SanSheng and his childhood years
Two days ago, CCM veteran SanSheng celebrated his 22nd birthday still bitter from his defeat at StarsWar 6. Today, we bring you an interview from XiaoShou at SGamer that digs up the relics of his bygone adolescence, his ascension to competitive gaming, and how in just a flash, the eighteen year old who had just participated in his first competition has matured into a remarkably introspective individual.
While you were celebrating your birthday, it should have been right after your loss at SW6. What will you give yourself on this special occasion?
-"I'm usually very easygoing with my birthdays, and it so happened that our team was on their way back, so perhaps they were still on the plane. It is a coincidence though, that I celebrated last year's birthday in Shanghai too."
I assumed you would mention that you would try your best to clinch the championship as a present to yourself.
-"Well, I don't know, I had hoped for it. Last year, today, it was the finals of the ACG qualifer, and I was happy to have celebrated my birthday with winning the title (SanSheng represented China as Deity in ACG 2010).
Since you said that you were easygoing with how you celebrated your birthdays, I suppose last year's celebration in Shanghai must have been especially meaningful?
-"Yes, because that day everyone was on cloud nine, but nothing special really happened. We just went to a restaurant for a meal, and because it was very late after the competition, we went back and crashed."
During birthdays, your friends will usually prepare a surprise in store for you. Do you remember any special surprises?
-"Well, last year Pumpkin prepared a birthday cake. And in the past, there used to be a girl who would give me presents. It should be around when I was seventeen or eighteen. I can't really remember, but I think it was a book."
Some people believe that birthdays should serve as a reminder of lost youth, while there are others who believe that birthdays are an excuse to get your friends together. What do birthdays mean to you?
-"I basically don't celebrate many birthdays, and so I don't remember many. I guess they just mean that I'm now a year older. I remember I participated in my first competition at eighteen, and suddenly I'm now a twenty-two year old man."
The past four years could have been said to be a rather short duration. After going through your experiences in competitive gaming, do you feel you have gained more than you lost, or vice versa? Many years from now, will you sit your grandchildren on your lap and proclaim to them with pride that you were once a professional gamer?
-"Perhaps because of DotA I have lost a lot of my youth, but I have gained many new friends, and throughout the course of my experiences I have matured. I guess it's up to you how you want to live your life, especially given the fragility of our existence. Back then when I made my decision to go pro, it was mainly because I wanted to give my ordinary life a 'not-so-ordinary' treatment."
So do you consider your life and expectations of life and the future to be different than before?
-"Life is, I guess, almost the same as when I was studying at home previously. With regards to my expectations, they're still pretty much about being able to support myself."
Since you decided to go pro at eighteen, I suppose that must mean that you were fascinated with computer games as a child? How did it start - perhaps from exposure to handheld Tetris, or that big bully Nintendo?
-"My first exposure to computer games or any game of that sort was when I was in Primary Four (or fourth grade in U.S. system), and back then I was playing games like Duke Nukem and Red Alert. The first game I played on an actual computer was Monopoly. I remember the people who played these games almost always were older than me, but because I had some talent, I was better than them in no time."
So you never got to play those handheld game devices?
-"No, when I was studying I saw my classmates around me playing Pokemon on their little devices, but I could not afford one."
I can imagine that it's rather embarrassing losing in a game to someone younger than you. Were you ever told off because you won someone in a game?
-"I guess it happened once or twice. Because I loved to play the computer, I would often sneak out after my parents went to bed and play through the night at internet cafes. In primary school (or elementary school), I was often punished and hit badly because of this."
Wow, so you were sneaking off and staying out for the night already as a primary school kid.. did you happen to be an American in your previous life? In normal circumstances as a parent, when you realize your child has been sneaking off to spend the night at internet cafes, you would confiscate his allowance. What did you do when you didn't have the money?
-"I would borrow from my friends, or starve a little during lunch to save on that money, but my finances were really tight back then. I once stole from my mother, and when she found out, I was in deep shit."
I empathize. Up till today, my own mother would laugh and reminisce about the look on my face when she found out I had stolen from her. Back then, I would grab a chair and instruct others while they were playing when I got banned from playing myself. Did you behave like I did?
-"Yes, I did. In the past, during the holidays I didn't have much money, so I would spend my days watching others play, and then my nights playing through them. Usually, I would get hunger pangs in the night, but I couldn't afford even to buy instant noodles.. Now that I'm looking back at my past, I do feel I was rather pathetic."
Well, recalling your past, did you feel happy or do you feel that you were naive and foolish back then?
-"Yes to both.. But I felt that the time I spent in school was a waste, because I was basically sleeping through lessons. Everyone would be calling me the 'god of slumber'. During lessons, I would have a book propped up on the table and I would be sleeping behind it. When I woke up, the book I rested my head on would always be full of drool. I remember when I was in the military, I could even sleep while standing, especially in summer. And because in my sleep I was swaying back and forth, my commander thought I was having a heat stroke and instructed me to rest at the side. I took that opportunity to get more sleep."
Was it because of your love of computer games that made you abandon your studies, or was it because of your disdain for studies that made you pursue gaming?
-"I guess it's the former. My grades were always very poor, and I did attempt to put in some effort at the end. But by then I was playing too much, and I fell too far behind the rest making catching up a challenge. So, I decided not to continue studying anymore."
I guess when you were younger it was playing those stand alone games. But with the advent and growing popularity of the internet as you got older, and also because of peer influence, what were some of the games you played online?
-"I played a lot of internet games, almost all of the 'big titles' back then like Legend, Luna, Millennium, Stone Age and so on. I did a count, and it was around 30 varieties. The game that I spent more time in particularly was 'Fantasy Westward Journey', and when my account got stolen I no longer played them as much."
So now is it because time and money allows you to pursue a career based on an online game that you are doing so?
-"Well, after all, I'm still a professional gamer, and it's hard to get distracted while you're playing a computer game, so I chose it. When I'm feeling bored, I get to play other things as well. Now, I'm not as hardcore as I used to be - in fact, when I turn on my computer, I don't even know what I'm doing anymore."
As bad of a student as you were, you had to have a teacher that influenced you in one way or another. Do you remember any teacher whom you especially admired?
-"Yes, I remember my Math teacher in secondary school. Not only did he not look down on the poorer students, he actually paid more attention to us."
So did your Math improve as a result?
-"My Math has always been bad.. Well, my results in middle school were okay. My teacher was a hot chick and so we got along well. I was often dragged into her office with my books!"
During the raging throngs of adolescence, what did you see in a girl? And in your pursuit of a girl's affection did you do anything incredible or worth mentioning?
-"I prefer the kind and quiet types. My house was situated near a 500m bridge, and in the middle of that bridge was a stairway leading to school. I would always arrive 20 minutes earlier and wait at that stairway, hoping to run into her. I guess my behavior was rather 'cute' back then."
So did you get together in the end?
-"No. I was too introverted and never expressed myself to her. I remember once I was chatting online with a classmate from school, and we got along well. She said that if I approached her in person and expressed my feelings for her, she would agree to be with me. I retreated and backed off in the end."
The only reason a boy would fall in love with a girl is because he hasn't met the right man. When did you start realizing that you were into dudes? ^^
-"This question is a bit uncomfortable for me. Well, I guess it's after I saw DDC.."
When you mentioned your parents just now, you said that they liked to mete out physical punishment on you as a child. When you were young, how were your parents like? How about now?
-"I got along well with my mother. I also have an older sister, and her raising us both was no easy feat. I guess I both loved and feared her. Now I realize how hard it was being a mother, and I'm trying my best to repay her for what she has done for me. I used to be out all the time, and I feel very sorry for it!"
I remember in a previous interview that you mentioned that your sister made a large contribution in your decision to go pro. Were you always proud to have her in your life as your sister since you were young?
-"Yes, indeed she has helped me tremendously. When I first started competing overseas, almost everything was under my expenses - meals, internet, etc. It was a tragedy, but I was lucky to have known a lot of good people."
Even though all you did in school was sleep, you should have had a group of close friends then. What were some of the far our things that you guys did?
-"My relationships with my classmates were all good. My most impressionable incident was when we stole fruits from a farmer's farm, and he ended up chasing us."
As your professional gaming career grows longer, so does the stress that mounts on you get larger. How do you deal with it? Were there times when you felt like giving up, but eventually pulled through?
-"There are many ways of releasing stress, now when I'm free I always bully DDC. Yeah, there were times when I felt like giving up but because I didn't expect to play for so long, and I did not want to quit before I earn a championship."
What was your first instance of giving up?
-"I can't remember, there have been a lot of them."
Although the thought of giving up has crossed your mind many times, I am sure that if you persevere, success will reach you in the end. Besides your career, what are your other hobbies? Eating, sleeping and bullying DDC does not count.
-"I have been playing web games, but it's starting to get monotonous. I don't know what to do with my time. I plan to go chill out since I have been in Beijing for some time now, but there's no sense in going out alone."
Well, you must carry an open mind if you want to go out. You have participated in many big tournaments since you started going pro. How has it affected your personality?
-"I have always had a permissive personality, maybe now I've a little more stable and composed than before."
Ok, let's end this interview with a few shoutouts.
Thanks to all those who have supported and cared for me. Thanks to my former teammates. And I hope everyone can live their lives and chase their dreams!
SGamer - Original Article