Tilea "KnighTLighT" Flavall, the real Kiwiclone (cuz he's a kiwi), or KiwiLighT as he's known in the MLG bracket or on Liquipedia qualified and will be flying to New Zealand today to compete in his home-land.
I had the chance to interview him before he left, so hope you all enjoy getting to know a lesser known player in addition to getting a little insight into the NZ scene (I hope some other New Zealanders will provide some coverage of the event)
Xeris: Before we get started can you introduce yourself, since I know not a lot of people have read your awesome Liquipedia article
KnighT: Hi, I'm KnighT from Team LighT. I've changed account names fairly often in the past and don't feel very much attachment to whatever account name I'm using right now (I have a different account name on each server). I play Random mostly, with some periods of picking one race or another to play as my main for a few weeks before I go back to random. Right now I'm in a period where I'm maining Terran.
Xeris: You are from New Zealand but live in Seattle currently, when did you move to the states and for what reason particularly?
KnighT: My family moved around the time I was turning five. My father worked abroad and often spent months in the states for conferences so we moved to spend more time with him. We've gone back to New Zealand for a period for around three-four months (September-Feburary) most years, so I've still retained some of my accent. I feel much more connection to New Zealand than to America, even though I've been exposed to far more Ameriacn culture.
Xeris: You played in the New Zealand WCS qualifiers and qualified for the final -- how did those qualifier games go?
KnighT: I finished 7-0 (14-0) in played series/games, with two walkover series. I feel like I was in two of the easier pools and was only in danger of ever losing a game once (when I accidentally gave my opponent half of my army for free in the mid-game of a TvT). The size of the pools in addition to the small quantity of high quality players meant that most of the better players advanced through group stages without too much difficulty. Group four of the second stage was the only group that was really stacked with good players, and some good players got eliminated from the qualifier in that group. Besides that I think everyone decent has had a fairly easy road to qualify for the live final.
Xeris: You are going to be headed to New Zealand to play the final, which will be an 8 player double elimination tournament - do you know any of the other players besides Jazbas and how have you been preparing for this event?
KnighT: I've heard of Another (from team/clan(?) Iris), who is a Zerg like Jazbas. From what I understand about the New Zealand Starcraft scene Jazbas and Another are the two tournament favourites. I also have heard of Kowi (also from Iris), but I know nothing about him besides that he plays Protoss. I haven't done any specific preparation for any players. The majority of my practice has been on ladder, though I have played a few series on WCS maps with practice partners to get a better feel for the maps and try to figure out good map-specific builds. I hope to arrive in good condition and be able to do well in the tournament just by playing solidly. To be honest, I'm not even sure of the races of all the other competitions. I figure its better not to worry about that and hope for the best once I get to the tournament.
Sadface at MLG Columbus... WAITING FOR OPEN BRACKET SUX
Xeris: What do you think of the whole WCS system? Do you think it'll be any different playing in your home country in this type of event as opposed to playing a more 'general' LAN (so to speak) such as MLG?
KnighT: I think WCS is a good idea and a lot of money is being put into making it work. It should be fun for people to compete on a national level and see where they rank up against other people in their country in a tournament. I've always been of the opinion that the (starcraft) LAN atmosphere shouldn't be very different regardless of what country it's played in, because it's an online game. The play styles will be server specific, but I assumed that the tournament(s) would work the same way and players would have similar attitudes. The more I think about the question though the more inclined I am to think that I was wrong. It will be interesting to see what the atmosphere in the WCS New Zealand Final is like, and how it compares to MLG. I feel like it will be friendlier and less competitive because the tournament is smaller and everyone is of the same nationality. My experiences with the admins during the online qualifiers were all pleasant, and the admins seem like very nice people, I'm expecting them to have the same disposition in person.
Xeris: The top 2 players at the tournament will get to play in the Asian (or SEA??) Continental Championship - with players from Australia, Taiwan, China, Singapore, and of course... Korea. Do you think you'll be able to make top 2, and what do you think it'll be like playing in that setting, where not only are you playing for yourself and your team, but for your whole country as well?
KnighT: I feel like if I arrive in good condition to play I should finish top three, ideally I would finish second or first. If I do manage to qualify for the Continental Championship I feel confident I could put up a good performance for New Zealand/my team (and hopefully I wouldn't be too embarrassing), but I don't think I would finish very highly in the Continental Championship, especially after learning that the Korean qualifiers will be there as well.
Xeris: I'm actually not sure if Korea will be separate or not, but we'll see!
Xeris: Anyway, how would you feel winning that $2,000 prize pool and officially winning the most prize money out of anyone on the team?!
KnighT: I feel like even if I did take first place the money I won would be less meaningful than the money my teammates have won already. My teammates have put forth far more effort into winning money this year than I have. Winning a small tournament with a high prize pool like this would feel like cheating to me. Also, if my teammates do well in the American WCS finals (30,000 prize pool) my achievement would be overshadowed very quickly. Maybe if I win I'll be more inspired to try to put more effort into winning online cups and smaller LANs? I don't think it would be something to feel proud of though.
Xeris: Almost right after this event you'll be competing at MLG Anaheim - do you think you'll be able to perform well and what are you expecting out of that event?
KnighT: I don't know how well I'll do with travel/changing time zones because in the past I've sometimes been able to sleep really well on planes and adjust easily, and sometimes I've been completely incapable of sleeping on plane flights. I'm not sure why I can sleep sometimes and not other times, hopefully I'll be able to sleep when I need to be able to adjust and be in good condition for both tournaments. My performances are MLG in the past have been very poor, so I'd like to improve upon them. Getting to losers round three would be a personal best for me, and getting there would be a slight improvement, but I think I've got a lot better over the past few weeks and feel like I could finish a few rounds after that if I'm good condition. If I play really well maybe I'll get close to Champ Bracket (or get a round into it)? I think that's unlikely though and I'd be happy with something like losers round five or six.
Xeris: How did you get into SC anyway, and how did you end up on the Kiwiclones aka LighT?
KnighT: I have two elder brothers and the three of us have always been casual gamers in our spare time. I played Warcraft II and the original Starcraft when we still lived in New Zealand (and I was four) with them. When Starcraft II came out one of my brothers got me to the go the midnight release with him and get my own copy of the game so that he would have someone to play with (as somewhat of a Brood War élitist I was expecting Starcraft II to be bad and would have been unlikely to have ever bought it if not for him). He quickly stopped playing and I just screwed around in custom games and the campaign with friends I had from playing Warcraft III online.
One of my friends convinced me to screw around on the ladder around three months after the game released, so I picked Protoss because I wanted to cannon rush people. I remember my first game involving three or four proxy stargates, a base trade, and a huge battle between probes and scvs because we both tried to take the same hidden expansion during the basetrade. I completely fluked my placement matches 5-0 with no idea what I was doing and continued to fluke my way into Diamond league (at the time the highest league). A few months later one of my real-life friends took interest in me playing the game and suggested I try to find something more serious to do with the game. So I found a local LAN called Gameclucks (frequented by a few LighT players) which holds monthly tournaments and went to a few of those. I finished 7th/8th in the first one and no one noticed me, but I felt like I played very poorly and could have done better, so I went again.
The second time I finished 2nd and beat RaNgeD 2-0 (who had previously won all the Gameclucks he had gone to) in the loser's bracket final in what I thought were decent games (the first one was around forty minutes long). Because that was fun I went a third time and finished 3rd, I talked with Patrick (CaliberLighT) a few times during the tournament and afterwards I was invited to hang out with the Kiwiclones and joined them shortly afterwards.
Practicing at the LighT House
Xeris: You've been improving quite a bit recently , looking at your own play, what do you think you need to do in order to get to the next level?
KnighT: I'm not sure, I've never really consciously tried to improve. I just play the game and every so often I have breakthrough periods where suddenly the game becomes a lot easier and I feel like I can do a lot more than I used to be able to. I feel like I get these breakthroughs more regularly when I play with variety. Most of my games on ladder follow some kind of formula where I fast expand and then do a mid-game push while taking a third. I feel like I stagnant and get into the habit of doing the same thing over and over again.
When I switch back from random after a period of playing one race for a few weeks I feel like I try much harder and learn a lot more for a short period, which is often accompanied with a lot of improvement. I think I would benefit from doing more builds on the ladder, so my games have more variety, and also perhaps it would be smart to play one race for a few days and then change? That would mean I would get variety but would also be more efficient practice than just playing random.
Xeris: Alright that about wraps it up -- any last words or shoutouts?!
KnighT: Shoutouts to my sponsors Tt Esports and Six Pool Gaming. I'd like to thank my team for having me and being so friendly, and (because I doubt I have very many fans right now) I'd like to thank the readers for finding this interview through being fans of/supporting my team. Maybe I'll manage to be impressive enough to get some people to be fans of me as well as my team.