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fray` Crimson Interview

Posted by Kuhn on Monday, 28 September 2015 in Uncategorized


I managed to sit down with one of fray’s more established players and asked him a few questions. Crimson has been around the Starcraft scene before Starcraft 2 even came out. He joined fray thanks to a merger with NZ based Checkmate gaming on April 29th of last year.

Placing at 7th/8th at ACL Sydney in June, he is yet again looking to push his skill level to challenge the very top of the competition at Melbourne, as well as deliver the results he has been working so hard to achieve.

Q. First up… hello! Could you give us a bit of your history with the RTS genre and what got you into playing Starcraft?

Hello! I sure can. I got into RTS through Warcraft 3 through some high school friends back around 2006. I was just getting into online gaming so I was quite surprised to find out there were competitive events and Warcraft 3 was the one that captured my attention most. I became fascinated with the pro scene alongside playing the game; I guess you could say this is where the passion was born ;).

Whilst a big WC3 fan, I fell in love with Brood War not long after. I would stay up to all hours watching korean leagues. I guess Starcraft 2 was obviously the natural progression of those two games but really it was the first one I played in a competitive sense rather than just watched.

Q. Coming from Brood war and a RTS background in general, how useful did you find experience from the genre when you transitioned to Starcraft 2? Did it take you time to adapt to the new game engine and strategy or  were you relatively comfortable with picking up the game and learning the mechanics of it?

The experience of watching BW and WC3, along with playing WC3, certainly helped. It gave me a strong foothold in basic RTS concepts and mechanics. With that said, I wasn't a particularly good WC3 player because of how much I watched compared to playing. So this continued with SC2; I was a capable player thanks to my RTS experience but certainly not a competitive one to begin with.




Q. You've lived in New Zealand since before Starcraft 2 was released. People say that players from the SEA region are disadvantaged due to a smaller player pool resulting in a lower skill ceiling then say, Korea or America. Do you think that coming from a small scene in NZ disadvantaged your development as a player  in any way? Or did the availability of servers to practice on such as NA and KR and other online resources allow you to perform as well as you could?

I don't think it's had a big effect on myself personally; most of slow development is of my own doing! With that said, NZ is hardly an ideal location to be for esports.  We're a small community, which naturally impacts aspects like prize pool, event quality, level of competition and so on. Also, internet here is very hit and miss. Korea is obviously very far ahead in terms of infrastructure; they have a scene that can support a large quantity of players to go full time and support each other, and the results of that are plain to see.

Despite all this, I'm of the belief that if you focus on improvement and want it badly enough, there's no reason why you can't make it from a smaller country. You just might go without prize pools/sponsorship/team support for a longer stretch whilst you try to succeed. I mean, just look at EGsumail from Dota. It makes no sense that he should be so successful coming out of Pakistan, yet now he's a winner of The International.

So yes, country/scene is certainly a factor but it's not everything.

Q. Very well put! mYi.Petraeus is a perfect example of hard work and #dedication bringing in results. However, I'm also aware of some internet problems which plagued you when Checkmate Gaming merged with fray. When your problems were sorted out and you came back earlier this year, you began to perform very well after a short amount of time. Would you put this down to having a high skill retention after years playing the game, or just very hard work which enabled you to relearn the meta and climb back to a relatively competitive level? Perhaps a bit of both? And how did being out of action for so long affect your mindset?

Well it was my choice to stop playing around August last year. I've always been on and off with SC2, so that was just one of those times I wanted to do other things. Iit was around the time I got my first full time 'proper' job and I didn't pick the game up again until January.

I do think it is mostly skill retention. People who are 'rusty' generally don't actually need too long to get back at least a majority of their mechanics. From there it's picking up the meta and refining gameplay. As you mentioned, I had some internet issues moving into my new flat which delayed this process. However once they were cleared, I could utilise the times I spent watching vods/replays to quickly catch up. I did practice a lot in this period, which is rare for me but always reaps rewards, so that definitely helped.

In terms of mindset, it's really about accepting that it will take time to be as good as you were before. It can be frustrating, and mixed in with the internet issues it certainly was. The turning point was focusing on improvement over results and working towards the goal of ACL Sydney.




Q. I can definitely see how your great mindset has had a positive effect on your play. Now, let's talk a bit about ACL Sydney. You managed to qualify for groups via the online qualifiers and cleared your scary looking group consisting of rising talent Wally and Protoss powerhouse Probe among others. Then, in the championship bracket you unluckily drew team mate Alopex first up, followed by defending champion KingkOng in your elimination match

How do you prepare going into a tournament like ACL? Given the reputation of the SEA playerbase, do you focus more of your practice into the ZvZ match up? Or do you keep your play well rounded in case of getting shot down by an experienced Protoss or Terran?

My intention was to mostly practice ZvZ, it was my worst matchup and there would be plenty of Zergs. However, I knew my matches vs Probe could be crucial, so I also tried to keep my ZvP on point. ZvT, well I just barely practiced at all, though awkwardly enough the two open bracket players to join my group were both Terran.

I kind of wish I'd utilised my ZvZ time more effectively though. I was struggling to get rid of some bad habits and adapt to the subtle meta changes. I was also sick (a rarity for me) for just over a week right before flying out. These factors left me concerned about my skill level and rendered my preparation down to "do these builds and hope they don't do this." In fact, my skill level was probably higher than I thought and I sold myself short. My gameplans should have been much clearer.

Q) I do remember your "Roach bane everybody" notebook, good to see you with a very in depth line up of builds at your disposal to utilise at the event ;)

Now finally, with Legacy of the Void being set to release later this year and the last ACL early next month, have you given any thought about switching to the beta to give yourself the greatest chance for success for when its time to switch over to the new expansion? Or do you think you can put LotV off while the meta is still undiscovered and the game is still not yet balanced, then adapt to the expansion at release?

I've considered it, even just to mix it in for some fun. Really though, my thoughts are now solely on ACL Melbourne. I remember sitting in the airport after Sydney having really enjoyed my first overseas event and obtained my goal of Top 8. Yet there was a lingering thought in my mind that I had settled for Top 8 once I made it and had underrated myself. There was a real sense of 'that could have been even better.' I think that was the biggest lesson I learned; don't underrate myself or be afraid to set higher goals. WCS showed that I can be amongst the best in SEA if I give it everything in every series and believe in my game.

So sorry for going off on a bit of a tangent there; I guess it just gives a clear indication that Melbourne is my focus and I'll think about LotV after that point. I'm fairly comfortable I can adapt to it, even though I'm obviously busier these days with work and so on. I've always been good at keeping up with the meta and watching the pros, so that will help greatly. They are still making considerable changes, so I'll ensure all the major HotS events are cleared before I jump into it.




Q. Good to know you'll still be kicking around when LotV gets released. It will also be very interesting to see how you go when at ACL Melbourne. Thank you so much for conducting this interview with me! Are there any shout outs you want to give just to end?

Thanks very much for interviewing me! Shoutouts to the fray guys for putting up with me, everyone who went to ACL Sydney for making it such a great event and to anyone who's gone 3vo recently for making me feel better about my unfortunate incident ;) Also thanks definitely goes out to our sponsors Razer, Gametraders and MiCiS consulting!

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