Initially I'd planned to just keep this bit short and put up a couple of pics of my new place, and move on... but I realized I didn't really have any good pictures, and it's too late at night to get good light to take new ones, plus it made me start thinking about the old days so... let's run with that.
When I first came to Korea in 2010 with Nazgul and TLO, we initially lived in Bundang with the oGs team in a 3 bedroom+living room/kitchen apartment, but this quickly became way too crowded as oGs recruited several new players*. I remember being crazily impressed by how the koreans (TheWind in particular) were able to do marathon practice sessions and then roll out a mattress and literally go to sleep in the middle of a fully lit room of gamers tapping madly away at their keyboards.
Inca used to play while smoking***, with his feet at impossible angles (I'm forever jealous of people with flexible hips, they make chairs seem less like chairs and more like beanbags). He was one of the first oGs guys I actually ran into on the ladder... I remember trying to go mech on metalopolis and losing to mass-mass speed void rays (back then Void Rays had a speed upgrade that made them roughly as fast as speed upgraded warp prisms... or so my memory tells me anyway).
There weren't enough computers for us to practice in there when we first arrived (our computers were in the mail), so everyday we'd head over to this little PC Bang with its interior all in pink. Something something Story... can't remember what.
After a month or so, oGs had found a new place in Bucheon**, and we made to move there. Bucheon is a satellite city, squished inbetween Incheon and Seoul, and connected to the same subway line, and it was conveniently located in relation to the GOMTV studios (at the time they were in mokdong, about a 20 minute drive away given reasonable traffic... which is not a given at all in Seoul).
The place was honestly absolutely gorgeous - it was huge, modern and with a great view up ont he 15th+ floor, in a super cozy little neighbourhood. The players and managers quickly dragged our backpacks up there and we ordered chinese food (Korean Chinese food is sort of different from other countries in my experience, and very different from Chinese-Chinese food, Koreans generally dont like Chinese-Chinese food that much, although I personally absolutely love it).
So, the reason I specifically said 'players and managers' in the above sentence, is that the two team owners (Victor - Liquid`Nazgul that is - and oGsSpunky were both conspicuously absent. What had happened was this: the resident group of mothers had found out that some uncouth group of gamers, including a bunch of foreigners, were going to move into their building, and this they simply could not stand for. Or rather they could stand for it. In the way of the doors.
From what I've been told, Spunky and Victor were literally blocked from entering the building, and despite us having an already signed contract and everything was paid for, when the police basically said they couldn't do anything about this, the building owner caved in and we ended up having to find somewhere else to go.
Now, this was sort of a problem. Most of our clothes and computers were at this point in a storage facility... the stuff we had carried with us in backpacks or what not, were in most cases personal documents and gaming peripherals, not changes of clothes. Our old apartment was already being moved into by the new tenants, so here we were, about a dozen guys with 1 change of clothes and nowhere to live.
We ended up spending the better part of a week living in a love motel, practicing all day in a local pc bang, and drinking all night (ok that's an exaggeration, but we'd have a couple of beers every night at this bar I remember being called something Ya-Ya bar... all blue lights as I recall, very nice bartender). The receptionist was a little perplexed when me, TLO and Victor arrived to check in alone at first... 3 white dudes checking into a love motel might not be the most pedestrian of sights. When 10 Koreans showed up 5 minutes later to check into another couple of rooms I wonder what she thought.
I can still - regretfully - remember the cigarette smell of my tshirt after 3-4 days in a smoking-allowed PC bang and the equivalent amount of nights at the aforementioned bar.
I think I left out the first GSL qualifiers which happened shortly before the move, but it's not really the purpose of the blog so I wont go into it, except to say that I remember being so nervous I could barely sleep, and almost throwing up when trying to eat bibimbab for breakfast in the car... For literally years after this the memory of that horrible qualifier day made me feel sick anytime I even thought about eating bibimbab... I remember most of the non-koreans who were there, were given complete tomato cans for their opponents (like not even masters league players)... while I managed to draw a legit highly ranked Korean protoss player.
Tournament venues are so empty when you lose, despite all the people.
Anyway, Spunky had actually qualified for the first GSL and as I recall it he had to play his match during this week where we were all essentially homeless. I think he lost a PvP.
Eventually oGsGon (alongside with TheWind, he was the oGs playing coach... I really learned a lot from him Terran wise), the man tasked with finding a new place to live, reported back that he'd found a great place in Incheon. It was pretty damn close to as nice as the place in Bucheon we'd been forced out of, and tho I didn't know it, it was literally only 20 minutes away.
I remember being so exhausted that I slept as well on the floor on a thin blanket (as our new beds hadn't arrived yet) as on the softest of mattresses.
We'd stay here for quite a while, or at least in the same building (FOu/FXO had their team house in the same building as well). Victor left to go back to Holland and proceed with the day to day affairs of running Teamliquid, Haypro joined us around the same time. Back then, oGs had us seated by race (no.... not koreans/non-koreans, in game races). So we had a 'Terran line' in the middle, a protoss line in the back, and a zerg line in the front****.
Me and dario ended up at the diagonally opposite ends of the room, and with how much we were playing and practicing at that time, in the first couple of weeks of hayder being there, we honestly barely spoke to eachother.
When we went to MLG Dallas together, and finally got to spend time with him, we realized he's literally the funniest person on this planet. Also, that he shares a name with some random terrorist, which got him all sorts of hassle at US customs (despite the fact that at the time he hadnt been outside sweden for 14 years). Got me and Dario flagged as "travelling with a person of interest" as well, so on our next stop all our carry on was drug sniffed. Haypro had only checkin luggage so he stood to the side and laughed.
When we came back to Korea he ended up stuck in Korean customs***** for >1 hour while me and dario waited with no idea what was going on (this was during the G7 or whatever meetings so the airport security was ramped up).
Next, Ret and Huk arrived, and we moved to a bigger place in the same building, where we stayed for quite some time... I want to say 1.5 years, until oGs started having financial troubles and eventually dissolved. Huk, me, Supernova, Hero and TLO (who was at this point in germany but wanted to come back to Korea), decided to get a place on our own (side note: the apartment after all the ogs guys left, looked like someone had set off a bomb in there. I'll include pictures of before and after cleaning --- a cleaning process which I did all on my own and took many hours ;d). Unfortunately, Dario was still in Germany, Huk, Hero and Supernova were all intermittently travelling to tournaments (although Supernova helped me out when he was there), so I ended up having to look for apartments all on my own... Looked in Itaewon with the help of Waxangel (glad I didn't end up there --- I like the area in terms of food and architecture, but I can't spend more than half a day there without desperately wanting to get back to Incheon), in Dangsan (seoul) with the help of Minchul, and finally around our area in Incheon. We finally found a really awesome apartment very close to where we were, and with the help of Supernova's and Hero's parents we moved in and lived there for just over a year (we moved in just before I quit sc2).
I'd hoped to stay there longer, but with TLO deciding to return to Germany, HerO spending almost all his time at the EG-TL house practicing for Proleague, and Huk returning to the US due to some EG plans, the place was just a tiny bit too huge for the two or three of us remaining (4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a huge kitchen, a gigantic living room... 1300$ in rent, 3~600$ in utilities per month)
At this time I didn't have a lot of money, and a good chunk of it was tied up in the deposit for our current apartment (I'd been paying stuff like rent and utilites etc for people when they were travelling to tournaments with the agreement that we'd just settle once we got our deposit back, so I had something like 10-15k tied up in this which was a lot for me at the time), and I was running out of time. I ended up getting a pretty simple 1.5 room apartment like 10 minutes away (just across the 'border' in Bucheon). It wasn't horrible or anything, as far as 1 rooms go it was pretty big, but my girlfriend described it best: "Your building feels like a prison". Very true.
So, when my contract was finally up, I was extremely excited to finally be able to move into a place that is genuinely my own, and feels like home. After a lot (A LOOOOOOOOOT) of searching, I managed to find a place not 10 minutes walk from our old team house (either one - the oGs/TL one or the one me/TLO/huk/supernova/hero lived in) at a very reasonable price (20k deposit, 700$ a month).
Oh and my girlfriend moved in with me so we've been living together for just over a month now, which is pretty cool --- this is by far the most like home I've felt in a long time.
I'm located under 10 minutes from both the subway station as well as my gym, which brings me to my next topic
* Among these recruits was the BossToss himself - MC! He had just switched from SC1 and on his first day in the house, me and him played something along the lines of 15-20 straight games... aside from a brief period around January when we played our famous mech games, this was probably the best record I ever achieved against him, at 40/60~ or there abouts.
Back then, MC spoke absolutely no english, it's pretty crazy how good his english is now to be honest.
Random fact: MC was the only Korean to call me hyung (respectful term used to address an older brother) back then <3!
** Last year, my girlfriend showed me this really nice restaurant in Bucheon ran by a pair of Japanese twin brothers... and wouldn't you believe it if it wasn't located in the exact same neighbourhood as our highly temporary new team house. This actually reminds me they sent me a discount coupon, time to go back there I think --- really delicious food honestly.
*** I've never smoked a cigarette in my life (or anything for that matter, except waterpipe a few times), and I used to absolutely detest the smell... But ever since living in that apartment and being constantly surrounded by minty cigarette smell, I've sort of grown fond of it. I still don't smoke, but when someone smokes a similar brand I always feel a pang of nostalgia.
**** In the days before Hayder was set to arrive, I walked past Zenio's computer and saw him looking up some english words with a dictionary... As I walked closer I could read what he'd written in his notepad:
"Zerg is has no hope for the future"
Slightly perplexed I asked him why he'd chosen this to translate?
"It's for Hayder"
***** Me and Huk almost got kicked out of Korea at one point, for playing games on TV for money without a working Visa. Infact, we were both fined a % of our earnings, an amount that was (in my case) high enough that it would have mandated a 1 year ban from Korea if GOMTV had not gotten a recommendation from the minister of culture (I believe that was it) to show lenience and lower our fine. This brought the fine down to where I didn't have to leave. I remember going to the immigration office and being interrogated, then having to withdraw 1500$ in cash and handing it over... stung.
GOMTV paid us back all our fines however, and helped us deal with the entire situation.
Making the Team
So I've been training at the same MMA gym since about February last year now (5x a week since July last year), and last month the headcoach asked me if I wanted to start training with the pro team.... Why yes, yes I very much would like to do that!
To start off with, me and two others are joining the team for their saturday practice, which is about 5-6 hours of techniques and sparring, as well as occasionally throughout the week. So far it's been a great experience, the headcoach is a tiny guy compared to basically all of the guys he's teaching, but everytime he shows a refinement to a technique or a hold, keeping him from executing it feels like moving a mountain.
Sat in on a video review last wednesday of two of the fighters' latest matches (one of them won, one lost), and then joined the resulting practicing (focused on what had been discussed during the video review). Was really interesting to see just how carefully they analyse and plan everything, a bit eye-opening.
I've also started lifting regularly, to try to gain some weight (I think I was getting too thin around the time of my last fight with how hard I was training), and am feeling better than I ever have (I think in part because I've allowed myself some additional rest). Have gained maybe 1 or 2 kg, sadly not 100% muscle as I have allowed my diet to loosen a bit (man it's tough to add weight when eating completely healthy, plus summer without ice cream is not really summer at all is it?)
If it's good enough for Fedor...
The headcoach asked me my weight, and when I told him I was at 77 at the time (78-79 now), he said I should probably fight at featherweight (66kg, so you dehydrate and cut down to that for the weighins the day before, then rehydrate and you're back in the cage at mid 70 kg). Man, 66 kg? I havent been 66 kg since I was like 12.
Choi Young Gwang, one of the coaches/fighters at the gym is a featherweight, a bit shorter than me and in sick shape (the man deadlifts 480+ pounds which is pretty impressive for a featherweight), walks at around the same weight as I am, so I'm trying to add a bit of mass and I'll aim for lightweight instead. I also feel that since my primary strength is grappling, being tall and lanky isn't that great.
My next fight (amateur) should be September 27th, and I might have something cool happening later in the year as well (not sure yet).
The coach told me I should aim at haivng my first pro fight in a year... We'll see, as much as I've been enjoying this new training, watching the hard sparring they do before a match, things feel more real than they did before. Still, one step at a time, starting with another fight next month.
Regardless of what happens after this point, I am - at least right now - a student on a professional fight team... crazy.
Starcraft 2... again
When I quit something, I REALLY quit. I can't stand doing anything half-assed, I just get too annoyed when I'm not doing well, so when I quit SC2 I didn't touch the game for like a year.
Still, pretty much like clockwork, every 6 months or so I get this urge to play SC2, and go on a VOD and stream watching binge and maybe even play a few games... This time tho, I took it a bit more seriously:
Inspired by some of the Excel (well, open office) work I've done with poker, I decided to see how fast I can improve if I actually try to seriously learn while playing in the limited time I have
First, I picked 3 builds per matchup (and I meant to pick a cheese build as well, but aside from the obvious TvZ 2 rax proxy I haven't settled on any yet). Then I watched a bunch of games until I could make a list of the most common openings I might face... and then I started keeping stats of how each build did vs each. (Note: Only picked 1 TvZ build so far, I couldn't find a 2nd one I liked)
Then how each build performed per map:
And finally I made a performance diary to measure my play.
Click to see averages etc
Some observations after 8 days:
- I'm getting matched with KR GMs (I think I'm 1-2 vs GM players so far) every now and then, which is cool. I'm also losing games to diamonds on occasion (although at least one of these diamonds was GM in a previous season, in fact it was someone I used to play a lot on ladder before I retired).
- I'm having similar problems to what I used to have back in the day, but unlike back then I can actually see why I'm having those problems because I have a good view of what the builds I'm using are trying to accomplish and what they look like when properly played.
I think I'm finally understanding some of why I've always had problems TvP (it feels like a very timing sensitive matchup where if you rest on your laurels too much you let opportunities slip you by, which just leads to a compounding errors --- basically I'm naturally too passive, and my builds aren't tight enough).
- I like most of the maps, but Overgrowth (and maybe deadwing, not decided yet) feels a bit boring. I apparently suck at Nimbus but I think it's one of the most fun maps to play.
- Gas first TvT is damn popular.
- Terran OP. I got 8 consecutive TvTs in my first 2 days of play... which at 1/3 probability for each matchup assuming an event distribution of races, should only happen 0.014% of the time.
- Scouting all-ins is so much easier in hots haha. Plus, so much easier when you actually researched your build a bit and know timings... (when I was in code S in WoL I actually did this quite a lot, and I got a lot of help too from Victor and the oGs coaches, but later on I got too complacent and too entrenched in builds I liked etc)
- I have the same ID as some korean who may or may not maphack, and may or may not stream. I've had a handful of people talk to me, one guy last time I played (6 months ago) told me he watched me stream (then tried to scv bunker rush me TvT and died), one guy opened the game with "you hack" (in korean obv) into then telling me I should stream my next game or something, and at the end telling me "cant deny it now huh?" (despite the fact that he 1. Won the game 2. I had 2 sensor towers which he was flying into 3. He flew his dropships over my hellions when they left his base lol.
So yeah, changed ID haha
I'm not sure this will really go anywhere, but maybe I'll show up at some random open bracket or code A prelim in the future for fun It's nice to be playing again, even if it's just a couple of games a day.
This was really long, and it's like 3:30 AM now and my girlfriend is wondering why the hell I'm still awake.... so time to wrap this up!
Hadn't planned to write this much, especially not about all the nostalgia... but if you are interested I've got plenty more (first DH stockholm, first MLG I went to, code S stuff, the showmatch with IdrA, code A stuff etc etc etc).
Alright, I'm out
EDIT: Wrote a huge reply that's almost the size of another full blog post here: