Bromance for the ASUS: San and TaeJa
In commemoration of Yoe.San winning the first major title of his career at ASUS ROG Winter 2014 (videos and VODs here), we decided to hold a special championship interview featuring special guest Liquid`TaeJa. Despite being on two different teams, the two players have maintained an unusual friendship outside of the booth, with TaeJa even wearing the [SanFan] clan tag during his championship run at ASUS ROG Summer '13.
We got the duo together for a short chat:
Congratulations on winning ASUS ROG Winter. You didn't seem to be completely taking it in right after you won. How do you feel now?
San: There were a lot of Koreans at the tournament as well as TaeJa, the Emperor of ASUS ROG, so I didn't have high expectations as I headed to the tournament. So when I ended up winning at the end, it didn't really hit me.
Looking at the Liquipedia tournaments page even now, it's strange to see my name in the 'Winner' column after only seeing it in the "Runner-Up" column. It would have been amazing if there was a trophy, so I'm a little sad about that T_T.
They still gave you a convenient, carry-on sized novelty check. Where are you going to put that?
San: I'll hang it up when I get home, but right now I'm at the mYi house so I've put it in the room where they have their other trophies. Right next to StarDust's.
TaeJa: Is it true that you're just going to throw it away when you get home? I'd like it if you only told the truth in interviews.
San: ROFL. Hush!
You used to have a habit of throwing important games, but at ASUS ROG Winter you were more dominant the deeper you got into the tournament. Did you figure out how to play well in live tournaments?
San: Thinking about it now, I think in the past I was facing a lot of pressure because I couldn't go to many tournaments, each one felt very important. Because of that, I couldn't play to 100% of my ability. But now that I know that even if I lose one tournament that there are more ahead, and because Yoe Flash Wolves sends me to tournaments, I can play comfortably like it's on ladder. My team has sent me to all the tournaments I wanted so far, and since I won a championship this time I think they'll continue to do so
When you were up 2-0 against Dear in the finals, did you think about the time you were up 2-0 against herO in the finals but got swept?
San: Yes, it obviously came to mind, so I tried to control my mind to stay calm. I wasn't really that crushed then, I just thought "so, you can get swept 4-0 after taking two games." After seeing what herO has been able to do after that, I think that even taking two games off of him was alright.
Your PvP looked strong at ASUS ROG. Is it the match-up you're the most confident in lately? Or did the games just go well that weekend?
San: I played two PvP finals (vs. herO at IEM Singapore and vs. Squirtle at the Dailymotion Cup) in December, and I lost badly in both of them. It made me think that my PvP was really pathetic, so I studied the match-up a lot. Personally I think that while builds are important in PvP, the way you read the situation and react after both players have revealed their 'hands' is even more important, so I thought a lot about that.
My PvP was getting alright in January, but then I lost a lot while I was ladder 'cramming' for ASUS ROG, so I wasn't confident before the tournament. I realized a lot of things in my 3-0 loss to StarDust, so things went a lot better for me on the second day of the tournament.
Recent tournament results have people saying Protoss is OP. What do you two think?
San: Wow, you want to hear from the loathsome TaeJa?
TaeJa: . With current balance, it's impossible to lose if you play Protoss.
San: Hush. I judge balance looking at both tournament results and games on ladder. It's strange, but the strategies that don't work on ladder end up working well in tournaments.
For example, blink-stalker rushing off two bases, that's something Terrans are definitely good at stopping on ladder. But if you look at tournaments, they just can't seem to hold it off. I think that's why the TvP stats have tilted in Protoss' favor these days. As for ZvP, if we continue with no patch from here on out, I'm confident that we're going to end up in a similar situation to ZvP at the end of WoL. Right now ZvP is about half/half, Protoss is a little favored against Terran.
Speaking of strategies in tournaments, why do Zergs keep losing to your very predictable zealot pressure builds?
San: That's a mystery to me as well. They can stop it on ladder, so I don't understand why they can't stop it in tournaments. I do it very blatantly as well, so they should be able to win if they play to counter it directly. I think Zergs are losing to it because they're thinking too hard.
San stands with the ASUS ROG Winter top four.
TaeJa had a lot of fast GG's this tournament where he left after taking a tiny bit of damage. Could you give your irresolute dongseng some stern words?
San: TaeJa is someone with a broken mentality, it's unbelievable that he won eight tournaments with that kind of mindset. TaeJa, these $10,000 tournaments are what made you who you are. Just because $10,000 isn't even money to you now doesn't mean you should take these tournaments lightly Don't lose the hunger you had when you started.
TaeJa: It's still a lot of money;; The balance is just so bad right now that if you take damage early you can't win, and you're better off leaving and preparing for the next game.
You got a chance to see TaeJa, the $180,000 career winnings man, for the first time in a while. Did you finally get him to buy you a meal?
San: At last, I got him to buy me a meal at Pizza Hut~ It cost 50,000 won per pie.
Actually, TaeJa bought it because we bet on rock-paper-scissors, and he lost the bet.
TaeJa: Normally, the younger person isn't supposed to buy anything [Note: This is technically true in Korean culture], the hyung is supposed to buy, hehe.
San: Hush. Money is age.
TaeJa: Even if I make a lot of money now, San has better education so he'll be able to make more money in the long run, so he should buy me stuff now.
San: I dropped out of college, I've ruined my future.
TaeJa: You can always go back!
...Anyway... Which player came to you first after you won, asking you to buy everyone a treat?
San: Of course, StarDust, haha.
Some would say he was the true winner of the tournament, since he beat the winner AND the runner-up in the group stages.
San: ROFL. He said he used up all his strength in the group stages so he didn't have anything left for the brackets.
You said that you're in the mYi house now. Are you preparing for upcoming European tournaments? How was the house and meeting up with your old NSH teammate jjakji?
San: I'm staying here for about two weeks to compete in WCS Europe and at IEM Cologne.
The house is really nice, except jjakji's seat which is a mess. Actually I haven't been able to meet him yet since he hasn't got back from Brazil, but he should be here soon.
jjakji seemed really confident when we talked to him about being able to win WCS Europe. What do you think of that?
San: He has a 90% win rate on the European ladder, so I think it's totally okay for him to be that confident. I'm not even a Premier Leaguer yet, so I can't say anything T_T.
TaeJa: I don't think he will be able to win a championship as Terran.
San: Wanna bet?
You'll be playing elfi in your WCS Challenger match, a match between two Gods (one of San's nicknames is "God Cho-won").
San: He's a good player, so I predict a difficult match T_T.
A player not even TaeJa can beat.
San: LOL, that's really bad for me then...
TaeJa: G... God.
A player TaeJa lost to after dropping eleven manner mules. Can you take revenge for him?
San: If it's to get revenge for TaeJa, then I really...
...don't want to win, lol.
TaeJa: Then you don't want to reach Premier? In that case, forfeiting might not be a bad idea.
San: No, I will get revenge for you then.
A lot of other foreign players did well against Koreans at Assembly. For instance, TaeJa lost to SortOf and struggled against Serral...
...and HerO dropped a series against Zanster as well. What did you think of the play of the foreigners?
San: Personally, I think you have to treat the skilled foreigners just like Korean players. Skill is one thing, but there's also much less information about them compared to us, so they have an advantage there. Koreans getting caught off guard + having their styles exposed can make for upsets. There's also some foreigners for whom beating Koreans isn't an upset.
Has the balance of power in your skype clique changed now that you have won ASUS ROG, and TaeJa was eliminated in the Ro16?
San: Once king, you're always the king.
TaeJa: No, it is said that the true king is humble, and never thinks that he is the king. That is, of course, San!
San: Shut up.
Let's wrap up with each of you giving each other a nice message to start the 2014 season.
TaeJa: Hmm, well I think 2014 will be San's year. I hope the rest of our skype group all get good results as well, and have a good 2014.
San: Right now Mvp is #1 with nine championships and TaeJa is #2 with eight, so I hope he breaks that record this year~ Oh, and PartinG has joined our group as well. I hope we can see him as often as we did before at foreign tournaments, and I hope everyone has a good year.