Could you please tell us who Maciej Polak is?
Well, I’m 25. I live in Warsaw where I work in the computer games trade. My passion for Starcraft brought about my eight-year-long presence on the Polish and international scene not only as a player but also as an organizer. Although I’m no longer an active competitor, I decided to engage myself in that latter role once again, and I took over the POL – Team for the third time ever.
Well…I intentionally asked the question about Maciej, who only at the certain point of his lifetime nicknamed himself “The Raven” as first…Maybe you could tell us what kind of man you are then? What pisses you off, what makes you relaxed? The members of the ‘SCene’ may not know what your private life looks like. Let’s just forget about the POL – Team management for a while.
(He smiles) All right, few words about the ‘real world’ Maciej…privately I’m still…The Raven to some extent (I started to use this pseudo before the SC was released). However, after the first face to face conversation most people tell me, that the impression I make as an internaut is totally different (probably, this is because of my often “serious” posts, which established my a bit ‘bolt upright’ image.
What pisses me off? The rednecks and the bottomless stupidity for show.
Relax? Nothing more relaxing than a time spent with my girlfriend (Katie)
Was Starcraft the first game to absorb you entirely? Or there were earlier some titles, which stole the show?
Absolutely not! My first ‘computer combats’ must be traced back to times when I was five or six, I then operated on the ZX Spectrum/Atari using tape cassettes and my top-list games were: River Raid, Lords of Chaos, Laser, Squad, Rick Dangerous or Arnhem. Operating on the PC, I went through such games as Master Magic (I derived my nickname from this stuff), Diablo (up to this day I call it the only game I was addicted to, which made me sell it after six weeks in view of my own health ;P), all releases of Bullfrog and Blizzard and, of course, The Quake series. If it wasn’t for Starcraft, I’d probably be more ‘soaked through’ by the Q3 ^^.
From your articles, it can be concluded that the games were ever-present and essential part of your life. I don’t intend to accuse you of “nerding”, but, you must admit, that SC was extremely important, and it still is. Without any sentimental attitude towards the game you wouldn’t certainly make a comeback and take over The POL – Team. Could you explain the reasons for your decision?
Sure I can. The computer games were always important to me and I don’t think it’s a waste of time at all, quite the contrary, most of my personal qualities were developed thanks to them And they’ll always be important, both in favor of private sphere and professional obligations.
Obviously, The Starcraft is still a great dose of pleasure and, I can agree with you wholly, that without any sentiment or satisfaction coming from my job, I wouldn’t undertake the above-mentioned role. Another reason for me doing this is the fact, that there were no suitable candidates, and the long years spent in the SC camp reawakened inside me in the form of the responsibility for the national team, which I already led for some time and for which I played quite a few matches.
Still, during your cadence as a player as well as national team manager, the SCene realities were slightly different. More teams were active, more tournaments organized, more individualities among players. Now, the NetWars.pl forum is full of undisguised irony, one out of many examples being “SC is dead”. Is it really so?
Starcraft will survive as long as the scene gathering the gamers exists (not only the ‘maniacs’, playing tournaments/ladders and following the news from Korea, but also the Sunday players). But, indeed, the scene is gradually shrinking (and it’s been clearly visible since 2004, I suppose), the number of casual contestants, and those, for whom SC is the matter of distinction is decreasing, which all seems to be the natural course of events. ‘The oldie’ is nearly 11, and the sequel is on the horizon…
The pro-gamers have less and less tournaments outside Korea, tournaments which would be a perfect occasion to present their abilities, and the Sunday gamers give up SC for good to seek new titles, new challenges, new sensations.
Thus, what is your strategy for creating a solid crew able to challenge the dominators? I understand, that you have to overcome some kind of problem analogy which affects the other teams as well, but is it worth managing a national team being aware of the number of players who remain active?
It is always worth leading a team unless there is an arena to conquer! Evidently, the previous successes of The POL – Team were enough to spoil us all but we wouldn’t like to leave the pedestal of the most recognized crews, and, I believe, our status is unquestionable. The Polish national team, with an obvious reason, has for long been internationally called “mini-Korea” or “Proland” – the scene of our ladder-active gamers is the fifth in the world in number (behind Korea, China, Russia and USA), and the talented players strong enough to demonstrate the potential of our country will always emerge.
And, as you’ve already said, it’s not only us battling such problems, however, I’d rather call it a natural rotation of the top gamers.
Rotation which incidentally excludes another group of acknowledged players, and the new wave is not coming. Is it possible to fill in this gap? Or the squad will be based mostly on the proven members?
I don’t think our future looks so dark, in spite of some “resigns” we still have got ‘a crew with the claws’, and we won’t hesitate to use them if such a need should arise. I’d like to stick to the scheme: POL-A consists basically of the recognized members, and POL-B is supposed to be the ‘breeding ground’ for the ‘ SC prodigies’ (chances to show the potential, to be credited the first Nation Wars under the national flag). Talking about the natural rotation I meant adding the best people from team B to the main team, which has done the job as far as the challenge/tournament cycle is concerned. Anyway, I’ve got the subs singled out in case of any personal shortcomings, but I wouldn’t like to reveal any nicknames here, the issue is to be discussed with The HeadCutter, POL –B’s captain, by the way.
Let’s just hope your co-operation will go on without any dissonances…As to the POL – Team’s schedule, have you got any plans concerned with the future starts of our boys? Which leagues are you going to join? Which teams would you like to challenge during this particular cadence?
It’s too early for me to know the schedule details – yesterday I returned from my holiday and I haven’t even got a contact with all the gamers and the licences for the sites either…Before Christmas I heard about the idea of an international tournament, and, if it fails, me and The HeadCutter will try to settle some single meetings or to organize a tournament of a lowest rank. I’ve got one more idea for bringing our gamers together and I’ll achieve it surely, but for now I keep it secret as I’m still sure it will be warmly received.
It’s really good to hear you’ve got some new ideas for the team. I was wondering how the SC community received your “Any problems? Ask The Raven” initiative?
The idea of hosting a programme in which I would help the audience to solve the problems connected with Starcraft by answering their questions directly met the wide and immediate response, both on the forum and via an e-mail, so I can tell you that it will see the light of day soon! Of course, I cannot bite off more than I can chew. It will take some time to prepare the first few episodes. I’m also waiting for the HeadShot TV until they’ve finished some important technical improvements, which will make communing with this internet TV yet more pleasant experience for the loggers ^^. On this occasion, I, again, appeal for directing the SC questions to my e- mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) It is you, who decide what will be presented and explained during the programme!
I join your appeal by all means and I promise to send my reps with a few questions attached :D
Maciek, what if it all fails to happen? If there’s not enough zeal, desire? It is your head in the smasher in case of any flops, which, as you know, is a common practice around and inside our scene.
What if you say “I’ve had enough, I quit now”. Don’t you have any anxieties?
That’s an appropriate question here, especially in the context of my second cadence, when, at a certain point, as a player and a captain at the same time I was sick of the negative feedback from the scene, whose appetites I whetted myself through what I achieved before and the motivation for upgrade somehow evaporated.
Now, I’ve got two major problems less. First, I’m not a national team player anymore, which restrained me from keeping the POL – Team matters at a distance and hampered the physical fulfillment of the obligations assigned to the captain. Second, the form of the national team management evolved recently – I’m not alone in this. The B section is run by The HeadCutter, who did well in the role of a captain during the last cadence. You also contribute to the section Sajrus, since we agreed before my start, that you’ll be responsible for the info concerned with the POL – Team on various sites (news, coverage, even this interview), and the HSTV will take care of an excellent live coverage of the games. The whole, briefly speaking, won’t be so time-consuming for me as it was formerly, however, I don’t treat the present cadence as less challenging and the fact, that it may sometimes be hard to spur yourself on is taken into account. Some fears are obvious but I’m staying positive.
The goals are precisely determined then, and, hopefully, we’ll all be strong to make them real. Seizing an opportunity, I’d like to ask you to have a regular conversation with me, which would provide some info about the current events in the POL – Team camp. Such interview once a month would illustrate and recap the last four weeks, what do you say?
Yeah, sure I’ve got similar offer for you in return but we shall discuss it further when…err…in private [5.01.2009]
Interview by: sajrus
Translation: Miłosz - big thx!
Team Poland official site