|I had a chance to interview Greg “IdrA” Fields on the Valor tournament, his Korean teammates’ reactions to foreigner tournaments, and thoughts on trends in the foreigner StarCraft scene. IdrA and I hung out a little last summer in Korea and later encountered each other again at WCG and BlizzCon last fall, so I’m always up for hearing what he has to say. Anyhow, take a look!
Peanut: What’s your take on the Valor tournament so far? Was the ladder stage a walk in the park or were there times you weren’t sure if you’d make it out? Do you think you’ll be the one walking away with the top prize?
IdrA: The ladder stage was pretty easy, there was never really a chance I wouldn’t qualify. I do expect to win, I feel I’m the best player here and we’re into the bo5/bo7 rounds so I definitely like my chances.
P: Many of the players in the top 16 are familiar faces to you, especially recently since there have been a lot of international tournaments where you’ve placed very high up along with various combinations of these players. Are there any that stand out to you? Do you feel like tournaments help you get to know the other top foreigners as people or is your interaction pretty much limited to games?
I: Well mondragon and ret stand out as the biggest names in the ro8, but mondragon hasn’t been very active lately. This tournament is actually kind of weird as there are alot of terrans left, which is very unusual for a non korean event. Our interaction is pretty much limited to games.
P: You’ve been in Korea for about a year now and things have been getting exciting for you in the Minor Leagues. Has your perspective on foreign tournaments changed much because of your experience in Korea? Is it more or less exciting for you to be participating in foreigner tournaments since you’re playing professionally in Korea? Is it a confidence boost to you to be dominating the foreigner tournaments even if you’re “just” in the Korean minor leagues?
I: Well to be honest I never had much respect for foreign players in general, even before I went to Korea, and my time here has just reinforced that view. Most foreign tournaments do pale in comparison to Korean events, but valor is definitely a step in the right direction with the broadcasts on gom. Competition in progaming is on a whole different level, its not like ‘ok I beat ptak now I’m gonna be able to go own in minor league!’, but it would definitely be a big blow to my confidence if I couldn’t beat foreigners so I guess it helps a little.
P: Staying on the topic of Korea, do your CJ teammates/coaches know that you’re participating in Valor? Do they have any opinions on your participation? Does it highlight the fact that you’re the lone foreigner in the Korean professional scene?
I: My coaches know about Valor, my teammates just know I’m playing in a few foreign leagues at the moment. They all hope I win so I’ll buy them food, but otherwise they’re not all that interested. It calls a little attention to it, every once in a while I’ll have to miss some practice time or stay up all night to play a tournament, but overall it’s not really a big deal.
P: There’s been some controversy over the trash-talking you exchanged with Tarson in game 2 of your recent match with him. Do you have any comments on this “drama“? Has it changed your view of in-game trash-talk at all or do you think it’s all exaggerated?
I: It wasn’t trash-talk. I responded honestly to his questions, and he obviously didn’t find my responses offensive. Foreigners do play cheesy and unpredictably. If I had just randomly told tarson he was terrible because he went 2 port wraith, then that would be insulting. But responding to questions like that is not. As for actual trash-talk, people get way too bent out of shape about it. In Korean progaming I can understand the regulations because its professional leagues and it needs to maintain a certain image. But in online foreigner tournaments it doesn’t matter, and people who can win a game and then get all worked up because their opponent called them bad have issues.
P: Finally, there’s been a decent amount of talk via TL and Artosis on the phenomenon of “copypaste” StarLeagues – ladder-into-tournament events that are all fairly similar to each other in terms of format. Artosis in particular has called for people to be more original in terms of organizing such tournaments for the foreigner scene. Do you have any thoughts on differently-organized events you’d like to see for the StarCraft community outside Korea, or do you think this is the way to go? Do you think it’s possible to come up with new ways of running tournaments before StarCraft II hits?
I: Well Artosis is the world’s leading expert on eSports so I’d imagine whatever he says is accurate. Of course there are other options, and variety is always good, but I haven’t really spent time thinking about it and I don’t care all that much personally so I don’t know what other good options would be.
Thanks very much to IdrA for his time, and keep watching Valor, everybody!