Meet the man at the top of the NA Ladder

General DJ “ronstopabl” Azul

GosuGamers sits down with InflowMini. Hear what the man at the top of the North American Ladder has to say about his approach to rising in the ranks, how he's repeatedly gotten away with 1-Gate Expand against high profile Terrans, and why Colossi are overrated.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I am 20 years old. My name is Chad. About my Starcraft experience, to be honest I have none. I didn't even play the Starcraft 2 Beta.

Did you ever get into Broodwar?

Nope I did not play Broodwar either. Starcraft 2 was a completely new game for me, other than the occasional custom game of Broodwar such as Golem Wars, or Lurker Defense.

Well let's talk about your ladder achievement and how you got up there to the point where rating wise you're on top of everyone else in North America, and to the point where you cross paths frequently with high-profile gamers straight from the Ladder Quick Match. I see it's matched you with ROOTcatz maybe 4, 5 times this week alone?

Yes, I get matched up quite frequently with known players such as TTone, ROOTcatz, ROOTdrewbie, ROOTqxc, and many many more. I started off in gold league off my placement matches, and slowly got better the more I played, eventually making it to where I am now. ROOTcatz is what you could say is my zerg arch nemesis, he's quite a talented zerg, and it's always a good game when I play him.

Do you most often binge play your ladder games to get in as many games as you can in one sitting? Or take everything one game at a time? Which method have you found most effective when it comes to trying to rise in the ladder?

Well as you can probably tell from my games played, I tend to binge play my ladder games.

Ok so, when you're trying to rise in ranks, which attitude have you found works best when it comes to mass gaming. Is it more of a "I'll play a game and w/e the result, I'll move on from it quick and just keep playing" type of feeling? Or more of a "reflective" sort of thing, where you actually take the time to treat each game as if it's a learning experience? Do you mostly take the time to reflect after each game, or more of a carefree attitude when it comes to mass gaming?

Well that's kind of tricky, you need to have some sort of "carefree" attitude for each game to be fun and entertaining, but if you are wanting to get better, it can't all be carefree. You need to learn something from each game to get better, such as reviewing the replay for what exactly went wrong.

In the majority of your games, do you tend to lean on the carefree side or the learning side?

I tend to lean towards the learning side, I am too compedative by nature for it to be too "carefree" but I definately want to enjoy each game, as well as play to win.

Let's talk about your style of play. Your PvT game specifically. When watching some of your successful games against high-profile players out there that are either casted on YouTube or uploaded as replay, I noticed 2 things in particular: 1) You are fond of the super fast expand.
2) You often opt for High Templar over Colossi even if it means skipping the tech entirely.

Yes, I absolutely love the fast expand. Protoss has such an advantage early game unit wise, if they use the chrono boost on their warpgates. You can actually outproduce a terran who is going for a 2 rax, until the nexus is up. From there you just throw down the extra warpgates, and you will be able to easily defend. If I lose a game to a terran, it's because I failed macro wise, rather than in the first 10 minutes. I think high templar are going to be the future in PVT, mass gateways and high templar until late game, where you can mix in some colossi. I normally skip the tech completely until late game. High templar as so much more mobile, and so much more deadly in the right hands. Spot a drop coming? Warp in a high templar with a few stalkers and you can completely negate the attack. You will have so many gateways with the right pylon placements across the map you can actually be more mobile than the terran even with medivacs.

Well hold on, let's touch on that first part a second. I've seen a few of your PvT games where your opening is literally Gateway, Cybernetics, Nexus—a 1-Gate Nexus opener. To name some games in particular, I've seen you use the build successfully against Hashe and I believe either Fayth or Drewbie on someone's YouTube cast...? I can't remember which of them it was exactly, but you know of the 1-Gate build I am talking about?


For our protoss players out there, when you open with this build, do you find that, in the majority of games where you implement this play, it is a high risk build that you hope to get away with, or has the 1-Gate expand build actually grown standard with your style to the point where it is fairly safe?

Well, it is a very micro intensive build, and you will get into quite a few "close spots". You need to know your timings and know them well. I definitely would not suggest this build to less experienced players. [However] I [do] have a lot of metagame with some of the top players, they go into the game KNOWING I will 1 gate expand, and they still can't punish it. They've tried 3 raxing me, 2 port banashee, and many other timing attacks, once they figured out they couldn't break it, they tend to just 1 rax or 2 rax FE themselves. If you know what you are doing, it is a very safe build, probably the safest.

So the success rate of these 1-Gate expansion builds at your level of play—success not meaning an ultimate match win, but rather a success in that it isn't a game-losing mistake that you get punished for—is fairly high, you would say? Even against all these many high-profile gamers you run into on the ladder?

Correct, If I lose a game PVT, you can bet on it that I lost in the later stages of the game, but it had nothing to do with the 1 gate FE.

Let's talk about the templars again. You are fond for jumping straight into High Templars in your PvT techs. What is it about Colossi tech that you are uncomfortable about?

I feel as if there is a timing window every PVT where the terran will have a uncomfortable amount of vikings, and can just one shot each colossi, while stalling with the rest of their army. By the time you get a head on attack with them, half your colossi are dead, and his marauders will just plummel through the rest.

So based off of the many games you've played to get to where you are now, in the majority of the PvT's that come your way, do you find that—having skipped Colossi tech—you are often a lot more vulnerable to a Terran timing push that comes before you have your Templar out than you would've been if you'd gone through the Colossi phase first? Or would it have made no difference against the Terran timing push whether or not you had gone Colossi to begin with in your style of play?

With the build I use there is really no timing push they can use on me. As long as I scout accordingly, I can get templar out and ready to storm, before they can get to my base with their medivacs and MM ball. The timings on my build work out quite nicely in that aspect. Skipping colossi for me makes no difference.

Let's get to your team. I see your tag matched against many well-known teams such as ROOT, Evil Geniuses, Fnatic, and Revolutionary Sports in the foreign clan wars scene, and you've also acquired—to those of us addicted to Starcraft on Youtube—the well-known Terran player Masq in your lineup as well. Tell us a little bit about Inflow Gaming.

Well, since it is a pretty new team, there is not too much to tell. We just got accepted into the CEVO pro league, and are in the SGL. We have a semi big team, around 13 players. We are trying to make a name for ourselves since we are quite new. Hopefully you will see more of us as time goes on.

Have you done any major LAN play?

I have not, I have just recently started take take Starcraft 2 "semi" seriously. Hopefully you will see my name pop up in many upcoming tournaments.

So this is no longer playing at the high end of casual-competitive play—you are looking to go in either the pro-semipro direction and make a name for yourself in the future?

Correct. I think I have the potential too, as long as I keep practicing and improving my play, to where I can compete with the top players, and hopefully make a name for myself.