What I’ve Been Playing – Ni No Kuni & Path of Exile

Hey guys! So I’ve been busy these past few days with Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) and the Path of Exile Open Beta. These games could not be more different from each other, with Ni No Kuni being an international release of the JRPG that came out in 2011, while Path of Exile is an Action RPG that has been in development for years. One is a art and story-driven game that takes a while to get started and has a lot of tutorializing, while the other is a hack and slash that gives you near to no explanation on its complex mechanics and systems.

However, both games do have some things in common as well: They both seek to harken back to the roots of their respective genres, and they both have fairly complicated ways of progressing your character. With most first impressions, I’ve found it easier to simply lay out my thoughts in a bullet point format, as they are not fully formed but are substantial enough that I felt it needed to be written down.

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead for Ni No Kuni

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

So, I’ve played about 10+ hours into this game and am around the Al Mamoon section of the game.

The Good:

  • The game has an amazing art style, and it really draws me into the world created by Level-5 and Studio Ghibli. The cutscenes are fantastic and definitely a highlight of the game so far.
  • The voice acting is great. I went with the English dub and they did a really good job of it. Mr. Drippy, the mascot and your mentor throughout the game (so far), has a Welsh accent and is a great character. He helps to bring joy and comic relief in an environment where it is extremely bleak and sombre.
  • The Familiar system seems expansive, and well designed. I just got to the point of the game where Esther learns to Serenade monsters that have ‘fallen in love’ with you, as well as metamorphosis of the familiars. That, combined with the affinity and type systems allows for combat to be filled with possibilities.
  • The music in this game has been fabulous as well. With Joe Hisaishi composing the tracks, he weaves a magical soundtrack that captures the world that Ghibli and Level-5 worked hard to create perfectly.

The Bad:

  • With the complex familiar system and combat getting harder, the introduction of an AI partner brings combat to an entirely new level – but it comes with a price. Instead of a Persona-esque style of management, with the player able to direct each party member and instruct them on what move to use, the combat in this game has an ‘Active-Time Battle’ (ATB) system in place. So,  not only does the battle happen in relatively real time, but you can also move around in an enclosed space. This becomes an issue when another party member is introduced and you have two familiars on the field at one time. They allow you to shift between each human member, but every time you switch, you need to recast your familiar and wait another few seconds, while all you wanted to do was simply to switch to the familiar that was already out and cast a healing spell. This alone would not pose much of a problem, but combined with the shoddy AI and ‘Tactics’ system, it becomes a hindrance. While MP isn’t a big problem in the game, there are some puzzles that require usage of MP outside of combat. This problem is exacerbated when AI members use MP and spells at the drop of a hat, even when they are instructed not to do so. This creates a very frustrating experience and I honestly cannot imagine how one can progress with a third party member in tow.
  • Quests in this game are handled rather poorly. The game hand holds you through a lot of the quests, and also has a ton of needless animations/menus. For example, a recurring side quest is walking around town and curing people of ‘brokenheartedness’, and it is a fairly simple task of finding someone with a green blip on the minimap and taking a piece of their overflowing heart (be it with kindness, courage, love, etc) and giving it to said brokenhearted person. This is all well and good, but it becomes an annoyance when every single time, they highlight the keyword that you are looking for in red. So there is no puzzle to solve, it is simply the task of walking between two NPCs. Then they also have a little animation that plays every time you get a piece of heart, and an animation that plays whenever you give a piece of heart. This draws out the tedium longer and longer and becomes somewhat of an annoyance over time.

So there you have it, my impressions of Ni No Kuni, after about 10 hours of gameplay. After writing this all out, as it sounds like the game might have more bad things than good. However, the sheer sincerity and whimsy that the world and game are presented is nigh overwhelming and cannot be neglected. Ni No Kuni tries very hard and is very close to succeeding, but if the combat and actual gameplay get in the way of my completion of the game, I’m afraid I’ll have to close the book on this world.

Path of Exile [Open Beta]

The open beta of Path of Exile (PoE) just launched about 12 hours ago, and the servers have been hit extremely hard, with players hitting the ground – some with a lot of experience through the closed beta, and some completely fresh. Here are my thoughts so far (I have a 13 ranger and an 8 templar):

The Mixed:

  • I’ll start off by saying this, my feelings about this game are extremely mixed. On one hand, I want to play this game like Diablo 2, trying out different builds and experimenting; deleting characters and rerolling. But on the other hand, I also just want to experience the game once or twice through, and have a good time doing so, without feeling like my character sucks or can be a whole lot better if only I had spent my points into x instead of y.
  • The passive skill tree in this game is astounding. At first glance, it blows your mind that this is even in a game and that you have to navigate through it. On a second, more in-depth look, you realize that a lot of skills are reused (albeit in smart locations) and that, yes, there are a lot of possibilities for different builds, it isn’t an impossible maze to maneuver through.

The Good:

  • The town hall system and the global chat system are both fantastic ideas. It is clear from this implementation that these are veteran Diablo 2 players and they know exactly what they wanted when they started work on this game. The chat system makes the game feel alive. Having the ability to link a cool item, or see a cool item drop at any time is fantastic and motivates you even further. Having a global trade chat is awesome and allows even newbies to have a taste of the current market, even though they might get ripped off (such is life in an online ARPG!)
  • The no-gold system is stupendously clever and is another reason why you can tell that these developers have played a lot of RPGs. With a mainly consumable-based economy, the market is in a near constant state of flux as more users come in and more items go out. This is a solution to something that WoW faces during every expansion. With gold, there is a constant influx of material being generated (i.e. mobs being killed), this alone is not inherently bad, as this happens with PoE items as well (Scroll of Wisdom for example). However, with scrolls of wisdom, they can be consumed and therefore removed from the game entirely. Gold doesn’t have that functionality inherently, it has to be created artificially by developers, hence the term ‘gold sink’ is created. Services or Items that are rendered to the player in exchange for a hefty amount of gold – that is the only way that the system takes gold out of the economy. Everything else gets cycled through the players, and it eventually becomes obsolete. The only reason why gold is still a large factor in WoW, and why it isn’t in Diablo 2, is because of ‘soulbound’ items, which is another, alternate solution to the problem. By soulbinding items, it stops players from using another form of currency (such as Stones of Jordan) instead of gold. It forces players to continue to use gold as there is no way to trade the best items to each other and cut out the middleman.

The Bad:

  • Obviously with a game that is f2p and under a new/small developer, there is a certain amount of polish to be expected (or lack thereof.) Which is why I won’t harp on it too much, since it is open beta and it is also a f2p game. But, since it draws comparisons to Torchlight 2 and Diablo 3 in terms of gameplay and style, one must also take note of the amount of polish or finesse this game possess as well. In short, it feels slightly clunky. The game tries to have good animations and sound effects, but it cannot compare to the utter destruction that one can wield in Diablo 3, or the power of a handcannon blast in Torchlight 2. So do not go into this game expecting an all-around better game, with amazing visuals and cinematics and better combat.
  • Tutorials, or the lack thereof. Again, it is an open beta so one may assume that they will add some handholding in the first few levels, but as a whole, almost nothing is explained to you and you have to assume a lot. Gems, support gems and linking on gem setups, as well as orbs and how the goldless economy functions; all these topics are not explained. You may even spend the first 3-4 hours spending points aimlessly and find out you’ve done it completely wrong and now you have no hp or mana and you’re dead. That could happen. So, do some research, and maybe have a laptop or tablet or smartphone next to you while you play.

So that’s Path of Exile! I’ll probably jump back in soon to get a better taste of it all, as I heard the combat picks up a lot (with the appearance of support gems and the like) around 20-30, so we will see. That excuse sounds just like a JRPG though!

Please leave a comment if you liked/hated what Wunder wrote. You can also @ him on twitter @joonjoewong and tell him how much you love him there too! Or not, whatever. 

 

Fantasy Proleague – Why you should be participating

So, Fantasy Proleague. Basically a ‘fantasy’ league for Proleague, a Starcraft 2 team league that started with Broodwar, it is a top priority for the participating teams as it was the only Broodwar team league that had any semblance of being a ‘sport’. In the same way that you would gather to watch a football  or rugby match, Proleague represented that for Broodwar, as the central way of determining who the best ‘team’ was in the scene. Individual leagues were all well and good, but that only showcased one person’s talents, and perhaps his team’s preparation – Proleague represented the entire team working together to meticulously prepare strategies to defeat the other team.

Now, Fantasy leagues in sports, as I understand it, basically allow you to play the role of a ‘team owner’, but one that can pick and choose their ‘best team… Their, ‘fantasy’ team, if you will. I’m not sure how it would really work in football or something, but it seems a lot easier in eSports and Starcraft 2, since you have individuals playing in a sequence, rather than an entire team on the field at once. But I’m digressing. So FPL is quite simple, at it’s core. You have 6 players and a team that make up your ‘fantasy team’. These guys get you your points and you want them to win! But, there’s a catch – on the other side, you also have to pick 3 players that make up your ‘anti-team’. These players are out to get you and take your points away! That is basically the gist of Fantasy Proleague, but here is where it gets interesting – you can’t just pick the best players and team for your fantasy team and the worst players for the anti-team, that would be way too easy. Every player and team is assigned a point value, based off their past performances in broadcasted matches, as well as how the admins feel the player is doing (if there isn’t much data). So you need to fit a total of 6 players and a team, within 30 points. With the anti-team, you need to have your 3 players hit a minimum of 15 points.

Once you have your team, you are locked in for the whole week, and you have to watch as up to 8 matches are played during the week. Afterwards, trading is opened up, and you can then trade players that might not have done so well for lesser players that may pick up a couple of points, or a player that was doing really well for a player that you think might do better next week. This goes on for about four weeks, and then that round is over. After that, a winner is declared for that round, and everything is reset and prepared for the next round. For this year’s Proleague, there will be a total of 7 rounds, and then the Playoffs, which don’t get a Fantasy Proleague round, since it no longer is a league, but a bracket.

So, now that explanation is out of the way, we can finally talk about how badly I’m doing! Here is my team from last round, the first round that kicked off Proleague. As you can see I got completely mauled by sHy, who turned out to be a beastly Protoss. It was a learning experience though, as I realized my mistakes and tried not to make them in this current round. One thing I forgot to mention, was the format of the team league. So usually Proleague follows a set format: A set of 6 Best of 1s between 6 different players from each team, on a pre-determined map pool, and finally an ‘Ace’ match, if the scores are tied at the end of the 6 matches. That was the format for round 1, and will be the format for rounds 3,4,6 and 7. However, for rounds 2 and 5, they decided to mix it up with another popular format, the ‘All-kill’ format, which basically has two players start the match, and the winner of that set keeps playing, until he gets defeated or racks up four wins for his team. Each format has it’s pros and cons, with the more traditional proleague format demanding a more well-rounded team, but the ‘all-kill’ style allowing for one player to completely dominate and shutdown an entire team’s roster.

Ohgodshy.jpg


How does this apply to you though? You might even say it takes a lot of work to maintain and look up player’s stats and lineups. You would be half-right, it does take some work to look up players and be up to date with their values, but really, most of the work is at the start of the round, and a bit at the end of each week, when trading opens. By simply creating a team, either based off what your head is telling you, or what your heart believes – it gives you a stake in almost each match. When a player you have on your team comes out, or wins a match, you cheer for him with all your heart to continue the streak and get you more points. When an anti-teamer comes out – a silent, brooding hate creeps upon you, and for the next 30 minutes you wish for nothing but for that player to lose and perform abysmally, and when that happens, you  instantly perk up and are happy. That might sound a bit twisted and wrong, especially if you pick anti-teams based off simply performance and not who you really dislike as a player, because it causes an irrational dislike for the player that can easily carry forward past proleague, into other tournaments. But I think that’s part of the fun, and allows someone who isn’t really in tune with the KeSPA players to really dive in easily, even if it might seem a bit artificial or materialistic. I also think if you have a few friends or have a forum, it can really spawn a fun rivalry between the group, and create a good sense of community between the FPLers. 

So for round 1, I went into it not expecting much, and decided to try and play to my heart and a few educated guesses. I went with Samsung KHAN, and picked Jangbi as my anchor, he was my ‘captain’ and I wouldn’t be able to trade him no matter what the circumstances were. I then went with some of my other favorite KeSPA players, such as Fantasy, ZerO and Bbyong. Because I picked the point-heavy Fantasy, I had to close out my last two picks with really cheap players, ones that were worth 1 or 2 points. So I originally went with Shine and Thorzain. I won’t go week by week, but it was safe to say that although my trio of Fantasy, ZerO and Bbyong ended up doing fairly well in terms of points, it was completely negated by sHy’s breakout performance and Samsung KHAN’s abysmal one. It was a painful lesson, and one I won’t forget too soon – which is why when the second round was around the corner, I was ready and began planning.

Because round 2 was a new format, there was another chance for me to screw up and possibly make another big blunder, but I was determined to try and be as calculated as possible. For my new team, I went with my strong trio of Bbyong, Fantasy and ZerO once again – and chose SKT T1 as my new team. I originally had Jangbi in as well, but opted to pick up SoO, as it was too big of a risk to waste a space on a possible under-performing Samsung once again. To round out the team, I went back to Thorzain, who picked up a win after I had traded him, and Flying, under a few recommendations that he was an underrated player. For my anti-team, I went for an all protoss group, starring Jaehoon/Argo, Trap and Stork. I felt Trap and Stork were both solid picks with only Argo being a possible upset, as Team 8 was relatively understaffed and he would almost certainly be used if they were on their back foot. I was confident that it would not be a repeat of sHy, though.

The following pictures are from week two, the first being the score that I had on the 14th, before the last day of matches for week 2, and the second one being the updated score as it currently stands. As you can see, Jaehoon decided to win a few games, taking out Fantasy and finishing off SKT1 in the last day of week 2. This put me, for the first time in a bad position because prior to this, I was slowly slipping down the ranks, but was still in a good spot in terms of my groups. However this put me in second place in Tunks, and 6th in the NeoGAF group! I’m in a bit of a predicament going into week 3, as I cannot really trade Jaehoon for anyone else, feasibly. I still believe the wins were somewhat of a fluke and I’m not willing to trade up for someone like herO or P7GAB.

24 hours remainingGod damnit.

I will definitely wait for the lineups to be posted though, before I make any decisions. I have a few possible options though, but a lot of them are pretty wild and risky, like double trading Thorzain and Flying so I can pick up Bbatta, since Flying is my only Protoss – I’d have to trade Thorzain for a 1 point Protoss and Flying can be replaced by Bbatta. ZerO for Stats or Stephano is also very plausible, as is SoO for Revival – as all three have shown good promise lately. As I said, it will all depend on the starters, if someone I can grab is on a starter and ZerO/SoO aren’t, then I might pull the trigger and grab them and hope for a good few points, since as it stands ZerO and SoO are minor players in the grand scheme of their team. I had one possibility pre-update, which was trading SKT for CJ, but once the scores updated there is no way that would have been possible.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my small post about Fantasy Proleague! Round 2 is about half way through, with week 3 starting this Saturday, so it’s a weird time to post this, but I wanted to give people a heads up to start preparing for Round 3, as well as tell the world about my current predicament. Thanks for reading!

Wunder is an eSports writer and reporter, you can follow him @joonjoewong where you can see him rage at his anti-team in all caps. Or Protoss.

Dennis ‘mouzHasuobs’ Schneider @ IEM Singapore – Transcript

Hey guys, here’s the transcript of the interview I did with mouzHasuObs. I hope you enjoy it!

 

Hi this is Joe Wong and this is IEM Day 3, and I’m here with mouzHasuObs. HasuObs, how are you doing?

Not too well today, as I lost to Zenio 0-3, and I think I played really, really bad. Zenio played really good though, so he deserved the win. So, I’m not feeling too well.

You came into this tournament prepared to cast, you were announced as a caster. Due to some last minute cancellations you came in as a replacement for another player, and you didn’t have your gear. I heard on Twitter though, that Razer managed to hook you up, how did that situation go?

As you said, I was planing to be a caster here, I didn’t qualify for the IEM, I tried to but I lost in the third stage in the European qualification. When I came here, on the second day, Carmac told me that there is a possibility that I replace one of the players in the group stages. I said I didn’t have my equipment with me so he helped me to contact Razer, Razer was one of our sponsors and he was asking for the gear and they brought it, one day before I had to play. So yeah, that worked out pretty good and that’s the story.

So how prepared were you going into this tournament, were you confident in your groups and with your match ups?

I think the group itself: MC, Vortix, PiG and me, was pretty tough – and there were two more players from the open bracket. I think we got a little bit lucky that we only got Mafia and Yekke, instead of one of the Koreans or Lucifron. Overall I think my group was doable, and I managed to get out as third place. so that was OK. I think I played good in the group stages.

So recently in a lot of the major tournaments and a lot of people have been talking about it, ZvP has been a huge topic of discussion, with Immortal/Sentry allins and late game Broodlord/Infestor. Where do you think ZvP is right now?

Not in the best stage of the game, I think. Those two things you mentioned are something definitely Blizzard has to work on. The late game is not fun to play, and not fun to watch. It’s pretty silly to play, sometimes, if it’s one vortex or about the Zerg spreading his army. The Immortal allin is also not too beautiful to watch, it really comes down to forcefields and if the Zerg flanks properly or not, so there is at least a bit more stuff the players can do I think. But I hope Blizzard will try to address some of those problems and I think while they just announced some of the new patch notes, so we’ll see if that helps.

Yeah, let’s talk about the call to action, the balance map that they just put out – are you familiar with the changes?

Yeah, is it the fungal growth –

Fungal can’t hit psionic and there’s a Terran change, Seeker Missile doesn’t require research, what are your thoughts mainly on the fungal change?

I was reading the reasons of Blizzard and they made the change to make High Templars and Ghosts better against Infestors. Which it’s going to be correct, because if fungal can’t hit Templars or Ghosts then you can easily feedback or snipe or even EMP them. The problem is, Protoss has a lot of psionic units like Sentry, Archon, DT even Warp Prism. So I’m not sure if Blizzard was aware of Protoss having so many psionic units,  so maybe they will tweak a bit about the status of the psionic units, but overall I guess it’s a good change and I really hope it will help in the late game. That it is more dynamic and the players don’t have to wait that long anymore.

A lot of players have been talking about Speed Warp Prism, being something that has potential for good harass if the patch goes through. Do you have any thoughts on that about late game PvZ, maybe that could change, in terms of harassing the Zerg. The Zerg can’t really catch a speed Warp Prism if they can’t fungal it.

I agree, Warp Prism with speed is a really good tool to harass your opponent. It has already been working kind of OK against Zerg, sometimes it works really well, sometimes it doesn’t – it depends if he already has spines or spores in his main. I think if you cannot catch it with fungal anymore, it might be a bit too strong, but I’m not really sure about it yet. I think they could set up,  they can up root their spines and spores so they could somehow defend it if they position their spores correctly. We have to find out – the change hasn’t really been tested, so we will see.

Let’s move on to Heart of the Swarm, the release date was announced: March 12th [I said March 28th in the video.] We have about 3 or 4 months left of the beta, but before that the pros have been saying there hasn’t been a lot of point to play the Beta. “There are a lot of tournaments going on, I still have to prepare.” Of course there is still a lot changing, do you think Blizzard is maybe having trouble balancing the beta as it is because they just aren’t getting enough pro feedback?

That might be a problem, but I think they get a lot of feedback from the community itself, not just from pro players. So I think there is a lot of feedback about the balance but I think the bigger problem was that Blizzard, in my opinion, wasn’t too sure where to go for some of the units. Like the oracle, has been changed two or three times and the mothership core was changed often too. So the units are very different now from where they were at the start of the beta, but I think now we’re in a pretty good stage. The mothership core feels to be a very useful unit in the Protoss army, the widow mine seems useful for the Terran. I’m not really sure if it’s too strong or not, because I didn’t really play it so far. But I think Blizzard is heading in the right direction and they still have a few more weeks to go.

Now, I recall MorroW made a post on the battle.net forums about forcefields, did you read it at all?

It was a very, very long post, I think, so I didn’t read all of it. But I understand what he means.

I can’t recall exactly, but he threw out a few suggestions and reasons why forcefield is such a negative spell to the game. It prevents Zerg from microing and it all depends on the Protoss – not really between both players. So what do you think can be done to change the forcefield? Because I know the Oracle has the time warp ability, which a lot of people were suggesting that the forcefield be changed to that. 

I have to agree, spells that completely disable the movement of units – they always feel too strong. Like in Warcraft 3 where you had Ensnare [Orc Raiders had the ability Ensnare, which rooted a unit.] Now we have fungal and forcefield, to some extent. I agree, in some cases forcefield is too strong and the problem I see is that Protoss can’t survive without it. Forcefield is also pretty hard to use, unless you’re MC and all your forcefields are perfect, but I definitely see the problem and I’m not really sure what Blizzard can do to fix it. It is just the design of the Protoss race, at least the early to midgame design. I guess the new spell of the oracle, is a good solution, where it slows down. I think fungal should be exactly like this, it shouldn’t root units it should slow down. Maybe Blizzard has some good ideas about changing it, but right now they didn’t say anything about forcefields so maybe it will just stay like this. 

Let’s move on to the future and further tournaments, is this the last major LAN for you?

This year, you mean?

Yeah, 2012.

No, there is going to be the EPS finals in two weeks, the biggest German league – I’m in the semifinal and I will play against monchi. I think after that, there’s the Homestory Cup coming up, I’m not too sure yet if I will attend because it’s right before Christmas, so I’m not sure if I’m going to be at my family’s place or yeah, I have to figure it out. So those two events, the EPS for sure and then maybe the Homestory Cup.

So do you have any last shoutouts or thank yous?

Yup, thanks for the interview. Thanks to my team mousesports, all the partners and sponsors and obviously a big shoutout to the fans and all the supporters, so, thank you.

 

Pedro ‘Lucifron’ Duran @ IEM Singapore – Transcript

Hey guys, this is the Lucifron interview I shot at IEM Singapore. The italicized text are my questions and the bolded text are Lucifron’s responses. Thanks to my friend, Rohan, for helping to transcribe this interview.

This is Joe Wong and I’m here with Karont3 eSports club’s Lucifron. How are you doing?

Well I lost yesterday in the tournament but I don’t mind too much about it at the moment so, yeah, I’m fine.

Right so you lost in the Ro12 to sting 2-3 could you just recap those games for me?

Yeah. The first game, it was on Ohana. It was a really back and forth game, marine tank vs marine tank, and in the end I just managed to win the game because basically he didn’t keep expanding as I did. So there was a point where he had to economy left and I just won the game. The next game was on Antiga Shipyard. I opened marine hellion medivac expand with fast gas. He went for a strategy that I had never seen before. He basically marine hellion banshee. So when I scouted hellions, I scouted like three hellions so I thought that he wasn’t playing banshee so I decide to move in the map while taking an expansion, but then one banshee was in my main base and he took like 15 SCVs and the game was over at that point. But then the third game was very similar to Ohana. Marine tank vs marine tank kind of standard game, half an hour. I think I was doing good, I felt I was ahead in the game but I overextended myself a couple of times and in the end I lost it but after the series, watching the replay, I really thought that that was the game that made me lose the series because I think I should have won that one, but that happens. Then, Whirlwind, I went triple command and he went 1 base all in but since it was crossed I managed to hold and then the game was over. And then on Daybreak again it was marine medivac vs marine medivac. I took my third earlier than he took his and he pushed me. I should have held that push but I forgot my medivacs for the start of the fight so there were like 10 marines that shouldn’t have died that fast and then I lost my orbital and the game was over. So yeah that was pretty much it.

So, going into IEM, the group stages, the seeded players, there were no Terrans. So how prepared were you for the Sting match? Is TvT a good matchup for you?

I don’t really like the early game, uh, I don’t know I just don’t feel comfortable with it yet, I think I have to work on that a lot, but then when the game gets longer and its marine tank vs. marine tank, or bio vs. mech, or whatever, I kind of like the matchup and I’m not as bad on it as I am against protoss late game, so yeah I think I have to work on my early game, but overall I like the matchup. About the specific practice for it, the week before this tournament I was in BWC where there weren’t too many Terrans, so it’s not that I didn’t play a single TvT but I didn’t focus on the matchup as much as the other two. I don’t think I lost because of that but I didn’t practice that match a lot.

So lets talk about the practice and this trend of the brothers Duran. So obviously in a lot of major tournaments, WCS Europe, and the BWC, you faced your brother Vortix and he’s beat you and I think he has a winning record against you. Can you just explain your relationship with your brother and your practice schedule with him?

Well, the relationship is good of course, we aren’t mad at each other when we lose or something like that. We don’t practice much together to be honest, it’s more talking about the matchup and the game and so on. About the head-to-head record, yeah he’s ahead. Some months ago it was really worse for me, maybe I won like 30% of the time, 20-30%. Now its even, its 50-50 in practice and well I lost 2-3 at the BWC so it was kind of close. It has gotten better lately, but his ZvT is, I think, his best matchup, and probably I would say one of the three best ZvTs in Europe, if not the best. So having an even win record against him is okay.

So, going into IEM Singapore, and before the BWC, like you said that there weren’t that many terrans. Do you see that as kind of a trend going forward? I mean, why are Terrans doing so badly?

Im not really sure, like its true that there weren’t too many Terrans there but in Korea I think most of them forfeit the qualifiers to play another tournament, then for this tournament I’m not really sure why. In the Korean qualifier, no Terran qualified, neither in Europe, but most of the top players did play them so I guess they just lost. As for it it’s a growing trend, im not really sure, like I think in GSL there are 2 Terrans I think in top 4. That’s not too bad and I don’t know, it’s true that there are few Terrans in top tournaments compared to other races, but at the same time, there are Terrans who are winning and beating top players so I cant really blame it on the race when there’s people winning. Maybe it’s just at this moment, it’s harder to play, but I don’t thing it’s necessarily weaker.

Alright, lets talk about the balance of WOL. Dustin Browder recently said that theres gonna be a balance patch and they released a Antiga Shipyard 1.5.3 balance. Have you read the notes?

I think that seeker missile is no longer an upgrade and –

Fungal cant hit Psionic units.

Yeah, well I haven’t tested. I would like to play it, but the changes are in the right way for me, like if anyone asks me if there’s anything imbalanced in the game I would say that when Zerg has a lot of infestors it’s really hard because it feels like a big infestor army counters everything, or that’s the impresson I get when I play against Zerg. So now that fungal doesn’t affect ghost, it will be much easier to EMP them and snipe them in the late game. So I think we will definitely see a lot more ghost play in the late game. So, I wanna test it but I kind of like the changes.

Alright, lets talk about Heart of the Swarm, so recently they removed the warhound and Terran doesn’t really have too much new stuff. They have the hellbat, they have the cool reaper change, they have the widow mine. But Protoss has all this cool stuff, mothership core, oracle and Zerg obviously has the viper and the swarm host. Do you think Terran needs more tools coming in to Heart of the Swarm?

Well, to be honest, I haven’t played a single game yet on HotS because I’ve been having a lot of Wings Of Liberty tournaments, but yeah I think it will be good to have a lot of options and so on, I think that adds fun to the game but I’m not really sure, until I play the game I cant really know how the new things for Terran play and so on, I just..cant know.

Okay, so last words, closing statements, do you have any shoutouts to your sponsors?

I would like to thank my team, Karont3 eSports club, for bringing here to play in the Open Bracket. My sponsors, Versus Gamers and Ozone. Shoutouts to everyone who watched the tournament and I hope I can do better next week, in IPL5.

Jarett ‘teh_pwnerer’ Cale @ IEM Singapore – Transcript

Hey guys! The following is a transcript from this interview with Jarett Cale. The bolded text are his responses while the italicized text are mine. Sorry if there are any errors or redundancies – I took some liberties while transcribing and removed a lot of pauses or “uhms, y’know” and other things, hopefully I didn’t take away anything from the actual answer. Enjoy!

This is Joe Wong and I’m here with the one, the only, ‘teh_pwnerer’, how are you doing Jarett?

I’m doing really good, I’m very excited.

Alright, so let’s get into your new role in eSports, you’ve done some hosting gigs for IEM and a lot of the Frag for Charity stuff, what’s the plan for the future? Are you looking to host larger scale events, like MLG or Dreamhack or just remain with IEM?

I think I’m leaning more and more in that direction, when I took the first IEM job, it was really for the life experience. I knew Carmac for a long time and he said, “Hey, what do you think about coming to Germany and hosting my event”, and I’d never been to Germany, never hosted an event, it sounded like a lot of fun and really exciting, nerve-wracking at the same time, so I took it. And I had a lot more fun than I expected, it was kind of a rocky start but it was still fun for me – maybe not for everyone at home. But, by the end I really enjoyed it, a lot more than I expected to, it didn’t really feel like work.

Being a big eSports fan, the biggest paycheck for me, was getting to hang out and eat dinner with MC and Nestea and meet all these guys that I’ve been watching for all these years. So, now they invited me out to Singapore and I came out here and I’m just having so much fun and meeting so many interesting people and having these great experiences. So if I could expand on that I think that’s cool, I couldn’t say no to those sorts of opportunities and honestly I never thought I would do that and become an eSports host, and it just sort of happened and now that it’s happening and I’m really enjoying it, I think, “Yeah, I think I’ll keep going with it” and see how many more I could do.

Right, so let’s talk about Singapore and the event. How are you liking the event and is this your first time in Singapore?

This is my first time in Singapore, first time anywhere in Asia. So that was, aside from the 30 hour trip here, it’s been amazing. The event, it’s been a lot more relaxed than Germany, we knew coming in we didn’t have the strongest line up – a lot of the LoL teams dropped out and we had to replace them with local teams. So we had a big group meeting and we just said, “Let’s just enjoy ourselves, we’ll have a lot of fun on camera, and people at home will have fun.” We’re not trying to make it out as the biggest, greatest eSports event ever because we know, there are a lot of great players that aren’t here. So I think that made it a lot more relaxing for everyone working the event. So I think it’s been a lot of fun and although people might not have been expecting it they’ve probably enjoyed it a lot more – I know at home too, I’ve been reading the teamliquid and reddit threads and people seem to be enjoying it.

We’ve had amazing games, I don’t know if you saw the MC vs Grubby Bo5, but that could be one of the best PvP series, of all time. That I’ve ever seen. So, I’m shocked, even in League of Legends, we’ve had some incredible games, even though there’s some relatively new teams. That’s what’s great about Carmac and the IEM too, they’ve always had the open qualifiers and they give a chance for locals, for anyone to come in and represent, and that’s how you find new blood too – I’m meeting so many new people.

Yeah, especially on the League of Legends side you saw teams like Itadakimasu and the KL team who really take games off these international teams, that they probably wouldn’t even the chance to face. So let’s talk a bit about, hosting in general. We’ve seen you do stuff like RPS and giving stuff away, and in contrast to some other hosts in the other tournaments, how do you try and make the interactions on stage not as awkward and dampen it so that it’s quite casual?

Well, I have a comedy background, before I wrote and acted I started stand-up so a lot of the time I’m sort of on auto-pilot. I actually get really nervous, so I do have a lot of stage fright – so when I get up there I go into auto-pilot and trust in my instincts and I’m hoping I bring a little more comedy and a little more animation, to the hosting than other eSports hosts because I have that unique background. A lot of the gamers, they’re not the most comfortable on camera, comfortable on stage, so before our interviews I always like to talk with them and get them comfortable – I let them know what I’m going to ask them and encourage them to come out of their shell a bit because it’s important for them, for building fans. To be themselves, and show their personality, because off camera these guys are so friendly and they’re funny – but they get on camera and they’re very nervous and they give these awkward answers. So I’m trying to help them, off camera, to develop their on camera personalities. This guy [points to MC], does not need any help. But yeah, I think I got your question.

Let’s talk about your past, Pure Pwnage recently started an indiegogo kickstarter, and as a huge fan, I rushed to back it. You’ve had your ups and downs, you started the web series and then moved into the TV series, what’s the goal here; with the kickstarter. You exceeded your goal, you hit 211k, your original target was 75k. What’s the goal here, what are you trying to shoot for?

I really want to make a movie that makes gamers proud. Like the way Pure Pwnage, I think, made people proud. I mean obviously we’re taking the piss a lot of the time out of gamer culture, but not in the same way Hollywood tries to. We’re not mocking gamers and calling them all losers, that sleep in race car beds. Hollywood has attempted and failed, in my opinion, many times to make that sort of comment. What I really want to do, is make something that’s really funny, with a really high production value – like a Hollywood level  production value, but that’s authentic, that’s really gamers and real gamers in it. I’m already talking to so many pros of getting them into the movie, as cameos or maybe characters. The humor making it authentic. More than anything else, I want to make a movie that when gamers watch, they’re proud of it, and it inspires them. The way that the web series inspired them, to be proud of who they are and hopefully they’ll laugh their ass off the whole way through.

Talking about the web series, you invented the FPS memes before memes were really a thing, with Boom! Headshot and a lot of lingo we still use today. Going into the movie, are you still going to take the same attitude, or are you going to be taking a fresh, new look, with eSports the way it is now.

Well, a lot has changed, in eSports, now it’s a big thing, right? So I think the universe is going to shift a bit in that way, a lot of time has passed. We’re still going to, not only try to reuse Boom! Headshot and previous memes, but absolutely it’s important for us to create those certain scenes, you always want those certain few sayings that can really resonate within the community and become new memes. So we definitely want to do something very, very fresh. I’m obviously very conscious of how much the community, the culture has changed since we started Pure Pwnage. I hope people think I still nailed it, I hope. Yeah, I mean I hope it’s great.

So I really gotta ask, people have been wondering who’s going to be coming back, obviously Doug’s been in the behind the scenes shoots a lot and obviously Geoff has also been – is going to be the camera man, I assume. Will Dave be coming back? I loved Cooking with Dave, it was an awesome spin-off, will we see him back?

Well, I can’t say 100% for sure, because we haven’t shot it yet. But I mean, it’s our biggest priority. So I’d say 99% for sure, unless something horrible were to happen, Dave is going to be in there.

Alright, let’s talk about your eSports likes and dislikes. What’s the biggest game for you right now, Starcraft 2 and League of Legends are here but is there anything else you’re looking forward to? Has Red Alert ever caught your eye again, if that’s ever going to get made?

I suppose, Generals 2 is coming out – it’s supposed to be free to play, so I’ll give that a shot. But I’m really not that excited for it I guess, EA has broken my heart many times, but now I’ve learned. I was that battered wife, but now I’ve left him. I’m out on my own, man.

You have your new, swanky husband.

I got a rich husband now man, but honestly, I’m playing a lot of League of Legends, I’m kind of addicted. It’s the first time I’ve been addicted to a game in a long time. I play a little bit of the Heart of the Swarm beta, but generally I get really anxious, I have a lot of ladder anxiety when I play and winning means a lot to me. I don’t like being bad and a decade ago, in university when I could play 8-12 hours a day and I used to be a competitive CnC player, it meant a lot to me to be good, so I don’t like losing. So I don’t like going and placing in “Platinum”, I don’t like getting my ass kicked by guys that – I know I should kick their ass if I could just put in the energy I had before. So often, my Starcraft experiences leave me a bit bummed out and I end up playing League, and so these days it’s almost entirely League of Legends with a little bit of Nintendo 3DS mixed in there.

Getting away from hosting, we see a lot of other personalities taking an outside role in eSports where they host weekly shows, is that something you’re interested in?

I’ve thought about it. I’m in a cool position where, I get to meet and get to know all these pro gamers, and they know me – a lot of them used to watch Pure Pwnage back in the day, so it’s just a great ‘in’, right? So as an eSports fan I’m really, really lucky because I have these opportunities, so I’ve tossed around these ideas, because there’s a vacuum. There’s a lot of eSports shows but they’re all very similar, and I’ve had a lot of neat ideas for more casual shows, more ‘sit down’, “Inside the Actor’s Studio” type stuff. Getting into their lives, something more personal, rather than the sort of interviews you typically see. Also streaming, for the movie we’re going to be doing some streaming and personally I’m going to be doing some streaming as well. So you can expect to see a little bit more eSports content from me, outside of hosting as well, although the exact format is still up in the air.

Alright sweet, so before we wrap it up, do you have any last shoutouts or your Twitter?

You can follow me at @JarettCale, good luck spelling it. And I always like to thank Carmac, because he’s the reason I’m here, and he gave me the chance, to not just host this event but to get to meet all of these people, which has already opened up so many more doors, and opened more doors from there and it just keeps expanding. He was ground zero for that so always give a shoutout to Carmac and my son Taran, so “Hi Monkey”.

Michal ‘Carmac’ Blicharz @ IEM Singapore – Transcript

Hey guys! The following is a transcript from this interview with Carmac. The bolded text are his responses while the italicized text are mine. Sorry if there are any errors or redundancies – I took some liberties while transcribing and removed a lot of pauses or “uhms, y’know” and other things, hopefully I didn’t take away anything from the actual answer. Enjoy!

This is Joe Wong, and I’m here with Carmac, how are you doing Carmac?

I’m good, I haven’t had anything to eat for the last 8 hours or so, but I’m high on adrenaline, everything’s good, people are enjoying themselves and we just had an epic FFA that was really, really fun. The whole event is a really, really entertaining thing.

Let’s get right into it, IEM Singapore, a replacement for IEM Guangzhou–

No, it was not a replacement, we wanted to go to Singapore all along.

OK, so the next stop in the IEM circuit then. You had no Terrans going into the group stages, and unfortunately a few people had dropped out, but there was four Terrans in the open bracket, and there wasn’t much hype going into this tournament. Y’know there was Dreamhack going on, of course at a different time, but now we see – grand finals, a huge crowd here and a huge surge of popularity from social media, how do you think the event went?

As you said, there was not much hype, partly because this isn’t really and never was intended as an epic, epic mind blowing experience, because this is not what we do when we go into new territory. This was more of a ‘Let’s bring eSports to Singapore’ type event, to have fun, enjoy ourselves – I mean you saw the FFA probably… That’s the idea, to have a family spirit and allow maybe a couple of Singapore players to compete against someone like MC, someone like Grubby and maybe get noticed and get a chance, get sponsored, go somewhere. From that perspective, it’s been amazing.

There’s a lot of people from Singapore that came to me and said, “Hey thank you for bringing this to Singapore, we really appreciate it”, whereas, y’know, if you do another event somewhere in Europe where there are already, several events, they will be like, “Yeah great, maybe I will go to the next one because I have a birthday party to go to”, or something like that. So, there is certainly a really, really big degree of appreciation here and from that perspective and the enjoyment that the players have had here, that the fans have had, it’s really, really been a phenomenal event.

Yeah, I have to echo your point about the Singapore players and how you foster local talent. I know, I was talking to Blysk, and of course Itadakimasu – when they, y’know, when they made it through the groups stages into the semifinals and there was that huge cheer that everyone got and they realized that there would be a Singaporean representative in the next day was amazing. You made a post about, mid-tier kind of players, and how teams should help foster that talent because it’s very important to the scene, is this your way, as a tournament organizer, to try and do that?

Well for us, look, if I wanted to have the most epic event in history, the top ten players in the world or the top most famous players in the world: Nestea, Mvp, Stephano, WhiteRa – all these guys that win events all the time. But, then it would be – we would have great stream numbers, and y’know, great commentators like Artosis, I would do that and make an event like that, but that’s pretty much feeding those who are already rich, and making the rich richer, and everyone else that’s outside the limelight, it makes it that much harder to break through. And when somebody like Stephano decides, “Hmm, gaming is not for me, I’m going to go to school”, for example, there’s nobody to replace him, the guys below are so much worse because they don’t get these chances.

So for us, it is really critical, really important for us to give chances to as many players as possible, so that they can grow and become pro gamers as well, and replace these stars. For example, we have all been repeating, “Feast, Feast, Feast”. He did so marvelously, at Intel Extreme Masters and we can say it’s the Intel Extreme Masters that gave him that limelight. He has enough talent to probably go to the top sooner or later, so I can’t take all the credit, that we gave him a chance. But, we made it happen that he came out there sooner, rather than later. Same with M5, Moscow 5 in League of Legends, dominating team – probably top 3, top 2 team in the world. But, if it wasn’t for our open qualifier system, they wouldn’t have gotten to Kiev, in 2012, wouldn’t have played in the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship, and they wouldn’t have been so famous. Maybe it would have taken them another 6-12 months to become so good, and y’know in gaming, it’s a really long time to sustain yourself as a gamer, if you’re not sponsored, if you have a dream and y’know you’re trying to get out there and you have to wait so long to go somewhere.

So it’s really, really critical for us that we both have pro gamers and the open bracket is for pro gamers, like if somebody like Sting, who’s in the final now, has a sponsorship and can go to Singapore and – he’s in the final now, so the open bracket is for people like that. Same with Mvp, in Cologne. He came through the open bracket, and took the tournament, in Cologne. That’s for pro gamers, but we need to foster the talent and allow the players who are local, to have a chance and become a pro gamer.

Now, let’s talk about Asia and Singapore a bit. Going into this tournament, people were saying, “The tournaments are at a bad time, I’m in America” and a lot of people were saying that stream numbers are going to be low, is this going to be hampering further IEMs or other events in Asia or maybe Australia?

No. Simple answer: no. To ask streaming numbers, if we wanted to do good streaming numbers, we wouldn’t go to Singapore, because we would then do another German event. Germany is always record breaking for us, or another event somewhere in Europe where we are really strong. This was never a consideration – we are not stupid, we know that if we go to South East Asia, for example, it’s weird hours for Europe, North America, South America. But at the same time, what is Australia supposed to say, what’s South East Asia supposed to say, aren’t the European or North American hours strange to them? Communities are global, that want to enjoy eSports and we are, we are global. We are trying to run a global league with a global appeal and make sure that all communities benefit as much as possible.

Let’s talk about, you were talking about the global community – the news broke recently that ESL, MLG and Dreamhack and all banding together to form this unifying tournament structure. One calendar, with all the dates laid out and map pool – the first real public step in unifying eSports globally. I was watching an interview with Richard Lewis and Semmler, and they were saying how there weren’t too many details yet, and they were wondering if whether or not this was – I mean, it’s a public step, but is this real or is this a maneuver? Of course there were a few talk shows where the players, of course the community reacted very positively, but the players were a bit apathetic. Can you give us any details in what exactly will change in 2013?

First of all, you mentioned three companies: Dreamhack, ESL and MLG. But there is, from the outset, there was the intention to have everyone included. We’ve always had this intention, so whoever is watching the interview, shouldn’t be worried. This isn’t going to be an elite club, only for the cool kids, and for the cool kids only, so that’s one thing. Another thing is, the statement was relatively vague, but what we need to do in general – I mean if you look, if you’re a random starcraft fan and you want to check who the best player in the world is, there’s no way to do that, right?

GSL has several championships during the year, and then there are several MLGs, there are 6 Intel Extreme Masters tournaments, several IPL tournaments, several NASL seasons, Dreamhack has many of these – and you can tell who is the best in the Intel Extreme Masters ‘ ranking, and you can tell who is the best player in MLG’s ranking, but you can’t really tell who is the best player overall, in any way. When you look at it from the broader perspective, it’s confusing. MLG has a system that has: open bracket, pool play, double elimination and this, this -

Extended Series.

Extended series, yes and they changed it but until recently, MLG had a different system from Intel Extreme Masters. Dreamhack had a different system, now Dreamhack actually is running the same system as we do, it’s a really good system and other tournaments have, the systems are all over the place – you don’t know what to expect, you don’t know how to read a schedule of all these tournaments. You can’t follow all of them very easily, and that’s a problem, because not everyone is as hardcore as the guys that read reddit all day and teamliquid all day. Some people are, ‘medium-engaged’, and it’s difficult for them to get the big picture, so what needs to be done – and it’s not just our idea, Tennis had it figured out years ago with the ATP, but there needs to be a ranking where people can go and check out, “Oh, this is the top 10 players in the world right now, and next week, after the next Intel Extreme Masters event, Grubby might be in the top 10 – if he wins the event. But MC, if he gets top 3, he will retain number 1.

This is a very important thing to tell to the audience and to the mainstream media. So that’s very important. Also, making sure the structure of every tournament is similar, is also very important, because I mean: Wimbledon, US Open, Australian Open and the French Open, they’ve got the same tournament structure and it’s really, really easy to follow. The guys that not necessarily follow Asus ROG, because they might not have heard of it or it isn’t in their timezone or whatever it is. They find out, “OK, MC, Stephano and Grubby are going to this tournament.” The rest of the players, might be some unknown Europeans, unknown to the American viewer for example, and so they might go, “Hmm, why would I watch it?” So there’s this global ranking and, “Oh! If Grubby wins the tournament, he becomes no. 1. But if MC gets top 3, he retains no.1.” Stephano could break into the top 5 if he got X many points. So that becomes a good reason to watch that event, an additional story, next to the individual story of each tournament. Which is going to benefit everyone. It’s going to benefit us, it’s going to benefit MLG, IPL, everyone. Because it gives an additional story to follow, even if you originally weren’t a fan of one of these tournaments.

You were tweeting about, single elimination brackets and how much you were a fan of them, and how that Vortix/Lucifron rivalry. How that wouldn’t be as exciting, in the BWC, if it was double elimination. Of course it wouldn’t have been because the loser would simply get knocked down to the loser’s bracket rather than being eliminated from the tournament. I think the question on everyone’s minds is: Is extended series coming to Dreamhack and IEM or are you guys going to try and tweak MLG a bit to the way that you prefer?

I would rather not speak about what MLG would do or would not rather do. We’ll sit down, we’ll have a skype call or have a regular conversation at a table and we’ll figure out what’s best. All of us. What makes sense, we will figure it out, it’s supposed to be a partnership. It will certainly be a friendly conversation, we’ll put arguments on the table, everyone. If there are any differences in opinion, which there might not be at all. We just haven’t had that conversation yet, because we’ve announced it and I’ve flown to Singapore. So I don’t want to talk about that because it’s up to the MLG, actually.

OK, so like you said it won’t be an elite club, but the initial reactions were, “Oh, IPL and NASL aren’t in there” and in particular, David Ting, has been quite vocal about how, especially in the NA region, it isn’t about fostering eSports and having a friendly ‘buddy-buddy’ thing, he recently tweeted that they’re creating these special desks, for IPL5 and that they will be rather exclusive to IPL. What are your thoughts on this rather ‘aggressive’ move by David?

I really don’t have any comments. I haven’t read anything, as far as I know – and this is just from my experience, we talk to David fairly regularly, my boss, my CEO sent and e-mail giving a polite heads up saying this news is coming up, we would like to include you and as far as I know the response wasn’t angry or anything. We do have every intention to actually include, everyone that wants to be a part of it, it’s just that if you want to start something, if you have too many people at the table, it is hard to reach a consensus. So from that point of view, it’s better to start out smaller, and figure out what could be a good direction and if anyone would start causing problems in the beginning, and I’m not implying anybody would, but if someone has a difference in opinion, they have the opportunity to say “We’re not going to like it, or we like it.” I believe in starting out like this and then expanding. [He performed a gesture whereby he balled his hands up and expanded it] Setting a direction and if somebody doesn’t like it, they can easily choose not to be involved, and that’s pretty much all I have to say about it.

Let’s get back to IEM and the roster of games. Of course we had that slight Starcraft 2 drama where everyone was freaking out where people were saying LoL was taking over the world. Now, it’s sort of died down and we have the Heart of the Swarm release date, lots of great tournaments. Is Starcraft 2 going to be a mainstay in the Intel Extreme Masters circuit?

By all means, by all means. People call me a League of Legends fanboy, or whatever. Starcraft 2 is my favorite game to watch, League of Legends is my favorite game to play. Both games, have a place in the Intel Extreme Masters. Both games. We have a dedicated stream for Starcraft, with Artosis, Kaelaris and Jorosar and these specialists. We put the best possible production behind it, we’ve got the best production value we can afford in League of Legends, we had two stages at Gamescom, so by all means – First of all, I find the conversation ridiculous. I don’t find that Starcraft 2 fans are really, really being short changed, because there is League of Legends present. if they hate League of Legends or any game for that matter, they can ignore it. What’s the problem? I don’t like baseball, I don’t watch it. It doesn’t interest me, I don’t have to go out there and crusade against baseball.

But that’s it, pretty much. Starcraft 2 is a fantastic game and we all love Starcraft. We seriously all love Starcraft, and it, to be honest, quite painful because I want to go watch Grubby and I’m giving you this interview. But yeah, Starcraft is here to stay, and it’s going nowhere. We are actually improving Starcraft as much as we can. Back there we’ve got Artosis, last event we had Artosis, Tasteless and Day[9]. We’re bringing in whoever is best for our audience, whoever the audience wants to see. So it’s actually a signal that we’re serious about Starcraft, rather than that we’re ditching it.

We better wrap things up before the finals are over, moving forward, where is IEM headed next? I think I heard Poland is the next stop, there’s a few more stops before the big finish, do you have any hints or secrets that you want to share?

So, we are going to go to Germany, with League of Legends with a studio event. Then we are going to Poland, to Katowice for both Starcraft 2 and League of Legends. Right after Poland, we will go to an event, not in Asia, not in Europe. We will announce it shortly after Singapore.

OK, very interesting! Do you have any last words, your Twitter or Facebook?

I’m not going to advertise, I’d just like to thank everyone from Singapore that came to the event, and several people from the area that flew in. It’s really fantastic that there are people who come and enjoy it, I hope it’s been a fantastic experience for them. Just keep on enjoying eSports, that’s all I can say.

Well, great, this has been Joe Wong, signing off.

IEM Singapore – My Experience

Hey guys,

While the interviews are being uploaded and processed I thought I would write something small about my experience at IEM Singapore as it was my first SC2 event as press as well as in general, and it was something I definitely won’t forget.

Let’s begin near the start, when IEM Singapore got announced. I was really excited, and I followed the qualifiers whenever they were on. When Grubby didn’t qualify, my heart sank. When Titan dropped out, and Grubby was brought in as a replacement, I was ecstatic once again. I e-mailed Nils Roethemeier, who was in charge of press and other duties, and to my surprise he gave me a press pass! I didn’t have any affiliation with any website, and all I run is this tiny blog on the internet, and yet someone gave me a shot. I was beyond excited for the event at this point, and began planning my interviews and how I would go about it. As the event drew closer though, more and more players from LoL and SC2 dropped out. We saw IdrA give up his spot; Koreans like Golden, Miya and Sniper all dropping out. I was disheartened, and I thought this event would be seen by many as a failure and a poor tournament. However, I still prepared my interview questions, and thought I would make the most of what I could.

The day of the event arrives, and I decided to risk it all by buying a camcorder at the event itself. IEM was held at SITEX 2012, which is a huge tech/gadget convention used to basically sell TVs and Cameras at a good price. I thought I would be able to get a decent deal, as the previous day I had no such luck. As it turns out, no one was really selling camcorders, and they were mainly peddling DSLRs or digital cameras. I did manage to find one at the Canon store though, and thankfully it came with a free tripod. Out of desperation, I bought it and went into the press area. I met Nils, as well as Han-Ting from ESFI and Nirvana from sc2sea.com. We were talking about interviews and realized there was no quiet area for press to have a chat with the players. I was a bit worried because my set-up at that point was only a camcorder, tripod and my iPhone for recording. I knew my camcorder’s mic would be too poor to rely on so I was anxious that I wouldn’t get my ideal conditions. Prior to the event, I had wanted to do a sit down style interview, rather than the standing interview most other people put out during major events. So for the first two days, I didn’t really get anything done, I was really disappointed in myself as well as my preparation and I had thought I completely blew my one chance.

Day 3 rolls around, and at this point I was completely determined to do something, anything. I had previously asked Tt.PiG for an interview at the end of Day 2, so I knew I would get at least one video in. LoL had been on the mainstage for most of the three days, with SC2 only coming on at 5pm, and a small area outside the player area with the stream on without sound. I had basically just walked around in circles the past two days, wasting my time trying to scout out decent locations for filming. I finally pluck the courage up and ask Nils at the start of the third day whether I could go into the player area. As this was my first event, I didn’t know my boundaries as ‘press’ so I was pretty cautious. He casually answered “Sure, no problem”, and I was relieved, and stunned at the same time. That was it? I thought, I wasted two days worrying and waiting when I could have just waltzed into the player area and plucked a pro gamer out? I saw PiG around the audience and asked him whether he wanted to do the interview now, and he followed me into the player area where I simply wanted to grab some chairs and film outside of it, but he just sat down. I cautiously sat down too, and set up, and talked with him for 20 minutes.

It was fantastic! The entire time I was thinking to myself, this is it, this is exactly what I want to be doing. PiG had great answers to my questions and was a fantastic interview subject, and it really boosted my confidence for the rest of the event. Later on, near the end of the day I managed to sneak in an interview with MouzHasuObs, and that went well too, in my opinion. It was a good thing I did both those interviews on day 3, as they were on the analysis desk for almost the entirety of day 4.

So the final day arrives, and I’m feeling really good about the event. I set myself a goal of hitting three targets to interview: Jarett Cale, Carmac, and Grubby. I wanted to interview Jarett because I’m a huge  Pure Pwnage fan and really wanted to pick his brain about the movie as well as how he feels in his new role as a host and personality. I had a ton of questions for Carmac as well, and really wanted to get some details on what went through his mind in picking Singapore as a stop, as well as the ESL/MLG/DH partnership. He had tweeted/blogged some interesting things about the scene as well and I thought it’d be cool to touch on that issue too. My plan for Grubby was to try and get him before the last quarterfinals were played (Zenio vs Slivko), as that would allow me to get his thoughts on Singapore and what it would mean to win the tournament, and basically get his feelings before he had to actually play. Unfortunately he showed up as Sting vs Vortix was being played, which meant he had to immediately set up and start warming up on the main stage and from then on, that’s where he stayed. I knew my moment had passed and let it go, leaving it as a slight possibility if he actually did win. As we all know, he lost in a heartbreaking game 5, and was promptly swarmed by fans for about 20 minutes. At that point, I was happy with my progress and journey throughout the event and had wanted to leave, but my friend who was a big fan of Grubby asked me just to attempt to ask him, as there was no downside to not doing so. So I asked Cassandra, while Grubby was busy with his fans, if he could spare a few minutes afterwards to have a quick interview with me. She said yes, but after the fans, and I waited. I waited till the fans dispersed, and I waited until Artosis, Kaelaris and Jarett said their goodbyes to him. But then he had to go do an interview with Soe and it went on for a long while. At that point I felt bad for wanting an interview with him, as I had overheard that he wanted to go eat but had to do that last BenQ interview. So I left, somewhat empty handed. It was a bit of a sombre moment, as the entire crowd was behind him 100% and he almost pulled off an amazing comeback. But, I was still happy. I was happy that I managed to attend my first Starcraft 2 event. I was happy I was able to talk to my idol, Jarett Cale. I was happy, excited and thrilled that I could interview such great people and that I actually achieved what I had set out to do.

So I hope you enjoy the interviews, because I feel like the people I interviewed gave some damn good answers, and I want them to be heard, seen and read. Once again, please excuse my bad editing and filming, I am a complete beginner to this and I hope it isn’t a hindrance to the actual content. So thanks for reading, and watching. The transcripts will be posted one by one as a separate post each, for easy navigation.

 

Day 3 IEM Singapore

Hi guys!

So day 3 just wrapped up, and we have one quarter-final left, and then the semis and the final. I believe they will all be bo5 since that was the format in Cologne but I’m not 100% certain. The games were pretty good, especially Grubby vs MC and Sting vs Yugioh. The foreigners had a really strong showing this tournament with Vortix dominating Revival 3-0 and Grubby taking out MC in a stellar PvP. We also have a fairly good ro4, especially since there were only four Terrans total in the Open Bracket and Groups, we have a Terran, a Protoss and two Zergs.

As for my interviews, I managed to do three today: Tt.PiG, MouzHasuObs and Fray`Ninja. The PiG and HasuObs interviews went pretty well and I was quite happy with how they went, because they were shot in the comfortable Players Area. There were still people shuffling about, and we actually had to cut both interviews short for different reasons, but I think they turned out pretty good and the players gave great answers.

Looking towards tomorrow, it is going to be a fairly short day, but I am still hoping to get a few interviews in – particularly with Grubby, Carmac and possibly Jarett Cale. I am hopeful for Carmac and Grubby, but we will see how it goes. It’s been a pretty good first event for me and the crowds were really great as well, for both games. Tomorrow will also be fully SC2 on the main stage as LoL finished up today with a pretty good (from what I can tell) finals. Again, if you want to follow live updates of the tournament, you can follow @joonjoewong or #IEM for reactions from around the globe.

Day 2 IEM Singapore Coverage

Hi guys! Sorry for not updating in a while, I have a little XCOM thing in the works but I haven’t managed to put the finishing touches on it yet. In the meantime I managed to get a Press Pass to IEM Singapore and have been attending the first two days. The venue itself, which is held in the Singapore EXPO is huge, and the IEM/Intel booth takes up a good chunk of the area. I have tried to secure some interviews with players but have only managed to get one with the Australian player Kez so far. There isn’t a lot of space to record footage and because this is my first SC2 event ever as well as my first ‘Press’ event, I was very nervous and  also didn’t have the best equipment.

Nevertheless, I am still looking to try and talk to a few players in the next two days and hopefully I will get to record decent interviews. I will be uploading them to my Youtube channel as well as posting transcripts for those of you who like to read rather than watch me prattle on. I have some photos as well but they aren’t high quality but I will upload them onto an imgur album anyway! It’s pretty late now so I will have to catch up with transcribing and editing these videos later. Follow me on twitter @joonjoewong for live updates during the event.  See you!

Borderlands 2 – Gaige the Mechromancer

Hey guys!

Just reached about level 7/8 with Gaige and thought I’d post my quick thoughts on the Ordered Chaos tree and Gaige in general. Obviously this is really early into the game but thanks to the 1 point in Anarchy I managed to experiment with some stuff.

  • DT cannot gain Anarchy stacks for you
  • It is very hard to keep anarchy stacks. If you enter FFYL you start bleeding stacks really fast, even while getting ressed.
  • Brand choice starts to matter a lot, I stupidly picked up a Tediore and realized I cannot utilize its special ability.
  • DT is really awesome. It mainly melees but because it can hover/fly it is as proficient in the art of killing as Axton’s Sabre.
  • DT has about a 60s uptime and 60s cd, it has a HP bar and a timer so you can prematurely lose your DT. The CD pops when DT disappears, and there is no way to purposely disengage DT like Axton’s Sabre

Overall Gaige feels like a combo between Axton and Maya, with a bit of melee thrown in. She even has the same line as Axton for a res: “Whoa, do you work out?” with the female VA obviously. She feels good though, quite powerful and of course I haven’t tried the other skill trees or even gone far in with Ordered Chaos.

Just thought I’d throw in my first hour with her!