Zephyr.Blitz - "I'm sick of people just flaming personalities they don't like"
Hi Blitz and thank you for agreeing to this interview. Where are you right now and how are you doing?
Blitz: Right now I’m in our team house in Korea, and I’m doing alright. A bit tired, but overall I can't complain, the flight felt short, and our house is clean.
I have some questions in three rough categories, being about yourself, about Korean Dota and Dota in general with some overlap.
At this point you've achieved a lot by going to Korea, but why not return home? Does competing in the American scene seem more or less appealing to you than staying in Korea?
Blitz: We have a contract with Nexon to stay, what they wanted to avoid is people just taking money and immediately leaving. Honestly I thought I made it clear to everyone several times that we were there for the long haul, and our housing contract as well is fixed for the year.
Does the contract prevent anyone from your team from leaving?
Blitz: No, anyone’s free to step down if they feel like it, we just have to retain three of the five original members that won. We might swap one or two members at some point but who knows.
What I'm interested in specifically is that you have some pretty talented players who might be given the opportunity to play for a 'bigger' brand or team with the reshuffle coming up.
Blitz: Any of them are free to leave if they really want to, we aren't going to force players to stay. However everyone is here pretty willingly.
Specifically in regards to yourself do you think you’ve outgrown Zephyr as a team and would like to try to go to the next level or are you committed to progressing with your team?
Blitz: Of course not, there’s a lot left to learn in Korea, as MVP.Phoenix demonstrated by beating VP, and doing very well against Liquid. The pool of players here is a bit limited, but they are talented.
What’s something about yourself that you feel makes you suited to be a professional gamer? What’s something (if anything) that makes you unsuited to be a professional gamer?
Blitz: Probably my optimism is my best quality. After I lost my first tournament in Korea the easy thing to do would've just been leaving and giving up, but I kept thinking that things would work themselves out and that I'd be okay. Regardless of what happens in my life, I usually think it'll go okay, or at the very least I'll learn from my experience
Worst quality is my temper, sometimes I just see red and I can't get past that. I've been trying to work on being a better teammate and using my head before just saying whatever angry thought that comes into my head. It can make me unpleasant to deal with sometimes.
Does your temper truly make you unsuited to being a professional gamer? Many professional players seem to have a short fuse at times.
Blitz: I think that having a temper limits your opportunities, and it can burn bridges and limit the potential of your teammates. What makes people like Eosin or Purge good teammates is that they are unfailingly positive, or nice when it matters, and it makes you play better. I don't really do that, if anything I most likely drag my teammates down with my mood sometimes.
If you could take away the stress of success and money from professional gaming and could just play in competitions for fun with anyone, which four players would you chose to form a team with?
Blitz: EGM, because he's really funny and nice, and I've played two teams with him and never seen him get angry. Inphinity, because of the same thing, he's just a really great guy to be around. Purge, because we have a really similar disgusting sense of humor, and most likely Pyrionflax, because I need someone to be the scapegoat
What heroes do you think you can play at a very high standard? Can you compete with top teams yet or do you need more time to grow as a player?
Blitz: The obvious answer is Storm, probably my Timbersaw as weird as that sounds, maybe my Death Prophet. As far as being able to compete at the top, MVP's success at TI gives me some hope, and I think I just need more time and competitive experience to grow as a player.
Do you do 1v1 training with other top solo players like Arteezy did?
Blitz: I practiced some 1v1's versus ar1se before I came here, and I play whoevers on my friends list to play as well. There aren't many Korean mids who will train that way, and the ping difference against my friends in Europe or USA is too high to really help.
What’s something about Dota 2 that makes you want to play it above any other eSport? Would you/have you considered playing another title professionally?
Blitz: I'm really kind of bad at making friends and holding onto relationships, but DotA's really helped me out with that. That’s what I truly love about TI, the ability to see all these people that I've talked to for years, and being able to connect to them in real life, and just share a meal or goof off. I started playing this game around ~2009, and I wasn't really sure around the time of TI2 if it was worth doing. However after meeting these great people, who sacrifice so much to just be able to get to this stage, it meant a lot.
The more weirdly egotistical answer is that I like being somebody. Most of my life I was kind of a loner - I'm really afraid of people not liking me and I'm insecure about myself, whether people like me or find me funny or smart and in the Dota community I'm somebody. That for some reason means a lot to me, that people can point me out of a crowd, that I'm not just some meaningless chubby Asian face. That I'm somebody people like, some people even going as far as asking for my signature or my picture. I've never experienced something like that before, and frankly I never thought I would. It's going to be really tough one day giving that up, but I had an opportunity in the DotA scene that I don't think I would've gotten elsewhere, so I'm incredibly glad about having picked it.
Okay well on a slightly different tact - what kind of sponsorship do teams in Korea enjoy? Is it complete like China or more open like in the west?
Blitz: No idea what the others are like to be honest, most will provide you with a team house and food from what I hear. I don't think salaries are a thing yet, as the game is still growing in Korea.
Blitz: It just depends on the people. If everyone's humble and willing to do their own dishes and shit, and can actually get along with others and respect personal space it isn't bad. If you aren't used to living with others though I could see how it could be detrimental.
Everyone knows about MVP Phoenix these days but what about the other teams? Are Rave / Pokerface on the same level? How do you guys go against them?
Are you able to provide some specifics regarding the level of play of these teams? They are teams that non Koreans probably know little about but might start seeing in the future.
Blitz: Both are pretty high, maybe just a step below MVP.Phoenix. Rave kind of plays like us, they rely on their mid to play a more carry style, and rely on individual skill to win instead of team play. Pokerface is a team that 5 mans and does random stuff, and picks sniper and somehow always lose the laning phase but win the game, it’s so odd.
In an interview with hot_bid in late 2012 you said you really wanted to go to law school. Is that still on the cards for you?
Blitz: I'm not too sure anymore. I guess it’s something that I was always looking forward to, but DotA got in the way. Hotbid spent like 3 hours trying to not convince me to go haha, and was telling me that I should just do what I enjoy, not follow some strict plan that I had in mind when I was ten. I guess it's really weird, I never really had time in college to decide what I really wanted to do in life, I had to make that decision for some reason when I was really young and I did a lot of things to follow that path, but times change.
I'll change topics a bit.
Do you think TI has gotten too big? Should there it be broken down into more events? Should the group/bubble stage be dumped all together in favor of events during the year that will ‘qualify’ you for ‘The International’ which consists only of a four day ‘main event’? Some people have commented that they would like to see it evolve into something like a 'pro circuit' like in Tennis or Golf.
Blitz: I actually really liked TI3's format the most by far. I thought having every team get into the main event is a lot more favorable - it gains them a lot of exposure and it adds a lot of flavor. You have people coming from around the world to root for their teams and keep in mind you have to book these tickets months in advance. Some players I know had family coming in, and they weren't able to make it to the main event so that was disappointing to them.
I don't think it should be broken into more events. I think the allure of having a big one off tournament a year is fine, but possibly having a more evenly distributed prize pool would be better. For example the 8th - 9th jump was absurd. 50k - 500k or something ridiculous.
Many players and personalities that I have either spoken to myself or have read interviews from have commented that they want the prize pool to be more evenly distributed while community opinion favors a restricted split of the pool. Why is it so important to many people in the community that some teams go home empty handed?
Blitz: No idea, I think it’s mainly that it provides some drama? I think Valve did a relatively good job of distributing the prize pool, but it did suck seeing my friends at Liquid be one game away from having 100k each, as opposed to the 9k~ that they get. It provides some incentive to do better and treat every game really seriously, but shouldn't TI itself already be doing that?
Why do you think this year's TI wasn't as well received by the player base? Do you agree with criticisms that two out of the top three shouldn't have been revealed on day one of the main event?
Blitz: Yeah, that definitely detracted from the feel of TI heavily. It also gives that team a really big advantage in being able to just watch every other team duke it out and use whatever strategies they had hidden for the finals. On top of that, the Bo1 starting format wasn't very good, some teams are just stronger in a BO3 setting, and in a BO1 anything could happen.
What do you predict will be the focus of the next balancing patch? What changes would you like to see made to any hero?
Blitz: I kind of want to see tinker get nerfed, I think that it’s just a boring hero overall. I think doom also needs some sort of change, he ruins life for me as a storm player.
Blitz: You need to be willing to play constantly in this field, especially with a prize pool like TI4. Everyone is constantly improving, and to keep up you have to be willing to treat it more like a job and sacrifice more. I know for a fact that the MVP.Phoenix guys work super hard, they play more than most of the western teams I know. To come from being nothing, to being able to qualify for TI and stomp VP, it shows that hard work is enough to overcome the skill gap. It'll take teams like that a while to catch up, but if teams take it easy, you'll see the ones that are willing to put in more time consistently get ahead.
I think a mix of the two styles, the west and the east is best. A lot of the western players can't commit full time or are unwilling to due to the lack of a support system and infrastructure. I do think training hard is the way to go, but having breaks and letting it all set in is important as well. Both styles have seen success, so who knows which is ideal.
When I first asked you for this interview you requested questions 'that asked your opinion on things'. Did you have anything specific in mind that you wanted to discuss or get off your chest?
I see a lot of stuff on Reddit like shout-out to this person or that person, and they have favorites and that's fine but what I don't think is fine is flaming the shit out of anyone just because you have your favorites. You don't have to like Tobi and hate LD, or you don't have to like Purge and hate Merlini etc. I think a lot of people hide behind this idea of, 'it’s the internet just have thicker skin!' without realizing that it still stings, and it still hurts, and that someone's mom, or significant other, or anyone associated with them might read that and get hurt. It just feels like people have a blatant disregard for being polite because they can hide behind anonymity.
How should criticism be stated then in your view?
Blitz: Instead of saying, 'yeah this guy’s complete ass he doesn't care etc etc he's sold out, you could just state that you aren't a fan or that you feel it could be better. I don't really know! But I know when I read Reddit comments, whenever people have disagreeing opinions it tends to turn ugly.
Do you think that what goes around comes around? I mean, Tobi has no problems making pretty flamey comments about Katie Kate. Doesn't that open the door to people flaming him?
No comment! Leading question!
Thank you sincerely for your time, it has honestly been a pleasure. Quickly before we go /u/Kritzinger24 would like to know when are you going to produce more content for YouTube?
Blitz: I don't know. I feel like that market is pretty saturated, and people probably wouldn't want to see me being an idiot anyways. I don't even know what sort of content I'd put up.
Do you have any quick 'shout outs' for your sponsors?
Blitz: Shout out to my five fans, my best friends EGM, Bulba, and Purge, my family for supporting me, my girlfriend for being a baller, and for Nixeus for actually giving a shit about us and just being overall good people.