State on StarCraft: Interview with Michael “Theognis” McClelland
State on StarCraft is a weekly column on Game Front by Ryan “State” Visbeck, a pro StarCraft 2 player. Each week State brings you his unique perspective on all things StarCraft, including tips, tricks and stories from the front line of competitive play.
NOTE: “State” is officially sponsored by Game Front.
Michael “Theognis” McClelland is a professional StarCraft 2 player representing ROOT Gaming. I caught up with him this week for an interview regarding his history, recent results, and plans for the future.
Hi, Theognis! Thanks for taking the time to have this interview. How are you?
Hi! I’m doing great. My car battery just died while doing groceries, so I’m a little tired out from stress… but other than that, I’m well.
Ouch! Sorry to hear that. I’m sure you get asked this often, but I’m curious—how did you get your ID?
Growing up, I didn’t have much of an identity. I pretty much just mimicked everything from my older brother. From listening to the same music to the games we played to even his ID, I stole everything. It’s the name of an ancient Greek poet from what I’ve heard, and I’ve used it ever since maybe around middle school.
Did he introduce you to StarCraft? How did he feel about you taking his ID?
Yeah, he and my cousin introduced me to StarCraft: Brood War when it was first released circa 1998, but we only played single-player and the campaign. I didn’t steal his ID until I started to 3v3 with some of my classmates in the 8th grade. It wasn’t until a few years later that he found out. But I don’t think cared by then, because he grew out of gaming completely.
You’ve come a long way! Over the past few years, you’ve grown into one of the strongest StarCraft 2 players in North America. How did you become a professional player?
I don’t know exactly when I first classified myself as a professional player. Though I was always ranked high since the first day of release, I played relatively casually during my last few semesters of university. I started to lose motivation in my last semester due to not knowing what I wanted to do post-grad so I started to play SC2 a little more seriously.
I ended up joining a friend’s team, Requiem E-Sports (REQ), and that eventually ended up getting absorbed by Quantic Gaming. I was the only original member kept from the REQ roster. From there, I moved back to my parents’ house for around half a year before I moved to the newly opened Quantic Gaming house, and that’s roughly how I began.
Did you finish your degree? What was your major?
Yes. Though I did relatively decent through university, I scraped by my last semester and got a degree in Biology with a Pre-Med concentration. I was heading down the path to attempting to become a doctor but near the end I figured out that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. Motivation to continue extra schooling as well as doing residencies just wasn’t there, and I don’t think I would have made it if I forced myself to do it.
Quantic Gaming was your first pro-gaming team and mine as well. What did you enjoy most about your time on Quantic?
Definitely moving out to California for the Quantic Gaming house. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It felt like I was actually doing something other than just playing a videogame from my bedroom, which can be kind of depressing at times when you’re trying to make it as a progamer. The people that I met there as well really made it special. We were pretty tight knit, and it was just a fun group of nerds to be around.
I learned a lot, both good and bad, but overall I take it as a positive experience. I even wrote a blog that details some of my stories. Also, the location in SoCal was really nice. I plan to move out there sometime in the future when I settle down.
It really was a lot of fun! Honestly, I miss all the Red Bull. What was it like training in a pro house? Did it live up to your expectations?
It was great. We went through many different practice regimens and got to experience different ways of scheduling our daily routines. I never practiced before in a structured environment; normally, it was just me playing whenever I wanted for as long as I wanted. There were some things I would change about how I practiced if I had the opportunity to do it over again.
Firstly, I would do a lot more custom games in-house and with online practice partners. I always knew in my head that it was good to do so but I never actually implemented it in my schedule for whatever reason — maybe due to laziness or in some part my ego. We did do some [non-ladder], but ideally I would aim to get it to close to 60% customs and about 40% ladder; a healthy mix of both. This is somewhat what I’m doing at the moment. In the house, I relied too heavily on laddering on KR which wasn’t efficient enough for me to improve as fast as I wanted to. Also that damn fridge full of Red Bull. I miss that the most!