This OP contains spoilers about the recent Jaedong vs Snow series. Please stop reading and watch it if you haven't already.
An Opinion Piece #5
Gather 'round children while uncle Chef rambles to himself
Gather 'round children while uncle Chef rambles to himself
When You're a Fan
You worry about a player's success. You villainise his or her opponent. You squirm thinking about whether or not he or she will successfully defend against the harassment, attack the opponent, or get into position fast enough. You stick around to see his or her reaction after the game. You're excited to tell other people about the game you just saw.
Some People Become Fans. Some Players Make Fans
Many moons ago there was a player called IPXZerg. You know him as sAviOr. It's said that the saddest thing in BroodWar is to be a sAviOr fan. Please don't blame me. It wasn't my choice. I didn't decide to like sAviOr. sAviOr made me like him.
sAviOr was dominant before I liked him. He won all his games, and the main reason I watched him was because 1: I watched all StarCraft games, and 2: he was a marvel. Someone to gawk at. Someone who was so damn good at this game, that he earned the nick name Maestro—since he dictated how StarCraft was played. Then he became Ma Bonjwa. I remember his games vs NaDa. I remember his games vs Iris. NaDa, a hero of old, and Iris, one of the only people capable of going toe to toe with him in his prime. I watched those games intently, but I watched them with a sick fascination rather than a desire to know who would win. How long was that Arkanoid game? I don't remember. But it was damn good. We even got to see the FPVODs for that game.
It was Bisu's turn and was he ever the underdog. Even his nick name sounded like a joke: Bee-suit. It was so laughable you wanted him to have a chance. You wanted him to get to the 5th set for an extra romantic finale. He had a great hype video before the finals, which made it that much more appealing. I couldn't decide before the match who I wanted to win. I thought "the winner of this match will win my fanship."
It was like a joke. Bisu dominated the first game. I thought "hey, that was cool.." Then he won the second game. "What's going on?" Then the third game began to look hopeless for sAviOr. "No, this is impossible, he must come back somehow. There must be more VODs." I had downloaded 3 VODs, expecting a 3:0 victory for sAviOr. When I saw him lose the first game, I figured there must be more VODs that just haven't been uploaded yet. I kept saying that right up until he lost the game, and I realised I was a fan of sAviOr.
A Long Road
sAviOr didn't slump immediately after that, as some people like to think. He was still quite a dominant player for a while. What changed immediately after that, was that I really cared about sAviOr's games from then on. I watched intently and always knew that I wanted him to win. Eventually, of course, he did slump.
When it was said being a sAviOr fan is the saddest thing in BroodWar, I think it's because of the amount of time sAviOr fans remained loyal. Believed he would come back. When his slump became more and more obvious, his coaches sent him to the B-team. He didn't quit StarCraft. He promised everyone he'd be back again soon. Sometimes you'd get a momentary glimpse of hope. You'd see him play a televised game and your whole heart would be begging him to win. For awhile he lost anyway, but it always seemed close. Like he was right about to get back on track. When he beat Bisu in a game, everyone was ecstatic. "This is what he needs! This will give him his confidence back!" Videos about sAviOr, not just as a dominant player, but as a tragic hero ("You could be happy") were made. Believe me when I say it moved a lot of us to tears.
Everyone knows what the final nail in the coffin was for sAviOr fans. The scandal. The ban from eSports. Lying to his coach. I don't want this thread to be about that. I don't mean to gloss over it either, but there are at least 100 pages on this forum about it already. There's another thread in BroodWar if you want to express yourself about it. The point is that this is when it first became untenable to be a sAviOr fan. I love StarCraft:BroodWar, and must therefore hate what hurts it. But I still have memories of sAviOr. I still have half a decade of painful years hoping he'd get back on top. As a sAviOr fan I had to finally admit there was no longer any hope for him to come back.
sAviOr used to be infamous for his stoic expression during and after every game. Really, all of CJ did, but sAviOr especially was the emblem of this. It didn't look awkward. It didn't look like he just didn't know how to express himself. It was a powerful persona.
For a long time I've more or less been deciding to like players. I'd see a player with interesting strategy, and I'd try to hype him a little. I'd tell myself I wanted him to win, and his opponent to lose. That's fine, it works, but it never seems to last. My fanship of sAviOr endured for years, but when I decide to like a player like TurN or Bisu, I essentially like them for awhile, and then I forget I like them and I just watch their games analytically.
Recently I found someone who says 'Let's watch StarCraft!' every time we talk. It's pretty great. I choose a really good game, and then we watch it. One game I showed her was Jaedong vs Midas. At the end of the game she commented on Jaedong's scowl, even though he won. I told her 'that's cause he's still hungry. He won't be satisfied until he's won the gold!' It's true, though, isn't it? After getting knocked out of the OSL, Jaedong wants to redeem himself. Anything less than gold will feel like a failure and Flash isn't even in the leagues to threaten him anymore. A man like Jaedong can't be satisfied with only partially completing his goal.
Today I watched Jaedong vs Snow. Today I watched Jaedong fall victim to godly storm drops. Today I realised that I am a fan of Jaedong. I didn't want it to go to game 5. I wanted Jaedong to finish it in game 4. Who is this kid? How can someone like Snow threaten Jaedong in the round of 8? Game 5 was scary.
In game 5, Jaedong's play looked intense. Snow was threatening him from every angle of the map, getting great storms, getting his expo up, and building up a nice army. Jaedong was just barely able to fend off that army each time, and it looked like things were getting out of control fast.
I worried for Jaedong the way only a fan could. I begged for his attacks to work, and for his defence to succeed. I saw the one timing Jaedong had to come back. The one hole in Snow's war machine. His main and natural had just run out, while Jaedong was still on four bases (because of the way Zerg bases last longer than Protoss bases). Soon Jaedong's main and natural would run out, but for this one moment he had an economy advantage. Snow wasn't stupid, he was trying to get more expos to fund his gateway production again, but Jaedong knew how to hit him where it hurt. He took out the two newest expos of Snow, and from there the game was his. And it made me so happy. Finally I have a player I care about again. This time it will last. Jaedong made me a fan, not the other way around.
Lee Jaedong Fighting~!
+ Show Spoiler +
I simplified game 5 for the sake of brevity. Jaedong actually took his 5th and 6th base while Snow's main and natural ran out, but Snow attacked the 5th and 6th, so Jaedong just sacked them and took out Snow two newest bases, leaving him with only his mineral only (which was almost mined out anyway). So a large element of Jaedong's success was in taking those two bases while Snow's army was out of position, and then defending his second main and nat (which still had some resources) to seal the game. If snow had taken that down, Jaedong would have been down to just his main and nat (almost mined out) and it would have turned ugly. By the same token, if neither had attacked each other, it would have been Jaedong 6 base (2 almost out) vs Snow 3 base (capable of taking another) which would be a fairly even fight. It was quite a game.