IEM Season 8
Detailed information on Liquipedia
Interviews by Waxangel
For Your Homeland:
For Your Homeland:
MaNa and Nerchio
On March 13th, some of the best StarCraft 2 players in the world will gather in Katowice, Poland for a shot at winning the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship and its $100,000 grand prize. Not just the grand prize, but only prize.
IEM's decision to make the World Championship winner-take-all has been controversial, with some fans eagerly anticipating the heightened stakes, and other fans angered by the inequitable distribution of prizes.
But what do the players think? After our first interviews with Revival and Oz, we moved on to talk to two Polish players who will try to make their way up from the open bracket: Liquid`MaNa and Acer.Nerchio.
Liquid`MaNa"...I always wanted Poland to notice that e-sport is something big and completely change the stereotype of a typical computer-gamer. The previous IEM was great as a first step in doing so, but this one, as it's the finals, is the actual step to mainstream media notice and perhaps show e-sports in a positive way."
First off, how are you feeling ahead of IEM Katowice? How's your skill level, and has the recent balance patched changed a lot of things for you?
I am feeling great. I've been waiting for IEM Katowice for so long and the time passed very quickly, and in just a few days I'll be at Spodek again. My skill level is good at the moment as we're doing this interview, I hope it will stay like that or only get better.
I've played a few internal practice games in Liquid and I've learned a lot from them. The recent balance changes affected PvsT and PvsP the most, PvsZ is not much different. I feel PvsT has become a very hard matchup for me nowadays, as the widow mine change almost completely negates the high templar style, so we're almost forced to play the colossus style to play a normal macro game. Of course I could be wrong, because there still could be ways to deal with the MMMM composition, but at this moment I feel it's really strong.
A year ago you finished in the top eight of IEM World Championship and won $3,500 for that. Does it feel different going into the WC this time around, knowing that there's a high chance of getting nothing?
It feels different, but not because of the prize pool. It's different because this time it's in Poland [the last WC was in Hannover, Germany], in my home country and I am very proud that we could host the IEM finals. I am pretty sure the atmosphere there will be astonishing. I have nothing against the winner-takes-all distribution for this time. Of course it's not beneficial for any of the progamers but the winner, but I would watch an event like that even if only I had to be a spectator, because the show for the grand finals has to be amazing.
Is it particularly meaningful playing in your home country? What was the vibe like at the previous IEM Katowice tournament?
It is, because I always wanted Poland to notice that e-sport is something big and completely change the stereotype of a typical computer-gamer. The previous IEM was great as a first step in doing so, but this one, as it's the finals, is the actual step to mainstream media notice and perhaps show e-sports in a positive way.
The atmosphere at the previous IEM Katowice was great, the best crowd I had to play in front of. That's why I want to qualify to the main tournament, because disappointing the fans will hit me twice as much. I can't imagine how the atmosphere can be better than a year ago, but the Polish community forum netwars.pl has prepared a lot of stuff, so keep an eye on the crowd.
How do you feel about your side of the bracket? What do you think of your chances of making it through?
I look at the bracket as a whole, not only my part, as I need to win the winner's bracket or loser's bracket to qualify. The open bracket could almost be the main event for another tournament, but not as World Championship finals. I am confident in my skill for now, I am not the favourite to qualify for sure, but if I don't face Dear on my way I think I have a good shot to do so.
Overall it's a pretty Protoss heavy tournament, what are your thoughts about that matchup at the moment?
It's definitely better than in WoL. At the moment there are a lot of build to choose from, but you rarely end up with an instant loss, at most you are just at a disadvantage. Of course that's not ideal but that's a part of strategy games, choosing the correct builds against your opponents. After the recent patch, the scouting possibilities are stuck for hallucination only or for a suicide mothership core recall without guarantee of scouting something. All in all I enjoy playing PvsP, but there's still some improvement left for me there.
The last IEM WC sort of marked the end of long run consistently high results from you. Looking back, do you know why you went into a "slump" or is it something you're still figuring out?
I've talked about that a lot already. I am not looking for excuses. I had a few private life issues which perhaps affected my mindset and I couldn't play at the best of my skill. I was losing only because I was the worse player and I deserved to lose.
Has joining Liquid helped you out a lot? In terms of both practice, and just the ease of mind of not having to worry about finding a team.
It surely did. We're all equal on skill in foreign Liquid in my opinion so it's a great practice environment for me. Also we talk a lot about the games and I get to know the point of view from the other races. I am used to having my Protoss brother HasuObs on my side all the time so he could back me up in the chat when the Protoss whine appears, but now I am all on my own. What a pity.
Ok I'll ask you one silly question and we'll wrap: If you had to rescue your kidnapped girlfriend from Somalian pirates and could take three other progamers to help you, who would they be and why?
I would take Slivko to rescue her and I would throw Nerchio as a bait. 3rd person is not needed.
Oh, that reminds me. What do you think of your countrymen in all of this? Rivals to overcome, or all in it together to try and get a Polish player into the main tournament?
I wouldn't mind a 2nd Polish player to qualify alongside me. Probably only Nerchio and Tefel could have the real chance to qualify, but they haven't been the nicest of players to me lately so I don't really wish them luck. I hope they can grow up one day and be professional at least once.
Ok, any final comments, shoutouts, or just stuff you wanna say freely?
I will not make any promises. I just want all people to cheer for me if you feel like it. Shoutouts to IEM management and big thanks to them for bringing such a big event to Poland. Also thanks to Team Liquid and our sponsors HyperX, Razer, Twitch, Barracuda, Need for seat and shiny things for supporting me in my career. Especially HyperX for surprising me with the quality of their newest headset (HyperX Cloud) which I thought would be just another product. But the headset is really comfortable even after X hours of wearing it, which is not easy to do.
Acer.Nerchio"I feel like [the $100,000 winner take all prize] might help some players to play on top of their game because you're not as stressed as in normal tournaments. For me, more important is simply getting to the main tournament so Polish fans have somebody to cheer for."
First, how do you feel about your skill level ahead of this tournament? How do you feel about your chances of getting through the open qualifier?
I feel like I am playing pretty well these days and I am confident I can be one of the players that will go through to the main tournament but there are a few Koreans as well, so they might have a different word to say. I feel like double elimination favours a player like me because I can change my style a lot in between games. The open bracket is not as stacked as it could be so I think my chances aren't too low.
I guess with the strategies I learned at Seat Story Cup from the Zergs can lead me to victory [heart emoticon].
In general it's a pretty Protoss heavy tournament. In your WCS EU interview you said you had some trouble in the matchup and had to pull out a lot of different builds and looks to beat Showtime. Are you feeling better about the matchup lately?
It's better than it was before but it is still lacking a little bit. If I had to play this tournament 2 months ago I'd probably rather play PvP than PvZ but these days it's quite alright, so except Dear I think I am favoured against anybody else.
You've picked up a good amount of money from IEM tournaments in the past. Does it affect your mindset, knowing that there's a high chance of earning nothing in this tournament?
Actually not at all, I was never playing for money so it doesn't bother me. Even though many people dislike the format of this IEM, I feel like it could be pretty exciting. You're not gonna get anything unless you win in the final so you've got nothing to lose in the earlier rounds.
I feel like it might help some players to play on top of their game because you're not as stressed as in normal tournaments. For me, more important is simply getting to the main tournament so Polish fans have somebody to cheer for. As everybody knows, we have the sickest crowd that is out there so performing in front of them would be a great experience once again.
Yeah, but how would you feel if you got second place?
I bet I would be pretty devastated because even if money is not so important to me, looking at $100k going away would be pretty painful. On the other hand getting to final like this in my home country would be the best experience in my e-sports career if not my whole life so I could probably live with it.
How big a deal is the entire home country aspect? With so many tournaments concentrated in a handful of countries, I feel like it's hard for some of us to grasp how it feels for players who rarely get to play at home.
It might be different for other countries, but in Poland we have a really connected StarCraft 2 scene with pro players talking to community etc. I am not sure if we can call this a big community but it is certainly one of the most involved communities out there coming out from SC:BW as well, and they will all be coming to IEM Katowice to deliver the best crowd entertainment or however you want to call that. I am hoping for at least 1 Polish player to come out from the open bracket so Polish fans can have a person to cheer for.
Out of curiosity, how's your relationship with the Polish SC2 community? You have a kind of humorous love/hate relationship with the rest of the foreign community. Is it like that as well?
I like how you called it a humorous love/hate relationship. I think it's no different and they treat me the same way, but after my matches I usually explain what happened or why I lost/won and how I see my chances in the future tournaments, all of that on kind of personal level. They like when I win, and they blame me when I lose I think that's pretty normal for any community.
I mean it's not always perfect since when you respond to people directly, they suddenly think you are the best friends so they happen to be mean to you almost every time but it's only few people and not only in Polish community but also on TL or other places.
How do you see the other Polish players in the tournament? Rivals you're competing with, or more like one team that wants to get a Polish player into the main tournament?
I definitely want Paranoid to advance to the main tournament and I am kind of neutral towards other Polish players but I'd be happy if they advanced as well, even with rivalries going on with Mana/Tefel. As I said, it's important to me that there is at least 1 Polish player in the main tournament so I will do my best to get into it but we have to be realistic, and the chances of winning the main tournament are pretty slim.
Even though I say that, I want to win against them because me/Mana/Tefel are on a similar level lately so I need to find a way to show them I am still a little bit better! I feel like all the national rivalries are pretty cool for example Snute/Targa or the one in Sweden.
Do you pay much attention to the Korean scene? If you tried to look at the tournament as an outsider, who do you think has the best chance to win?
I usually observe Korean scene a little bit but I lost some interest since Zergs were not doing so great. I wonder why by the way. I think Rogue could be a little bit of a surprise since he's been doing great lately but if I had to bet I'd probably choose Taeja because he's the most consistent Korean for a long time.
If your girlfriend was kidnapped by Somalian pirates and you had to take three progamers with you on a rescue mission, who would you take and why?
So obviously I would be the brain of the team and I would need somebody to get the job done. I think i'd pick MC to be my one man army along with some Naniwa's rage and maybe Harstem since we need to help him get attention for #yearofharstem and defeating Somalian pirates would definitely help with that.
What's your favorite color?
It was blue, but since Starcraft2 came out, it's probably something that doesn't remind me of Protoss.
If you win a lot of games with hydralisks, are you okay with us calling you a patchzerg again?
Yes I am fine with that term but I would need some patchzerg friends so I hope Snute/Vortix can win some games with hydralisks, too, if of course, there is enough supply for that after making roaches!
Alright, any final words/comments to wrap up?
All of you should definitely tune it to watch IEM Katowice if you're not already planning to attend it live which I suggest you do. Thanks for support over the last years and keep saving e-sports!