Cover by Hot_Bid
Interview by Fomos
Translation by OneOther
Terran used to be called the ‘cheater race.’ Regardless of map balance or racial distribution among progamers, Terrans absolutely dominated in every league. The age of Terrans witnessed births of the greatest StarCraft players in the history, also referred as Bonjwas - ‘the Emperor’ Boxer (ACE), ‘the Genius’ NaDa (WeMade), and the ‘Monster’ iloveoov (SK Telecom).
Things have changed. Protoss, once considered to be the weakest of the three races, is often labeled as the ‘cheater race’ nowadays. We are in the midst of a whole new era, and it is called the Golden Age of Protoss.
In the center of the Protoss dominance are the Revolutionist ‘Bisu’ Kim Taek Yong and the Commander ‘Stork’ Song Byung Goo, whom many like to call by his nickname “Bang.” That’s where the new popular term “Taek-Bang Era” comes from. They have attracted countless numbers of fans, while displaying the true power of Protoss that nobody has ever seen before. Bisu and Stork each grabbed the trophies in ClubDay MSL and Incruit OSL, respectively. Hail the Protoss Kings!
Bisu and Stork have been friends for a while. However, they have never met each other outside the StarCraft realm and the gaming studio where matches take place. They initially seemed a little awkward and uncomfortable when they arrived at Myung-Dong, without the usual uniforms. As they got more comfortable, they began to converse about various things. After all, Stork the Big Brother is only a year older than the little Bisu. (Stork was born in 1988, Bisu 1989)
The Little Bro & The Big Bro
This is the first time you met each other, thanks to the interview. What are your feelings?
▲ Stork: I truly love this awesome opportunity. I wish I could also meet other progamers through things like this. Older progamers frequently hang out and spend time together, but younger ones like Bisu and I never do it for some reason.
▲ Bisu: I love it, too. (Laughs) And I agree that the progamers of newer generation never get together outside of StarCraft. Even if they are ‘good friends’ there’s certainly a limit to how far that friendship can go.
Can you tell us why you want to meet other progamers as well?
▲ Stork: When you are constantly stuck in the house practicing for matches, you get strong urges to go out and actually meet other players. But it’s sad how hard it is to do that, because there’s just nobody available! I went over to the Lecaf house the other day to practice, and I realized how fun it is to be with people outside of your team.
▲ Bisu: I have matches to prepare for almost every weekend, and I have too many things to do on holidays. It’s difficult to spend time with friends. I feel like I am losing the people I care about. Maybe we can all go to an amusement park or something.
▲ Stork: Hmm I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to go to an amusement park. (Laughs) I unconsciously start cussing when I get on those roller coasters. A while ago I went to an amusement park for a program called “Real Progamer Story,” and they had to edit out numerous scenes of me swearing. I can’t help it because I feel like my life is in danger.
Do you guys practice with each other often?
▲ Stork: We can’t really practice together when we have different matchups to prepare for.
▲ Bisu: We haven’t played each other at all recently…
▲ Stork: I think I actually helped Bisu’s opponents pretty often. I helped free a lot.
▲ Bisu: The entire Samsung KHAN always helps my opponents..
▲ Stork: No, you never contact me on time. You called a couple hours after free already had…
Maybe congratulate each other for the MSL and OSL titles?
▲ Stork: It’s a little awkward because we had to beat our opposing teammates (Laughs)
▲ Bisu: I missed your game 3, 4, and 5 of the finals. I assumed FanTaSy would lose after watching the first and second game. I am jealous you were able to win with such style. Congratulations Byung Goo hyung! Win again next time, don’t get another silver medal. (Laughs)
▲ Stork: I already congratulated you through a voice mail…(Laughs) At the time I felt really bad for Jangbi, but congratulations again. Your victory gave me hope - Jangbi has been the mountain that I could never overcome. Watching you win makes me feel like I can do the same. It was great to see you earn that golden MSL badge, and I admit I am really jealous. I mean Jangbi winning would have motivated me, but you winning 3 MSL titles pushes me to practice harder and hopefully get the Golden Mouse one day.
Many fans predicted as early as the GomTV MSL Season 1 Finals that the “Taek-Bang Era” would arrive one day.
▲ Stork: I missed the finals between sAviOr and Bisu because I had other matches to practice for. I think I helped sAviOr though, and Nal_rA in the semifinals. (Both were Bisu’s opponents)
▲ Bisu: No, you helped me practice.
▲ Stork: No I didn’t, I didn’t even know you back then.
▲ Bisu: Yes you did!
▲ Stork: Are you saying I helped both you and your opponent?
▲ Bisu: I remember very clearly. I even said in my interview that you helped me.
▲ Stork: Wow strange. Jangbi helped Nal_rA with me…
▲ Bisu: Well you helped me practice builds like 13 Cybernetics Core and others.
▲ Stork: Oh really? I swear I helped Nal_rA…whatever. Anyhow, I was really shocked that Bisu was able to beat sAviOr like that. Prior to that match every Protoss player opted for 1+ speed zealot build, but all my teammates started doing Corsair-Dark Templar build afterwards.
Enough of the catfight…When were you first impressed by each other?
▲ Stork: 2006 Season was when our team was doing terribly, so the Internet connection got blocked off. Therefore I couldn’t catch up with any VODs or anything. One day I saw Bisu and Chojja playing. I think it was on Peaks of Baekdu, Season 2 of Shinhan Bank Starleague. I realized how good Bisu was; I was impressed by how easily Bisu managed to win, especially because I had lost to Chojja the previous season.
▲ Bisu: I used to watch Stork practice against my MBC Game teammates pretty often. At the time ‘Saint’ Kim Dong Hyun was considered unbeatable within the team, but Stork won every game against him. That’s when I found out Stork was something special. I was always aware of him, ever since he won various amateur tournaments.
Can we talk about the GomTV MSL Season 2 Finals between you two?
▲ Bisu: Everyone predicted that I would lose, especially the coaches. I think Stork had the mental edge because he was always considered an incredible PvP player, and many believed him to win. Even I thought of him as the best PvP player.
▲ Stork: To be honest, I was really happy to reach the finals in the first place because I advanced through the wildcard round. Bisu and I used to practice a lot on Tau Cross back in the days, but I went on a slump in 2006. When 2007 season came around I learned many fundamental basics from Bisu. I learned his varying builds and strategies. I was pretty confident going into the match.
I think you two can learn a lot from each other’s PvZ and PvT matchups.
▲ Stork: When it comes to PvT or PvP, I have the confidence that I will win even if my opponents know what exactly I am doing. I have an easy time adjusting to my opponent using the Observer, but I had to improve my PvZ by watching Bisu’s games.
▲ Bisu: Even if other Protoss players watch my PvZ, I don’t think it will help them too much, because each player has his own style. Stork’s PvZ is completely different from mine.
▲ Stork: Yeah, my PvT is also very different from other Protoss players. I don’t think many people try to learn from my style because they think it’s bad. But since I am such a simple guy I think I could emulate Bisu’s PvZ pretty well if I really tried…(Laughs)
I eat Zergs for breakfast
After Stork’s loss in the GomTV Season 2 Finals, he placed 2nd in various individual leagues.
▲ Bisu: I thought he would never win the gold. (Laughs) As I read more articles on fan blogs and such about the silver curse, I really started believing in it. I think I would have said the same thing if I were a fan. Stork had more than enough skills to win the title, but he just couldn’t overcome the pressure.
But Stork finally won the gold in Incruit Starleague by defeating Fantasy, announcing that the “Taek-Bang Era” is back stronger than ever.
▲ Bisu: Regardless of the two players’ skill levels, I thought Stork would win the silver again…just because of the curse. But it’s officially over and I think he has transformed into a player fully capable of winning more titles in the future.
Bisu won his 3rd MSL title recently.
▲ Stork: I was jealous but also very happy for him. I had been to multiple finals but…they ended up as three silvers and one gold. On the other hand, Bisu won three golds and one silver. It made me even more regretful of my poor performance in the past finals. I set a new goal for myself, however, to become the first Protoss player to earn the Golden Mouse, since Bisu took home the Golden Badge. (Golden Mouse = 3 OSL titles, Golden Badge = 3 MSL titles)
Although you two are performing superbly at the moment, you coincidentally went on a slump together.
▲ Bisu: Yeah, it was a hard time for both of us. I moved from MBC to SK Telecom, and my performances were declining in general. I think there were various causes for it.
▲ Stork: I really don’t know why I was playing so badly. I mean I was shocked after the embarrassing loss in the Bacchus Starleague Finals (vs Flash), but there was a long break until the beginning of a new season. It shouldn’t have had much impact on my game… I just couldn’t play very well for some reason. Besides, Jangbi put extra stress on me because he was playing incredibly well.
Does watching each other play well motivate you to practice harder?
▲ Bisu: No, I don't really feel that way. I was only focusing on my own individual leagues. And somehow I ended up winning the MSL, although it took a lot of practice to do so.
▲ Stork: When I watch a player like Bisu play, I feel like I have tons to learn. That gives me the incentive to practice more. Same applies to Jangbi. I don’t really feel that motivation when watching other Protoss players, but Bisu, Jangbi, and BeSt provide the fuel.
Many fans want the “Taek-Bang Era” to last for a long time.
▲ Bisu: It’s time to set new goals for ourselves. Maybe 4th MSL title, or 1st OSL win. I am not becoming complacent or anything after winning the Golden Badge. I try to forget the fact that I won it (Laughs)
▲ Stork: Golden Mouse is a long term goal I really want to accomplish before I retire. A short term goal is to play my best and win every match.
Doesn’t “Taek-Bang Era” put more pressure on you?
▲ Stork: Yeah, there’s some pressure. I have fallen down as low as one could go…and every time I win there’s always that fear of falling again. I honestly don’t know how I found the motivation to prepare for every stage of the tournament and win the Incruit Starleague after those devastating losses in the finals.
There are many Protoss players out there who are dominating the e-Sports scene. (Stork, Bisu, Jangbi, Kal, Free) Who do you think has the most similar style as you?
▲ Bisu: Probably Kal? I think we are similar in many aspects. People who have practiced with both of us always tell me that as well. There’s a practice partner on my team who’s been on STX before, and he told me Kal and I are pretty much identical after watching my first person view. And I agree.
▲ Stork: I don’t think there is any. BeSt is focused on macro/production, and others like Bisu, Kal, and Jangbi are very good at harassing. I would pick free if I had to choose one. I guess we are bound to be similar at least to a degree, because we used to play with each other in the same clan. We also practiced together for Challenge League. I think our playstyles became more similar through that process.
Let’s compare the three top players of each matchup; Bisu PvZ, Stork PvT, and BeSt PvP.
▲ Bisu: Well Best is very different. At least compared to me.
▲ Stork: You usually win in practice games verses BeSt, right? Tell me the truth.
▲ Bisu: …We are pretty even…(Laughs)
▲ Stork: To be honest I asked two SK Telecom players the same question, and each of them gave me a different answer. I want to know the truth! Personally, I think BeSt looks better than Bisu on paper and matchlist in PvP, but Bisu is the harder opponent to play against. I think Bisu is the better player.
Bisu, tell us who wins more between you and BeSt.
▲Bisu: To tell you the truth I don’t think winning percentage is very important in practice games. I mean we are just helping each other practice different strategies and builds. Depending on the map or strategy we are working on, winning percentages can fluctuate a lot. It also depends on if I am the one being helped, or the one helping.
Okay then. Stork, how do you do against Jangbi in practice games?
▲ Stork: I literally lose every single game. (Laughs) I am not trying to be modest or anything, that’s just the truth. A while ago I couldn’t beat him if my life depended on it. Now it’s getting closer to 50-50, but I always play worse verses Jangbi, maybe because of all the horrible memories of getting crushed.
The Dinosaur looking for his meal
Many analysts say Protoss was able to revive thanks to you two.
▲ Stork: I don’t think I had too much impact. My PvT didn’t really change anything because nobody tries to copy my playstyle. Bisu’s PvZ is whole another story though. Many new patterns were created because of Bisu, compared to the old days when Protoss went 1+ speed Zealot every game. My PvT, however, has been the same since 2005.
▲ Bisu: When I watched broadcasted games, I always wondered why Protoss players insisted on going 1+ speed Zealots instead of pumping Corsairs. They all got stomped by sAviOr, who loves Mutalisks. I mainly worked on the Corsair+Dark Templar build to fit sAviOr’s style. It left an impression on many people though.
What’s your opinion on the recent surge of great Protoss players?
▲ Stork: I personally think other races are just playing worse. It seems like many people think their race is inferior to Protoss. Every time I hear that I think of Jaedong, who plays well no matter what. Terran and Zerg players are mistakenly labeing Protoss the ‘cheat race.’
▲ Bisu: Our team says the same thing - that Protoss is too strong. But I don’t think so. I think Hydralisks are better (Laughs.) In the end it all comes down to the skill level of individual players. I do believe that Protoss has evolved a lot, and other races have plenty of room to do the same.
Excluding yourselves, which Protoss players have the potential to become a “Bonjwa?”
▲ Bisu: I think BeSt does..
▲ Stork: To be honest I don’t think there will be any. It’s much rarer to hear the term “Bonjwa” these days compared to before. In fact, I think it’s hard to say anyone is even close to being one, including myself, of course. There are more games to prepare for now, and the schedule is tougher. Plus, the fans are constantly setting higher standards. Career-wise I think Bisu is pretty close to being a Bonjwa, but it’s just too hard to show that dominant performance in every game. Lastly, the skill level is now distributed fairly evenly among players.
Then which Protoss player think will win the next Starleague?
▲ Bisu: I would have to pick BeSt.
▲ Stork: I am going to say…myself. (Laughs)
There have been many outstanding Protoss players in the past, but who has had the most influence on you?
▲ Stork: My answer to that question changes often because I am such a capricious person. I would have to go with IntoTheRain, Reach, and Nal_rA.
▲ Bisu: My answer is similar for the most part. However, although I did not realize this when I was in MBC, Pusan influenced my game play a lot.
Pick each other’s best performance?
▲ Stork: So many games have been played…(Laughs) Game 5 against me in GomTV MSL Season Finals was the best. Bisu has played in tons of other good games, but that one is the most memorable since I actually played in it.
▲ Bisu: It would have to be a PvT. Probably the Bacchus Starleague Round of 16 against FlaSh on Blue Storm. I helped FlaSh practice and I could hardly win any games. But Stork managed to comeback and win.
Now that I think about it you both have special ties to FlaSh.
▲ Stork: FlaSh has shown some unique styles that he used to beat everyone with. He showed it against me in the Bacchus Finals. However, that type of play doesn’t last too long these days. It’s evident in the recent TvZ Mech build.
If you had to select one Zerg and Terran player to be teammates with, who would you choose?
▲ Bisu: For Zerg, I would pick Jaedong. Terran..hmm..maybe Sea? I personally think he is the best Terran right now.
▲ Stork: I would say FlaSh for Terran, and Jaedong for Zerg. I like teammates who practice hard. I also wanna say FireBatHero.
You two have played head-to-head matches multiple times. Evaluate each other’s play?
▲ Stork: All the high-level Protoss players like Bisu that I have a hard time against know how to use the Shuttle very well. I am vulnerable against that type of play, so I have been practicing for that frequently
▲ Bisu: I think Stork has excellent fundamental understanding of the game. He knows what to do in every situation.
What do you think are the strengths/weaknesses of each other’s gameplay?
▲Stork: Bisu’s biggest strength is his ability to use the Shuttle and harass so well. Although he prepares his builds well, he can also adapt depending on the situation. I can’t remember all of the strengths top of my head, but Bisu has many. He practices hard, too. As for weaknesses, I don’t think there is any. I really do. He plays well even after making a bad decision during the game.
▲ Bisu: Oh Stork has tons of strengths. (Laughs) He has a consistent, safe style against every race and I am jealous of that. Majority of players are secretly scared of playing him. Weakness…(Laughs) is probably that he thinks too low of himself?
Say something to your fans?
▲ Bisu: I hope we can keep playing well so that the “Taek-Bang Era” doesn’t need a new season. That would mean we have to go on a slump, and I want that to never happen. Oh and make sure not to get another silver medal, Byung Goo (Laughs)
▲ Stork: I would love to see the “Taek-Bang Era” last for rest of the season. Even if we do go on a slump, just remember the Era and keep cheering for us!
The Taek-Bang Era