There comes a time while doing anything competitive where you begin to question if all the pain and anguish is worth it. Being as ignorant as myself, whenever I heard a pro player say, "After all the ups and downs, I've finally made it” I never understood. "How could you possibly experience a low while being paid to play a video game?" something I always thought to myself. Of course at this point I was maintaining top 16 in GM, taking down ZeNEXPuzzle (way back when he played on NA) with inconsistent, counterproductive game play (woo 2base all-ins!!). I thought I was the best, that I could enter any online tournament and place top 3. When players would mention Korean micro/strategy, I’d simply scoff and reply with a “they’re not that good. I finally decided to put all of this to test when I registered for my first Playhem daily. I looked at my bracket and saw 2 koreans in my path for first place, the first would be TSLRagnarok in the RO8 and the second would be TSLInori in the RO4. I played my matches vs Ragnarok and won 2-1, a little rockier than I expected, but still good enough to advance. Next up would be TSLInori, the guy that IdrA says is horrible, “This should be easy!” I thought to myself. You can only guess what happened, I got crushed in almost 20 minutes flat, of course this was a hit to my gigantic ego, but it didn’t really change how I viewed myself.
The next day I decided that I would sign up for another Playhem daily, after all the Inori games merely came down to luck. I faced HyuN in the RO16 and as per usual I went my “aggressive” style, HyuN was easily prepared and I lost rather quickly to a Brood Lord counter attack in both games, leaving the score at 0-2. At this point I decided that perhaps using the same build in every game of a bo3 wasn’t the smartest choice. I quickly decided that perhaps I should add a few long-term macro builds that would assist me in BoX situations. With this new found revelation I decided to hit the ladder ASAP and rape everyone with my amazing macro. Almost 1 week after I started using standard builds, I dropped from Rank 5 to Rank 79. In 1 week I learned that I was not the next flash and that I had a TON of work to do if I wanted to become truly good at this game. Over the months I started analyzing my replays, finding holes in my game, and in general obtaining a more positive look on the game. Slowly but surely, I was improving.
Fast forward to WCS USA qualifiers, I was so sure I had improved, improved to the point where I could take on any NA player in a macro game. The first qualifier I participated in, I got to the semi-final and had to play NRGLuckyFool, (I think it was?) I was relatively confident and once we were in the Lobby I was spamming “go” just as my usual games would go. But once I started looking at the loading screen, all of a sudden my legs started frantically shaking, my heart was pounding VERY clearly. Somehow, I, Libo Chang, Great Conquerer of the land of women, Captain of Ship tall & handsome, was nervous about a video game? I played my games and lost 1-2, I was dumbfounded, what happened? My units weren’t splitting, I wasn’t macroing correctly, what was happening!? Fast forward once again, through over 7 WCS Qualifiers, every single time placing either in the Finals or the Semi-finals, losing 1-2. I had one more chance, the LAST WCS qualification spot between myself 4NOTXenocider and (I guess now) EG’s Suppy, (Keep in mind, every series was a bo3 and that meant that I would be playing my final matches at around… 1:00 AM, on a school day, in which I would wake up at 5:20 AM to get on a bus. I would sneak on nearly every day of an entire week with 3-4 hours of sleep to try to qualify.). I was tired, but I had to win, I had to get that paid trip to Anaheim. Once again, the loading screen shows, lack of sleep wouldn’t stop the power of a 14 year old on an adrenaline rush. Of course, I ended up losing 0-2, and I sat there, depressed out of my mind, but too tired to care.
Fast Forward once again to MLG Invite Only Qualifiers, in my Qualifying match versus Golden, I took the series lead 1-0 gleaming with momentum from my HuK victory, nothing could stop me now. I was Libo Motherfucking Chang, the one thing that kept me from going to NYC to compete at Invitationals was a small victory versus Golden and a trip to the bank to withdraw all the cash swag money I’d be receiving. But sadly, It was not meant to be. The next game, after macroing the first game, I decided to do a MVP 11-11 bunker rush 3wall off on Cloud Kingdom. I accidentally mis-place one of my bunkers by a hex, and the game is over. The next game I am at 150 supply versus Golden’s 150 supply equal upgrades, I scan the middle and miss hisburrowed infestor by quite possibly ½ a hex. I push into the middle and he unburrows and kills my army with 2 fungals. He immediately counters with his army and swarms my base. I think this is the first time I ever felt true pain/sadness while playing Starcraft. I sat there waiting for all my buildings to die, wallowing in my own self-pity.
Fast Forward one last time to today, August 10th 2012. I am in the finals of my PAX qualifier bracket, only one win away from securing a free trip to PAX, and possibly A LOT of attention. 2-1 Vs Axslav, going into match point on Metalopolis (I’ll elaborate on this later) I decide to go for a ByuNPrime 2-1-1 knowing that 1rax FE on Metalopolis would be futile, and get picked apart against heavy stalker pressure. With my first attack, I thought I had won, it was all over, I’d get a trip to PAX and be famous woo! However one game-breaking reinforcement wave caught me off guard, and I was forced to GG-out after back and forth SCV pulling action. Okay, it was fine! I’m still confident in macro, nothing I can’t handle. I choose Antiga for the final map. I start the game off with a 1rax FE and plan to go 3OC depending on what my opponent chose for his build order. I send my SCV scout after barracks to cross positions (customary on any tournament Antiga map) and find that he is not there.WHAT!?!?!?!? ESWC had been using a 2011 Map Pool for the entire tournament, with maps such as Metalopolis, Shattered Temple, Terminus SE, and Bel’shir Beach. But I didn’t expect them to not even bother to update a map which has already been updated for them. Upon not scouting my opponent, I scout the bottom right, still not there, after this I decide I can’t 3OC anymore, what if he’s all-inning me off 1base? I decide to commit to a 3rax -> starport -> 2rax opening, very aggressive, but necessary in close positions Antiga. Axslav does the proper response which is instead of going right away with his colossus all-in, to wait until he’s maxed and has 2-2 upgrades for a huge timing which is almost unholdable in close positions with our build order choices. I would go on to lose 2-3 to Axslav, and immediately after the game I start raging all over the place, blaming Axslav, blaming ESWC, blaming everyone. But then all of a sudden, I just started crying. I couldn’t handle it anymore, always getting second place, everything I entered I was only one game away, but one game too short. During my moment of weakness, all I could think was, “Why do I play this game? All I do is lose, I suck, I’m dumb, I suck” But then somehow I realized, I forgot why I had started being competitive in the first place, it wasn’t for money, it wasn’t for fame. It was for enjoyment of the game. Where had I lost that over the years? Where was the fiery Libo Chang passion I once had? What changed? I realized something, I love Starcraft, and while I certainly wish, I could have pulled out one more win in certain situations, I don’t care anymore, I LOVE STARCRAFT, there’s almost nothing else in the world that could make me cry besides Starcraft. (well… I do only weigh like 5 pounds so don’t beat me up at MLG T_T) So rest assured, while it may not be today, or tomorrow, or 5 years from now on, I will become the best, because I have realized something truly important today, it’s not about winning every competition, or learning at the most optimal pace, it’s about just playing and enjoying the game. I had originally planned for this to be a blog about how bad ESWC is and how I got scammed, but I really don’t care anymore. This game is just too damn good.
Thanks for reading my story about Starcraft, and I hope you will still be watching and playing starcraft 10 years from now, because I sure will ^_^.
TL;DR a boy rediscovers his love for Starcraft after being butthurt.
Also apologies for the bad writing, or direction or anything related to that, to be fair my 9th grade writing teacher sucked ass. gl hf ^_^