QnkGiantt: 'I hope GGA Cup proves that<br>Koreans aren't better than the top Europeans'
Hello! Could you introduce yourself to those of our readers who don’t know you. What’s your name, what do you do, etc.?
Hi! My name’s Danail Lazov, I’m 22 years old and a last year student in Technical University Sofia. Currently I am writing my bachelor thesis and the two things I am currently focusing on are this and playing StarCraft II.
How long have you been doing eSports? Could you describe in short your pro-gaming career so far?
I’ve been playing SC2 since May 2010, the game was in beta then. Being perseverant in my efforts and time spent during this period played a positive role on my ladder ranking and in the start of this year I started receiving salary offers from European teams. On April 18th, I signed with the Israeli No Mercy Gaming (NOM), where I made friends with a couple of well-known players who proved to be nice characters as well – Rmdx, kAra, Matiz, TheFreshOne, Naugrim.
Eventually, it turned out that NOM’s manager did not intend to fulfill the financial promises he made and the team disbanded. To my luck, Qnatek contacted me and I joined them. Thus far, I am satisfied by the team – they have been reliable and have been showing a serious attitude. I also play my part and make the happy in return – in the last month I won one Playhem daily, GGA Cup #4, RaidCall Cup and I had a decent run through WCS. I expect our relationship to be long-lasting.
I have a very strong ZvT match-up – especially in the last month – and on top of that QXC used some quite rusty strategies in both games. I don’t remember big details but it was some kind of 2-base aggression. Against Revival I was a bit lucky. In the third game on Cloud Kingdom I found Revival’s hidden fourth base while he was teching to Hive, 3/3 and was attacking my side of the map. I stayed on Lair tech and invested everything in roach/hydra/ling so I can survive. A minute before his upgrades finished – which would’ve given him immense advantage – he engaged poorly and lost a big chunk of his army. I pushed him with a counter-attack and broke him before the upgrade difference could become a factor.
Thus far, you are the only non-Korean to have won a GGA Cup, even the fifth EU qualifier that finished last week had an all-Korean grand final. Do you feel any special in that regard?
No, I don’t think I am special. I don’t think the Koreans are better than the top European players and I hope that the results from the next GGA Cups prove this. If the Koreans have any advantage it’s the general assumption that they are the better players. This makes their opponents play more cautiously and with more fear.
Do you plan to take part in more GGA qualifiers or are you saving your strength for the grand finals in December?
Yes, I do plan to participate in more qualifiers. Acquiring more tournament experience is important so that I can be more relaxed and self-confident during future events. GGA Cup is a good opportunity for an European player to meet American and Asian opponents.
While on the topic of the grand final, the competition there is far from easy. We’re talking about a player pool that has Dimaga, Alive, Thorzain, Mana, Ganzi… How do you weigh your chances?
The competition will be tough but I hope to deliver 1-2 surprise wins against notable opponents.
Is there anyone in particular you want to meet? Half of them are major event champions and a win against any of them would be a savory bite.
There’s no one special I prefer to play but I’d rather have some ZvTs or ZvZs since they are my more stable match-ups.
At this point, you are more or less the only “minor” name that’s in the grand final list. Additionally, the majority of the SC2 fanbase rarely remembers Bulgaria any more, despite the fact that we used to often stomp the big podiums far back in the past. Does that magnify the pressure to show some class?
I’d love to win a few matches but I wouldn’t say that it’d be a failure if I don’t. Being a no-name actually alleviates the pressure to do well.
Let’s put GGA Cup aside for a moment and talk about more general stuff. There are two major events on the SC2 scene that are currently “in progress” – the Heart of the Swarm beta getting closer and the transition of the old Brood War pros over to StarCraft 2. From the looks of it, the scene will be entirely different by the end of the year. I wonder if you follow these topics and what do you think about each of them?
Like every person interested in SC2, I saw the HotS battle reports videos and read the abilities and stats of the new units. I think they will make for more spectacular plays but I am worried about disbalance and overlap of unit roles. Viper, Mothership Core,Tempest, Battle hellion and Widow Mine come out as especially unsuitable. The Viper will solve the problem of flanking with your army so you can reach those Immortals and Colossi – something that, honestly, should’ve been done via good map design and not through a robot-dragging bee.
As for the Brood War pros, I hope they make SC2 even more popular.
Another feat of yours is a top 4 in the WCS Combined Europe qualifiers that sent you to the Combined Nationals, where you’re the only Bulgarian. Unfortunately, NightEnd stopped you and we won’t be seeing you in the Continental Finals but in spite of that, I do hope that you are considering your run a successful one.
WCS Combined Europe Nationals was my first major offline tournament and yes, even though I did not make it to the continentals, I am satisfied of my play and of my fourth place there. I liked that I was given the opportunity to go and take part in an event of this magnitude despite not being a well-known player.
What happened in the match against NightEnd? How did you lose?
In the first game had a better army control and did more efficient trades. In the second game I just played much more poorly due to various reasons.
Regarding the WCS, we’ve talked to both Ilja Rotelli (Blizzard’s eSports director) and Dignitas Bling. The former laid out the idea of tournament that inspires participation and gives a hand to the “little guy” and doesn’t just support the heavy-hitters; while the latter said that WCS is definitely the way eSports should develop. As a pro-gamer and someone who played in WCS on a national level, what’s your personal standpoint? Do you think WCS is the better tournament model?
At the beginning of SC2, it was interesting to watch the fifty or so players dominating in all of the bigger tournaments, which were quite rare themselves. But in the last year it feels that we’re watching the same people, doing the same strategies on the same maps with the same results. More and more often I prefer to tune in to some European online tournament instead of following the established alternatives. WCS is a step in the right direction – for both players and viewers.
Building upon the question of participation, do you think Bulgaria can return to the world stages this way? Few people nowadays recall what Insomnia, [3wd]Christian, Lamer, Zeerax, Didi8 and many more used to do. Do you think our scene has names with the potential to be among the big ones one day?
It seems that in Bulgaria the interest towards StarCraft 2 died out. Some of the players had to pay closer attention to work or studying which is understandable. But I feel the bigger part felt at some point that the game is “imbalanced” and/or “stupid” and went on to playing Diablo, League of Legends or some other popular – or at least some less stressful – game. The other reason is that nothing is done in Bulgaria towards promoting the game – offline events are non-existent and I think there were two online events for the past six months. If I have to draw the line – even if there are talents, they are not playing for this or that reason. And even if they are active, there’re just no local tournament in which they can shine.
I hope that your GGA Cup and WCS victories will not be the last we hear from you. Where and when can we see you again in the near future?
I think about trying my chances in the next IEM. Until then, I will be focusing on smaller tournaments – Playhem, Go4SC2, etc.
I’m really grateful that you gave us the opportunity to talk to you. Any final words before wrapping up the interview?
Thank you for taking the interest. Big thanks to my team Qnatek, to my friends over at Psistorm.eu and to those that follow my stream and support me. You motivate me to keep playing!