either, so again, there are just way too many factors why it's even hard for woman to go and try being professional StarCraft 2 player. They have yet to learn and grasp the game first before that even happens; and with all the competition out there, the skill-gap is just too high. Of course, this is just the way I see it and I may be wrong in this assesment, but with all these setbacks regarding skill, experience and reactions you get to see when 'girl' pops out there; and then downright insulting comments consisting of crap like how the girl looks like etc (see above), what motivation does a girl have to even try? Not talking about money here, but I can tell from my experiences with women, that a lot of women wouldn't put that much effort into something, when they know they'd be ridiculed and laughed at. Again, that being mostly a result of so-called "gender concept" brainwashing, though.

Solution to that? Again, not easy. E-Sport is becoming a business where money are on the line and professional players play StarCraft 2 for living. So, no matter how kind they would be, I don't see them spending hours and hours trying to train a woman just because she's a woman. Let alone it could be seen as wrong and hell, it would be wrong. The equally fair solution for everyone involved in the community would be making some sort of Academy projects related/supported (by supportWomen & StarCraft, I don't necessarily mean a monetary support) by professional teams, who'd accept potentially talented & dedicated players and work with them.

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Academy teams - Future hope for dedicated players?

I am aware that there is at least one professional team doing that, CompLexity Gaming & their coL.Academy project, but the amount of players they are willing to accept is very limited and it's more of competition than actual 'Academy' for the purpose of training up the individuals in supporting enviroment, building up a team. It may be the idealist in me talking, but teams should look past person's league, there's much more to a person and player than that, they should look into one's dedication & love for the game, because these two factors can become the biggest drives for one to reach their full potential, given time, support and proper training!

Epilogue

I'm painfully aware that it's probably not matter of upcoming few years for women to be more 'mainstream' in SC2; but the women will be more encouraged to try if some reactions and attitudes mentioned above would simply disappear. This may be male-dominated community but what stops the community who'd like to see women trying this to actually behave less like cavemen? It may be stupid and naive statement to make, but I believe we, as StarCraft 2 community should try our best to make sure that nobody is alienated; no matter what their sex, skin-colour, religion or whatever is. It is StarCraft 2 which brings us together after all; and while we can't just love everyone we encounter, conflicts are bound to happen in such huuuge community; we should strive towards our best, no matter what their background is.

BabyToss

Published on Monday, 14 May 2012 00:29 | Written by BabyToss

I thought I'd share this, it's a both a mixture of my own 3rd person narrative as well as the interview which was done by the female-only community, Girls of StarCraft over on Facebook and recently posted on TheGoSC Teamliquid's thread, very slightly edited to provide more recent view. I've been doing interviews with some awesome personalities and I realize I'm little nobody compared to them, and articles about many things, so I figured some of you may like to read something about the crazy me, BabyToss herself, after all. Take it with a grain of salt. :)

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Started playing StarCraft 2 late 2010, although it was not until half of 2011 when cz.gifJana "BabyToss" Otahalova realized the challenge and her own love for the game. Learning slowly from scratch, BabyToss would struggle, as she walked the path. Facing a lot of factors hindering her, such as low-confidence & general anxiety, she takes up the challenge to fully grasp the game of StarCraft 2, with one goal - to become as good as possible.

Originally starting to climb the SC2 ladder from lowely Bronze, BabyToss managed to reach the Diamond league and she aims to reach the Master division - she truly wishes to stream, entertain & coach newer players later on, along with participating regulary in both online and offline tournaments, overcoming her personal hurdle of being shy & inconfident through contributing to the StarCraft 2 community. Suffering from frequent severe depressions, BabyToss took a long break from consistent practice and training, resulting in huge drop of her skill. Currently trying to get back on her feet, to reclaim what she once had, in order to be able to follow her dreams and further progress in StarCraft 2, as well as a person, that she is.

By the end of April 2012, BabyToss joins international team & community, vVv Gaming, considering herself to be StarCraft 2 player in training, still hoping to reach her dream of becoming one of the best; regardless of where that takes her, as ultimately, growing stronger, facing challenges and improving is, what keeps her ticking and going on.

You can follow BabyToss on Twitter for SC2 related content, such as interviews, personal musings and random crazy tweets over at @vVv_BabyToss. Or you can like BabyToss on her personal Facebook page. Don't forget to visit her team's website over at vVv-Gaming and follow them on Twitter @vVv_Gaming

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Interview by theGoSC

How did you get involved in BW SC2 ?

"My husband basically bought the game both for me, our little son and himself. I never really played any RTS before, except short stint in form of Protoss campaign (because of awesome lore). I'd never imagine to become so involved with the game back then, in fact my husband had to beg me a lot to play it with him. These days? I have to beg him to be my practice-dummy, if I need to show him who's dominating in our relationship (laughs)"

By which team/player/caster are you most inspired?

"Team: Definitelly Team SlayerS & Teamliquid. To me, it's not just skill what makes an awesome player to look up to. Team SlayerS has this awesome team-feel, family-feel to them, you can see that breathing right onto you, each time you watch these guys play, stream or even check the photos from their daily life. And Teamliquid? I always perceived them as gentlemen, the Light Side of the Force of StarCraft kind of guys (laughs). Take Sheth, for example. Great personality and player to look up to, and that's just one to mention!

Player: White-Ra & BoxeR - Strong players and also strong personalities. White-ra's never-ending calmness and gentleman's attitude just has me fascinated. His 'More GG, more skill' attitude is just an example of his wisdom, it is truly what I strive to achieve within my own gameplay. That guy could be easily called ZenToss because of how he is able to play and not lose his cool under any circumstances. BoxeR? Do I need to explain that? Really? His never-ending dedication is truly inspiring to me. He is capable player, strong leader and support for his team.

Caster: Definitelly Day[9]. Such genuine person, who always radiates that strong love & passion for StarCraft. Those who get to meet the man are truly lucky individuals, and those who can call him friend are truly blessed."

What would you ultimately like to see the future hold in regards to female players?

"I'd like the girls to truly devote themselves to StarCraft. To love it and cherish it. To not let anyone to use them as mere source of marketing for their teams. But, for that, they have to practice hard and bite the bullet, as it is said. I've seen most of these girls joining pro teams lately, but when you look at it, what do you see? A candy-eye women, who may enjoy StarCraft, but have they trully dedicated themselves to it fully?

Because that's what needs to be done, once a girl decides to accept an invitation from pro team. Only that way, in the future, women will be seen as equals, instead of being seen as mascots & token-women for their respective teams. It is all nice of the pro teams to pick up these women to give them the chance, but it is not fair towards the male audience at all.

As I mentioned it elsewhere, what these teams should do, is to make Academy Teams and accept ANYONE (female or male shouldn't totally matter), give them conditions to be eligible to stay, along with timeframe, such as required games played per week & support their 'Students' in a way that they get a good enviroment for practice (practice partners from the mother-team) & motivation to grow stronger by playing under a banner of a known team. Such initiative would be really great from known teams, it'd not cost them anything, money-wise, they'd get more exposure for themselves & more potential talented players, alongside with helping the growth of StarCraft 2-player base. You want to be a good player? Here is your chance - Come, enlist in our Academy & work your ass off kind of thing."

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Why haven’t we seen you in one of the female-only tournaments yet?

"Actually, I was in the very first one, I believe, during my Bronze days? It’s fading into a blur and I do not remember already. However, as much as I do understand the females, who feel need for female-only tournaments, to make the competition more comfortable and less alien enviroment for them, I feel that female-only tournaments will not allow them, as a minority in the community to properly blend-in, so to speak. They need to try and blend in more, not to try and stand out more. So, if I compete, it’ll be in the regular tournaments, most likely under some unknown name, to avoid insane crazyness, which seems to always pop-up whenever Females & StarCraft appear in the same topic line. (smirks)"

What do you do in your time when you are not playing or watching eSports?

"I am a mother to 8-years old boy and wife to imba Terran (laughs), so that does take some time from my day. I also began practicing Karate couple of months ago, to further work on my physical health as well as help my own mindset in regards to everything I do. In a way, I am hoping that it'll even help me to improve my own mindset in regards of my StarCraft 2 improvement. Besides that, I enjoy drawing, I am avid roleplayer, love sci-fi, Star Wars & reading. Oh, and I continually hate on stereotypes & clichees about females and genders in general."

How old are you & how long have you been playing BW/SC2?

"I'm 27 years old, and truth be told, StarCraft 2 is my first RTS I've picked up interest in, not counting already mentioned stint of StarCraft 1 Protoss campaign. So, yes, pretty much a Protoss baby who learns how to walk, hence my StarCraft handle, BabyToss. (grins)"

If you could do one thing in regards to BW/SC2, what would you do and why?

"Unrealistic wishes allowed? Alright. I'd spend couple of months training with Team SlayerS in Korea, dedicating that time solely to work on my StarCraft 2 gameplay, to grow as a player and also to have the honours of meeting the most awesome team in history. All of course in secrecy, I do not like unwanted & undeserved spotlight & shitstorm I’d totally get for that, especially that I am basically a nobody and a "female" (laughs).

Upon return from Korea, I'd just start streaming, helping fellow players to grow stronger, participate in online tournaments to continue my growth & generally try to entertain & educate the community, as I always feel that once you take something from the community, you should also give back."

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Favourite food?

"Fried chicken legs & rice. Oh, and can't forget mentioning ramen. Love those and could eat them literally every single day! (chuckles)"

Why won’t you tell us your league?

"Because frankly, until I reach Masters, it is totally irrelevant. Sure, you can look up my account, but it will not tell you much, as I do practice on a secret account, which prevents me from outside distractions. I am awfully shy & insecure person in real-life, therefore, I try to adjust myself to that & my own StarCraft régime."

Any last words?

"Just a special mention & thanks to Ryan Rushia, Rob Feeley, Allen Rulo, Fraser Bedwell & Julian Zimmermann. They know who they are and why (grins)."

--

BabyToss

Published on Friday, 11 May 2012 00:06 | Written by BabyToss

As promised, that I'd be writing spotlights of interesting personalities - I'm bringing you another one. This time, we have yet another role-model personality here. I believe, that if you actually follow StarCraft 2 scene, you'll know him. I'm talking about

nl.gifManuel "Grubby" Schenkhuizen, a Dutch Protoss player.

First, when you go and watch Grubby's stream, you'll notice one thing. He is entertainer. He enjoys making his show fun for the viewers. He talks, comments his games, does occassional giveaways and generaly is a friendly person to follow, when it comes to his streaming. Not only that, he is not afraid to go and interact with his fans outside of his stream. That actually makes him quite unique - a lot of known personalities seem to be distanced from their fanbase and they'd not talk to you unless you were known or you paid them.

Often laughing and being generally positive, that is Grubby for you. If you haven't watched his stream or his games at least once, you are truly missing out.

Grubby, similary to White-Ra, is a solo player with personal sponsorship. During 2011, he was sponsored by SteelSeries, but the sponsorship was dropped 'due to lack of enough results', according to Liquidpedia. Currently, he is under wings of Twitch.tv. Browsing into Grubby's past, he used to be a WarCraft 3 player, playing under Evil Geniuses. Looking into his past, this young lass managed to win a total of 38 LAN tournaments, from which, hold your breath, 6 were World Championships.

Furthermore; Grubby is already married and yet, he still devotes time to his passion. Not many people do that. It is the issue of today's world, when people forget their passions and love for things they enjoyed to do, because of some unwritten 'standard', how one should live their lives. Grubby's wife also fully supports his husband in his endeavours, so he can fully comit to his work, while doing something he clearly enjoys.

Additionally, Grubby tries to set an example by showing always positive manners. He is what I call, a leader by example, being a personality people naturally aim to follow, due to his warm and positive character. It just emanates from him, even when you see the guy for the first time, and that is a trait somewhat rare in the community.

If you haven't watched Grubby, I suggest you do fix that mistake, I promise that you will not be disappointed, and at the top of all, you may learn a thing or two about StarCraft 2, playeing Protoss and perhaps, even becoming a better gamer - his stream can be found here - http://www.twitch.tv/followgrubby

Don't go yet. I managed to catch Grubby for a short interview!

INTERVIEW WITH GRUBBY

Hihi, Grubby. Glad to have you. How are you today?

"Hihi, I'm doing great."

Thanks. Now, before we move onto different stuff, could you briefly introduce yourself? There are people, who do not know you, would you believe that..

"I'm a StarCraft 2 professional gamer with a love for eSports. I've begun gaming when I was 4 years old. For the last 9 years I've been competing in WarCraft 3 and then StarCraft 2. I've won 6 world championships from over 40 total victories. I'll be 26 years old in May and I'll still be Dutch."

Let's look into your past - You are a WarCraft 3 veteran. Admittedly, because of StarCraft 2 being my first RTS, I do not know much about its scene or the game itself. Could you tell me and my audience, how did you even get into competitive gaming and what it was like for you, when you started off?

"Since I started gaming at such a young age, and have loved playing games on the PC ever since, it was only normal that I'd end up falling in love with competitive gaming. I used to compete (and co-op) in games with my brothers mainly."

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Can you tell me about your very first success in WarCraft 3 and how did you feel after it? First victory usually is something you never forget, so, tell me about it.

"The first really big success was winning World Cyber Games 2004 San Francisco. I had traveled to Korea 2 weeks prior to the WCG, and wasted not a minute in training. Before that, I'd been training 12 hours a day at home. I still did not believe I would win, but I did think I would make it to the finals. When I came to the grand finals, I was ecstatic, because the semi finals (against Shortround) was harder than I thought. My final match was against the Korean Zacard.

I basically accepted 2nd place and was satisfied with that placement. I woke up early that morning and came to the venue earlier than almost anybody. I started warming up. As the time of the finals drew nearer, an orange legion showed up in the audience. Our country's delegation was comprised of 30+ players and staff; golden times for Netherlands & eSports. All of them were there cheering for me. Despite myself, I started believing in the possibility of winning. They were chanting my name.

Still, I lost the first map and it just ascertained my fears; a quick 0-2 defeat would seem imminent. However, I quickly won the second map, and I played better than I ever had in the 3rd.

An alien feeling followed me around as I seemingly got pulled in this direction and that, a handshake here and a picture there, a sequence of interviews and ceremonies. It was one big blur, to me, I could barely understand what was going on. I remember calling my mom, and I remember receiving the giant check, and my victory contributed to making Netherlands as the best WCG country of 2004. We laughed and cheered on stage, proud. It's great memories."

Moving forward a bit, you were part of renown teams (such as 4Kings & Evil Geniuses) during your WarCraft 3 career. Could you tell me and my audience about that? How did your life change when you were first offered a spot on a professional team? What did it mean for you, personally, as well as a gamer?

"When I was first offered a spot on 4Kings being one part of a 2v2 team, I had to make a difficult decision. Where do I want to go in WarCraft 3 and eSports? I was in a friends' team with a good but relatively casual atmosphere. I had to pick between team mates / friends and 'professional' advancement. I figured friends will stay friends but this opportunity could change everything. I accepted. For the first play day of the team league, I had a fever and could not play. I was torn by guilt and fear of leaving my team in such a pickle. The team manager was just like "Don't worry about it :)". I was very surprised he was so cool about it, but I still felt guilty.

Of the first matches, I lost most of them. They kept saying "it's ok" and their tolerant attitude mixed with the motivation of wanting to do better allowed me to grow up and become a better player. Fast forward time, and our 4K team was able to win 4 WC3L's and have the inimitable record of being undefeated for over a year, in more than 40 straight clan wars. 4Kings, though not being very professionally run, had a profound importance in how it shaped my career. Thanks to 4Kings' and Intel's budget, we were able to spend those 3 months in Korea which invested so very well into all of our training and team bonding."

Can't hold onto it any longer. StarCraft 2 and you. How did you get into it & why Protoss?

"In a sea of quick sequels and buggy games, Blizzard's games are precious pearls. I've played every Blizzard game (except WC1) and loved them all. Going into SC2 was a good choice. The challenge, excitement and pleasure of competing in WC3 and SC2 has been a complete thrill. I feel like Protoss picked me more than that I picked Protoss. I've always liked close combat units (like the Grunt, Raider, Tauren and Zealot) and quick units (Raider, Batrider, Phoenix)."

Transition from one game into another can be difficult. How was your transition from WarCraft 3 to StarCraft 2? Was it easy? What did you struggle with the most during the transition? Tell me about it.

"In WarCraft 3, the main challenges were: decisions, weighing pro's & con's, micromanagement, battle tactics, when to fight and when to avoid combat, upkeep management, item management, game sense. In StarCraft 2, the main challenges are: speed, economy management, positioning, map awareness, scouting, decisions and unit composition choices.

The first thing I struggled with was the management of the economy. Just to name an example, in WarCraft 3, when you created an expansion, it was very usual to immediately attack the opponent without truly engaging in a all-out combat. This would buy time for your expansion to kick in and start working to your advantage; or maybe it would even keep your opponent blind to it (scouting was way more costly in WC3 than in SC2). In StarCraft 2, WC3 players were initially trying to play the same; expand and immediately attack and they'd lose. So it was for me, as well. These kind of hard-wired rules of the mind have to be rewired and this takes time, conscious effort and conversation. Sometimes I feel like, because I played WC3 for 9 years and was Top 3 world at it, it was very difficult for me to change my way of thinking. I've already made the final steps of this mental switch, however, and I consider myself a full SC2 player now."

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What you you think about current state of the game? Anything you'd change if you could? What about Protoss? What do you think about state of Protoss?

"Hard question. I hope to see more developments which encourage micromanagement instead of discourage it. To me, Vortex, Forcefields, Fungal Growth and Broodlord's Broodlings are examples of abilities that deny micromanagement and make fights less interesting. However, Vortex will be removed in Heart of the Swarm (alongside the Mamaship), and at least Forcefields can be broken through by massive units and don't actually deal damage themselves. There is nothing that Protoss or Terran has that directly counters either Broodlings or Fungal Growth. Keep in mind that I do not speak about win rate %'s or relative strength or general balance.

In WC3, strong spells like Fungal or summoned creatures like Broodlings would be "dispelled" by disenchant/dispell/abolish magic/devour magic. In SC2, once you get fungaled once, you get fungaled twice, and thrice, and 4x, and then your army just evaporates. No matter how many times you press Blink or try to fly your Phoenix away, that's it ;) I have high hopes for Heart of the Swarm in terms of balancing and unit variety (particularly for Protoss because our Air tech becomes obsolete very soon after you start it) because Blizzard rarely disappoints, but I am worried about the Swarm Host, which is basically just a Broodlord under the ground, another micro-denying unit. Changelings + Infested Terrans + Broodlings + Swarmhost Broodlings + Fungal = one big unstoppable wall.

(p.s.: having Fungal Growth be like Broodwar Queen's "Ensnare" ability, or having it do much less damage, seem appropriate measures to me to deal with this problem a bit. Once again: if that happens, of course other Z things must be buffed or P nerfed and T adjusted accordingly, as is understood of course)."

Without me actually looking up your results or anything - What do you see as your biggest personal success in StarCraft 2? It doesn't have to be high ranking in a tournament. Simply something, which made you feel proud about yourself.

"I think the 4th place in ESWC 2011 meant the most, because I performed above people's expectations, and finished above MC. They still haven't paid out the prize money to me yet, though O_O."

Where there's a positive side, there also is this nastier, negative one creeping in. What do you see as your biggest failure, let down and generally negative thing in your StarCraft 2 career? Anything you'd do, to make it differently and better?

"As you may know, my record against Stephano is not the best. In Multiplay i44 / IPL Qualifier, I was 1-1 against stephano and had 2 bases against his 1, with nearly double his workers. Two lings inside my base became banelings and blew up more than half my Probes. It was the closest I've yet come to beating Stephano and I think, if I had, I'd have less mental problems about facing him. I should've won that game, really disappointed myself there.

Actually, I felt even worse when I lost the WCG 2011 Qualifiers to a relatively unknown Belgian protoss "Spoon". It's the first time I had not qualified to WCG since 8 consecutive attendances, and I felt like wanting to sink through the ground and forget about everything."

Tell me Grubby, why do you remain a lone wolf? I am sure you had plenty offers when it comes to the team. Also, many players would love to team up with you, so, what is it, that you remain on your own?

"Being independent gives me a chance to work more closely with sponsors, tackle new challenges constantly, and explore all the possibilities that eSports has to offer. I'm happy just the way it's going!"

StarCraft 2 and it's Mekka - Korea. You've already been there, even though for just a brief stint. Do you wish to return there? Any plans regarding Korea for this year?

"Hehe, I've been to Korea more than once, probably about 20 times, and it wasn't always brief. I love spending time in Korea. The people are generally quiet and humble, and tolerant and helpful towards me as a foreigner. I try to speak their language and I eat their food, and this gets appreciated. Koreans are a hard working people, maybe sometimes too hard. This is inspiring and motivating to behold. Practice in Korea has always helped me, and the work ethics of Koreans has always impressed me. I would love to return to Korea again some time soon."

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Arguably, most players believe, that Korea is the place to be, if you wish to compete at the top level. Do you personally believe that to be the truth or do you believe that you can become a top player no matter where you practice?

"Both statements are correct. Korea is the place to be for top level competition and training, but it's also possible to become a top player somewhere else. It's always about the questions: how do you practice? where? with whom? Each player has to answer this for him or herself personally and find the fruits of his or own labor paying off."

Talent vs Hard work, a topic discussed many, many times. What do you think makes a good StarCraft 2 player? Do you believe there is a thing called 'talent' or do you believe that if someone tries hard enough, they can still become one of the best? What would you recommend to someone, who wishes to devote their time to the passion of StarCraft 2?

"Not everyone can be the best, talent plays a role. After that, it's all hard work. Without it, you won't become the best either. I think this is obvious. Of course, 'talent' as a phenomenom doesn't actually exist. Talent is just an all-encompassing word to describe the correct parameters of a person's character, intelligence, perseverance, motivation, choices, potential, etc. Not some inherent one-off gene or specific ability to play computer games. 'Talented' gamers would have been 'talented' at something else were they to have lived 100 years ago, before the first PC's. Not like the evolutionary process knew that the world would 'need' progamers in 2012 :D

To anyone wishing to go pro, I can only speak from personal experience. The fun factor has to remain #1. Is it fun for you to improve any way you can? Then the time invested is never 'wasted', because you had fun, even if you don't make it. If you do, it was fun along the way and not just at the end."

What keeps you going? Surely there are times when you just wanted to call it quits; so, what ticks you to just keep trying and go harder?

"I wanted to call it quits about two times. The first time was when I lost a Night Elf mirror 0-2 in the WCG Winner Bracket Qualis in 2003. My brother Arthur kept me going and suggested I change race from Elf to Human because he had seen that I was quite good with Human when playing around with them for fun. I did, and 2-0'd everyone else in the LB including the guy who sent me to Loserbracket initially, winning the rest of the Qualifier without dropping a map.

The second time was when I was having a particularly hard time at the end of 2007. 4Kings my team was not paying me for the last 10 months of my contract with them, and this was making me extremely stressed. I was going without some major victories and people though I would never win a tournament again. This spell was of course broken when I disproved the nonbelievers, winning WCG 2008 against the best competition in the world, but not before going through blood, sweat and tears. Along the way, my then-girlfriend now-wife Cassandra stood by me and helped me grow up both as a person and a player, and we persevered.

All throughout, there have been fans who never abandoned me, win or lose. Their continued belief in me and desire for me to do well and be happy has done a lot for me."

A must question - What are your short term goals?

"Short-term goals are to do increasingly well in tournaments, to invest more into my training and to do many entertaining things for eSports and Grubby fans (streaming, commentating, playing, microing, and organizing a new tournament series). Personally? To be a good person to people I love."

Grubby, we've been at this for quite some time now, huh.. alright, soon, I promise this will be over (laughs). Where do you see yourself as a player and person in a course of one year from now?

"I don't answer that question anymore because I'm always wrong. eSports is an exciting adventure of opportunities - I'll go with it!"

Any other games you enjoy playing in your leisure time? Any things you enjoy doing besides gaming and StarCraft 2?

"Since I started on WC3, I haven't played any other games besides WC3 & SC2 except for Guild Wars 1 (for 2 weeks on & off) and Oblivion (1 week on & off). Diablo 3 could be the next one. As you can see, I love RTS' and a select few RPG's. Besides gaming, I enjoy reading fantasy & science fiction books, going on holidays with my wife Cassandra, and doing active stuff together like Scuba Diving or Snowboarding."

Last one! Anything you'd like to say to your fans? To the fans here in Czech? Just, anything, really, go go, spit it out!

"I've been to Czech Republic for skiing more than 10 years ago, and it was a great holiday. I want to come back some time for wintersports, maybe we will! Thanks everyone for reading this interview :) If you liked it, let BabyToss know and me as well on @followgrubby at twitter or facebook :) Thanks!"

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Original, Czech article can be found over at PLAYzone - here

Like me on Facebook - here

Follow me on Twitter - @vVv_BabyToss

BabyToss

Note: As I've been around the StarCraft 2 community, I've seen about hundreds of people offering StarCraft 2 coaching, seeing many of coaches in action as well, on their streams. It became some sort of a trend within a StarCraft 2 community. You can easily hook yourself up with a SC2 coach, if you look hard enough. Some of them offer their services for free, some of them ask for a hourly fee. Now, what has me thinking is, that a lot of people do follow the formula of 'He is a GM player, he will teach me a lot!'. Many, many posts on that on Teamliquid.net in particular. The question, which lingers in the air is...

So, what makes a SC2 good coach?

The answer could be as simple as 'He needs to be able to teach'. Obviously. However, in terms of mostly limited interaction between the Coach & Student, which is usually Skype and the pair meeting up on Battle.net, the coach needs to be extremelly versatile and articulate, being able to understand his/her student from just seeing them play and hear them talk.

Now, it is no secret, that teaching requires a special sort of personality, skillsets & approach. It can be easily compared to a teacher in real-life. The approach, which the teacher takes heavily influences how fast or slow your Student progresses. Teachers do need to know their stuff, they need to be able to analyze their students and see how is the best way to approach someone's education. It is a common mistake, which I get to see from some real-life teachers, as well as SC2 coaches, who just tell the student what to do, instead of telling their students WHY they are doing it.

The 'WHY I am doing it' aspect is quite important factor in most people's education. from my own perspective, I have trouble remembering something just for the sake of remembering it. I need to know why I am doing something, to find a logic reasoning behind it, thus, being able to remember it with ease.

But when I don't know something, I need to be told!

That statement is only half-true. Of course, if it's a new build order you want to learn, you need to know the necessary steps and timings, to have a very tight openings, as well as gentle macro-mistakes reminders can be useful, to further ingrain the macro into your system. However - often a coach would bring another student of his, to serve as a sparring partner for his student, usually in equal skill-level. That alone is questionable for me a bit, as I personally try to practice with much better players than I am, although admittedly, that can be brutal to one's psychological side and it can take it's toll. Means that if the player is way stronger than you, you'd not see a single win for a week or longer, depending on how much you progress.

Now, what I do find as common issue among coaches is, that they tell their student during the practice game exactly what to do. Now, to make it clear, I am not talking about the situation when the student is learning a new build order. I am talking about when the student is actually playing against someone, with their coaches observing them. In my opinion, that will not teach you anything. As everything in StarCraft is situational, the longer the game goes. You can't just memorize the game from 0:00 to say 20:00. It seems that my original question then still stands, doesn't it?

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StarCraft 2 Coaching takes a lot more than you realize...

So again, good coach, please?

The coach needs to make their student to think on their own. Yes, go as far as asking them questions during the game, give them a hint, say 'You see a pool going down early, what does that indicate and how can you react to the situation?' It may seem a bit like theorycrafting, but, it does teach you to think 'StarCraft'. It teaches you how to react, what your options are, when you see certain situations laid out in front of you. And when you think about it deeper once your session ends, it will even make sense for you! I'd compare that to a man, who doesn't give a fish to hungry one and teach them how to fish instead.

To offer a bit of personal experience here: I had a friend of mine teaching me this way and sometimes I literally felt like a pupil sitting in class, trying to mumble responses to my teacher, during a lesson at school, but it was totally worth it and it helped some of my skillsets immenselly, when it comes to StarCraft!

Personal approach - Important!

Not everyone is capable of learning by the 'standard pattern'. The way coach approaches their students and the way they teach them, it is equally as important as the game knowledge. Some players maybe do enjoy a coach yelling over at them through Skype bunch of commands, as to what to do and when, however, some people are not as versed in stressful situations and need calmer, slower-paced teacher. In the end, StarCraft 2 coaches are not that different from real-life teachers. They require extensive knowledge of their area of interest, they need to have at least basic understanding of who they are teaching, what kind of player they are dealing with; in order to be able to pinpoint their strong & weak points to be able to help in the most effective way.

What about Coach's league?!

Yes, getting to that as well. No offence to a lot of GrandMaster players, but I'd not pick them as the best coaches. Yes, I do respect their brilliant in-game skills. But, let's pour a fresh wine here and be completelly honest for a while. A lot of these players are so focused on their own improvement, that they do not have the personal skills, time & correct approach to be able to effectivelly pass down their knowledge to their students. And that is perfectly fine, as they are focusing on themselves, to improve their game. However, as I said, being in GrandMaster doesn't make one automatically a good coach.

Even in real-life, sport's coaches are mostly not the best of the best. It simply really comes down to the ability to be able to teach. Good teachers do not always come from champions. However, there is need for wide knowledge, as I pointed out earlier, so no, not everyone is cut out to be a coach. Some people lack the knowledge for it and some people lack personal skillsets, such as empathy, patience and overall ability to effectively teach someone by breaking it down in a way their student would understand the principle, as to WHY they are doing something, instead of just memorizing it, which will not help them in the long run.

For example, look at known caster and personality in StarCraft scene - Sean "Day[9]" Plott. I believe he'd make one of the best StarCraft 2 coaches, because he truly is brilliant in breaking the game down into smallest of smallest pieces, so that it is easy for anyone to understand the concept of what he tries to teach. And, is he a top StarCraft 2 player winning every top tournament nowadays? No. He is not and yet, let's see an extreme example - if I ever had a choice say, between oGsMC and Day[9], Sean would definitelly be the preffered coach for me.

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Knowledge of StarCraft is important...

Asking impossible?

Did I just make it sound like StarCraft 2 coaches, if they want to be the best, are to devote time to learning how to deal with people, how to pass down knowledge and how to gain an ability to teach in general? Yes. I did.

But it takes too long? Yes, that is also true.

But think about it. A lot of coaches ask for hourly fee equal to a hourly fee of real-life teacher, who sits with you in real life and talks you through things. I believe, that those who ask people to pay them for their service should aim for providing the best.

And even those kind souls, who try to help other StarCrafters to get better without any monetal reward could think about this. Help in the best way possible, as I believe that is your reason behind wanting to coach others, right? You don't learn to be just a good player. You need to learn how to be a good teacher as well. That too takes it's own time and unique 'practice'.

Last words?

In no way I want to discourage coaches and their students. In fact, I admire that some people do reach out to the community and help others. It is something I highly respect and it is something I'd love to do for others, once I feel my knowledge and experiences are good enough. I believe there's a huge reward in itself to see a student growing under one's wing. Seeing my student 'graduate' under my tutelage will bring only proud blush to my cheeks one day. As it should to you, dear reader, if you happen to be a StarCraft 2 coach.

Good luck and have fun with coaching your underlings!

------

Wrote this up some time ago, as a rant on StarCraft 2 coaches. Wanting to point out, that teaching, just like playing SC2 requires some practice and there's the fact, that just because someone's a high league player, it automatically doesn't make them great teachers. wanted to share, both because vVv Ambush asked, as well as I know some people do offer coaching and this may actually help them. Hope you enjoy.

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BabyToss

Published on Sunday, 22 April 2012 17:16 | Written by BabyToss

Each time I see a topic on Team liquid about someone wanting to go pro in StarCraft 2, I actually read it, with a faint curiousity. And often, I just shake my head. Not because of their league, whatever it may be, but because of the wrong approach most people choose, as well as wrong motivation for their desired goal. Take this with grain of salt, here goes yet another rant.

So why people claiming publically they want to be pro at StarCraft 2 make me shake my head in disbelief and skepticism? First of all, setting such goal in itself is wrong. You can't become a pro over night or by just wishing it. I watch the pro scene a lot, and even from this very limited view into life of a pro, I can see how rigorous the schedule can be on the players. Many times I've seen HuK obviously tired during his games. Even players like White-Ra admit that the frequent travelling takes its toll on their performance, due to jet lag issues and travelling times, which cut time they could be otherwise practicing.

Do it for the sake of love for the game!

The fact is, that unless you truly love the game, you can never be a pro. And by loving the game, I mean, thinking about your openings even when you don't play. Going over your builds in your mind before you fall asleep in your bed. Imagining you are playing when you are actually not even in game. Your whole being needs to breathe the game.

Someone may say, that they really love the game and they will go pro anyways. But, I want to tell these people one thing. Try to sit down in front of your computer, with strictly set schedule, containing purely StarCraft 2 practice, for full-time job period, for a week or two. Take a week off work, make a vacation, if it means so much for you, and try it. Practice every single day, for 6-8 hours straight (with reasonable pauses for meals). I wonder how many people would remain after such a test. Some may say, that the pro's get to practice with their teammates and thus, are more motivated - I am going to counter with - look at White-Ra. He mostly ladders on his stream; and he himself says that he prefers ladder for his practice over anything else.

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Love every part of the game...

Aim not to be a pro, but to be the best!

So, how to even start? I believe that anyone even thinking about going pro should set one single, simple endgame goal - to become as best StarCraft 2 player as possible. There's no need to throw away one's education for that, disown children or quit a job. That's not how most pro players started their career anyways. Aiming to improve, to look critically on your games, not blaming your losses on imbalance, lags or opponent being 'cheesy fucker'. Mostly (read always), there are flaws in our own gameplay, no matter if we like it or not. Only those with critical mind, being able to look at their games and see their mistakes are going to truly learn and improve. It takes sometimes a lot of effort to admit, that we were bested by someone else. Trust me, I know that. Learn to enjoy the process of learning and understanding the game. Feel every tap on your keyboard you make. These little things are, what will get you more into the game, although if you truly want to become as best as possible, I shouldn't be telling that to you, as you would know and feel it.

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If you love it - No shame in tears, contrary to popular belief...

I don't want to discourage anyone wishing to aim for something they love. In fact, those who know me would tell you, that I am person, who admires people, that follow their heart and their dreams. I want to see people truly doing that, as I believe waaay too many people are too stuck in mindset of what 'standard life' is, and how people often truly forget to live their lives. The key there is to be happy and to bring that happiness those around you. Noone has right to dictate what brings you that happiness, only you can make that call, after all.

Last, but not least important

StarCraft 2 is not about being famous, rich and popular. It's the excitement, the joy from the game, the happy moments over winning a difficult match, getting angry over a lost match, thinking hard as to how to improve, sheding a tear after a painful match - feeling, thinking, which make the game worth the effort. The fact, that the game pushes one's self and way beyond their limits. Think of that more than of some fame and money. Money are important to survive, but you want to live your dreams, not just survive...

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Celebrate your wins, celebrate StarCraft 2...

Original article can be found on my website

here. It was written some time ago, as a reaction & my personal rant to many 'I want to be a SC2 pro' topics written on Teamliquid forum.

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BabyToss

Published on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 22:52 | Written by BabyToss

It doesn't happent too often, for us to see a new StarCraft 2 talent rising, arriving as suddenly as spring storm. We often see all these same names on the scene and it is really difficult to spot a new talented player on the rise. And that is exactly what happened during last IPL; IPL4, where those of you, who paid close attention, could spot a promising Zerg player, ca.gifSasha "Scarlett" Hostyn.

Scarlett managed to impress many people, when she first had kr.gifSong "Terious" Byung from Prime as a light snack, then she continued with Protoss kr.gifMoon "DdoRo" Jung Ho from team Vile and she gave quite a sweat to kr.gifKim "Oz" Hak Soo from FXO before she succumbed 1-2 to him and fell to losers' bracker.

But even then, her journey wasn't all over - she put up quite a fight with gb.gifBenjamin "DeMusliM" Baker, where she'd not grant him a single victory in the series. The last duel of the fates took place against former SlayerS member, kr.gif Cho Myung "Golden" Hwan, now playing for team LighT - Scarlett falls 2-0 to him and her tournament ride ended at this point. But it seems that many people look up to her, as a new, promising talent, who might be able to take the game home and stand up against the korean domination.

There were rumors, that Scarlett got offer from 4 teams after her glorious succes during IPL4, one of these being 'a korean team with huge sponsor'. Unfortunately, we may never find out which korean team it really was, as Scarlett annonced on Monday, that she would be joining team Eclypsia. Doesn't ring a bell? You are not the only ones, in all honesty.

Don't go yet, that's not all, I managed to catch Scarlett and interrogate her a bit. Have a good reading.

Interview with Scarlett

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Hi Scarlett, thank you for joining me today, happy to have you. Before anything, could you please briefly introduce yourself to our readers?

"Hello, I am Scarlett, an 18 year old Zerg player from Canada."

Thank you. You've managed to impress quite a crowd during your performance at IPL4 - but before I delve into that, let's look into your past brifly. For that, a classic question needs to be asked - How did you get to StarCraft 2?

"I was watching my brother play and he showed me some GSL vods. I told him I could beat him at it easily (he was mid-master league) and he said I couldn't. So I started playing with goal to get better than him and played him around 4-6weeks later, beating him 6-0."

Do you come from gaming background? Any other games you played before StarCraft 2? If so, any games, which would directly help you in your transition to StarCraft 2?

"Yes I have played games for a long time. Mostly just warcraft 3 customs (a lot of DotA). I had also played a few games of Warcraft 3 and Brood War, so I understood the basics of RTS. I was good at DotA, which helps in some aspects of Starcraft 2."

Why did you choose to play Zerg? Does Zerg appeal to you in terms of gamestyle in any way?

"I don't actually know why I picked Zerg, but I really like the gameplay... Staying defensive and playing macro oriented well let you win every game, so I know if I lose it is because I made a mistake that I can fix, not because my opponent did a strategy perfectly that I cannot beat."

Let's go and talk about your tournament show for a bit. You've managed to win Playhem-Razer "Sponsor Me!" tournament, which allowed you to participate in the latest IPL4. How did you feel after such accomplishment? What did it mean for you, as a StarCraft 2 player?

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"I had only played a few online tournaments before this, and performed quite poorly in many of them (I got very nervous especially when my games were casted). So I was very happy after winning the playhem-razer tournament, and I got to play against my friend in the finals :D. It means quite a bit, as it allowed me to attend a major LAN event where I could be noticed by teams for my play."

IPL 4 - the day, where several renown players met their doom at your hands, and which got you quite the spotlight. What were your initial thoughts, when you arrived to IPL4 and saw, that you were going to face such strong players? Were you confident about yourself? Or were you rather sober about your performance, in terms of just wanting to give your best shot? Tell me about it.

"The open bracket was posted online 2 days or so before the event, so I knew I would have to play Terious in a ZvZ first round. I was worried about having to play a Korean Zerg at the start and thought I would fall to the loser bracket as ZvZ is my worst match up. I gained confidence when warming up on Ladder before playing because many koreans were watching me and MC's coach told me I play very well.

In regards to the games themselves, he played a very aggressive ling baneling style early on, as many Koreans do against unknown players in ZvZ. I was prepared for this because ling baneling all ins or heavy ling baneling aggression is what the majority of Zerg players did for many months in Grandmaster on NA Ladder, so I easily defended his aggression and had a huge lead every game. However, the first game I did a bad attack into a chokepoint against infestors + spines, costing me the game."

You had quite close game against Oz from FxO, giving him quite a sweat. but he managed to defeat you, thus dropping you into lower bracket. What do you think about that game specifically? Why do you think you lost and what do you think you could've make better in order to secure the victory?

"I stayed on roach/roach hydra for far too long. I was used to most Protoss players dying to aggression at their Natural and 3rd at same time, but Oz had better forcefields and army splitting of any protoss I had ever played before, putting me behind. I also did not tech up to hive fast enough because I thought he was going to push with stalker/sentry/zealot/collosus mid-game, so I died to a timing right before my brood lord were made."

Your next game was against Demuslim. Again managing to pull a surprise on all of us, you defeated him with a solid game 2-0, moving forward, and eventually facing Golden from team LighT, who also plays Zerg. He proceeded and beat you 2-0, which effectively removed you from the tournament. What were your first thoughts after that game in particular?

"Against DeMuslim I was confident because I usually managed to beat him on ladder, and I had even improved my ZvT quite a bit since last time I played him with a good Terran practice partner (I have about 5-10x better winrate ZvT than my second best matchup). He was also very nice and asked if I wanted regame when I made major mistake in opening build.

I was at first not too worried about having to play Golden, as the only 2 times I played him on ladder, I won without too much difficulty. However I had no break time between games vs Oz, DeMuslim, and Golden.. as soon as 1 finished I was told I had to play another. He also played very well and got slight advantages through opening 15hatch vs 14gas14pool both games and kept that advantage until midgame where I lost both games after very long roach vs roach fights. In the first game I also thought he was going to stop being aggressive after I held his first big push, so I made drones+infestors, but he pushed again right after."

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Not many people expected what you managed to pull off, and you are quite a surprise rising star to many, due to the fact, that the scene seems to be quite repetitive in terms of professional players. Many people are happy for you, as they do enjoy seeing rising a new talent, rather than seeing the same ones all the time. What were your goals for IPL4 and are you satisfied with your performance?

"I told myself I did not want to attend a major LAN event until I was confident I could make it into pool play. However, the Playhem tournament showed up and I thought it would be fun to just try it out, but I didn't think I would win it as there were a bunch of koreans, etc signed up, who were however disqualified for being on teams. I feel my performance was okay, as it was hardest tournament ever other than GSL, but I could have done better with less mistakes. I hope to at least get to pool play when I go to MLG Anaheim open bracket."

It's Monday, and as a Twitter netizen I saw you'd be announcing your decision regarding joining a team on Monday. Could you reveal to me and our Czech readers which team is it going to be and why did you decide that way in the end?

"It is announced already I joined the French team Eclypsia. It was not my 'best' offer, but I joined this team because I very much liked the people I talked to in it and the direction it is heading in. They also seemed to want to have me as a player rather than for publicity (as I have drawn much attention since IPL4), which is more in line with what I wanted."

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Will being on a professional team change your StarCraft 2 routine in any way? Are you a ladder type of person or do you prefer to practice with good players, focusing on your flaws in your gameplay? Opinions differ on that, so of course I have to ask you about that.

"The majority of time I practiced Starcraft 2 was though North American ladder and watching good Zerg streams to find out good things they add to their play which I could take. I will probably practice more with practice partners now, to help with a few things I know I need to work on, but I also enjoying spending time playing many ladder games as it shows weaknesses in play I have not thought of before because of wide variety in strategies people use. However, I will play on Korean ladder whenever I am in a place where it is not too slow, as it gives much better practice."

I always ask this - what are your short-term goals? Where do you see yourself in a year? What do you hope to achieve?

"My short term goal is to get into pool play at MLG Anaheim when I play in open bracket, and then if I don't do well in pool I want to place highly in pool play at the LAN I attend after that.

I consider 1 year very long time in terms of practicing. Because I plan to go to korea to practice which helps much more than the practice I get here. So I want to be good enough to place top 3 in major LAN events after this."

People are going to cheer on you; will we be able to see you on more tournaments and events? Anythins specifically planned in that regard?

"I will play a few online tournaments and showmatches, but probably no LAN events until MLG Anaheim. I will, however, start streaming within 1-2 weeks so people can watch me there if they want."

I will not hold you for any longer, so many thanks for your time. It was definitelly good seeing you rise and I will cheer for you, as many others will. Don't let anyone to discourage you and keep showing them that nothing really matters in StarCraft 2, except the game. Any last shoutouts to the community?

"Thanks to all my fans on TeamLiquid, and my new team Eclypsia ! Also to keydMaker and NMxHendralsk for helping me with some practice before IPL4."

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Originally, I wrote this for Czech e-sport portal PLAYzone, czech version of this article can be found here, this is an english version of it, but I generally want to say, that Scarlett is quite an inspirational person, and I certainly hope to see more of her.

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BabyToss

Published on Monday, 16 April 2012 10:33 | Written by BabyToss

There are many known players & StarCraft 2 prodigies, which you hear about every day, if you actually watch the progaming scene. They inspire us, to strive to be better StarCrafters, but in the end, it sometimes feel, that they are out of reach, as if I watched a Hollywood movie, rather than a real person. This is why I decided to actually go and spotlight interesting personalities in StarCraft 2 - not necessarily progamers, but simply people, who inspire me somehow & they aim high, in terms of competition. I will be writing about interesting personalities as I see them, consider this to be the very first token of it.

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The first person of choice would be us.gifBryan "Glon" Gemler, a 17 years old guy from Cleveland. He may seem like your ordinary SC2 gamer, someone you meet on the ladder daily, however, Bryan managed to surprise me in recent MLG, when it comes to the performance. It's not too often you see rather unknown player to go and shine, but Bryan managed to do just that.

Let's look at his ride through - His first rounds seemed to go smoothly, as he faced unknown players, in terms of renown in StarCraft 2 community - He beat JoshFreeman in first round; 2:0, then continued in round two, beating StoicRegret 2:1, and finally, in third round, he encountered us.gifBryce "Machine" Bates, a Zerg player from Evil Geniuses. Besting him 2:1, Bryan soldiers on, right into 4th round, this time facing us.gifBrian"Spades" Francis. And yet again, Bryan shows that his Zerg armies are capable of wrecking havoc, beating Spades 2:0. Next round, Bryan fights against kr.gifMoon "Ddoro" Jung Ho from team Vile; however, this time, he falls to his opponent 1:2, dropping into losers' bracket.

His journey continues in losers bracket, where he faces fr.gifIlyes "Stephano" Satouri, one of the best foreign Zerg players. That alone is an unique opportunity to learn, and Bryan tried his best in order to best his Zerg opponent. Unfortunately, this is where Bryan's MLG journey ends, as he falls to Stephano in both games; 2:0.

Some of you may now be wondering why I want to spotlight Glon, aren't you? Let's look at the another part of the story, let's return at the very beginning of Bryan's StarCraft 2 career.

Bryan "Glon" Gemler joined North American team vVv Gaming a year ago, as mere Silver level Zerg. Yes, you read it right. A mere Silver Zerg. Through his dedication and help from fellow teammates, he climbed higher and higher, eventually reaching the high Master level. Additionally, what is even more unique, StarCraft 2 is Bryan's first RTS. There are many people duscouraging others from trying to attain something in StarCraft 2, but Bryan is an excellent example of the fact, that if you truly are dedicated to something, you can do it, no matter what your starting point is.

While he is not on the top just yet, he is an inspiration to all of us, who started low; the game can be cruel and gruesome at times, but in the end, it is truly rewarding experience, to see one grow from the very bottom to the higher levels of the gameplay. I wish that Glon will climb even higher, as he continues his own training and becoming even more solid Zerg player.

At the end of my writing attempts; Bryan was so gracious to spend some time answering my pesky questions, hoping you'll enjoy reading it.

Hello Bryan, first of all, could you introduce yourself briefly to our readers?

"Hi! My name is Bryan Gemler, and handle is vVvGlon (@vVvGlon). I play zerg in Starcraft 2 and have been playing the game since about a month after it came out. I am currently 17, and looking at colleges at the same time as pursuing a career in professional gaming. On top of starcraft, I enjoy biking, piano, soccer, and debate."

Now, that we know a bit about you, let's look into your gaming past for a bit - have you played any other games, and if so, which ones?

"I used to play Warcraft 3 and Starcraft brood war. Both were confined to just team games, nothing special (aka I was bad at both games)."

Slowly getting to StarCraft 2, as it's major interest of ours - tell me, how did you get to playing StarCraft 2?

"Last winter, I was in silver league. Now, I am one of America's top zergs and am looking to do even better than my recent top 48 performance at MLG Columbus. My Starcraft 2 beginnings are actually quite humorous. I 7-roach-rushed my way from silver to diamond league (the then-master). Realizing from all the rage that I got from countless wins that I should probably look for a less abusive and more overall solid play style, I began to learn how to macro as zerg and eventually stopped roach rushing all together."

Could you tell us a bit more about your StarCraft 2 beginnings? What were your biggest struggles with the game?

"Building off the previous answer, my biggest struggle was learning how to macro. All inning every game (for 500+ games) taught me 2 important things: how to micro, and how to be fast. I learned how to be quick in my movements, decisive in my game decisions. It's here that transitioning into macro was less of an adjustment as people think. Speed/quickness meant that I could gain a macro edge over my opponents through multitasking. Once I learned the macro openings, it was a simple matter to transition into a macro player (for point of reference, this was a year ago, at the beginning of last summer). It got to the point where I wasn't all inning at all anymore, something that I quickly corrected this past fall to mix into a multi game series."

We all have our goals. Someone bigger, someone smaller, but in the end, we all have them. What were your goals in terms of StarCraft 2 by then? Did you just decide to try hard and aim high?

"Back then, I had ambition. I applied and was accepted to vVv as a community member. I was a part of the vVv academy, and made my move to the A team this past winter. I've always strived for success, and nothing ever changed that. A lot about being a professional is not being born with some talent. It's about working harder than anyone else/putting more effort into each meaningful game."

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In your MLG report, you mentioned, that you had friends helping you. Would you mind saying who it was, and how exactly did they help you along the way, in order to become a solid Zerg player you are today?

"My sole biggest influence and tutor in my path of Starcraft 2 is vVv Titan (Tristan Johnson). Although he has retired from playing professionally at the moment, Titan helped to refine my practice and gave me inspiration while watching him play."

Finally getting to your recent MLG performance, where you managed to raise couple of eyebrows - what were your feelings before the tournament? Were you nervous? Did you look forward to the experience?

"Actually, I was more nervous about getting there on time than anything. At the greyhound station, my bus was delayed by an hour + with no explanation or expected departure time given to us. After I got to MLG, I had a settings scare where I couldn't find my normal settings. In the end, I came out confident and ready to face anyone, knowing that I was fully capable of competing with the best players in the tournament."

You faced some renown players during your MLG journey - how did you feel about that? What did it mean for you to be on equal footing with players like EG.Machine and Spades?

"More than this, I was on equal footing with almost every player there. In the winners bracket round 5, I fell to VileDdoro 1-2. This was my biggest mistake of the tournament, as I do not think I should have lost to Ddoro or lost the games that we played. If I had won, I would not only have been one win away from pool play but also would not have had a misfortune of playing Stephano in losers bracket round 7. My performance confirmed my practice results, that I could take down anyone."

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You eventually fell to one of the best Zerg players in the world, Mill.Stephano. What were your feelings about the game with him? Is there anything you know you could've done better? Any 'lessons' you took from that game, which would help you to improve as a player and further solidify your gameplay?

"Rather than retype this out, I wrote a blog on teamliquid about my MLG experience an in particular my games vs Stephano. It can be found here"

Let's move on a bit - you started as Silver level Zerg. That is rather low level - there are many people on that level, who might want to follow your footsteps; is there any kind of advice you'd offer them, to be able to reach what you did?

"I would suggest picking an abusive strategy that wins a lot of games. As a lower level player, honestly just increasing your win rate by any means possible should be your goal. When playing better and better players, your apm and multitasking will up, as well as how cleanly you execute a build. Also, don't be afraid to make up your own strategies. Look at vVvRuff, who has had HUGE success with his unique strategies."

An inevitable question - how much time do you spend practicing StarCraft 2? Any regular schedule, or just winging it, whenever you feel like it? Any specific practice routine, or just ladder for you?

"During school, I practice ~10 hours a week (compared to the 10 hours a day of pros I beat @ MLG :o). During the summer/breaks, it's about 6-8 hours a day. I do a mix of customs and ladder, although I like to spend all my meaningful practice in customs or on korean ladder (because yes, AM ladder is bad)"

I can't forget ask you about your future goals, in terms of StarCraft 2. Anything specific in planning or are you just going to go with the flow? Will we get to see you participating in further MLG's?

"Due to my top 48 MLG performance, I am in the invite-only qualifier for Spring Arena #2. Here, I hope to not only qualifier for the Arena in NYC but then qualifier for Pool play in MLG Anaheim. Regardless, I will be at Anaheim."

Anything else you enjoy besides StarCraft 2? Hobbies, studies, anything?

"I enjoy soccer, biking, and debate. I'm actually quite good at debate, I'm a state finalist. As far as my future concerns, My best guess is something to do with Chemistry and Engineering (Chemical engineering...? :o ). Other than that, school/social life keep me busy on top of practice for SC2."

Thank you for your time, Bryan. I wish you many more successes in StarCraft 2, make us all proud by your hard work!

"As a last word -- shout out to the whole vVv family, in particular our manager, vVvSugarbear. Thanks a bunch!"

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