Ygosu: Hello, it’s Ygosu. You’re so famous you probably won’t need it but…. A brief introduction please?
Garimto: Hi, I’m Kim Dong Su, thirty years of age. I won the Starleague twice when I was a progamer ten years ago. I played for about 5~6 years. A lot of people don’t know this, but I was a game developer for about 4 years as well. And now I’m obsessed with Starcraft II.
Ygosu: Wow, what a resume. People wonder what you’re up to these days, so could you tell us briefly?
Garimto: I’m getting a lot of rest and relaxation while I recharge.
Ygosu: So you got into Starcraft II during that time.
Garimto: Yeah. You could say I’m resting because of Starcraft II.
Ygosu: You’ve played quite a few games, I guess Starcraft II is pretty fun?
Garimto: Of course. I tend to enjoy the games I play. I don’t think Starcraft II is particularly more entertaining, it’s just the game I’m into at the moment.
Ygosu: So it’s possible that you’ll return as a SC II progamer as a lot of people are hoping?
Garimto: Don’t you think it would be a bit hard for me?
Ygosu: Do you mean because of your age?
Garimto: Of course I’m gonna be able to maintain a good win-rate before build orders and basic matchup paradigms become established. Starcraft II isn’t a game where the guy with faster hands wins just yet, right now the person who thinks faster wins. But eventually a time will come when the people with faster hands win, just like SC 1, and I can see even during the closed beta that the game is advancing so rapidly on a daily basis. People are just absorbing the content so quickly. If it goes on at this pace, even if I do become a pro, I won’t be able to stay at the top for very long.
Ygosu: But a lot of the old progamers are aiming for exactly that period early on, before builds or basic strategies are established. You don’t even want to try to be a pro in the early going?
Garimto: Well, I think of myself as a guy who’s a better player than a developer, and has more understanding than a gamer. That’s why I’m playing random.
I think my mind will change depending on the timing, but if there’s a tournament I’ll probably compete in it. I want to play against good players, find out exactly how good I am, and if I’m any good I want to show off my skill.
But if you’re asking me if I want to become a progamer again, I can only say ‘I’m not sure about that…’ As someone who’s experienced that lifestyle, I know how harsh and difficult that line of work is. I had aimed to be a progamer in my thirties before, and when I tried I came to the conclusion that it just doesn’t work. So no, I don’t have any lingering desire to be a progamer. But…
Garimto: In the very beginning, you didn’t become a progamer with the objective of becoming a progamer. You were just a someone who liked a game, and through playing tournaments here and there ended up becoming a pro.
Ygosu: Right, it was that way in the beginning.
Garimto: If someone asks me ‘Do you want to be a progamer?’ I’ll say ‘No’ but if they ask me ‘Would you compete in a tournament?’ then I’d reply ‘sure I’ll compete.’ That’s just how fun Starcraft II is for me. But I can’t make any quick decisions about becoming a progamer when the progaming market is so unpredictable.
Ygosu: A good answer. Next question, do you think the old progamers will be able come back spectacularly in Starcraft II?
Garimto: Very hard for that to happen.
Ygosu: Why do you think so?
Garimto: Like I said before, people are absorbing this new content extremely quickly. Let’s say Flash and Jaedong are playing each other in SC1. Right now it’s become a game where they’ll be given a situation where you can definitely say “this is the correct answer in this situation.” And then the winner will be whoever reaches that answer in quickest way, making the least mistakes.
Ygosu: Of course, Starcraft 1 is the product of 12 years of history.
Garimto: Right now, there’s a lot of trial and error in Starcraft II, and only the developers really know what’s good and what’s bad, how to use the counters properly, etc. The problem is that the speed at which people go through new strategies is so fast. It’s that fast in the closed beta, so who knows what it will be like when the game goes live?
From that perspective, I think that’s why there are all these new features in Battle.net 2.0 like the achievements or the marketplace which accentuate things outside the core gameplay itself. It’s like they’re making a Starcraft II amusement park, where they give you the tools to make any kind of experience you can imagine.
The players can make any kind of ‘ride’ they want, whether it’s DOTA or Counterstrike. That’s what I feel from Starcraft II.
Ygosu: So if we look at just the core gameplay, you’re saying that the vast amounts of experience RTS gamers have at digesting new strategies makes it so that the old progamers won’t be able to exploit the early phase like in Starcraft 1 or Warcraft III.
Garimto: I’d love it if it wasn’t so, but sadly that’s what I see. I hope I’m wrong.
Ygosu: I’ve felt this as I’ve played, and perhaps you’ve felt it to as a first generation progamer, but the rate at which the level of play is becoming refined is so much faster than that of Starcraft 1. The ability of the players to adapt is just amazing.
Garimto: When you play, you can feel the difference day by day. I’ve heard that in the pro-league above the platinum league, all the replays will be made public. And even now, you can see the build orders for the last five games of any of the top rankers. I think the developers want us to absorb this content quickly. Anyway, I think it’s a relief that they’ve cut down on the need for repetitive and excessively precise controls.
Ygosu: Yeah, that’s such a great thing. If it required the kind of manual dexterity as SC1, there would be an even bigger gap. On a different note, what do you think is the biggest obstacle for Starcraft II in becoming an E-sport?
Garimto: Complexity. Internally or externally, its Achilles heel is gonna be complexity. Internally, Starcraft II is overly complex. Whenever there’s a big battle, you have to use three or four important abilities at the same time. Even for someone who plays as much as me, it can be overwhelming. Can you imagine what a wall it’s going to be for casual players?
Ygosu: There really are so many skills you have to use. And they’re absolutely required to win.
Garimto: Absolutely required, and fundamental to the game. There are abilities that need to be researched to use like SC1, but a lot of units come with a special ability off the bat. I wonder “why did they have to make this game so complex?” at times.
Externally, this thing we call “E-sports” is too complex as well. The proverb goes, ‘a ship with too many captains ends up in the mountains’ (essentially the same as too many cooks spoil the broth). So then, who are the main figures here? Is it KeSPA? Blizzard? It’s already becoming ambiguous. And then we have IEG, and the television companies.
Before KeSPA existed, the TV companies held the tournaments. Do you think KeSPA could survive if OnGameNet and MBCGame disappeared? Conversely, if KeSPA disappeared, would there be trouble holding the Starleagues? This web of complicated intertwined relationships is what we call “E-sports” today. This kind of complexity is going to make it difficult for Starcraft II to have a progaming market.
Ygosu: If that’s so, do you think KeSPA and Blizzard have reached a point where it’s inevitable that they’re going to have to play hardball with each other for power? In that case, it would mean we’d have to go through some birthing pains in order Starcraft II to become the kind of E-sport we’re used to. Who do you think will end up the victor in that power struggle, KeSPA or Blizzard?
Garimto: There’s really no way Blizzard can lose their leadership position. KeSPA has to do everything in its power to try and take a leading role. Blizzard could lend them that position though, like SC1.
Ygosu: I feel the same way. Every byproduct of Starcraft II does belong to Blizzard, after all.
Garimto: There’s already an internal pro-league and marketplace in Battle.net. All they need to connect their pro-league to the fans is a broadcast medium. From Blizzard’s standpoint, KeSPA’s claim that “We made Korean E-sports, so E-Sports is ours” isn’t even worth replying to.
Ygosu: So you think that in the end, KeSPA will have to bow to Blizzard’s will?
Garimto: Personally, I don’t think that an association will exist at all for Starcraft II. Battle.net already fulfils all the functions of the association. Who knows, you might be able to watch the proleague finals by connecting to battle.net, with all of the broadcasting occurring directly through battle.net.
Ygosu: Interesting opinion. After all that serious talk, let’s talk about the game itself. What do you think about the notion that Protoss is overpowered?
Garimto: The period where Protoss was strong is gone with the patch. If they tweak Terran’s mid-game balance a little bit, it will really be the wild wild west.
Ygosu: What was the most critical part of the patch?
Garimto: I think the mothership nerf was the biggest thing. The mothership was imbalanced if you could just manage to get one out. Once they got rid of that imbalance, the path opened up for everyone.
Ygosu: Wormhole transit was really powerful, but it seemed like such a severe nerf.
Garimto: I think it was an error to have the concept of a mothership in an RTS in the first place, so any nerf was good in my opinion. Something you can only make one of come late game, that kind of thing doesn’t fit RTS games. It’s really hard to balance too. Warcraft III is differenct because it’s a hybrid RTS, but to introduce such a concept in a traditional RTS was a bad idea.
Ygosu: I guess it really was like a hero of sorts. So what’s in the most dire need of patching right now?
1: Make the unit production time of gateways and warpgates equal.
2: Increase the damage of siege tanks.
3: Increase the damage of hellions.
I’d be fine if they could just make TvP a matchup where I feel like I can win if I’m better.
Ygosu: So you think the only way to win TvP is to go for an early attack?
Garimto: No, when I draw TvP I tend to win in the mid-late game. I think early rushes get stopped around 90% of the time now, because of the colossus. And there are some timing issues with going for banshees. You’re sort of forced into playing a longer game. It’s just that there’s a timing midway through the game that’s really hard on terran.
Ygosu: Why’s that? Because it’s hard to match the protoss expansions?
Garimto: There’s that, and it’s difficult to defend at times because tanks and hellions are weaker than you would expect.
Ygosu: So you’re saying there’s no real backbone for the terran army?
YGosu: What do you think of archons then? People consider it to be in the running for most useless unit.
Garimto: That’s fine.
YGosu: It’s fine?
Garimto: You just morph them after you’re out of mana and use them as zealots with an air attack, protoss is already strong enough anyway.
YGosu: So you’re saying protoss is still strong, even with crappy archons?
Garimto: Warpgates gave protoss a unique advantage that makes them incomparable to the other races. They improved the scout into the void ray, corsair into the phoenix, and reaver into the colossus. And if that wasn’t enough, they gave Protoss the powerful immortal. And then they gave dragoons a teleport.
YGosu: Warpgates. Man, there’s so much talk about them. It gives protoss such a fantastic advantage in map control, attacking or defending, and tactical flexibility.
Garimto: And they also ruined PvP because they can make units faster than regular gateways. I don’t understand how they actually make units faster. I think they could fix it just by making them produce at the same speed.
YGosu: On the other hand, it seems like a lot of protoss players are struggling with PvZ.
YGosu: Eh, it seemed really hard for any Zerg to stop a 3 gate 1 robotics rush. It’s hard for me to stop it as Zerg as well. It’s still so hard to stop even after the gateway nerf. There need to be some Zergs that can stop that build for Protoss to start doing something else for a change. Still, I think the matchup is alright. Whoever thinks more, faster has the advantage.
YGosu: I think so, too. I think it’s become a skillful matchup where Zerg has a slight advantage if he can stop the all-in rush.
Garimto: Yeah, it’s a matchup where the better player wins. If they would just balance TvP, then the beta would really be awesome.
YGosu: It sort of reminds you of the early days of Starcraft 1.
Garimto: I thought so as well. Terran actually has a lot of really strong units. Because we’re under the shadow of Starcraft 1, we tend to make armies that are focused on just a few units.
But Terran units have so many unique units with interesting abilities. Even a single ghost or thor is a huge presense on the battlefield. Or if you have four or more reapers, you can destroy any kind of building in 10 seconds or less. In the late game, there’s really nothing that counters the Raven’s seeker missiles. Battlecruisers have impressive firepower and defense. The medivac can heal and transport at the same time, so it’s ideal for surprise drops.
YGosu: I see what you’re getting at. So you’re saying there’s a problem with the players? Because they’re not used to unit combinations that have more than three or four units?
Garimto: I’ll just say, make tanks and hellions stronger! Hehehe.
YGosu: So you mean Terran would be fine if hellions and tanks were stronger?
Garimto: Yes. Fix that, and I think you solve all the problems. Terran would be very strong then.
YGosu: As a game developer, and not progamer, what don’t you like about the game?
Garimto: Nothing. I know how much work they put into the game. I’m looking forward to Battle.net 2.0 more than the game anyway.
YGosu: What are you looking forward to in particular? Some kind of unified service on the scale of Steam or the Apple app store?
YGosu: Do you have any inclination to return to the progaming world in any way whatsoever? Even if it’s not as a player.
Garimto: If I have a chance, I probably will.
YGosu: We don’t know what you’ll decide to do after you’re done recharging, but I hope you know a lot of us love you and want to see you come back on the big stage.
Garimto: Thank you very much.
YGosu: On a final note, some parting words for our readers please.
Garimto: Thanks for reading this long interview. I’ll work hard so you can see me at my best in the future. Summer is coming, so take care of your health! And have a nice day.
YGosu: Thanks for giving us this interview!