StarCraft® II

WCS Nordic Player Spotlight: EG.ThorZaIN and MorroW

WCS Nordic Player Spotlight: EG.ThorZaIN and MorroW

The Nordic Nationals this weekend are looking to be one of the most exciting events of the year. The level of talent is absolutely staggering, with several world-class players fighting for a limited number of spots at the Europe Finals. We got a chance to chat with two such players, Marcus “EG.ThorZaIN” Elköf and Stefan “MorroW” Anderson, and find out their thoughts going into the event.

Previously a top Human player in Warcraft III, ThorZaIN entered StarCraft II relatively quietly – opting to play both games in parallel until November of 2010. A few months after switching full-time, he qualified for the TeamLiquid StarLeague 3. This tournament would become his breakout event, as he defeated two GSL champions in a row on his way to the Grand Finals against NaNiwa. In a series still legendary to this day, he defeated him 4-3 and firmly established himself as a force to be reckon with.

Since then, ThorZaIN has consistently been one of the strongest terran players in the West, earning the nickname the “Spoon Terran” for the slow, methodical way he dismantles his opponents. He took second place at the DreamHack Valencia Invitational, fourth at NASL Season 2, and claimed his second major tournament win this past April at the DreamHack Stockholm Open over TSL_Polt – after which he joined his current team, Evil Geniuses. He enters the Nordic Nationals in excellent shape, and as someone who will be on everyone’s radar.

He is also the focus of DreamHack’s awesome video for this weekend’s event.

Shiro: The Battle.net Invitational tournament has been replaced by the World Championship Series this year, with the Global Finals taking the place at the Battle.net World Championship later this year. What are your thoughts on this new format?
ThorZaIN: There are many similarities, aside from regional qualifiers there are qualifiers in many countries. As a Swede, that might not be the best thing seeing as how many good players we have. I was never able to qualify for BlizzCon, so I don't know how that is, but I have faith in Blizzard to make the BWC as epic as BlizzCon.

The Nordic Nationals looks to be one of the most difficult National Qualifiers in the entire series. Who in particular are you looking out for?
I'm mostly afraid of SaSe and NaNiwa. Those are the 2 Swedes that I would rate higher than me at the moment. I can win against them both on a good day but it would be very hard. Then there are a bunch of people that I rate as dangerous.

Many have said that they miss the national champion concept that carried so much weight in the Brood War and Warcraft III years through WCG something Blizzard has tried to create through WCS. Does the thought of competing to represent Sweden on the world stage give this tournament extra weight?
When I was an aspiring pro-gamer, my biggest e-Sports dream was to represent Sweden at the WCG. I never managed to do that. I think that WCS would be of the same value to me. I wouldn't only represent Sweden, but Europe as a continent as well.

What are your personal expectations going into this event?
My goal is just to qualify for the European regional finals. I don't know how many people will advance from those to the Grand Finals, but the European finals can't be that much harder than the Swedish ones.

What would a win at this tournament mean for you?
If you mean the Grand Finals, that would mean the world for me. This tournament will arguably be one of the biggest tournaments, if not the biggest, so far, and since I'd also represent a lot of people, a win would be magical.

Recently youve spent quite a bit of time in Korea, competing in the GSL and training in the SlayerS house. How would you say that has affected your play? What has training in Korea offered you that you wouldnt have found in Sweden or at the EG House?
I have been able to play more than I usually do, not having that many distractions. The average player is also better here in Korea so I lose more, which is a good thing. You lose, you learn, right?

 

MorroW joined the western StarCraft: Brood War scene fairly late, but still managed to make a splash by reaching the #2 spot on the TSL 2 qualifier ladder in late 2009. He hit the ground running with the release of StarCraft II and enjoyed a good deal of success online. At the first major StarCraft II LAN tournament, IEM Global Challenge Cologne, he defeated EG.IdrA in the finals to claim his first title. He switched from terran to zerg shortly after, but his dislike of the ZvZ matchup led him to become StarCraft II’s most prominent “race-picker” – when faced with a zerg opponent in tournament play, he will play terran instead.

Though he has yet to claim another major title since then, MorroW is popularly regarded as one of the strongest players in Europe. His unique perspective on the ZvT matchup has allowed him to be especially fearsome on both sides, and he consistently places highly wherever he goes. A win here would be exactly what he needs to re-establish his name as not just a powerful contender, but as a champion.

Shiro: The Battle.net Invitational tournament has been replaced by the World Championship Series this year, with the Global Finals taking the place at the Battle.net World Championship later this year. What are your thoughts on this new format?
MorroW: The previous format had invites only as far as I know but this time around it’s very fair and anyone who wants to participate has a chance to do so through all the different qualifiers that are taking place. Another cool part about having it that way is that we get to see who are the top players not only in Europe for example, but also on a smaller scale for instance to see who are the top players in Sweden etc.

The Nordic Nationals looks to be one of the most difficult National Qualifiers in the entire series. Who in particular are you looking out for?
For me personally I’ve had a rough time against ThorZaIN, my ex-teammate in pervious tournaments but these days all Swedish players have really been stepping up their game while I have been on my own determined vacation for the past 3 months or so.

Playing him in the first round might be seen as bad luck but I don’t see it that way. ThorZaIN was probably happy when he first saw the bracket that he was going to face me though.

Many have said that they miss the “national champion” concept that carried so much weight in the Brood War and Warcraft III years through WCG – something Blizzard has tried to create through WCS. Does the thought of competing to represent Sweden on the world stage give this tournament extra weight?
Yes it’s definitely a cool idea. When I qualified to WCG last year to represent Sweden it had a special feeling to it. However in SC2 there was an “e-sport SM” tournament for Swedish players only to find out who was our strongest player basically but it didn’t quite work out since some of our players took it less serious than others, and that might be the case with WCS as well.

Therefore I think qualifying will not give you the title of being among Sweden’s finest until the tournament becomes seen as the most fair judgment method both among progamers and fans. WCG probably built up that respect over the years and I think something new to replace it will take some time for it to become accepted.

What are your personal expectations going into this event?
I don’t expect to qualify because of my vacation, but also Sweden has always been a very top-end country of StarCraft II and winning this event would be a bold statement for any participants. I could get lucky and go far but so could anyone, the ones with the best chances from my gut feeling are NaNiwa and ThorZaIN.

What would a win at this tournament mean for you?
To win while being teamless is much better compared to if your signed already, from an economic standpoint. I would be pretty shocked if I was able to win and it would mean a lot to me, however I’m a big believer in deserving wins so it would mean more to me if I had been practicing constantly for the last few months rather than been on a vacation come back and get very lucky all the way.

It’s been a while since I really made a splash in the scene as far as winning goes and I feel the desire to win again, I’m back now from my vacation and practicing hard, if I were to win this it would almost feel too random and give me mixed feelings when I look back at my losses in tournaments where I prepared my best for long time.

You recently left your former team, mousesports, which you have been a part of since early 2010. How has that affected your preparation for this event?
Leaving a team as well as trying to find a new one of course takes time from your practice-schedule, but so far I’ve coped with it pretty well and my departure from mousesports wasn’t unexpected. In general  teams don’t actually help you prepare for events they mostly just help you out with all the other stuff to give the player more time to focus on the game rather than booking flights and so forth, but since this event is so close to where I live that won’t really matter. In some ways I feel being team-less takes some pressure off of myself because if I lose there is no team around that lost as well from a business perspective.

You’re very well known for being one of StarCraft II’s only race-pickers. Why did you originally decide to play TvZ over ZvZ? As the matchup looks dramatically different than it did back when you first chose to do so, back in early 2011, have you ever thought of just fully switching to zerg?
The zvz matchup might look different as far as which units you make, new build orders and such. But when you are someone like me who looks into the very deep fundamentals of how something works the concept is absolutely still the same. When I played ZvZ I often times felt I was left with the short end of the stick in terms of build orders and drone to unit balance that I felt was out of my control, like if you fall behind you want to figure out a way to stop that from happening but in this match-up I look at it and its still there. The other guy does all the same stuff as you except he focuses a bit more on drones at a certain timing after just a minute it will snowball out of control and there is nothing you can do about it. “Scout and respond” is a basic concept I learned back in SC:BW that every game you should have, where there is a good way to figure out what is going on without investing too much and then answer to it appropriately to either keep up, gain small edges or straight out winning. In ZvZ either it’s not possible to figure out what’s going on until it’s too late or the investment to scout really costs too much for it to be worthwhile to scout in the first place. Of course I do speak with other zerg progamers occasionally about the matchup but I’m just hearing the same flaws in the matchup as I did back when I used to play it. The other fundamental flaw I think the zerg vs zerg matchup has is that you can’t really play better than your opponent and claw your way back into a game you’re behind in; the only way to catch up is by taking huge risks to some extent.

So looking at terran vs zerg matchup, whenever I feel completely destroyed by an all-in that I didn’t scout, I can always analyze and figure out ways to either scout it in time or adjust to it blindly next game without investing too much. And whenever I fall behind in a game I feel that as long as I’m stronger than my opponent I can come back through skill such as having better macro, micro or mechanics so forth. To put what I mean with that more simply is if I have 15 roaches and my opponent has 20 roaches I can’t magically micro like a god and win the fight, however in terran vs zerg I can go into a fight with underwhelming odds and come out on top through microing and positioning my units better and outsmarting my opponent. I’m sorry if I went on a rant here but such question can’t be answered half-heartedly.

The Nordic Nationals will take place this Saturday, July 28 in Stockholm, Sweden. The event begins at 1:00 AM PDT, and will run until the conclusion of the Swedish Grand Finals, scheduled for 2:00 PM. There will be streams in five languages: English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Finnish. All of them will be found at www.dreamhack.tv in free 720p. Shaun “Apollo” Clark and Manuel “Grubby” Schenkhuizen will be casting the main-stage matches, and the event will be hosted by Geoff “EGiNcontroL” Robinson. Michael “Adebisi” Van Driel will serve as the professional observer.

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