Q: “Do you have any messages for your fans abroad? Even if they don’t make it into the article, I can make sure to publish them elsewhere so it still spreads.”
A. “I remember one foreign fan from back in 2014, when I visited Paris for All-Stars. She was European, but the handwritten letter she gave me – which was about how she found joy in [supporting] me and how that helped with her life – was all in Korean. I was really touched. ‘Wow… even overseas, there are fans out there who care for me this much,’ I thought. To this day it still remains a warm memory. So I want to send my thanks.”
“My first Heroes of the Storm team was Stellar Lotus – a North American squad. You see, for some time I had dreamt of becoming a professional gamer in a foreign region. So when Woojae asked me to play with him on NA, I jumped at the chance.”
“Soon after I started playing on the North American server, I realized that I was a really good fit in terms of personality. Playing with & against NA players was great fun. My goal became clear: to become a strong NA player and help the region become internationally competitive.”
“When the 2016 Spring Global Championship was announced to be held in Korea, Naventic asked me if I could coach for them. Since I had been rooting for NA and wanted NA teams to do well, it was a no-brainer. For the most part, I gave a few pointers when watching scrim replays together, and also suggested certain picks and bans for the draft phase.”
“I didn’t get to exert too much influence as a coach, though, as Zuna had already been playing a strong leadership role for the team. And the players were prideful about their stylistic approach to the game, so I felt it would not be beneficial to try to force them to do things my way.”
“Korean teams’ macro play and teamwork are very structured, whereas North American teams often seem to just play things by feel. The largest difference is mindset, I believe. Korean teams and players mostly perceive gaming to be a profession, a job. So it’s common to practice nonstop when not eating or sleeping. Many North American teams and players, however, treat gaming as a hobby. I think the skill gap comes from there.”
“It was when I was taking an indefinite break from Heroes of the Storm due to health problems – I randomly logged onto Battle.Net out of habit, then out of the blue, N0CHAT messaged me. He asked me to play melee flex for his team, Supreme Mixtape. Apparently the previous melee flex had left the team due to stylistic differences, and the rest had not been able to find any good enough free agents who could play the role. I was quite happy to be thought of so highly despite not having played professionally in Korea.”
“Save N0CHAT and DDuDDu, I had not met the other players in person prior to joining the team; I only had met them occasionally in Hero League. So when we first started scrimming and were stuck at a 30% win rate, I did question at times whether we should keep playing together or not. But giving it the benefit of the doubt worked out. Fom a certain point on, we started winning almost every game.”
“Unfortunately our scrim performance did not transfer well to tournament play. Most of us had little to no offline experience, me included, so nerves got the best of our team for the first few weeks. It didn’t help that we met the strongest teams – L5 and MVP Black – early on. Getting pummeled so hard right away severely dented our confidence. We will prepare well over the break so we can start showing up on stage from Phase 2 onwards.”
“My fans are why I returned from my indefinite break. A number of people have supported me over the years, and I did not want to let them down. My play over Phase 1 has not been up to my standards, however. I’m angry at myself for not playing as well as I could have.”
“Recently, my wrist has been acting up. A lot. It’s been hurting to the point where the pain and its implications for my career and dreams would send me into depressive spirals. But someone helped me overcome it.”
“I stream on Twitch from time to time, and always look at my viewers list when I do. Over many, many streams, I noticed that a certain ‘Higard12’ always tuned into my broadcast, but never really typed anything in chat. So one day I asked Higard12 directly, using the whisper function: why do you always watch my stream? And Higard12 answered: Because to me, you’re the best player in the world.”
“That one message was enough, more than enough, for me to shake off depressive thoughts and get back to playing. The doctor told me that my wrists were in need of a rest, but I have no intention of giving up. I’ll take care of them by going easy on the practice for a while once Phase 1 ends. I am absolutely determined to repay my fans’ support by making them proud.”
The opening match of HGC Korea took place between reigning world champions L5 [formerly known as Ballistix] and newly formed amateur squad Supreme Mixtape (SMT). Most experts had predicted the faceoff to be a blowout, as SMT is considered to be one of the weakest teams in the league. These expectations turned out to be on point, as L5 ran over SMT in a mostly clinical 3-0 sweep.
Since coming back from China with two international championships in hand, Seungchul “sCsC” Kim had confessed to being worried about the heightened pressure his team would play with going forward. During our phone call for the post-match interview, however, sCsC sounded quite jovial and lighthearted.
When asked about his thoughts on today’s games, sCsC burst into joyful laughter. “I really had fun playing – I think we all did, especially after we won the second game,” he shared. Despite concerns of increased pressure, L5 had clearly craved to resume competing.
One of the talking points of the match was L5’s decision to first ban Valla over Zarya in Game 3, and sCsC was happy to provide some insight. “After we won Game 2, we felt we would close 3-0 no matter what unless they got to pick something as flat-out broken as Tassadar + Valla. That’s why we banned Valla instead of Zarya.”
I also had to inquire about the sudden emergence of Falstad as a priority pick in Korea. Knowing how NaCHoJin has been spamming the bird in Hero League lately, I wondered if it was more of a pocket pick than anything else. sCsC explained: “It was actually MVP Black who returned Falstad to the meta. They have been shifting the focus of the game to macro map movements again, and all other teams have been picking up their style.”
It will be interesting to see if the next two days of HGC Korea’s Week 1 will continue to feature this much Falstad.
Hello, this is Rally Jaffa – agent for the team formerly known as L5 then Ballistix.
Certain community rumors regarding the future of L5/Ballistix have come to the team’s attention. We understand this may have been caused by our recent radio silence regarding the team’s future, and have agreed this was the right time to release an announcement.
The team wants to stay together. Unless an unforeseen personal life event occurs and forces a player to leave, this roster will continue their journey in HGC 2017 as one unit.
There is absolutely no reason for anyone to malign Ballistix. Our sponsorship contract was set to end at the end of the Gold Club World Championship. Both parties entered the deal fully expecting to part come December. In large part due to the team’s fantastic performances over the 2016 Fall Season, however, things have since changed.
Ballistix have a strong interest in retaining the team, and we are in talks. Naturally, there is no guarantee that both parties will reach an agreement, and these negotiations always take some time. Ballistix also understands that the team may decide to sign with another organization that presents a stronger offer.
The team is currently open to all offers. The champions of BlizzCon 2016 and GCWC 2016 are on the market! Interested parties may contact me here or via Twitter. We would be very appreciative if you were to support us by spreading the news.
Don’t you think the new Ballistix mount looks great? Just saying.
Heroes of the Storm commentator and OGN matinée idol Uther “aMeBa” Jung announced he will be temporarily leaving the scene to complete his mandatory military service. aMeBa had been a part of Superleague ever since the league came into existence.
Shortly after a brief but touching goodbye event from OGN, aMeBa remarked: “I tried not to cry, but seeing the many veteran players in the stands today reminded me of all the wonderful memories I made in Heroes of the Storm. I should also thank all of them for helping me provide quality analysis from the desk.”
“Conscription has been an ever-present concern since my transition to commentator. Deciding to go now was a tough decision, but delaying it further at my age would not have been wise. I am a bit embarrassed that a big deal was made of my leave, as this is something every Korean male goes through – but thank you very much for the wonderful sendoff.”
aMeBa entered the world of eSports in 2006 as a StarCraft: Brood War professional for eSTRO and MBC GAME HERO. In 2010, he transitioned into StarCraft 2 to considerable success, taking home an IEM World Championship the very next year while playing for StarTale. When Heroes of the Storm was released, aMeBa took to the game immediately and laid down the foundation for the Korean scene by founding Team No Limit and Team No Mercy: players he has recruited include Kong, sCsC, Crazymoving, Noblesse, duckdeok, Sniper, JaeHyun, and NacHoJin.
(LeaveKongAlone. From the left: Kong, Ezz, Hooligan, Magi, Cheolsu)
Many viewers tuned in to Powerleague Season 2 yesterday to watch Leave Kong Alone (LKA) qualify for the semifinals of the tournament. Instrumental to the team’s 4-0 run to the next round was the stellar ranged assassin play of Cheon “Ezz” Young-hyun, the first Korean female to have ever won a match in a top-tier Heroes of the Storm tournament.
Ezz is not the first female to have participated in the Korean scene; that title belongs to Cho “AyaseEli” Ga-bi, who briefly played support for rookie in 2015. However, AyaseEli lost all matches in the only tournament she played in – the 1st Heroes of the Storm Community Open Tournament – and since then has not come back to competitive play, partly due to being exposed to repulsive levels of misogyny from the community. Now known as “Twinkle”, she still plays the game and keeps in touch with her friends in the scene, but has no plans to return.
In the wake of LKA’s success, Ezz agreed to a short chat.
Why have you decided against participating in Superleague 2016 Season 3?
Ezz: “Everyone on LeaveKongAlone has been on an actual professional team except me. They are all great players who could achieve great things in Superleague if they had a better ranged assassin. I respect my team and do not want to hold them back.”
LKA captain Son “Kong” Joon-young: “She felt pressured in many ways… I really wish we could play together even in Superleague, but she still is adamant about pulling out.”
How did you feel about the attention that comes from being a female player?
Ezz: “As most people had extremely negative opinions on just how good a female player would be, I actually was happy to receive the massive attention because I knew I was good enough to prove them all wrong. And I did prove them all wrong. Those who were only talking about my gender are mostly talking about my skill now.”
How much did Kong influence your decision to try out competitive play?
Ezz: “As you already know, female players in Korea have to endure a lot of misogyny and are stereotyped to hell and back. To be honest, I don’t think I would have tried to join a competitive team if it had not been for [my boyfriend] Kong; he persuaded me to let down my guard and give it a try on a ‘casual’ team like LKA. He was right and I’m very grateful. I also would like to thank my teammates for always treating me just as they treat each other. Playing on LKA is awesome.”
(LeaveKongAlone in the booth. Yawning in the corner seat is Kong.)
Ezz: “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an all-female Heroes of the Storm team before mYi’s announcement, so it was very interesting news. I always envied how League of Legends has enough female teams to run a regular all-female league. I once tried to compete in a HotS tournament with an all-female roster… it did not go well. I don’t think Korea will ever have a sponsored female HotS team. I envy EU.”
How would you describe your style of play?
Ezz: “I used to play Jaina a lot back when I first started playing Heroes of the Storm in April 2015; I guess I always preferred heroes that rely on landing abilities for damage, such as mages. My style of play… I’d say that I play really aggressively in teamfights, sometimes too aggressively, even though I play ranged assassin. I always had a bit of an ego… erm… okay, a huge ego, when it comes to games. I hate backing off.”
After watching Ezz carry her team to the semifinals with Li-Ming and Falstad, LKA’s final group stage opponent RoMg decided that both heroes would need to be picked or banned in the first rotation. Their draft approach seemed to have some effect on LKA’s play, so LKA will surely have to bring some new picks next week. Keep an eye out for what Ezz will have prepared, and make sure to follow the official English stream to not miss it!