You've been active in the scene for over five years now, with an enviable commitment to competitive play. What ignited the passion and how have you maintained your drive?
The passion for RTS games really just came about through being a fan. I got into RTS with Warcraft 3 and Brood War in high school with a group of friends. Being able to watch and play games together, cheer on favourite players and talk about the crazy games we were watching was a lot of fun. As a gamer since a young age, I was fascinated by the more competitive and sporting kind of aspects. I look back on these times as my 'innocent' times of gaming if you like, the golden days of being a complete noob but loving the game anyway.
As for maintaining the drive, well that's kind of a whole story in itself. My relationship with the game has evolved a lot over time. In the earlier days, I struggled a lot with deciding what I wanted to do in my life. I had an on-off relationship with StarCraft 2 where I just couldn't consistently commit myself to trying to become good. I was kinda stuck between uni life and the game, with the end result being I wasn't really happy with either.
Eventually I think I've kind of found my way though. It's funny how, even this far along, the game is still teaching me so much about myself. Particularly with regards to the importance of mindset and hard work. I think these lessons, combined with the well-spirited nature of our local scene and beyond, are why I'm still playing so much 7 years on.
While you've been active for a long time, opportunities like the new WCS live format have only been around since 2012. What did qualifying for Season 3, and then a back-to-back qualification for Season 4 mean to you at this point in your career?
Qualifying last season was massive for me. I'd pushed pretty hard to get back up to speed with the game at the start of the year. To have such an amazing event arrive out of the blue. I had to be there. I really felt like I owed it to myself to make it. I'm very glad I did, it was a phenomenal event and I'll always be grateful to those who made it happen. Having been and experienced it, qualifying again this time around became even more important for me, so I'm extremely excited for it once more.
I remember talking to you backstage at the last event and you were ecstatic with achieving your goal - a win on-stage. Is this still the goal going into Season 4, or have you set your ambitions higher?
It was an amazing experience, but the ambitions are definitely higher now. Given my fairly busy 'life' workload, it can be a struggle to keep them in check at times! With that said, I definitely intend to crack the top 4 this time around. I've mostly worked hard on my mindset recently, trying to be more calm and confident when playing the better players as I have always under-performed against them in the past. It became something of a mental block, so I want to show I can hang with the best of them when I'm on point.
What does life outside of StarCraft look like for you right now? Do you have a direction you think you're headed, or some future goals outside the game?
It's fairly busy! I have a full time job as an accountant and I'm studying towards becoming a Chartered Accountant as well. So balancing that alongside SC2 and other life stuff is a challenge at times, but I'm getting better at it. No major life goals right now, though I should be done with the study aspect soon. And I'm looking at working a little less next year. Maybe a push towards practicing and streaming more.
You seem to have huge support from friends and the ANZ community who will be cheering for you at the event. If someone in the crowd makes a sign/cheerful for you - what's one thing you'd want to see on it?
Well that's nice to hear! I guess there's a lot of silly personal jokes for me - Uncle Ben, old man, 3vo etc. So anything that's sort of in-jokey would be fun to see.
Any final shout-outs or thoughts leading into the event?
I wanna give a shout-out to my team SYF, my teammates and our sponsors Turtle Beach, AKRacing & MSI for their continued support; it's always appreciated. Major thanks to ESL Australia, McDonalds & Blizzard for putting this amazing event on. Thanks to all my fans on Twitch too, I'll promise I'll be back streaming shortly! Finally, thanks to my friends and family for supporting me.
With the WCS ANZ Season 4 finals fast approaching, if you're anywhere near Sydney this weekend make sure you don’t miss out. Tickets are available here
This interview with this WCS ANZ Season 4 finals contender was brought to you by McDonald’s.