State on StarCraft: Interview with Michael “Theognis” McClelland

You mentioned that your training regimen includes much more in-house games than it did before. How often do you practice daily?

It still varies a decent amount because I live on my own now. I have to juggle a lot of my time around doing enough lessons/coaching to buy groceries and pay rent, but not doing so much that it eats too much into my practice time. On average I’ll do maybe three hours of customs early in the day. Then, throughout the day, I’ll get my coaching done and then finish off the night with three more hours of ladder. When preparing for a match or tournament, I’ll try up it to five to six hours of customs and a lot less ladder — maybe only one or two hours — and hold off on all the coaching until after. Got to have a lot of practice partners to do so though.

It shows! You’ve been having a lot of success recently. Most notably, you qualified for the WCS Premier League by eliminating Dreamhack finalist EGJaedongRC and a really, really good Protoss player (cough cough). How do you feel about your odds in Premier?

Thanks! Yeah, I’m happy with my results so far, since I’ve been putting a lot of thought into how I practice recently. Was a little bittersweet that I ended up getting into Premier due to a no-show, but other than that, I couldn’t be happier. Though I did get in, Premier League is going to be extremely difficult, because as far as I know there are maybe only five or so foreigners in the draw. Lots of Koreans, so it’s definitely going to be an uphill battle.

But I’m glad the format allows for match preparation. I feel like I’m a lot stronger if given time to prepare builds and work on the details of a specific matchup rather than the free-for-all duke it out ‘til the last one is standing format ala MLG Open Bracket, DreamHack, etc.

The new WCS format definitely lends itself to more interesting series. Your team’s been having a lot of success, too. Kane, puCK, and ViBE will be representing ROOT Gaming at the Red Bull Training Grounds this upcoming Friday. How do you feel about their chances? Who has the best shot at winning?

ROOT’s been doing extremely well individual result wise. If only we could get it together in the teamleagues [laughs]. All of them can do really well in the tournament if they are playing well. If I had to put money on one though, I would say Kane.

You’ve been a regular guest on Artosis’ new show “Meta” since its debut in April. What has that experience been like?

It’s definitely been a fun, new challenge. I’m not used to talking in front of 3000+ viewers on a regular basis like the other players/guests on the show, so it took some getting used to. I’m working on improving my talking and voice inflection so it’s not as monotone. I’ve been watching YouTube videos and reading up on how to work on these things. It’s quite similar to how I learn from watching pro VOD’s. So it’s quite a fun process and I can also use what I learn on my weekly tutorial series that I’ve been working on recently.

That’s really interesting—I hadn’t considered that side of things.

Since we’re talking “Meta”, we might as well talk meta: we’re three months into Heart of the Swarm and Blizzard’s yet to release a balance patch. Many players love that Blizzard’s letting the game develop naturally, but others argue that certain things—the scary, fiery ones—ought to be reworked. What do you think? Is StarCraft 2 balanced at the moment?

Hahah, fine, I’ll say it! I think the hellbat drop is pretty strong in its current form. Though Zerg and Protoss players have been learning how to deal with the drops better and better over the weeks, TvT is rampant with hellbat drops every game. It’s to the extent where I don’t see the reason to do anything BUT hellbat drop. I find it somewhat foolish if they don’t. The low investment coupled with the high reward is just too good to ignore.

Other than that, I feel the game is somewhat balanced. I don’t see the other races having too much trouble with the medivac boost or mines anymore, and Zerg seems to be somewhat holding ground with Terran recently.

You’d like to see a hellbat nerf then?

I hope they tinker around with the hellbat drop, but not to the point where they over-nerf it into oblivion. It brings a lot of tension and excitement to the game as well as other strategic choices. Personally, I feel they should just remove the biological tag from the unit as it doesn’t make sense and isn’t consistent with any other unit in the game. But I guess, the damage nerf can be okay as well. I’ll have to wait and see how it pans out when the patch goes through.

So what’s next for you and ROOT Gaming? Can we expect to see you at MLG Anaheim?

Yep! Everything is booked for MLG Anaheim next week. Can’t wait since it’ll be my first time leaving the house since last MLG. Offline events in North American are few and far between, so I couldn’t be more excited. Other than that, the rest of the ROOT members will be moving into the ROOT house in San Francisco after the event. As for me, I’m going to hold off moving in for now. I don’t want to totally rule me moving in out, but for now I’ve decided to stay in Virginia and train.

That sounds great—I’ll see you there! Thanks again for doing this interview. Any shoutouts? Where can we follow you?

Thanks for the interview! I would like to thank ROOT gaming and all its sponsors: Das Keyboards, AverMedia, RushOrderTees, Twitch.TV and I also would like to give a shoutout to a person who helped me out a long time ago when I was first starting out as a progamer: Mariano Ripoll. He helped me out with a graphics card and a motherboard so I could play SC2 on something other than a macbook. I never got to thank him publicly yet for what he did. My twitter is @ROOTheognis, and you also can follow me on Facebook at

Check back every week for a new State on StarCraft post from Ryan “State” Visbeck!

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1 Comment on State on StarCraft: Interview with Michael “Theognis” McClelland

Johnny mc

On June 21, 2013 at 9:09 am

Great interview state!