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.

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