Originally written and edited by Lee Sora
This is from Daily E-Sports' series of special relay interviews. They are starting a new series featuring Terrans, called the "Three Great Stars." Fantasy is up first, to be followed by Flash and Leta.
The editing for the interview is somewhat odd, it doesn't read like a standard question and answer format. It's more like a "Editor comments, then an excerpt from Fantasy" style of interview. The reporter's notes/questions are in italics.
First off, the master of vultures, Fantasy!
People are often surprised when they meet Fantasy in real life. Though he's in his teens, he looks much older. Besides his appearance, his soft voice and calm manner of speech contribute to his mature air.
Fantasy: It bothered me a lot when I was young, but now I think it's a good thing. I remember when I joined the team at age 17, when IntoTheRainbow saw me for the first time and asked me "Are you really seventeen?"
I've had the same face since I was in middle school. They do say though, that people who look older than their age early on keep that same face for a long time. So despite my current predicament, maybe people will say I'm a babyface when I get into my 30's? (Laughs).
Despite his appearance, Fantasy is definitely a teenager. We conducted this interview at a coffee shop due to some scheduling conflicts with the T1 training facilities. When we asked Fantasy what he'd like to eat, he asked for a frozen chocolate drink ("Ice choco" literally, I'm guessing it's some chocolate frapuccino like drink). We had a lot of fun during our interview with this kid who still likes chocolate drinks better than coffee, and there were plenty of laughs.
These days, people have been saying that Fantasy's interview skills have improved alongside his Starcraft skills. Naturally, journalists love players who can give good interviews. As it follows, Fantasy has become a recent favorite amongst reporters.
Fantasy: Really, I'm a favorite of theirs? (laughs) Wow, that makes me feel pretty good! I'm actually pretty concerned about what people think of me. It makes me glad that I've been leaving a good impression on reporters.
My fans have been telling me that my interview skills have improved and are giving me a lot of kudos for it. I guess it's natural that I've improved, since I've been competing so much and doing so many interviews. Seeing the reporters so often has made me more comfortable speaking to them. Even people who are poor at public speaking loosen up when they're in their comfort zone.
Progamers need so many skills besides gaming, and I think being able to give a good interview is one of them.
For a time, Fantasy seemed confused as he tried to define a style for himself. However, he has now firmly established his own style of play, and is considered alongside Leta to be one of the most stylish Terran players. What was going on inside Fantasy's head?
Fantasy: I used to imitate what others did. Like trying to do a 1 factory expansion and then trying to play a macro game, and other builds skilled players were using. But even from my days as a practice partner, I preferred frantic games where there were a lot of blows being traded. Trying to copy other players' styles was like trying to wear clothes that didn't fit.
So ended up using my style of dropship and vulture play, and now I think it's definitely my own thing. Since I'm doing what I can do best, the games have been going well, and my record's been pretty good.
Being in SKT1 is a source of considerable jealousy for Terran players on other teams. They are traditionally a strong Terran team, with players such as Boxer or iloveoov. And with players like Canata and Midas, there are players of endlessly different styles to learn from.
Fantasy: Our team's terrans are truly terrifying. They come up with things that no one on another team could think of. When I prepare for games, I'm often awestruck. I think our creativity lets us set the trends for Terran.
Everyone has a different play style, so there's a good synergy effect. We share information and tips, and we're a really tight group. SKT1 has the best Terrans because we are players of vastly different styles that have come together as one.
It's difficult to talk about Fantasy and not talk about coach Iloveoov. What does Fantasy think of Iloveoov, who has taught him a good deal of strategy?
Fantasy: People often ask me "Don't you feel a bit annoyed that Iloveoov gets more attention than you?" Honestly I can't think that way at all, because Iloveoov already feels sorry about stealing the spotlight.
He always feel like he ends up hogging the attention, and tells me "Please, do some interviews that are for YOU." I think he feels pressure from receiving the greater share of attention. The fact that he feels sorry for receiving so much attention makes me feel sorry for him in return. (laughs)
I think people can imagine how great it is for me to have both Boxer and Iloveoov on my team. I plan to get a lot of help! (laughs) But I don't plan to stay in the shadows. I never forget that some day in the future, they will be obstacles to overcome.
In a previous relay interview, JulyZerg picked Fantasy as the single player that was certain to do well in the future. JulyZerg mentioned Fantasy as the hardest worker he had ever seen.
Fantasy: I have some memories from when I first joined the team, when I would turn the practice room's lights off before I entered. I would be the one practicing the latest, and I'd still be the one to start the earliest. Even when we had days off, I almost never used the free time, and would just practice as normal.
Starcraft was fun, and I thought that if I wanted to be the best, I'd have to practice at least that hard, so I really did my best to practice. I think that's what JulyZerg remembered about me. I feel proud that he said that .
Despite his young age, Fantasy is known for being very calm and unexcitable. But his fans and friends also say "He is ridiculously competitive." How can they tell, even though he doesn't show emotions very often?
Fantasy: Umm, maybe it's a complex from being an eldest son? I learned to control my emotions from an early age, so I don't really show my emotions or get excited that much. So some people think I lack intensity.
But the truly scary kind of competitiveness is the kind that doesn't show. If I have some kind of problem, I don't ask anyone for help and try to solve it myself. In the past I really hated losing. One time, I went to the bathroom to cry by myself after a loss. Of course, no one knew about it. I only cried alone, and returned to the dormitory like nothing had happened.
(When asked who this player was) I can't tell you. (laughs) And that's final! (laughs)
Fantasy's career has been on the rise, without any noticeable slumps. The "2nd year" jinx may be looming, however, as many progamers face a slump about two years after they start being noticed. Fantasy seems to be doing well so far, why hasn't he had trouble with a slump?
Fantasy: I don't think about anything else outside of gaming. I don't even like anything else in particular. No special hobbies, nor do I like exercizing like some players do. So I have nothing to waste time on. I only think about gaming, so there's no reason for me to slump.
I don't even care about the ever-so-popular fashion and clothing. (laughs). (Note: This may be a subtle reference to the designer clothing some gamers can be seen sporting in various photographs. There's an entire humorous yet mostly real series people have done analyzing Savior's clothing and accesories, which lead to the conclusion that he loves designer clothing). I have more occasions to wear non-uniform clothing these days, so I have to buy some clothes. But I have no idea what to buy, since I'm just not interested. (laughs).
I'm not even interested in girls, I still just like playing starcraft.
It's a bit of a shock for a nineteen (eighteen in american years?) year old to not be interested in girls. We asked him "Do you have an ideal type of girl?"
Fantasy: I like Seo Hyun from SNSD (Girl's Generation). She looks nice and cute.
(When asked whether he likes a girl with a pretty face or a nice body) Hmm, I still prefer girls with a pretty face (laughs). Hey, I'm still young! (laughs)
I like girls my age. I think it would be fun to be like friends. I didn't like older girls before, but I changed my mind about that. There wasn't any particular incident, but I think someone older would take care of me.
I think plus or minus four years is fine. Further than that? Hmm, I'm still young so I don't know. I guess when I get older I might stop caring about age? But I'm still nineteen! (laughs).
People are noticing that Fantasy is becoming more handsome. When we told this to him, he said "I've been getting that a lot" and didn't seem to disagree.
Fantasy: People around me are telling me that I'm getting better looking. I'm not doing anything in particular, so it's funny that I get those comments.
I guess that as I grow older, my face is taking on it's final form? (laughs) It's funny to talk about getting old when I'm still nineteen.
I don't really care about taking care of my appearance, so I hadn't even dyed my hair for a long time. But when I got to my second Starleague final, I tried it for the first time. I thought that it was part of a Pro's job to look good for the fans.
My hyungs (older teammates), keep telling me to work on my looks. Hyuk in particular!
I was going to get my ear pierced, but I was too afraid (laughs). It's a bit scary, and I think it would be a pain to take care of after I got it done.
I think all this talk about being good looking is just because I have nice hair right now (laughs).
Fantasy is nearly the youngest player on SKT's A team. Who gives him the hardest time at the dorms? Fantasy says no one gives him a hard time, but says there are some pranksters at SKT1.
Fantasy: If we're talking about jokesters, no one can come close to Best. A while ago I lent him 100 acorns (currency on a Korean website) on the promise that I would be paid back in cash.
When I went to collect, he threatened me. I had a date with Bisu in the MSL at that time. Best had been helping me practice, but he said he would reveal all my builds to Bisu if I kept pestering him for the money. So I couldn't even ask him.
Fantasy's slim frame has been a topic of debate lately. There's a rumor going around that he doesn't gain weight no matter what he eats, to the jealousy of many female fans.
Fantasy: I weighed about 60kg when I first entered the team. I haven't weighed myself lately, but I think it's about the same. But as you all know, the people around me like to eat a lot (laughs). My fans keep telling me to put on some weight, but it doesn't phase me much. However, since so many people keep saying the same thing, I think it would be nice to gain a little weight.
My favorite food is Soondae Gukbab (In short, it's a soup with rice, where the primary ingredients are a variety of offal from a pig, including blood, liver, lungs, etc depending on who makes it). There are so many famous restaurants that make it in Busan. It's absolutely delicious. I don't know anywhere in Seoul that makes Soondae Gukbab well, so I was very sad at being unable to eat it. When we moved our dormitories, I found that there was a resturaunt right in front of it! And it's tasty too, so I was really happy (laughs). Everyone except coach Iloveoov likes it too, so we go there often.
A teenager who likes Soondae Gukbab? This kid is definitely different from others his age. It doesn't show very explicitly, but we theorize that he has some fourth dimensional thoughts going on in his head (This is a Korean internet term. If something is 4th/5th dimensional, it means that it is weird and mysterious).
Leta and Fantasy are the center of attention amongst terrans. Both love dropships and vultures, but they have distinctly different styles. What does Fantasy think of Leta?
Fantasy: We both like to use dropships, but we're different. My game doesn't rely as heavily on drops, and I prepare to be able to play well even if my drops fail. Leta focuses heavily on drops, and will try to finish games with them.
I think for viewers, Leta's style is more entertaining. It's very flamboyant. But I think in terms of stability, I'm ahead of him.
My way of playing isn't outwardly flashy, and is more about stealing the advantage little by little. I've learned to make game ending decisions after I've accumulated a sizeable advantage, which is why I've been winning a lot lately.
I'm proud that I've become confident enough in my situation assessment to finish games quickly, rather than drag them out.
And now, fan questions!
Q: I noticed that you have very long and pretty fingers. Does that help you when you play?
Fantasy: It helps a lot. I can reach the zero key with one hand. Players with small hands need to use two hands to assign control groups.
Progaming's a job where you see a lot of hands. Good thing I have pretty hands then? (laughs). It's nice when the things you see often are easy on the eyes. (laughs).
Q: You're striking more confident poses in recent pictures. Are you practicing in secret at the dorm?
Fantasy: Of course I don't! (laughs). Just imagine, me striking poses in front of a mirror in a dormitory full of men. Isnt it a little bit funny? (laughs). It's pretty hilarious to me, just thinking about it.
I just do what the reporters ask me to do. It's more that the reporters have figured out what kind of poses make me look better. (laughs). They used to have a lot of trouble with taking pictures of me, but now they know the angles and poses. (laughs). It's all thanks to the photographers (laughs).
Also, after getting my picture taken so much, I think I've learned a bit as well. I'm glad I have so many nice pictures these days. (laughs).
Q: What do you think of your nickname, Jeong Laden? (Early in his career, Fantasy had the nickname Jeong Laden, after Osama Bin Laden. The joke was that he was "terrorizing" various leagues by defeating more popular, well known players).
Fantasy: I didn't like it at first. It's not like Osama Bin Laden is a nice guy. So I just didn't like it for that reason. But I think it's okay these days (laughs).
Q: What do you think of the Kong-Line (This refers to Yellow and his second place legacy. It could be considered the "Yellow Dynasty." Players who finish second place too often are in danger of becoming heirs to the royal house of Hong Jin Ho)?
Fantasy: I want to escape from it! This is the first time I'll admit it, but I've felt the qualities of the Kong-line in myself for a long time now. When I first joined the team, we had an internal Starleague. I finished second place twice there, too.
Hyuk started making fun of me by calling me "Kong-Fanta." And a year after that, I placed second in two real Starleagues, so the joke became reality.
It's not all bad, because it brings me attention. But it hurts to keep placing second.
I hope to graduate soon, and someone else could take my place. Should I induct Leta into the Kong-line? (laughs)
Back to regular Q's.
When was the most difficult period for Fantasy as a progamer? We thought it would have been when he finished second place twice in a row, but the answer was surprising.
Fantasy: Just before the 2008 proleague season started, I was doing really well in practice matches versus other teams. The team had high expectations for me, and I was confident as well.
So I was in the lineup for the opening game, but I lost. Afterwards, I didn't do well either, and I ended my season with a record of 1 win and 4 losses. Our team didn't make the playoffs that season either. It was really tough then. I had gotten so little out of all the effort I had put in, and I was furious at myself.
I had always thought I'd never be betrayed by hard work, and it was so painful when that belief burst like a bubble. In the end, the hard work paid off though. If I had quit being a progamer then, I'd really have regretted it.
Fantasy has been compared to Flash and Leta often. Leta's poor performance in individual leagues has lead to the debate about the top Terran being limited to Flash vs Fantasy.
Fantasy: Flash is a really special player. He's my closest friend amongst progamers. We were in the same guild to begin with, and I still think he's my rival now.
We passed the Courage League together, and I even started being a practice partner after I saw Flash do it first. I think I've always been chasing him.
After we became pros, the gap really widened, but I'm busy making up ground these days. I practice with him a lot, and I win a lot of those games. We know each other extremely well, so there's always mind games going on. When we play on TV, I tend to lose the mind games.
It makes me happy to be compared to Flash. What's better than competiting with not just your rival, but also your close friend in order to be the best? It makes me realize that I'm very lucky.
We were surprised to learn that Flash is Fantasy's closest progamer friend. Any other progamers that he is close to?
Fantasy: I'm close with Flash and Kal. We were all in the same guild, so we're very close. Kal is a really fun guy. He is really playful, but when he's serious, he is dead serious. I think that makes him a particularly charismatic hyung.
There's one year in between the three of us, so we talk to each other a lot. We agreed to get together sometime for fun (laughs).
Flash said he would buy us some sushi, but I don't know if he's gonna make good on that (laughs). For sushi's sake, we really need to get together soon. In any case, it's going to have to wait until after the Pro League final.
Any last words?
Fantasy: I've done a lot of winner's interviews, or pre-match interviews, but I haven't really had any interviews where I got to talk about myself. I said a lot of things I haven't mentioned before, and I was glad I had the opportunity. I think it will help me get closer to my fans, and maybe when I become a bigger player, I can have these kind of interviews more often?
I'm glad to have had an opportunity to let my fans get to know me. I hope there will be more opportunities in the future!
Ending Words: Interview Excerpt from Fantasy.
"It's very hard for a progamer to a play a game that he can be satisfied with. I want to be a player who can be happy with his play, even after I retire. That's my greatest goal. I'm not afraid of going slowly. I want to be a player who is afraid of stopping."