Note: This is an article translated from the Korean e-Sports magazine „esForce“. I tried my best, but I am neither a native English speaker nor a native Korean speaker. As I had some problems with the Korean structure and style of the language used in articles like this and had difficulties with certain phrases and idioms, the English translation often sounds a little bit awkward, since I chose to stay as close to the original as possible. This article does not represent my personal views. Although it is lacking in many ways, I hope you will enjoy the read.
CJ Entus sAviOr (Ma Jae Yoon): „Grandslam go!“
Advanced to the MSL finals 5 times, 3 times MSL champion, advanced to the finals of OSL and MSL at the same time, went the „Royal Road“ to win the OSL and won the Proleague semifinals with CJ Entus. If you had to name the hottest 3 syllables in the e-sports world of 2006, they would have to be MA - JAE - YOON. Terran’s Emperor SlayerS_`BoxeR`, the Complete [ReD]NaDa, the Hero [Oops]Reach, the Dreamer Nal_rA or the Monster iloveoov - there was one player that flew higher than them all - sAviOr also known as „the Maestro“. By receiving the best player award at the Korean e-Sports Awards, which were held for the 2nd time in early 2007, sAviOr was now not only by his results, but also officially certificated the best player of 2006. Also in 2007, the prognosis that this will be sAviOr’s era seems to become a fact. sAviOr already qualified for the quarterfinals of both the Daum OSL 2007 as well as the GomTV Season2 MSL. Also in the Proleague he now gradually started to show results. If you would say that in 2006 sAviOr was raging like a hurricane, then he now is more like a gentle breeze, yet he is slowly transforming into someone who is able to sink deeply into the hearts of the fans.
From the 8 trends discussed in the recent popular business strategy book „Nike’s opponent is Nintendo“, we chose a few to analyze the plans and goals of sAviOr, who is now facing the 2007 season, from the view of business economics.
Egonomy means economy centered around oneself. The word is a combination of the words „ego“ and „economy“. Analyzing attitudes and special characteristics of males and females aged 17 to 39 in the changing Korean society, Cheil Communications defined „the P-Generation“, the generation to shift Korea’s fundamental paradigm regarding political, economical, societal and cultural sectors, based on „Participation“, „Passion“ and „Potential Power.“ The P-Generation’s concept about economy is referred to as „Egonomy“.
sAviOr is the front-runner of the P-Generation in the e-Sports world. Players like SlayerS_`BoxeR`, [ReD]NaDa, [Oops]Reach, [NC]...YellOw, Nal_rA and others who dominated Starcraft in its early stages after its release, had a different mindset.
Weighing their personal development as much as e-Sports development in general, the „old“ generation carried a great duty for e-Sports as a whole, resolutely giving up personal gain for a greater cause. In 2002, when SlayerS_`BoxeR`, who had gotten an individual sponsor with Tongyang Orion, heard that a team league was going to be opened, he donated over 100.000$ of sponsor money to the community. [ReD]NaDa and [NC]...YellOw made lease contracts and played for other teams in order to support their original team. Also [Oops]Reach and Nal_rA helped to maintain their original teams by transferring to other teams.
sAviOr is different. Since sAviOr rose to stardom after the team system had already been firmly established, he has no big interest in that kind of moral obligation. Rather than commiting himself to the far-reaching goal of expanding the e-Sports market, sAviOr’s devotion lies in his team’s and personal goals. One should just practice hard for the tourneys one personally wants to win – that’s the idea. This attitude derives from individualism and should not be confused with egoism. Egoism is putting one’s personal gain above everything without having any interest in others. Individualism however, also includes consideration of others and sympathy with community. In sAviOrs case this can be seen, as he, in spite of his busy schedule, often participates in special tourneys and events that internationally boost the e-Sports image. Having strong individual tendencies, the members of the P-Generation, represented by sAviOr, look at the world through their own eyes only. The „old“ generation, which had a strong idea of self-sacrifice, could possibly feel antipathy to this notion, but for the P-Generation this attitude is a general fact. Because the center of the evaluation of values lies in „me“, I will set goals that carry my personal passion.
sAviOr’s goal for this year’s season is not achieving what he failed to do last year, winning both OSL and MSL at the same time. Although it would be nice to accomplish this feat, more than that, his personal goal is to represent Korea by participating in the 2007 WCG Grand Final, which will be held in Seattle, USA. In addition to that, he aims to elevate CJ Entus to the top position in the Shinhan Proleague. There could be various reasons for sAviOr to have these goals, but one should not look down on the new generation’s tendency to focus on self-realization. sAviOr said: „I want to realize the goals I wasn’t able to achieve until now“ and „rather than accomplishing simple goals, I want to walk a path that has meaning“.
sAviOr played 63 matches since 2007/01/01. This is almost the same number of games compared to 2006’s 76 matches. June is not even over, yet sAviOr has already played almost the same amount of matches as last year – that’s how busy sAviOr is. If you count 1 month for the off-season, and take the holidays and off-days into account, that makes around 1 game every two days.
An essential part of a progamer’s life is practice time. Most of the 12 pro-teams have a scheduled practice time of over 10 hours a day. sAviOr’s amount of training is just as much as the other players’, but as the number of tournaments he participates in increases, this practice time actually becomes insufficient.
sAviOr faces this lack of practice time with a special method. Because it is not possible to fill that gap with raw practice time with other players, he found a method to increase the efficiency of his training. Under the assumption that sAviOr’s understanding of Zerg is already complete, he plays against Zerg as Terran or Protoss in order to increase the understanding of his opponents races. By doing this, one can examine the opponent and oneself at the same time, hence minimizing wasted time. Coach Kim Dong Woo states that „sAviOr has the ability to discover Zerg’s and Terran’s weaknesses in the Terran vs Zerg matchup by training with Terran. There were cases when sAviOr won matches against Terran only by practicing with Terran before the match“. If you would apply this to business strategical thinking, it would be the same as focusing on the time/value rate rather than on the customers/value rate. Rather than giving great importance to the raw number of customers, you try to maximize the efficiency and distribution of time.
Time management has 4 characteristics. Increasing the time you do several things at once, while reducing unnecessarily wasted time. Having time and place correspond to each other and giving the time you spent on doing something significance.
sAviOr knows these concepts very well. He tries to compensate the problem of insufficient actual raw preparation time due to the increasing number of games, by studying replays of other players. Because replays can be watched at 16x speed, this can narrow the gap between sAviOr’s and other players’ practice time.
As the sheer number of games goes to the limit of sAviOr’s physical stamina, rather than greatly increasing the practice time he also takes some time to rest. Additionally, by always only training for the game that is right in front of him, rather than for game that will take place sometime in the future, sAviOr is trying to match time with place. And lastly, by concentrating all his attention to the game while practicing, even if the time is short, it is of significance.
sAviOr’s secret to maintaining a 60% winning percentage, even while having to deal with a tight schedule, is exactly this: efficient time management.
Among the fans that fill up the stadiums at Starcraft league matches, only 30% are male. The mainstream mostly consists of females and also the cheering chants originated from females. About half of the female fan population doesn’t know how to properly play the game. So what could be the reason for the female fans’ interest in Starcraft?
Experts say the reason is word-of-mouth advertisement. Fans who heard about outstanding players like SlayerS_`BoxeR`, [NC]...YellOw or others, come to the matches and gradually get acquainted with the newer players and thus become another layer in the meshwork of the fanbase. These kind of fans are usually only interested in the players’ looks, but gradually get more and more fascinated by the game and also become „hardcore fans“.
In business economics, there is a similar strategy, called „word-of-mouth marketing“. Word-of-mouth marketing plays a big role in the decision making process of the consumer whether to buy a product or not. Hence, word-of-mouth advertisement is an important method among the marketing strategies which aim attract fans who consume e-Sports contents.
sAviOr has the ability to stir up rumors and gossip among the fans. In the group selection ceremony that takes place before the individual leagues start, sAviOr likes to create some rivalry with other strong players. In the Daum OSL 2007, he did this by drawing iloveoov into his group, and when he participated in the Shinhan OSL for the first time in 2006, he had a competitive rivalry with Midas[gm]. Also in the MSL sAviOr provided incentive for gossip. After winning his first championship he called upon Nal_rA in the CYON MSL to fire up the atmosphere and also didn’t avoid strong opponents like [Oops]Reach.
sAviOr’s great instinct was revealed in the Superfights, sponsored by CJ Media. In the first Superfight, sAviOr, who participated in a supporting role, became aware of the great power of such a one-time-win-or-lose event. In SlayerS_`BoxeR`s farewell match before his army enrollment, sAviOr wrote history by „unscrupulously“ defeating Boxer 3:0. He faced and defeated Boxer again after 7 months, when the „Dream match“ event was held on children’s day 2007/05/05 in Seoul. Also, when news got out that in the 3rd Superfight MSL and OSL winners would face off in a final showdown, sAviOr went for it with all he got and won the MSL title. After that, when the title best player of the era was at stake, sAviOr dominated OSL titleholder [ReD]NaDa 3:1 in Superfight 3 and was acknowledged the best. This karma continued as sAviOr later won the championship of the Shinhan OSL Season3 with 3:1 and now truly had climbed the throne.
By cleverly creating rivalry and defeating his rivals in all matchups, sAviOr hyped the fan’s word-of-mouth advertisement and in a short time managed to elevate himself to the player that represents Korean e-Sports today. sAviOr hyped his fans with determined and confident comments and managed to pull off victories, showing that he is a true professional. That way he attained nicknames like „BonJwa“ or „Maestro“.
Starcraft is a game. It is something to be enjoyed, so it needs a certain entertainment factor. In the early days of Starcraft, playing single player mode or against the computer may have been fun, but by providing an internet platform like Battle.net where people can play against each other, Starcraft really got popular.
After the first progamers emerged, it became possible to show each players’ individual specialty through the medium of nationwide TV broadcasting. Be it SlayerS_`BoxeR`s dropship play, [NC]...YellOw’s „Storm-Style“ or [Oops]Reach’s macro of death – by creating each player’s special in-game personality, their popularity increased even more.
However the leagues have been in existence for close to 10 years now, and nowadays victory is not necessarily connected with one’s individuality anymore. As strategies and game management create winning scenarios, no new element was added. The factor of entertainment was gradually beginning to disappear.
Then sAviOr, who sensed the decreasing popularity of the leagues, stepped forward to provide some entertainment. At the GomTV Season2 MSL group selection ceremony he called upon SK Telecom’s GoRush and officially announced that he would play as Terran against him.
sAviOr commented: „As this was a slightly provocative move, it is possible that the fans misunderstood me, however even it had been not GoRush but another Zerg, I still would have announced to play Terran“. This move was clearly incited by the diminishing popularity of the Proleague and individual leagues. It is a wink to some players, who even though they compete, show no variety and on the whole only use the currently popular strategies showing almost the same game everytime. sAviOr showed us this conceptual change, what previous progamers failed to do. Even though sAviOr lost the game he played with Terran, this issue was discussed in every available medium and such helped the e-Sports world to heaten up again. It was the best contribution an entertainer could have ever made, so to speak.
Some people say that the world’s first case of successful business was „religion“. Among the religions Christianity is one of the „oldest brands on the market“. The word „Evangelist“ is a religious term and means preacher or missionary. A person, who shares, spreads and passes on his religious determination and passion.
sAviOr is the greatest „Evangelist“ since SlayerS_`BoxeR`. Of course overseas, but also in Korea sAviOr holds the record for the Starcraft player with the most coverage. sAviOr’s popularity also meets international interest. sAviOr’s every move was covered by the English TV Station BBC, which is interested in and reports about the Korean e-Sports scene, several times.
In a special feature article, Germany’s leading news magazine „Spiegel“ introduced sAviOr as „the next leader of Korea’s e-Sports industry successing SlayerS_`BoxeR`“.
sAviOr is not only a national matter anymore. He became a missionary that spreads Korea’s endogeneously developed e-Sports culture to the world.
In order to do this, sAviOr revised his goals for this year. Doing well in the individual leagues and Proleague has become a natural matter now. It is about time for sAviOr to qualify for an international tournament and win an international title representing Korea.
sAviOr revealed: „I want to win a tournament like WCG, where players from all over the world gather, not tournaments such as CKCG, WEG or IEF which were held in China and mostly consisted of Chinese and Koreans“.
sAviOr, who now carries the responsibility to represent the Korean brand called e-Sports, will now start his history as the person to elevate e-Sports, the steady-seller with loyal fans, to a worldwide best-seller with passionate fans!
sAviOr - 2007 statistics (until 07/06/13)
vZ vT vP Total
MSL 0/1(T) 6/3 5/3 11/7
OSL - 15/9 2/0 17/9
Proleague 1/3 1/1 2/1 4/5
Superfight 1/0 2/1 2/1 5/2
Total 2/4 24/14 11/5 37/23
*Teamplay 2/1 39/24 (61%)
sAviOr - 2006 statistics
vZ vT vP Total
MSL 7/5 9/4 11/2 27/11
OSL 1/0 0/1 - 1/1
Proleague 6/2 3/1 5/2 14/5
Superfight - 7/1 - 7/1
Total 14/7 19/7 16/4 49/18
*Teamplay 5/4 54/22 (71%)
CJ Entus’ sAviOr had to deal with the most number of matches in 2007. sAviOr’s name appeared in every final. Achieving these good results, sAviOr elevated himself to a huge star the e-Sports world couldn’t live without. Also, by advancing to the quarterfinals in both MSL and OSL 2007, he proved that his past fame was no error. Although the fact that his team CJ Entus is dwelling in the middle ranks of the Proleague somewhat tarnishes his fame, sAviOr still sustains his team like a pine tree that is green all year.We talked with sAviOr about his past, present and future.
The 80% that made me big – Superfight
The fans didn’t value sAviOr value very highly. Until October 2006 that is. If he won it was because of luck, if he didn’t, there weren’t many fans who cared to criticize a lot. There were even fans who called him „Ma Jae Woon“ (運 -luck) [instead of Ma Jae Yoon]. However, after one certain best of 5 series sAviOr’s name was engraved into the heads of the fans. After completely defeating the Emperor SlayerS_`BoxeR`, who had a 70% winning percentage against Zerg, with 3:0, sAviOr was started to be seen in a new light.
You seem to really like the Superfights.
sAviOr > It’s the Superfights that made me big. Of 6 Superfights I participated in 5, starting from the first 1st Superfight against SlayerS_`BoxeR` until the Dreammatch that was held on children’s day. I thought that it is an opportunity to show: „that’s the kind of player sAviOr is“. Facing SlayerS_`BoxeR`, [ReD]NaDa, iloveoov and Bisu[Shield] also created some competitive rivalries. It helped me in several ways.
What were your most memorable tourneys?
sAviOr > It can’t help but thinking that I was only included in SlayerS_`BoxeR`s farewell match as an extra. But as I had some good results to show, I got scouted for the match. I came to the conclusion that with playing those games on that stage, I was able to deliver performances I failed to deliver before. Gradually my desire to perform started to grow and everytime I had the opportunity I wanted to come out for a match.
But when I heard that in Superfight 3 MSL and OSL titleholders would meet for a showdown, I started to feel nervous. At that time NaDa performing strikingly well, so I felt excited because I wasn’t able to meet him in the MSL. All the time during the matches against NaDa I mesmerized myself „I must win at any cost“. Thanks to that some really great games were shown and I believe that also the fans were thankful for a match with no regrets.
The funny thing is, this fate with NaDa carried on until the Shinhan OSL Season3. I remember when I faced him again in the finals I told myself „let’s make this as intense as the Superfight was“.
The rival of the Maestro
Who could sAviOr’s rival be? The experts count in SK Telecom’s iloveoov, Pantech EX’s [ReD]NaDa or MBCGame Hero’s Bisu[Shield]. However, sAviOr hasn’t officially announced any rival yet.
You played more than 10 matches with [ReD]NaDa in a short time. You showed some tension packed games.
sAviOr > After the Superfight I faced him in the Shinhan OSL Season3 finals, the Shinhan Masters and other events. We didn’t have a big record against each other before, but having played more then 10 matches with him during about 3 months, I really think he is a great player. He is also a player with great desire and determination to win.
Who could be your rival?
sAviOr > The community names iloveoov, Nada, Bisu and others as my rivals. But I don’t think of any one particular player as my rival. Sure, the more matches you play the more you want to play against certain players. However, I don’t want to be lopsided to one side only and create such a rivalry. Rather than pointing out one single player, I want to face a them all one by one. The more I play with all players, the happier the fans will be and the greater their numbers will become. Also for the further development of e-Sports, I want to create competitive rivalry with a variety of players.
King of annual earnings, Ma Jae Yoon
After the recently finished salary negotiations for 2007, sAviOr now holds the top position in the team. He didn’t tell us concrete numbers, but a steep raise is to be presumed. Of the 6 individual leagues last year, sAviOr won 3 and finished 2nd once, making the name of CJ Entus famous. Officials assume that sAviOr’s earnings exceeded 100.000.000 South Korean won by far (about 110.000$+).
Did salary negotiations go well?
sAviOr > The company treated me well so my salary increased to some degree. I can’t reveal the concrete amount but it is the highest among the team.
Getting the highest salary on the team must be a great responsibility
sAviOr > I know that my salary is not for last year’s accomplishments but payment for my future value. I want to properly take on a leading role, knowing that that the company’s expectations for me are this high. I want to stand on top together with CJ Entus in the Proleague in the first or second half of the year, and will do my best to lead us to the championship. And personally, I want to challenge Boxer’s title, as the king of yearly income in the e-Sports world.
It’s hard - but there’s no time to rest
sAviOr played 76 matches from 2006/01/01 until 2006/31/12. Compared to other players, he played a lot of matches. However, the number of games he had to stomach from 2007/01/01 until 2007/06/13 rivals last year’s amount of matches. Playing a total of 63 matches, sAviOr had a 61% winning percentage. The reason is the increasing general number of games in the leagues, but also special events that requested him to participate and a number of finals he had to play additionally drastically increased that number. sAviOr confessed that he is tired.
The amount of games increased. Isn’t it exhausting?
sAviOr > My body got used to it since 2006, so I am accustomed to the situation. But still, stomaching this murderous schedule for 1 one whole year is difficult. However, more than physical difficulties, I have many mental burdens. I fear the sharp criticism that would follow when I lose or am not able to show good matches to the fans who are interested in my games. However, it is not the time to rest yet. I really do want to rest and have some leisure, but It’s hard to throw away my obligation to take the chance to push my career forward. In my current situation, show good results and thus receiving recognition and appreciation from some more people, is the strength that sustains me.
Your record for the first half of the Proleague season isn’t very good
sAviOr > There is no particular reason for that. Since my record on the maps used in the 2006 season was extremely good, now that my winning percentage is going down there are many fans who come to the conclusion „sAviOr’s era is coming to an end“. Some also speak of a slump. However, I am dealing with this comfortably. Theres the rule, that when there is a winning streak, there must also be a losing streak.
Nevertheless I’d have a request. Repeatedly hearing „slump“ by the fans affects the players twice as much. I don’t think of it as a slump but continously hearing it makes me worry and gradually get anxious.
A lazy genius?
Before getting the nickname „Maestro“, sAviOr’s alias was „Genius“. Some also called him a prodigy, but most of the community thought genius was more fitting. He got this nickname because even though he doesn’t practice that much, he always very quickly finds counterstrategies.
We hear the community praises you as a genius
sAviOr > It seems that’s because of my practice method. When I have a match against Terran, I practice more with Terran than with my main race Zerg. Some people may call this arrogant, but it is the practice method that fits me the best. My analysis of Zerg is complete, so I found this system is suitable to get to know Terran’s characteristics and strategies. This way I am able to understand my opponent better, so I invest more time in it.
There’s also word that you have a special talent to discover winning strategies
sAviOr > Practicing with my opponents races, especially in the case of Terran, I found it easy to discover good moments for attacks. As also Terran is no unbeatable race, there must be some weaknesses, and if I can take advantage of those, I can win. If I trust in myself and am satisfied with me, then I can win even without largely increasing the amount of practice. Instead I am doing a lot of simulations. I imagine a certain situation in my head and constantly analyze what reaction would be appropriate and thus form a plan. A high a amount of practice doesn’t seem to matter for my results. Decreasing repetitive practice and keeping up your concentration is the way to maintain a good winning percentage even when having to play many games.
Finding out how your opponents think – is that the the idea?
sAviOr > Yes, that’s the reason why I play with Terran a lot. At first I did it for fun, but as I was getting better, my understanding of Terran increased. Studying Terran’s building placement strategies and attack timing, it helped me to discover good attack timing, diversional movements and counter-strategies for Zerg.
sAviOr as Terran
On May 26th, sAviOr spoke out a historical challenge. Not with his main race Zerg, but with Terran did he challenge the „magician of macro“ GoRush. The result was a loss, but the challenge was meaningful in many ways.
You played a match as Terran against GoRush
sAviOr > It was an idea I already had in mind before the group selection ceremony. After picking a Zerg player, it was my plan to reveal that I would play as Terran. It just happend that this player turned out to be GoRush, with whom I was familiar with from before. When I discussed this plan with the coaching staff during the off-season, I worried a lot. But I thought that the e-Sports world needed a change. I could feel that also the fans dislike the fact that the games are played with a repetitive pattern. I volunteered to take the lead and show a different facette of me.
Your impressions of playing with Terran
sAviOr > I had prepared for standard Terran play. No bunkering or other early game strategies. I had planned to focus on a tense macro battle, but GoRush dealt very well with it. I would have never thought he would use a queen to infest a command center.
Did you change your mind after the match?
sAviOr > After I announced that I would play as Terran, the fans reactions were very mixed, but on the whole most people thought it would be interesting. It seems like it was the best present I could have given to the e-Sports fans, so I am satisfied. Instead of not playing with Terran anymore, because I lost one match, I feel that it would be fun to it again from time to time.
Challenge! - The Grandslam
In Tennis or Golf there’s the concept of a „grandslam“. It is to achieve the titles of all major tournaments during one’s career. sAviOr is currently challening the e-Sports grandslam. He already won the OSL and MSL but still wasn’t able to achieve victory at the WCG, the biggest international tournament, and the Proleague, the most prestigious teamleague.
This season you again succeeded to advance to the quarterfinals in both MSL and OSL
sAviOr > In this years’ Starleagues I don’t feel a lot pressure or tension. Day by day I practice to match the game schedule that is given to me, I go out and do my best to win the game, that’s all - there is no big meaning attached. What I want is to reach the finals of the Proleague and to stand on the stage of the WCG 2007 Grand Final in Seattle. I want to stand on a stage that I haven’t felt before.
Your goal to win the Proleague is understandable, but the WCG are a surprise
sAviOr > I have no experience with the WCG yet. I participated in the national qualifiers twice, but failed in both. It is my wish to wave the Korean flag in an international tournament. I think it is a good opportunity to broaden my horizon and having the nation’s honor/fame on stake and fighting for it is also nice. I also want to take some days off and experience a different country’s culture.
CJ Entus currently doesn’t have a very good record in the Proleague. What plans do you have?
sAviOr > As the average age of our teammembers gets younger, their thirst for a goal has to decreased. Much or Xellos still feel a great disappointment about losing on last seasons finals’ stage. They should realize much of an achievement it already is to even get to the finals’ stage. Especially so as it is stage where over 100.000 people gather. I want to have a chance to show our team’s capability in front of those people. I hope we can get our teamwork together and eventually unite to achieve our goal.
Thanks and love to 현주