Fenix aims for the riches of GSL: 'It's my dream'
The Peruvian Terran Fenix has ambitious plans for 2011 including a drive to play in and win the GSL, MLG and IEM.
“He’s not a businessman, he’s a business, man.”
Around the world, especially in the West, professional gaming is looking more and more professional and less like just a game. Major and minor tournaments are offering more prize money and top tier competitors are able to jet set around the world to compete full time. Players and managers are businessmen with plans to administer and images to handle. For those of us who remember Brood War, this is a stark contrast from many of the hardcore players of old who competed with little hope of making significant money.
As if we could forget, this is not Brood War. This is StarCraft 2, the richest e-sport on the planet. Many players (at the top tier and below) now have an entrepreneurial mindset, wondering how they can gain the most from the suddenly moneyed competitive scene. Websites, blogs, commentators and coaches have popped up in the hundreds over the last year to take advantage of every opportunity one can imagine.
Of this new breed of entrepreneurial players, Jian Carlos Joan “fenix” Morayra Alejo stands out.
Living in Peru, he is a rare breed: a globally successful player from Latin America, a region not known for producing world class StarCraft players. The 18 year old finished high school a year ago and is now playing StarCraft 2 full time for Fnatic, one of the most financially successful e-sports teams in existence today.
Fenix describes his time in Fnatic as quite happy. He was used to false promises, he says, and organizations that did not hold up their end of the bargain. Although he declined to go into more detail, it is clear that he views Fnatic as a model for the future of e-sports in the West.
Fenix’s competitive gaming career began in earnest almost four years ago with Brood War. He made a name for himself with outstanding performances across the board, especially in 2008 and 2009.
He loved to play, he said, because he felt disciplined when he did. Like a competitive sport, he saw this game as a way to build dedication, the ability to adapt, enhance his decision making and quicken his intellectual reaction speed under any circumstance. He loved the competitive aspect of it most of all.
His plan was to quit Brood War for college by the time StarCraft 2 came out. He didn’t enjoy the game initially and planned on studying finance, where he could engage in the fast-paced, risk-heavy world of high money and stocks using skilled he’d sharpened on Battle.net.
But as the money poured into the StarCraft 2 scene, his competitive fire was lit anew.
The Peruvian out to conquer the world
He views the game as an opportunity. Like Idra, he says, who complains but plays and competes all the time. He likes the game a bit - the words ‘eh-eh’ were muttered - but enjoys the competitive atmosphere more. It took Brood War years to be balanced, says Fenix, and it will take StarCraft 2 even longer.
It will surprise no one to hear that Fenix is playing, above all, to win.
Just listening to Fenix describe his daily schedule, one gets a clear sense of the stamina and dedication the Peruvian Terran possesses.
At least two hours of every morning are taken up by what Fenix calls “trial and error”, his replay review and analysis time. He looks for holes in his game and ways to fix them, all the while generating new ideas to exploit an opponent’s play.
After lunch, says Fenix through his translator exia, a solid seven hours are dedicated to practice. Although the aggressive Terran gained some notoriety when he became the first player in the world to break 2000 on the ladder, he says that ladder is unimportant to him. Like most top players, he much prefers sparring partners of high quality such as his teammate TT1, the Canadian Protoss who placed second to an ascendant Jinro in MLG Dallas.
The young Peruvian Terran has seen serious success during StarCraft 2’s young life. He won the IEM American Champship in October over a field including QXC, Huk and Drewbie.
Less than a month ago, he claimed third place and $3,000 by defeating Korean Terran oGsTOP. He claims this victory as his one of his most influential as his solid play helped give the lie to the myth of Korean invincibility.
The end of Korean invincibility has meant more opportunities for players from around the world to compete and make money off of their e-sport. There is a more diverse competition now, a more level playing field and many more chances to succeed.
The business plan
Fenix’s plan to continue his competitive and financial success has numerous steps.
GosuCoaching, which has become emblematic of the StarCraft player-entrepreneur, took the Latin American on board in November. The GosuCoaching outfit faced turbulence several months ago as many dissatisfied customers caused the bloated business to shut down and strip away what Geoff “Incontrol” Robinson called “the middle man.”
It has returned since then, sans founder and former webmaster Louder, and with new marquee names such as Fenix and Idra. The organization complements Fenix’s income and has given him the opportunity, he says, to continue playing and teaching the game as a full time job.
2011 is shaping up to be Fenix’s busiest year yet. In March, he will travel to Cologne, Germany to compete at the Intel Extreme Masters. In April, he says he plans to play in a Major League Gaming event.
The summer is when his ambition will be put to the test. “If all goes well,” he says, he’ll be going to South Korea to compete in the GSL for the largest prize in e-sports.
All the while, he’ll be teaching and competing in the dozens of online tournaments running every week for StarCraft 2. In 2011, Fenix will be adding a considerable amount to the thousands of dollars he’s already earned from his play - the only question is, how much?
Fenix's worldwide image
The entrepreneurial spirit continues to grow and the feeling of business grows with it.
“We want people to know the real fenix,” says translator exia.
Never before has image control been so important in the StarCraft world. For Fenix and many players of his caliber, it’s suddenly become a serious concern.
People think he’s cocky and we’d like to change his image, says exia, his friend and translator. We want people to know the real Fenix, the young player from South America out to conquer the world. He’s done incredible things, exia continues, when a lot of Latin American players have little or no opportunity to compete on the world stage. Oh, and we want to change his image because we want more students of course!
Public relations is one step to improve his image.
But if Fenix keeps placing so high in these major tournaments, if he shows up in South Korea this summer as a man on a mission, he’ll likely never have to worry about publicity again.
Fenix would like to give a few shoutouts (‘It’s like praying every night, you have to remember it during interviews,’ he said, laughing): Fnatic, Exia, his brother and family, his fans, his girlfriend, MSI, Steelseries, Bigfoot and Ugame.
On Saturday, December 18 at 11 am PST, he has a showmatch against Mouz MaNa (Protoss) in a rematch of the Dreamhack semi-finals. The winner will earn $400. Check it out live at http://www.justin.tv/gosucoachingtv.
Fenix vs. MaNa - Dec 18, 11am PST
Fnatic Gaming - Fenix's team
GosuCoaching - Fenix's profile