Because It Just Makes Jens
It's been satisfying to read the speculation about Snute joining Liquid. I thought that Snute and Liquid were a perfect match, and it was great to see that so many people agreed. It means that we've done a good job showing our fans what kind of vision we have for our players, and that Snute has done a great job in showing everyone the personality that was so attractive to us. It was a no brainer that we were interested in Snute as a Liquid player, and I'm very happy to make it official.
Snute lives up to what I want my players to stand for. He's extremely down to earth, thoughtful, and caring about his fans. He also cares a lot about his position as a professional gamer, and tries to present himself and his industry in a positive manner.
Although I'd love to pick up a non-Korean Terran / Protoss player who's right for Liquid - and I'm sure you all have your favorites among them - for me Snute is the perfect pickup even if it makes us a little Zerg heavy. With how critical Liquid is about its recruits, when the perfect player and person comes along, race can only have a limited impact in the decision. For me it is more important for Snute's character to fit Liquid than his race. There are very few players out there with the skill, potential, and personality to join Liquid, and I wasn't going to let this opportunity get away.
We had been talking to Snute for some time now, and were close to a deal before HomeStory Cup VI. Winning HSC just reaffirmed what we already knew about his skill. There's a popular impression that I don't want to recruit tournament winners, and focus on up and coming players instead. Although I love to be able to scout lesser known players and help them develop into stars on Liquid, it's not an approach I'm stuck with. Just like with race, that's only one of the many factors that end up contributing to a decision. Snute has so much ahead of him still, and we would love to help him achieve all that he can.
Snute will travel to Poland to play his first tournament as a Liquid player at IEM Katowice. After that... One of the things drew Snute to Liquid was that we both wanted him to spend a period in Korea for training. The details are still to be determined, but we will definitely make it happen at some point this year. You can count on seeing Snute in Korea in 2013, and hopefully in the Proleague as well!
Liquid did amazing things in 2012, and we're on pace to do the same in 2013. Welcome to the team, Liquid`Snute.
Connect to Liquid`Snute
Check out this replay pack from Liquid`Snute, including games against NaNiwa, Kas, Stephano, and more!
Interview with Liquid`Snute
This is a big day for Liquid. We couldn't be happier to announce the first Norwegian since Liquid`Drone back in 2002.
We sat down to talk to him about his views on practice, StarCraft, and how his life has been since he dedicated himself to becoming a professional gamer one year ago.
We sat down to talk to him about his views on practice, StarCraft, and how his life has been since he dedicated himself to becoming a professional gamer one year ago.
Welcome! Could you introduce yourself?
Hi! My name is Jens, I'm 22 years old and have been playing SC2 full-time for one year. I used to be studying music technology at the university in Trondheim, but I quit and became a pro-gamer instead.
Tell us about your gaming experience before starcraft. There might be some people who don't know of your achievements!
Hehe ^^ I used to compete a lot in dance dance revolution, also known as machine dance, and was the Norwegian champion way back somewhere around 2004.
So how did you get into StarCraft?
A friend of mine in elementary school had an older brother that played Brood War, so my friend and I had small LANs where we'd play games like Dark Colony and Brood War. Eventually we introduced it to the boys and girls at school and it became the flavor of the month. At some point there were like fifteen 11year old boys and girls playing brood war and meeting online with dialup modem haha. It was rather casual though. I kept on playing casually for a few years a bit on and off, but quit completely eventually.
In 2011 you started to stream and eventually you would achieve some results in WCG and qualify for ESWC. What made you start to get competetive?
I think what triggered it for me was going on a vacation to Korea with my friend Richard 'GLRiChY', where we played some on iCCup before the release of SC2. I got smashed left and right and some korean BM'd me with a simple line: "You need effort". After that trip to Korea I got a bit of my competetive drive back.
I didn't start playing SC2 right away, but picked it up after a month or so. As some people know from early on I didn't play 1v1, but 2v2 with my teammate RiChY and we would compete together. He always had high expectations and I'd often be holding the team back, so it was natural that I wanted to improve to be a better teammate and not make him upset! xD
However, what sparked my drive to win in 1v1 was definitely the Norwegian LANs and the scene we had in Norway early on. There were so many players that were far better than me, so I did everything I could to beat them. Eventually, I did - just barely - and I qualified for WCG and ESWC where I'd face even greater challenges. I was already quite pumped after winning 3 norwegian LANs in a row but I faced even more resistance abroad. That's when the competetive drive kicked in once more.
Your stream gained what we might call a 'cult following'. Why do you think it became so popular, especially being unfeatured? (Sorry! ^^)
Probably because of the commentary and how I used to play back then, my style would always revolve around mass drops, multitasking, baneling bombs, infestor shenanigans, gold bases, baneling busts, mutalisks, 14/14-speedling baneling pressure/allins/micro in ZvZ, things that are really really fun to watch. Lots of explosions. My IRC channel was also a nice place to chill and hang out and talk to people since there were so few, but consistent viewers, so it was very cozy.
Norway isn't known for its gaming scene, while Sweden is a global powerhouse, and Denmark has some strong players in other types of games. Any theories about why Norway seems to have less of an interest in esports?
I think Norway has some interest in esports right now, but more from a spectator side. There are a lot of people going to barcrafts and following international SC2 in their spare time. People love to watch DreamHack and the GSL, but little attention is given to the Norwegian scene, because we don't have any truly major/premier events.
You can see the difference from Norway to Sweden in our largest competitions: DreamHack and The Gathering. DreamHack puts a lot of effort into SC2. The Gathering hosted a good competition in 2012, but it was not made into mainstage material. This year, there will be little to none focus on ESPORTS at all at TG.
As for why we have so few players I think that most people find it way more important to study/work hard, be with friends/girlfriend, party in the weekends and establish a future rather than dedicating everything to try-hard SC2. The living expenses in Norway are not very friendly to full-time players, so we're mostly left with (junior) high-schoolers and hobby/part-time players.
Spending massive amounts of time playing games is unfortunately still not commonly accepted in Norway. Parents are for the most part negative towards video games because of a lot of negative articles about gaming in mainstream media. Receiving support and acceptance from those around you is tremendously important when you want to dedicate a lot of time to something and get good at it, so I hope that the public opinion of gaming in Norway is going to change for the better.
Do you feel extra weight as the most successful Norwegian? Even if you now have more help (or challengers) than you might have a year ago?
I used to, in Norwegian competitions. When I was the only one playing full time and dedicating a lot to it, I'd often be nervous and afraid of losing to part-time players. However, that's exactly what happened quite a few times, at WCS for example. Fortunately I've matured and shifted away from that negative mindset. As long as I do my best to win, it doesn't matter. When it comes to the international scene I don't feel any added pressure.
You made the decision to become a full-time pro at the start of 2012. What prompted you to make that decision?
It was mostly about a gradual decline of interest in studying. I also noticed that I couldn't travel much and study at the same time due to strict absence rules at the uni. After winning the autumn LANs and travelling to WCG and ESWC, I realized I had a greater desire to travel and live as a pro-gamer.
I don't want to regret anything and I spent a lot of time thinking about going full-time. I decided that it would be the best time for me to just quit the studies and enjoy life in solitude practicing and streaming from the mancave in Trondheim and then do everything in my power to improve and attend competitions.
When was the first time you thought; "I might be good enough to keep doing this"?
Definitely after the Norwegian 2011 autumn LAN season and after attending WCG2011. After I made my choice, I never had any doubts. I wanted to play full time for one year to see what it'd be like. I constantly pushed my own limits and slowly but surely I managed to catch up to people I previously considered unbeatable to me. I had my plans set for 2012, no looking back, I just kept practicing focusing on the tasks ahead.
What did your family think? What were the challenges getting started?
My parents were skeptical at first. They wanted me to study. But reasoning goes a long way and most of all parents want you to be happy with what you do in life, so eventually my parents came to accept that it was what I wished for. To me there would be little point in going to University if I wasn't motivated for it.
As for how it is to get started ... it's a bit different. I had just moved to a new city, knew only a few people, and just quit uni before making any close friends. The result was spending months in solitude, sometimes I'd go days without talking to people in person and sometimes it would be a bit awkward to interact with people again. It's more of a funny thing though. Even if I was mostly alone I was happy and I had good flatmates to talk to.
There were very few challenges getting started. Playing full-time from an apartment is a very simple and peaceful existence. I did well in planning out my financial situation carefully beforehand and it all worked out. I didn't expect to make big money to begin with. When you start off as a pro-gamer it's all about putting yourself in a stable and comfortable position where you can let go and give it your all for a given time and then re-evaluate.
Throughout the first half of 2012, you only achieved one notable result, winning the ONOG Invitational. Did you ever think of quitting?
No. I had so many things going on and I always had competitions to look forward to, I wanted to do my best in every one of them. While I didn't show top placings it was simply because I was not supposed to do so yet. Backing down was never an option to me despite the lack of notable results.
You are known among your stream viewers for your work ethic, can you describe the practice you put in throughout 2012?
I guess it would all sum up to self-diagnostics, self-observation and targetted elimination of critical errors and weaknesses while slowly building a stronger fundamental understanding of the game. In the beginning of the year I'd judge myself, point out mistakes, find the biggest one of them and eliminate them one at a time. It was a very simple, meticilous, but also slow approach.
At the start of 2012 I would still win games with tricks, mindgames, opponent-tailored strategies, all-ins and blind counters, abusing multitasking and micro rather than focusing on strong fundamental understandings of the matchups. It gave me a bit of success, but I could also not keep up in a lot of situations. I remained open to things, I knew that I had a lot to learn, and I tried my best to understand the game better. It took a very long time, but I managed to readjust and improve. Especially the time in the Ministry of Win and Korea afterwards added to my skill in the areas I lacked.
The part that changed the most in the later parts of 2012 was the mental aspect which truly allowed me to take advantage of the accumulated experience. I've always been very self-judgemental. In practice it would encourage me and act as a reminder, but it also backfired on my self-esteem. What we could see in the end of the year was me overcoming mental obstacles that had been troubling me at international LANs this year.
Apart from practicing hard I want to be friendly, respectful and just trying to learn from my mistakes. Every time I lose it's because of myself and while it's rough it's also encouraging. Sometimes it's difficult to stay positive, but I have such a strong practice flow that's been rolling for months and months, nothing can really stop me from wanting to practice.
What did you find to be the most effective practice? Was there any period where something really flipped a switch?
I really would like to say something sensationalist here but the simple truth based on what I've observed is that my improvement has been pretty much constant throughout the year regardless of where I've been. There have been marginal differences, but a lot can also be attributed to overcoming certain obstacles that give you a certain boost and it's difficult to know for sure what's up. If there was anything that I perceived as a big switch, it would be my confidence boost after returning from Korea. But to me it seems like natural development and practice paying off over time, I don't think there's anything magical to it.
Your style has changed a bit over time, and it usually hasn't had much to do with what's popular at the time. How do you describe your approach to strategy?
In the beginning of the year I'd usually do fast-paced strategies that were fun to use more than effective, and that trait is still somewhat with me today. But back when I practiced in the MoW I developed a better diagnostics system which helped me change my style to avoid losing trends and strategies so that I could win more games.
My approach to strategy today is still similar to what it was before, it's just more well-rounded and I don't take as many risks as I used to. I still have the approach where I'll strike at someone if I spot a weakness. You can still see me use Nydus worms, unorthodox timings and things that generally are perceived as losing moves. I'm a very dangerous opponent in that regard. Even if I'm not taking risks and gambles as often as I used to, it's still something that I am capable of.
I think my default approach is rather simple: Create a winning pattern, attempt to shut down winning patterns from my opponent, strike unexpected timings, and take advantage of leads to finish off my opponent swiftly. Although my strategies vary as well.
You were one of the pioneers of mass infestor...
Kind of, yes. I had some really strong infestor harassment and deadly tactics. But I don't think people would think of me as a pioneer... only a few people would watch me play back then and I'm not sure if it even inspired anyone but my few stream viewers.
... and now you're not a fan of them? How come?
Actually I like the infestor a lot still, it's very much needed to stay in the game over time. It's more the thing about rushing to the ZvP endgame with broodlord, infestor and spine that is a bit boring. Ling-Infestor used to be one of my favorite combos, it was so strong and fun to play. Neural nerf made it less viable though. It is good that the nerf happened because ling infestor was absolutely ridicilous vs protoss. Now it's not as powerful of an option anymore and less tempting to use, which is a bit unfortunate since it's a very fun style to play. Infestors are still fun to use vs Terran, they are almost always stronger than the Mutalisk. Both are fun to use and viable options.
ZvZ-wise the last GSL finals was all about the infestor, droning up to comfort zone and making roaches. It seems like a lot of modern euro ZvZ revolves around pure roach now though. I think that the infestor is a neccessity to ZvZ in theory, but close map tension makes it a bit difficult sometimes. I've been able to defeat a lot of people using mass roach against greedy infestor play, but it can go both ways.
You were also a pioneer of a particularly imbalanced build on Antiga, care to explain?
Haha, yes ;D I figured that it was possible to take the gold base first vs Protoss and follow it up with a drone transfer from main to gold and abuse a baneling bust timing right before Forge FE Warpgate tech would finish. It was a lot of fun and I am happy that I hopefully contributed to tournaments removing gold bases from their map pools, that's pretty much what I wanted to accomplish with abusing that strategy for weeks on ladder and in an official tournament qualifier. I want to apologize to the protoss players that had to experience it for weeks..
How do you characterize the way you play now? It's not exactly 'standard' anyway. ^^
I don't know. I hear from my colleagues that my style is difficult to play against and that it's not all turtly and stuff, but I still feel like I play rather standard with the one exception of not going up to hive tech all that fast. I'm not doing nearly as many multitasking taxing things and crazy strategies as I used to, I'm far less creative than I used to be, so to me I feel very plain compared to what I used to be. But I'm happy to hear that!
You've had some solid results in the past few months, but your big breakthrough seems to have been Homestory Cup. What was the key to your incredible winning run there?
I'm slowly improving month by month, and in every month I have some fluctuations in shape. I was in good shape at HSC and I had a lot of confidence thanks to my experience, my recent offline tournament results and also the people close to me supporting me so much. Special thanks to my girlfriend.
Where was there room for improvement?
I lost two matches to Stephano. I did a lot of things right but I should focus more on getting my own transitions right. I feel like I improvised a bit more than I should have and it wasn't as crispy as I wanted it to be. With added confidence and preparation, I'll do better. I also need to improve my scouting and not take too many risks and beware of overdroning. The other thing I need to work on is splitting my army and setting up defensive positions more swiftly. Those are the few things I can think of right now.
What are your goals for 2013?
In 2013 I want to become more consistent as a top Euro zerg, if not the best foreigner. I also want to go to Korea and do well for my team. Most of all, I want to give SC2 my all in every moment of practice and work on my attention management and thinking pattern in-game.
Aside from that, exercise more, especially strengthen the back and avoid the typical moderate stress/office pains that I have now. I don't want to experience wrist problems either, so I will bear that in mind while practicing and stretch well. I also started sleeping fewer hours than I used to because I'd oversleep a lot and it takes time and energy away from practice and life.
Liquid is only your second professional team, what brought you to join TL?
I knew that if I was going to join another team it would have to be one of the very best. I played for GamersLeague for over a year and I grew very attatched to them. At the same time I wanted to make sure that I could have the best opportunities available for me to grow as a player. I knew that Liquid would provide me with the opportunities to compete with the very best and be a reliable and encouraging team.
What do you think you can bring to Liquid, and what can Liquid bring to you?
I want to be a great teammate and practice partner. I want to improve and Liquid will bring me plenty of opportunities to practice and prove myself as a competitor. I can also represent the team in Dance Dance Revolution-battles against other SC2 teams if it's ever needed T_T..
What does the Liquid name mean to you?
To me, Liquid has been what the SC2 community is gathered all around and what the community is cheering for, a friendly and mannered team with a strong fighting spirit. I'm very happy to be on the team that is so revered within the community.
As a recent Korean-destroyer, we have to ask you about the difference between Koreans and foreigners. Why do you feel that Koreans have the edge, and how were you able to take it back?
I think there are more Koreans putting a lot of effort into the game than there are foreigners, they also live and support each other in team houses. Most foreigners are hesitant about leaving home. Some of the Koreans also have a lot of experience from competitive Brood War, so that counts too. I was able to take back a bit of the edge because I went full-time and practiced hard.
Thanks so much! Any final words?
Thanks for reading this interview and shoutouts to everyone who's been cheering me on, your support is invaluable. Last year was great but this one will be even better! I'll do my best to show you more great games from all across the world and I'll practice a lot on stream. Don't miss it! Thanks to Liquid for the very warm welcome - it's an honor to be on the team. I also want to show my appreciation to TL's sponsors, The Little App Factory, Razer, Twitch and Barracuda Networks. Thank you!