For Behind The Nickname #5, we'll have a closer look at one of the very best NA players. He is currently training in Korea, playing Protoss and an extremely nice guys - I am of course talking about Ryan 'State' Visbeck!
Behind The Nickname #5: Ryan 'State' Visbeck.
TrAiDoS: Let’s start with some questions about your life in Korea. How is your life at the moment over there, especially after leaving Prime? Where do you live and train right now and what are your plans for the next few months?
State: Hey Christian, it’s nice to talk to you again!
I’m doing really well. I moved to the Axiom house just a few weeks ago and I couldn’t be happier. The atmosphere’s positive, the food is great, and everyone’s been really welcoming. Originally my plan was to train here for just a few months while I search for a Korean team, but I wasn’t expecting everybody to grow on me so quickly. If it means I can stay here long-term instead of short, I’d love to join a foreign team that could support me in Korea.
TrAiDoS: How did it happen that you’re no longer with Prime?
State: The Korean scene’s more competitive than ever and with the region lock it’s only going to get harder. There’s been a lot of talk surrounding the post-SPL shuffle and all the talent trading hands, and I felt the effects of that firsthand. Prime's focus is Proleague, so when the team signed two more Protoss players in Myungsik and Billowy, it didn't make sense for me to stick around another season. I'm still on very good terms with everyone. I look forward to seeing them again.
TrAiDoS: Do you ever get homesick? If so, what do you do about it?
State: I wouldn’t say I get homesick. I do miss my friends though, and I get cravings for American food every once in a while. Breakfasts especially. About once a month, I’ll go out to Itaewon or Gangnam with a friend and have a Western-style breakfast, and that usually keeps the cravings at bay for at least a few more weeks.
The place I miss most in America is actually an old, run-down diner called the Brentwood Café in my hometown. Now that I think about it, it’s only a few minute’s drive from the ROOT house… I should ask them to go and send me some pictures.
TrAiDoS: What do you do when you have free time in Korea?
State: I used to spend my free time studying Korean, but recently I’ve worked that time back into my practice schedule. With tournaments like IEM San Jose and WCS America on the horizon, I’ve been dedicating a lot more time to improving my game and condition.
When I do take time off, I almost always spend it with friends now. A friend from California’s visiting here soon, and I’ve already made plans for next week that I’m really excited about.
TrAiDoS: What does your family and friends think about your job as a pro-gamer and the time you spend in Korea? Do they support you, if so, how?
State: They think it’s exciting. Since most of them aren’t really into gaming, it’s a little foreign to them. They have lots of questions about the industry and Korea, but, for the most part, they’re happy that I’m happy.
As for my friends, I’ve met most of them through gaming, so it’s easy for us to relate to each other. Interestingly, the few friends I’ve made in Korea outside of gaming have been really perplexed by it. They think it’s cool, but it’s still sort of a weird reason to be here.
TrAiDoS: Why do they think it is weird, because foreign people come to the eSports Mecca or for some other reason?
State: Actually, the friends that were perplexed had no idea to what extent eSports is thriving in Korea or abroad. The whole “You moved here to play..games?” was a running theme.
TrAiDoS: Where did you grow up and how was the life there when you were a kid? Do you have a good story to tell from your childhood?
State: I grew up in Brentwood, a small city in the East Bay Area. As for my childhood, I’d like to quote IdrA on this one:
TrAiDoS: Who had the biggest impact on you as a person? In which way he or she did impact you?
State: Collectively, the biggest impact I’ve had on my life has come from everyone I’ve met in eSports. I’ve never connected to or been inspired by any group of people on a more personal level. I’ve made my best friends and happiest memories with everyone here. In particular, my friend Chuckie has been a mentor to me these past few years. It sounds sappy, but I’m very grateful to the friends I’ve made these past few years for allowing me to become the person I want to be.
TrAiDoS: Does this mean, at the moment you are the person you want to be or would you like to change/work on anything?
State: Recently, someone told me that we will never be the person we want to be. However, there are two roads we can take: the road towards that person, or the road away from them.
We can always improve ourselves, but I’m happy with who I am now. I'm even happier with my choice.
TrAiDoS: Can you imagine being something else than a pro-gamer? If you can, what would it be? Is that kind of job realistic and something you want to do later in your life?
State: When I’ve finished my career as a pro-gamer, I’d like to continue my education in Korea and become a teacher if I can. I volunteered at an elementary school when I lived in California, and that was one of the most positive experiences I’ve had outside eSports. I’d like to spend a few years teaching to see whether it still resonates with me before moving on to something new.
Long-term, I’m not sure what I want to do with my life. Not knowing about that has always been one of my biggest fears, but now I’m happier not knowing. Life is more interesting that way.
TrAiDoS: Imagine you find a brand new $10 note on the street. Would you rather give it to the Police, who will give it to the person who lost it, or would you buy food for a homeless?
State: To be honest, I’d pocket it. I need the money, and I can stretch $10.
TrAiDoS: For you, what is the most important thing in life and how do you try to reach or keep it?
State: Health and happiness. I love my work, I love my friends, and I take good care of myself. It’s easy to pour your soul into something when it means everything to you.
TrAiDoS: Alright, now I would love to have a closer look on your pro-gaming life.
What does eSports mean for you?
State: To me, eSports is all the people in it, especially the fans. We’re fun, we’re loud, and we love what we do. I’ve never met a cooler group of people.
TrAiDoS: When and how did you come up with your nickname?
State: I bought StarCraft 2 a few days after release and couldn’t think of a handle. I was listening to State Radio at the time and abbreviated that to StRa—because, you know, alternating capitals are cool. Right? After a while, people started making connections between that and WhiteRa, so this specifically became a really common question. I decided to change my handle to State a few weeks later when I’d joined my first clan.
TrAiDoS: What games did you play before StarCraft II? Why did you switch?
State: I played a lot of RTS when I was younger, but never competitively. I spent most of my time playing DotA 1 before Wings of Liberty released and made the switch then. Since I only ran with one or two friends at a time, the team play aspect of DotA was never really big for me. I liked how in StarCraft 2 the only limit is yourself.
TrAiDoS: Do you have any training routine you follow? If so, how does it look like?
State: I’ve found that structure and consistency in practice have made it much more rewarding for me. The Axiom house if very free, so I decided early on that I’d make a training schedule for myself when I arrived. I’ve had some time to get settled in, so starting Monday the weekday schedule will be something like this, with much of the time on break spent watching streams or reviewing VODs:
6AM - 7AM - wake, breakfast
7AM - 9AM - gym, shower, etc.
9AM - 10AM - brunch, break
10AM - 12PM - VODs
12PM - 1PM - lunch, break
1PM - 5PM - ladder
5PM - 6PM - dinner, break
6PM - 8PM - ladder, review
8PM - 10PM - eat, rest, sleep
I’ve also stopped streaming recently to focus more on practice. I’d like to pick that up again in a couple months when my condition’s improved. I already miss interacting with everybody, but I need to be fully immersed in what I’m doing if I’m going to make it worth it.
TrAiDoS: A lot of people do not really know what coaches do in the team houses. Can you please tell us how the coaches help the players and especially how he helps/helped you?
State: Because of the language barrier, it’s hard for me to comment on the conversations that happen between coaches and players in Korea. That said, since most of the coaches here are ex-progamers, I’m sure that their advice has merit; especially regarding things outside the game, like condition or mindset. In my experience, the coaches are also the ones who structure the training schedule, decide who plays and when, and keep everyone focused.
TrAiDoS: Usually there are charwomen in team houses. Were there any charwomen in the Prime house as well? If so, do you think it is good or bad, because you pro-gamers get used to this kind of service and later in their life they're not able to do such „simple” works on their own?
State: I think it’s good in a team house environment, especially when there are so many players, that no one really has to worry about preparing breakfast, lunch, or keeping the flat clean. We had a maid at the house, but coming from a family that wasn’t well-off, I felt uncomfortable being cleaned up after. I was happier rinsing my own dishes, washing my own laundry, and picking up after myself than not, so I made that part of my routine.
TrAiDoS: Some people are often talking about the advantages Korean players have over foreign players, like coaches and the special mentality. In your opinion, what are the advantages foreign players have over Korean pro-gamers? Did you have any special experience(s) when you came to Korea?
State: The Korean scene is well-established, highly centralized and structured. All these conditions work together to give Korea a competitive edge. Factor in that players absolutely must achieve results if they’re going to make a name for themselves, and there’s no question why Korean players consistently outperform non-Koreans in a number of games.
It’s also worth noting that, on top of everything else, Korean players simply work harder. The work ethic in this country surprised me more than anything. Even outside eSports, the friends I’ve made will routinely work overtime or find ways to raise their value outside the office. One person that particularly stands out is the barista at a cafe near the Prime house, who I’m guessing owns that outlet of the franchise. She works seven days per week, opening at 8AM and closing at 11PM every weekday. She’s the only employee on weekdays, and works half-days on weekends. That’s a ninety-hour work week. It’s not always to that extreme, but that sort of drive is common in Korea.
TrAiDoS: With people working so much, is burnout a big problem in Korea? If not, how do they compensate all the stress?
State: My experience is limited, so I can’t really speak much to that. Still, burnout can be a problem. The most important thing is to take the time you have to yourself and make it absolutely worth it.
TrAiDoS: If you were the manager of a StarCraft II pro-gaming team and you could have every player, which five players would you get for you team and why?
State: Oh, that’s a tough question. I’d take two Protoss, two Terran and one Zerg: sOs, Zest, Flash, INnoVation and soO.
TrAiDoS: If there any specific reason you picked them or just because they represent the best of the best?
State: They’re the best of the best, but they’re also the players I most love to watch and learn from.
TrAiDoS: Serious part of the interview is gone. Time for random questions!
K-PoP or rap? Korean BBQ or fast food? Muscle car or bike?
State: I like both, but K-Pop probably wins out on this one.
Barbecue any day; I don’t eat fast food anymore.
If I couldn’t sell the car, I’d take the bike. Car maintenance would be way too much for me right now, and there’s no way I could afford to drive. Even then, I’ve never needed to. I don’t even have a license.
TrAiDoS: Please tell us a Korean joke. What is your favorite joke?
State: I don’t know any Korean jokes, but I recently learned to call the subway 지옥철 (ji-ok-cheul) instead of 지하철 (ji-ha-cheul) around rush hour. Ji-ok means 'hell', and it's a pretty accurate description around then.
Now that I'm writing this, I'm realizing that it's not really funny to justify sharing. I have no idea why it's so amusing to me. I think I just really like puns.
TrAiDoS: How is the Korean clubbing scene and how about the girls?
State: I haven’t gone clubbing yet. As for the girls, it’s hard to walk down the street without falling in love.
TrAiDoS: You haven't gone clubbing in Korea? Wow! When was the last time you've been in a club?
State: About a year ago? I love clubs, I just haven’t really had the urge to go in a while.
TrAiDoS: What is for you the finest stuffed, what the second finest stuffed and what the third finest? Would you eat it?
State: Oh, man. Sushi, barbecue and New York style pizza? I’d eat that.
Big big thanks to State for his time and effort. Please follow him on Twitter to join him on his eSports journey in Korea - @StateSC2.
Also make sure to follow me on Twitter, I am @TrAiDoS_.
As always, I hope you guys enjoyed the read. Don't forget to check out the other interviews (down below). See you next time. ;-)
Snute Interview - Behind The Nickname
Dayshi Interview - Behind The Nickname #2
ToD Interview - Behind The Nickname #3
Harstem Interview - Behind The Nickname #4