Diggity on eSports: StarCraft 2, League of Legends, NASL Finals (Interview)
Do you feel the players and their demeanor may affect how seriously a pro league is taken? IdrA, for instance, raises a lot of controversy.
Definitely. I actually think IdrA is very professional. Many people disagree; they bring up his bad manner. But IdrA shows up to his matches on time, every time, and that’s been part of the problem with NASL. Even though players only need to be there for a couple hours once a week, it has been very difficult for them to show up on time. I think it’s a reflection of which players play professionally — as a full-time job — and which don’t. Many NA players have day jobs, so it’s much more difficult for them to participate. I know that you can only be so helpful to the players, and that it is ultimately their responsibility, but my argument has been that the NASL should make it as easy on the players as possible, just because of the nature of eSports right now.
The players tend to reward the single-day events like MLG because they only have to be there a couple days. I don’t think that model is sustainable to make it all the way, but it’s difficult to transition into the league format before playing SC as a full-time job.
Do you feel IdrA’s bad boy persona and they way he’s polarized the audience contributes to the scene by bringing in more viewership and making the audience care more about a given matchup?
Definitely. I think IdrA is great for the scene. I also think he’s very intelligent and very aware of what he’s doing. Whether it’s a persona or not is up for debate, but he definitely increases his brand by doing what he’s doing, even though it’s considered to be bad-mannered. Many people hate him, and he’s a great player, so he’s a perfect villain to route against. He has a tight macro style that many people find enjoyable to watch. To a certain degree, if you play well, people will follow you.
One thing I should mention about his professionalism, though, is his tendency to drop from a game when he was in a position in which he should have won. For instance, he once threw a tiebreaker match because it was just for position and he didn’t take it seriously. Compare this to the Koreans, who played each tiebreaker match as though it was the championship.
As far as his practice regimen, IdrA is professional. As far as when he exits a game? Probably not. He can definitely work on sticking it out and fighting it all the way through to the end. But that probably has a lot to do with his practice regime — when he’s practicing, he’s on the ladder a lot, and he needs to exit games as quickly as possible, because he’s trying to get as many games as possible against as many top-level opponents as possible. He’s also fighting for his ladder position. It’s just the ladder mentality. The Koreans don’t need to prove anything by their ladder position — they’re already salaried — whereas if a guy like IdrA falls out of Grandmasters, the whole community would jump on him and that would affect his branding.
In Professional Wrestling, which has enjoyed tremendous popularity, wrestlers adopt Face/Heel or protagonist/antagonist personas; do you feel if more StarCraft 2 players would develop personas or grudge matches that would lend more popularity to the scene?
It probably would. The SC2 scene feeds off drama. If more players would feed into that — while still playing really well — that could have a positive effect. But because the majority of the leagues are currently played over the internet, the players don’t get much face time with cameras.
For some players, their personality pours through their play automatically, while others do side things, like TLO, who does Doctors Without Borders. Otherwise, I’m not sure that’s as easy to execute without the camera in their face.
I think that could be a great tool, though, once we’re at the level where we do have that camera. In fact, I wouldn’t be against the short-time adoption of wrestling masks, because I remember in the early stages of Brood War, players were wearing capes and all sorts of silly stuff because they were doing whatever they could to get the viewer. If you look up old BoxeR vs YellOw matches, you’ll see BoxeR wearing a full-on spacesuit with shoulder pads and a cape, and same thing with YellOw on the other side.