James Banks, an eSport passionate
Hi James, thank you for accepting this interview ! First, lets set the background. How did you come to leave StarTale and join Incredible Miracle six months ago ?
Well thank you very much for interviewing me, I had been at StarTale since August 2011 and I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life, we grew and achieved so much in StarTale and it was a pleasure to be involved in such a team. I came to leave because it was no longer what was good for me; previously in 2011/12 and the beginning of 2013, I was involved quite heavily with the sponsors, tournaments and players when they came over to Europe, but sadly towards the end of 2013, the communication had broken down a bit and StarTale were beginning to have some financial issues. My only task at this stage was to manage the social media and work over in Europe, which didn’t fit me. I knew the IM Coach from my time at StarTale, we got talking and I joined up with them.
It was weird to leave StarTale after so long but it was out of my control. I am still friends with all of the players and the coaches, so no love lost between us.
Just two weeks before you joined, StarTale formed a partnership with Incredible Miracle for Proleague. Did the fact that StarTale players were living at the IM house during this time help your decision ?
I think it did… I spent a lot of time in Korea, specifically in the StarTale house, and living with these guys you certainly become great friends. When the partnership was formed, I was really happy and hoped that it would be a sign of great things to come for both teams.
During these six months at IM, did you also have the opportunity to travel in Korea to visit the Gaming House and the players ?
Sadly not, compared to StarTale my role was slightly different at IM. My focus was on PR and improving the team. My main goal was to get the team shop up and running to non-Koreans, as well as looking at new players and handling non-Korean press and tournament organisers. Sadly, this was short lived and resulted in me leaving earlier than I had expected.
The fall of a legendary team.
Indeed, few weeks after the end of Proleague for IM, the team exploded with the departure of Ruin, Mvp, Trap, Squirtle and YongHwa in two days. Still, no official statement was posted about the situation of the team, and the community had only suppositions to explain it. Can you tell us a bit more ? What happened ?
There is very little light I can shed on this apart from when I was speaking to Coach Kang Dong Hoon. Squirtle had told me he [Coach Kang] had been in hospital and it was quite serious. Because of this, the communication began to break down and I was mainly communicating through Squirtle as he is always quite active on Skype with me. I have tried to contact Coach Kang many times in order to help create a statement of what is going on, but I have had no response; the last message I had from him was 6th July 2014. I believe the community and our fans need to know what is going on. I keep seeing Coach post about the League of Legends team on Facebook, so I can only assume that this is the new direction for IM.
My only thought on this is that I wish I maybe joined six months to one year earlier in order to try and save whatever went wrong. It is such a shame that it potentially could have ended this way.
Still, from your point of view, did you see this disbandment coming ahead of time, or did you wake up one morning to the team's dissolution ?
I knew we needed to make a drastic change and Coach going into hospital was the worst thing that could happen, as he runs that team pretty much by himself compared to other teams. Once that went down I knew we would have some issues. I was still pretty shocked and surprised, we had lost a couple of players earlier on in the year but when it hit July and we lost Ruin, Mvp, Trap, Squirtle, YoungHwa and ByuL, I knew it was over and it still shocked me.
It was quite upsetting to me as I was really happy to see what we can achieve, but sadly it was not meant to be, and I am unsure of what my next step will be after being involved with the Korean scene for 4 years.
Since the end of IM's partnership with LG, it has been known that the team was struggling fincancially. Back in March 2014, a first upheaval happened to IM with the departure of NesTea. After three years in common, IM decided to not renew his contract in order to develop newer players. At this moment, was the project to support newer players even existing or the countdown was already engaged ?
As I said before, it was a little different for me at IM so I was not involved in these negotiations but losing a player like NesTea is never a good thing. We did certainly need to invest in new players but looking at how it is now, that could have possibly meant League of Legends rather than Starcraft.
League of Legends players replacing Starcraft II ones.
Do you have an idea about what the Gaming House will become ? Will it be used only for League of Legends players ?
My communication broke down with the coach at the start of July before the players left, and there is only one active player for IM in Starcraft at the moment, so to me it makes more sense that they will scrap the entire Starcraft roster and focus fully on League of Legends. I do not personally agree with this decision but hopefully we will hear some news on this eventually.
Indeed, Lucky is still officially member of Incredible Miracle and didnt announce his departure. It's a bit disturbing for his career. Did he ever talk about retirement ?
Retirement was never openly discussed. Lucky is a great player, and though we have not seen much from him recently, he certainly has not had the best luck with teams. I can only assume he is at home now playing and working out what he wants to do.
I am currently helping Squirtle find a team and I am happy to help any of the IM or StarTale players that don’t have a team if they ask me.
Squirtle is looking for a team guys ! Sign this man !
As you are doing, are there any IM staff members who are actively helping players to find a new team ? Do you already have any information about the future of the other players ?
I believe I am the only person currently helping, and I don’t know of anyone’s plans other than Squirtle. I would rather the players make their own decisions on their future, and if they feel I could help, they know they can contact me and I will do my best to get them a good home.
Part of me wishes I could form a team, as there are so many good players without a team at the moment haha!
Would you follow Squirtle in his new team ? Perhaps you have already received some answers ?
That is a really good question…The way I see it is if the team Squirtle joins wants me, then we can discuss it. However all I care about is getting Squirtle a new home. I will find my own path, and I would hate to put a team off [from acquiring Squirtle] because they think they have to take me when they may already have a capable management structure.
I have had quite a few offers from European and American teams. I think with a lot of Korean players leaving Korea that I could be quite useful, but I have not made any decisions as of yet. I am currently helping out a great new American team called Solaris Gaming, working on their marketing for them in my spare time so I am not completely homeless but I would love to get back involved with a Korean team or another pro team with great ambitions.
Well, I think you cleared up the situation pretty well. Anything you would like to add ?
Thank you for the interview and I would like to say that anyone who may be interested in Squirtle or wants to talk to me about it please just hit me up on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/banksesports and I will be happy to DM anyone serious my skype, don’t really want to leave my skype or email open for anyone to use haha!
I have had an amazing time in Korea working with both StarTale and IM, it is a shame that things didn’t work out with IM but hopefully the Coach is well and good and able to make IM successful in League of Legends! GG.
Thank you for your time James, it has been a pleasure !
An interview conducted for Team aAa by Balrog and helped by Padre.
Find out the interview in both english and french on aAa.eu.