IEM: Grubby: 'Everything good that happened to me I owe to WarCraft'
In the cold morning of March 7th we caught up with Manuel "Grubby" Schenkhuizen during the second day of Intel Extreme Masters Hanover to hear his thoughts on the games he played in the opening day, the state of the protoss race and the emotions that accompanied his transition to StarCraft 2.
GosuGamers: Grubby, you arrived here yesterday as a last replacement in your group and you had a really rough time in the first day. Can you just walk us through your experience thus far at IEM?
Grubby: Yeah, as you said I came as a last minute replacement and did not know the tournament maps or exactly who was in my group. There were a lot of protosses but I didn't do any particular training, just ladder practice. But I wanted to help ESL in having a player in the group and I was next in the ranking of the people who could actually make it. Thus, in that way I guess I deserve it due to my HomeStory Cup performance but normally I would have done more particular preparation. Still, I figured I give it a shot: if it goes well - great, if not I'll try not to guilt myself.
I started off with a rough loss against MC, then HasuObs also played really really well. Against Elfi, I was up one-nill and I felt I was doing really well in the second game but I missed my forcefield and he walked down the ramp and I shouldn't have let him get out that way.
GosuGamers: PvP is a very volatile match but would that if you had a decent time to prepare you would have done much better?
Grubby: Well, having to play only one match-up can be considered some kind of an advantage but at the same time I felt that with having so many protosses, no one will go 5-0 in the group. I'm not the one to say that PvP is a luck match-up, I don´t believe that, but on the other hand I know that it's extremely difficult to go 10-0 in a group with four other protosses. I expected that everyone will be trading blows and as you can see no one ever went 4-1. But yeah, I think with more preparation in PvP I would have had a wider spectrum of strategies. I have some that work quite well but there are other that I am not quite familiar with and I try to adapt to them on the fly. But I can't complain - I am here after all, I am watching the games, having fun and it's still really nice to be here.
GosuGamers: Recently, the protoss race has been doing better and better. What used to be more or less terran and zerg dominated game is now much more balanced. Would you attribute it to the latest patches that have been applied to the game or is it because the race itself is being more and more figured out?
Grubby: I dont think it has much to do with the race. There are still units that are not very usefull like the void ray, phoenix, mothership carrier who have very limited use. Personally, I am a little sad about that as I want to see the race more diverse and versatile.
I think the phoenix range did not do as much as I hoped to. I takes quite a long to get and by the time you get it's not that useful anymore. Because, for example, against hydralisk the graviton beam range did not increase so even though you can shoot from very far the phoenixes in the front will still take damage. So it is still mainly useful against mutalisks but I personally haven't been able to beat mutalisks due to the time it takes to be researched.
The snipe change helped us to some extent as now terrans cannot snipe zealots too quickly so some indirect changes did benefit us. I still believe it's hard versus zerg in the late game.
GosuGamers: Supposedly, Heart of the Swarm is going to introduce changes to the air protoss units, which according to you is the weakest aspect of the race. Do you think that the removal of the mothership and the carrier and replacing them with new units will benefit the race?
Grubby: As the units have been described as of 7th March 2012 I do think the protoss race is going to get a lot more interesting. Personally, I am not a fan of the carrier as it is slow, expensive, takes too long to build and is useless compared to other stuff. It's too easily countered, is not nearly as cool as it was in BroodWar and is not very powerful. Of course, sometimes it does get put to some use but mostly because your opponents are playing badly against it.
With the mothership, I think it's not very interesting as you can have only one of it. I am really looking forward to the new protoss air because it has harassment methods and maybe it will make you use more void rays or phoenixes because you have other type of back-up. If you look at the terran, for example, when you have a banshee, a viking and a raven they work really well together - you see observers, you shoot down observers, you can cloak and it's a really beautiful interplay. I thus hope that we can get some beautifl combination of units.
GosuGamers: While I am on the same page with you about the carrier, I have some personal doubts about the mothership. We see it used more and more often...
Grubby: Yes, but it's mostly used in late-game PvZ when you battle brood lords and infestors and it's actually the only counter to it. But it take five minutes to get it and two minutes to accumulate enough energy for a vortex for it to be useful. If it dies once or gets neuralled that´s it! I believe you should not be allowed to neural such units. I mean ultralisks can't be neuralled and you can have ten of them. It´s like controlling Jim Raynor or playing against him in the campaign. *laughs*
GosuGamers: You did some amazing casting at the HomeStory Cup! Do you see yourself doing more of this in the future or do you prefer focusing mostly on playing?
Grubby: Clearly my number one priority is to continue playing and compete, although I did enjoy casting a lot. It was cool to switch away from the player perspective and I got to see games at 1x speed and I usually don´t have the patience for it *laughs* Maybe I can take something on the side, maybe cast a whole tournament but I am always going to prioritize playing.
GosuGamers: Recently you lost a sponsor and gained a new one. How did that affect you?
Grubby: Right now, it means I can be on the look for other sponosors, like peripheral or hardware ones. I can now look for product that really interest me and say Okay, this is something I believe in and something I want to put my work behind and that´s how I've always done it. That´s why I am not rushing to get new sponsor, I want to see if the one that I want to use want to use me as well.
For now, as I am partnered with Twitch.tv it means that streaming will be play a very active part in my daily routine. For me it's better because it's mostly an independent source of income, comin from people that have subscribed to my channel at twitch.tv/followgrubby - ding! But overall this has been a really big contribution to the eSports market, companies like Twitch.tv have contributed immensely to the fact that you can call yourself a progamer. There are more people that can do it now - you may not always get first places but if you provide a good, high quality stream that people enjoy you can do it and that's something we did not have in the past.
GosuGamers: So, in short, you are doing well?
Grubby: Well, I would like to be doing better but I can't complain. I am looking for other sponsors, but I am not starving. *laughs* Twitch have been really great in listening to the community, you can constantly see them on reddit interracting with people so it's really great to work with them. We are gonna do some extra stuff with them this year; I can't say what exactly but I am really looking forward to the future with them.
GosuGamers: You did play WarCraft 3 for a long, long time before switching to StarCraft 2 and many of the fans that you have now have carried over from these times of yours. WOuld you say you miss playing War 3, although the scene is shrinking by the day while SC2 grows bigger?
Grubby: I wouldn't say that "miss" is the correct word because I know the scene is over and I've had my grieving period during which I accepted this fact. So yeah, at one point I realized it was all over and I had to move on to something else, that being StarCraft 2. People have been telling me "You should go back to WarCraft 3" and yeah, maybe I would've if I could've, if there was a scene like StarCraft. But there isn't and you can only go so far in bringing something back from the dead.
In my heart, WarCraft 3 has always meant so much, almost everything good that happened to be was because of it. Meeting my wife I owe to WarCraft, having my fans I owe to WarCraft and all the travelling and experience I had I owe to WarCraft. It's a beautufil period in my life and I have this box of memories, you know, like those snowglobes that you turn upside down and see snowflakes falling - I can recall them at any time I want and I can feel a sense of satisfaction. But to say that I miss it would mean that I can´t get past it and I am past it! I've played it for a long time and there have been some stupid or ignorant interviewers that don't know eSports have asked "Don't you get bored playing the same game for eight years?" No, I don't, it's an absolutely fantastic game but I did play it for a long time and have explored every aspect of it. And as such I don't feel the need to be sad. I've moved on and that's a natural process.
GosuGamers: So do you say that if War3's scene was just as big as StarCraft 2 you would not have made the switch and would be playing it instead?
Grubby: I have been asking that same question myself as well and if the WarCraft 3 scene was just a big - which, by the way, probably isn't possible because there isn't enough space for both suchS games - I think I would've played WarCraft 3 for a bit longer, maybe one or two years, but then there is also the urge for new challenges, new game, learning the game through baby steps. What we do as players is very diverse but at the same time it's very tunneled and I am also that kind of person. I like to focus on one thing to the exception of others - you can see it in my schoolwork, you can see it in my gaming but switching on to other things isn't probably too bad. So I would have probably played War3 a bit more and then start fantasizing about how would it be to switch over.
I can't be sure, of course - I wish the War3 scene was that big with streaming and such but we'll never know, this technology came after WarCraft 3 so all in all that's it. C'est la vie.
GosuGamers: For a final, if you have any shoutouts or anything personal to share now is your chance.
Grubby: Just thank to the fans for sticking up with me. I said everything I wanted to, and it's been a very personal interview overall so I hope you liked it.