We met up with Lee Won Pyo, a member of the StarTale Team who is going to the BWC this year. – Thanks for being here, Lee “StarTale_Curious” Won Pyo.
– Hello. How have you been since returning from the WCS Asia Finals? I wanted to win the Finals. I didn’t achieve that, but I’m still satisfied that I made it to the Global Finals. You looked busy even after coming back? I had to jump into the third round of the GSL Code A right after arrival And not so long after that, prepare for GSL Code S, then the actual matches. – How old are you?
– I’m 23 this year. – So you’re like an older brother for other pro gamers?
– Pretty much. How long has it been since you’ve become a pro? When I was a junior in high school I became a pro gamer for StarCraft: Brood War, but I did not achieve anything beyond that. Things weren’t working out, and I was considering military service. Luckily, StarCraft II came out and I shifted gear to that. That’s an unusual reason for becoming a StarCraft II pro gamer When you first tried StarCraft II, did you feel like it was cut out for you? Not to that extent, but I did want to give it a go. Was you a Zerg user for StarCraft: Brood War also? When I was playing money maps with my friends back in primary school and middle school, I was a Protoss player. But once I tasted victory on 1 on 1 gameplay. I saw that Zergs were hard to beat, I assumed they were superior, and switched over to Zerg I later learned that¡¯s not always true. That’s the thing about Zergs. Why are they so much more awesome when others play it, and so difficult when I play it? It’s an enigma. I don’t know. What’s even more confusing is when everybody says that Zergs are hard to play, I find a way to make Zerg work for me. But when everybody says Zerg is overpowered, it’s the opposite for me. When other players were having a hard time with Brood Lord ? Infestor play, I was doing quite well with it. I was really milking it back then, but now that everybody else is doing it, my gameplay crumbles like shortbread cookies. So you’re StarCraft hipster of builds? Uh no. It’s just that when Zerg was getting strong reviews, I wasn’t really experiencing the overpower aspect of it. So your build works on an inversion principle? I think I need to have an underdog type of approach to do well. Are you satisfied with the Zerg race? Just from experience, it¡¯s not about me liking the Zerg. I am just really horrible with any other race. So you’re a Zerg-optimized player. Yes, I guess I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. So it was with your friends that you first started StarCraft? A PC-bang opened in our town when I as in my 4th year of primary school and all my friends played money maps, because that’s what was big. and then there was a period of hiatus, and I forget why, but I began playing StarCraft again one day. So what made you go pro? Well, I really wish I could pin point a certain moment or event but I don¡¯t have that. In fact, I had no intention of going pro Even in high school, I stayed late at school to study at night, then went to private classes and came home at 1 am to sleep. While at an academic high school, I went to a StarCraft guild offline meeting and joined a Courage Match by chance and won. I think that was my first step towards going pro. Sounds like destiny. You were looking for fun, but found your calling instead. Yes, so I thought this would be easy, but that wasn’t quite the case Were you a good student? I was decent. I knew I had to maintain a certain level to maintain grades. Once I got serious about gaming, I slept in more of my classes. My grades which were once upper middle level fell steadily and one day, I was very close to scraping bottom. I only had 5-6 classmates who were getting worse grades than I. That’s when I realized it wasn’t going to be easy juggling both academic studies and gaming. Every now and then, I see gamers who are great at both. It’s really fascinating. My parents expected me to take the academic track because they saw my studiousness. But one day I announced I was taking the pro gamer track. I’m sure they were shocked at that. For most other pro gamers, I noticed that they try to persuade their parents after they decide to become a pro. But in my case, I didn¡¯t start out with that goal, and when I did seek that goal, I went to my parents with results so I think it was relatively easy, but then again, they could have just given up on me. I’m sure they were very surprised. It wasn’t like there was a build up to that announcement. Yes, they were. I did have my moments of going overboard because I really enjoyed it as a hobby. but it wasn’t getting in the way of my studies. Then one day I just came out and told them I wanted to go pro, so I think they were a bit disconcerted. You were a member of a StarCraft guild. When you began your pro career, were you an active member? It wasn’t very long after I joined the guild. I always stayed late at school, so it wasn’t too difficult to stay behind for the games and also prepare for matches. So you’re like a success story of a friend who follows another friend to an audition and then makes it in instead. I guess I was just lucky. So that opportunity offered you pro-gamer card, but you went through a lot of slumps from then on. I had a couple opportunities to improve the situation, but I missed them. And I was frustrated, but when StarCraft II came out, I figured it was another opportunity to get back up. I had some lucky moments from then, and I felt I could really push through with this pro gaming thing. So StarCraft II was your messiah in a way If StarCraft II didn’t come out when it did, I would be in the military right now, doing grunt work. But even then, you’re at the age for military service. Yes, I need to go sometime. How are you dealing with that? I’m going to postpone enlistment as long as possible and do as much as I can in the pro gaming scene, cash in, and then join the service. It’s still a burden though. Yes. When I see the younger pros, I get jealous that they don’t have to worry about that. You have a presence of an older brother, unfaltering. So do you have any rival players that make you feel uncomfortable? No real rivals, but I do fear myself sometimes. I seem to be more fearsome of things as I grow older. So what have you learned to fear? I don’t know how to express this, but as years pass, I feel like my focus on the game is not like before. I was also confident about self-management and control, but that’s been changing too lately. So it’s been a priority for me to gain stability again. So basically you’re growing up and thinking more about life? I guess that’s it. I ought to have done better before No need for regret. You will be going to the BWC to represent Korea. Do you have any opponents you’d like a match against? Stephano who I lost to at the IPL and also Jung “Rain” Yoon Jong who almost knocked me out of the competition for WCS Asia Finals. I want a shot at those two. This goes for Stephano as well, but Rain must have made a lot enemies. Yeah well, he’s on a streak. (haha) Said through clenched teeth. He’s on an asskicking roll. So I’m sure it’s not just me who wants sweet revenge. Speaking of which, your WCS Asia Finals was also a harsh march. How did you feel then? Nothing in particular. Zen? Yes, I dropped into the lower bracket far too early, so I was planning one game at a time. Any hobbies or things you do for enjoyment? No, but I really need to find one soon. What about Won “Parting” Lee Sak? Parting loves snubbing me. Always nags at me, saying that I have horrible gameplay. I’ve heard that the StarTale Team has great bonding. Are you the odd one out? No. I’m the hub of that bonding. Oh, so you are that catalyst? Yes. That’s me. So you brighten up the team atmosphere, and then feel lonely. Is the cold weather making you feel lonely? No, it’s not that. I think my teammates will understand when they get older. – Let’s talk about StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. You’ve played it, right?
– Nope Why not? I’ve been wanting to, but I’ve had my hands full with other tournaments. So I focused on StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty and from what I heard, Zerg units in the Heart of the Swarm are all hybrid units. Even if I did have an opportunity, it wouldn’t have been more than a few plays, and I doubt I would have found it interesting. You’re going to the BWC. Do you have any specific plans to take opponents from other countries? Nothing special. I think of them as Code A level players. – Ah right! You’re known as the “Code S Decoder”
– That¡¯s the attitude So you’ll be “decoding” the Code-A level players at the BWC Yes. I doubt it’ll be easy, so I’ll have to do a proper job at the GSL Concluding our interview with Curious, we wish you the best decode at the BWC. This concludes our interview with Lee StarTale_Curious Won Pyo.