We catch up with the eSports veteran before he comes out to Red Bull Training Grounds.
You’ve been a pro player for nearly a decade. How has the scene changed over that time? When you started your career, did you expect to be playing this long?
Of all the great many things that changed, two stand out to me as being most significant. Firstly, a decade ago there used to be roughly one LAN tournament every two to three months. Now two to three tournaments per month is more a common sight. As a result, people can watch eSports tournaments more frequently, and the tournament scene supports a greater amount of people.
Secondly, the introduction of live streaming services like Twitch.tv has connected all the dots. Where before eSports fans could watch eSports content very irregularly, now there's online content every day, whether it is WCS, a player's personal stream, or daily tournaments.
It would have been difficult to accurately predict the rate of growth for eSports during the past decade.
A believer that eSports will become a mainstream enjoyment for people of all ages and regions in the world, because of the rapid digitalization of the society, I didn't expect eSports would grow quite so fast. Five years ago when I first streamed my game live, I was ecstatic with 50 viewers (it was capped at 50 on XFire). Now I have drawn in between 5,000 - 10,000 concurrent viewers on an evening. It's mind-boggling! I'm just happy I'm still playing and enjoying eSports.
You have your own livestream channel. What can viewers get out of tuning in? What should your fans be looking out for during the digital broadcast of Red Bull Training Grounds?
When people tune in to twitch.tv/followgrubby, they can expect to see me enjoying high level SC2 practice games with an emphasis on micromanagement, self-improvement, and viewer interaction.
How would you describe your competitive approach?
I'm definitely a one-activity kind of guy. When I love doing something, I can get absorbed into it to the exclusion of other hobbies. Sooner a "master of one" than a "jack-of-all-trades," I want to learn everything there is to learn about StarCraft II. I believe my superior knowledge and attention to detail will give me an edge over other players. Even playing for the enjoyment of and love for the game, one has to admit winning has a special thrill to it. Any training done, or strategical decisions made, will always have winning as its primary goal.
You’ve mentioned in past interviews that you love playing for an audience. Do you still feel that audience “thrill” when spectators are viewing via livestream, rather than in person?
Definitely. Psychologically, the truth (of people watching you) hits home right away when you see and hear and even smell the crowd in a large venue. However, seeing the tournament stream viewer number climb for a tournament I'm playing in also provides that stimulus. The more buzz, the more viewers, the more excited I am. Because I've been playing for a decade, I even struggled recently to feel excited when practicing privately. That was pretty weird for me and I didn't know how to fix it at first. Luckily, I found the solution for it. I invited a friend (Harstem) to come over and train at my place for a week or two, and we both really benefited from that. He qualified for WCS Challenger League and won DSCL (over Liquid's Ret), while I rediscovered the ability to train without an audience, haha.
Which player are you most excited to play during Red Bull Training Grounds – and who are you most excited to hang out with?
I'm looking forward to meeting ROOT's Kane, because I was impressed with some of his play, and I've never met him before. It'll be cool to see Golden again too. We had some epic travels together from Poland, when it was snowing and delaying the planes. Personally, I'd like to play against Sound because I lost to him at HomeStoryCup, but I also look forward to playing against DeMusliM (because of his great micro), and I always have fun games against Golden, too.
What do you hope to get out of Red Bull Training Grounds? What your expectation from the weekend?
Since I came back from vacation on 11th of June, I've got one week to get ready for Red Bull Training Grounds. The RBTG will give me another week to prepare for MLG Anaheim. I'm looking to catch up and learn as much as possible during these two weeks. I'll enter these weeks with a relaxed state of mind, and let my newly at-rest mind come up with some surprising stuff.
How useful is watching pro player livestream to upping your own game?
It can be pretty useful. You can get a good feel for what a player notices and how he reacts. A livestream has a different feel than a replay because you see exactly what the player sees. I prefer standing behind a player at a LAN, but this is the next best thing.
What is your typical practice routine?
I mostly just play ladder for as many hours as are available to me, while trying to look for opportunities to train in the same room as other players. Either at my own home, or at the FXO.kr team house, or at an opportunity like Red Bull Training Grounds.
What are your goals for MLG Anaheim?
At this moment I don't have any goals for MLG Anaheim yet. Goals will come as my training for the event gets more and more focused. Of course, I'd be happy to at least reach top 16 because that's where the WCS Points start being earned.
Shoutouts: A huge thanks to my main sponsor BenQ, my premier sponsor Twitch, and to Red Bull for inviting me to Red Bull Training Grounds. Looking forward to it!
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