State on StarCraft: Ryan ‘State’ Visbeck joins ROOT Gaming
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.
I am very happy to announce that I have joined ROOT Gaming.
ROOT Gaming is one of the longest-running professional teams in StarCraft 2. Unique in their dedication to developing North American talent, ROOT has a long history of success and a rabid following. Their StarCraft 2 division opened a team house just recently and, I’m excited to begin practicing with them this Fall.
It goes without saying that I love StarCraft. Stepping away from the game earlier this year allowed me to see how much I really want to continue playing at the professional level. I understand that every player has only a limited time that they can play competitively and I want to devote what time I have to improving in a team house, be it here or in Korea.
Team owner Paulo “CatZ” Vizcarra played a large role in my decision to join ROOT Gaming. I was able to sit down with him and ask questions not just as a new member, but also as a fan.
Hi, CatZ! How are you today?
I’m doing great, thanks!
ROOT Gaming has changed a lot since it was reformed two years ago. What is your overall vision for ROOT? Where do you see ROOT in another two years?
We are a lot more organized than we were previously. The first run ROOT had was a great one, but as owners of the team, we had little clue about what to do, and this is a difficult industry to get informed about. This time around, we got more people involved to cover different areas of the team on the management side.
The goal we always had for ROOT is to be the best team in North America. I think we’re solid on that, and we plan to maintain that. Perhaps a more ambitious goal would be to become the best SC2 team outside of Korea — and then THE WORLD! But that will be a bit more difficult. Also, ROOT has always been a team in touch with the community, a team of friends and family, and those are things we value a great deal. We’ll continue to stay in touch with the community — we want to always be the people’s champ — at the end of the day, that’s the only reason we were able to make it this far. In two years, we hope that ROOT will be one of the bigger brands in the industry. We want to look into other games, but we want to do it right, one step at a time. SC2 is our main priority as it stands.
ROOT is known for its skill at finding and developing North American talent. Can you walk us through your recruiting and scouting process?
Well that’s easy! I am one of the owners of ROOT and also a high-level player, so I like to think that I am good at spotting up-and-coming talent. So when I am impressed with someone, I’ll usually ask them to come play a bit with the team and see how they do. I mostly recruit based on potential, play style and thought process, as opposed to mechanics or win rates; I believe in talent, and some people are just gifted for strategy games. I like to think I can spot them before they get too expensive for us.
How do you go about developing that talent? What is it that sets ROOT apart from all other North American teams?
It is usually a big motivator in itself when a relatively unknown player joins ROOT, as we are one of the bigger or most recognized brands in SC2. I usually talk with the players and make sure they have their priorities and goals set as high as ours when it comes to SC2 — everything else sort of just falls into place. The team atmosphere is amazing, our chat is super active and everyone on the team is good friends. It’s easy to get motivated, and of course, practice partners and friends willing to give advice and talk strategy with are an amazing tool for an up-and-coming player.
Tell us about the house. What are you and the team most excited about?
The house is awesome. Everyone has been consistently improving since we got here, the ping to Korea server is relatively low in comparison to pretty much anywhere else in America, and for that reason, we’re able to practice our ladder sessions on Korea. We also do in-house team practice and rankings, and we plan to produce more and better content for our fans and current and future sponsors. The house is a big investment. Thanks to the fundraiser, we were able to get it set up, but it is a lot more expensive to maintain than we had foreseen. Fortunately — and thanks to our awesome sponsors — we have no issues maintaining it for now, but we always want to continue to grow and explore other areas. The house will be a great tool not just for players, but also for the team and management to continue to grow our brand.
It has been argued that ROOT has become the top team in North America. Where do you feel ROOT stands? What do you think it takes to be the top team in North America?
I think we’re solid in the number one spot in North America. We have a very deep player pool and almost an all-American lineup able to compete at a very high level — we’d be confident against any North American-based team. I think the main thing to get there and maintain the spot is motivation and goals; all of our players want to be the best and are willing to do what it takes to get there.
ROOT’s fans are some of the most passionate and vocal in all of eSports. What is it like to work with such a rabid fan base?
Since the beginning, we’ve been very involved with the community. We are one of the only sc2 ‘big’ teams that is born in StarCraft and not many years prior in FPS or other games. SC2 is what ROOT was made for, and for that reason — and because Drew and I are SC2 players — I think we have a connection to the community and passion for the game that other teams might lack. I think that is partly why our fan base is so vocal — but so am I, so I like them just like that.
And speaking of which — is there anything else you want to say to your fans?
Thank you everyone for supporting ROOT. Our fans and the community are our most important sponsors, as cheesy as that sounds. We’ll continue to grow as a team and players to make our fans proud and give North America a worthy representative in the scene. Thanks a lot; we’d literally be nothing without you.
I’m really excited about this change. Once I move into the ROOT house next week, you can expect me to stream StarCraft 2 and other games much more regularly. I’ll release a daily streaming schedule once I settle in, so keep a lookout! You can follow me and Game Front on Twitter at @StateSC2 and @GameFrontCom. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you and I’m very proud to now represent Game Front as well as ROOT Gaming.
Check back every week for a new State on StarCraft post from Ryan “State” Visbeck!