Many gaming fans envy pro gamers since they can earn money doing what they like. Of course, even pro gamers go through hardship, but on the face of it, it’s quite hard to see what kind of troubles they deal with. While the title of the occupation is pro ‘gamer’, for many of those pros, the whole thing is mainly a profession rather than fun and games.
Despite the fact there are always newer and more fun games coming out, some gamers tend to stick with what they already know. One such player is Jang “Moon” Jae-ho, who has been playing Warcraft 3 for more than 15 years. He’s a living legend who has been winning tournaments even to this day. It’s actually not a big surprise that fans continue to watch him perform well and deliver good results.
Moon was not a pro gamer that only strived for the glory of becoming a champion. He went a step forward by sometimes donating his prize money and also suggesting that the race he played should be nerfed. Winning tournaments and earning more prize money is something most pro desire, but Moon seemed to be telling us that something else should be prioritized. He is an individual who doesn’t just look out for himself - he is a pro gamer that knows how to appreciate his roots. Let’s hear what Moon, a gamer that has been performing as a Warcraft 3 pro even after finishing his military service, had to share with us.
It’s been quite a long time since our last interview. How have you been after finishing your military service?
I’ve been performing as a Warcraft 3 pro gamer even after finishing my military service. I participated in Warcraft 3 tournaments at the end of last year as well. I’m currently preparing for the team tournament that will be held in mid-January. It’s a tournament where the high-tier players choose other players that have advanced from the preliminaries as their teammates. It’s a team tournament similar to the pro league. I think the team league will start after Warcraft 3: Reforged is launched and the aforementioned tournament will be held right before that.
You won the BREC, a tournament that was held in China at the end of last year. How does it feel to finish your year with a trophy?
I think I was able to win because the Night Elf race was buffed. Nevertheless, I felt so happy winning the tournament. That’s how I was able to end my year well.
You donated all your prize money after winning the BREC. You also said that it was something for the fans on Weibo. Personally, what did it mean to you?
My birthday is on December 14. As a birthday present, some of my fans in my Fan club made a donation to students in an Elementary school in China who were studying in quite a harsh environment. That’s why I wanted to donate my prize money if I got the chance to. The reason why the Warcraft 3 league was held throughout the years was due to all the attention and love from the Chinese fans. This was also the reason why I was able to maintain my pro career. I wanted to be a part of what the fans were doing and that’s why I decided to donate.
You won the Gold League - the representative Chinese Warcraft 3 league - that was held near the beginning of last year and also claimed the BREC trophy. Did the year 2018 mean something different to you?
I’m very happy that I won the offline tournaments in December. Most importantly, it feels so special that I am the first Korean to win the Gold League. Also, Night Elves have never won the Gold League; now I’m part of a new history.
Before 2018, I sometimes got eliminated during the group stage. I had a hard time focusing and delivering my best performance since I felt pressured in official matches. However, in 2018, I performed well and gained confidence starting from the group stage. Of course, I did feel comfortable after Night Elf was buffed.
Did anything change after Warcraft 3: Reforged was announced during BlizzCon?
For sure; the users, fans, and pro gamers are paying more attention to Warcraft 3 than before. As a matter of fact, they decided to hold the team league in China near the launch of Reforged. I heard that 4 teams will participate in 2019 and the total prize money will be approximately 713,903 US dollars. That’s why retired Warcraft 3 pro players are making their comeback to the scene. People are starting to stream more on platforms such as Twitch.tv as well.
Although I haven’t seen them in Korea, in China there are a lot of rookies performing in tournaments. Some players that are 10 and 11 years younger than me are performing well. An Undead user, ‘120’ delivered good results in the Gold League and there’s also a Night Elf user named ‘Life’. He’s a known player online but he didn’t perform up to his S-tier performance offline. It was like seeing myself since I couldn’t perform well in offline tournaments when the Warcraft 3 pro scene just started. I wanted to offer him some help.
Warcraft 3 is popular in China. Currently, how is the popularity there and how much money do they invest?
Since Warcraft 3 is an old game, it’s not as popular as it was before. Still, there are fans that have interest in me. My fans are getting old with me. (laughs) There aren’t a lot of young fans. My fans are mostly in their mid to late 30s. I feel so thankful.
The popularity can be seen by watching players such as ‘Infi’ and ‘TH000’ stream. Their number of viewers certainly increased compared to last year. When they practice, there are about one hundred thousand viewers and when they perform in a tournament, the viewers increase to two hundred thousand. They’ve been streaming for quite a while so that’s why they have a lot of viewers.
Do you think that the Korean Warcraft 3 pro gamers and the league will change as well?
Although there haven’t been any significant changes yet, I think the viewers will increase once Reforged comes out. Then, wouldn’t this lead to an increase in the number of streamers? I only know the plans for 2019 so I’ll have to wait and see what will change after Reforged is launched.
You’ve been performing as a Warcraft 3 pro for almost 15 years. How did you manage to stay in a single field for this long?
To be honest, I did think of trying out a new field when I was in the military. However, that thought did not last long. After I finished my military service, my fans kept on showing interest in me and I actually received a lot of messages such as “I hope you perform in the Warcraft 3 scene in the future as well”.
Warcraft 3 is something that I’m good at and is what made me popular. There is a time where tournaments are held more often and as a matter of fact, the numbers increased around when I was about to finish my military service. That’s why I made my comeback to the Warcraft 3 scene.
Before I went to the military, I thought of games as a fun thing to do rather than my profession. I’ve been playing this game for quite a long time so it was hard to have fun playing it as I did in the past. However, now something changed; I think of it as my real job. My fans expect a lot from me so I want to study more and become better.
You’ve mostly performed in China. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen Chinese posts on your Weibo.
I’m currently studying Chinese since I’m thinking of streaming in China in the future. I can’t write my own post in Chinese yet. I’m writing my posts by receiving help from someone else.
There are a lot of Chinese Warcraft 3 fans. Why do you think there are a lot of Warcraft 3 fans in China?
In China, Warcraft 3 is similar to Starcraft in Korea. Although the scene is not as big compared to the past, there are some loyal fans left and tournaments are still constantly held. There are fans that still have interest in Warcraft 3 and I think that’s why it survived.
I heard that there are Warcraft 3 pro gamers performing in China like you. Can you introduce some of them?
First off, ‘Lyn’ is still performing in tournaments. You can consider him the best among the Orc users since he’s delivering good results in tournaments. He is in a Chinese team called Newbee. Lyn settled in China after marrying a Chinese person. Although he can’t visit Korean that often, I meet him in tournaments and we sometimes grab something to eat.
Also, there are a lot of skilled Human users in China. The players are close with each other. I know that Infi and TH000 are close. I heard that they share a lot of their tactics and strategies.
You’ve competed with those players almost for 10 years. Can’t you figure out their tactics and strategies now?
It does seem that there won’t be any new tactics and strategies since Warcraft 3 is an old game. However, up to now, players invent new builds. Some figure out ways to make their controls smoother or ways to hunt down monsters faster. It seems like their overall performance has increased.
People say that it’s hard to maintain your pro gaming career when you get older. On the other hand, you seem like you’ve hit your prime once again. What are your thoughts on the age of pro gamers?
First of all, Warcraft 3 does not require a lot of mechanics compared to other RTS games such as Starcraft. You relatively don’t change your screen that much and you can be good at it even if your APM (Actions per Minute) isn’t that high. It’s more important for players to practice hard and find a lot of new strategies. I think the key to your performance depends on thinking a lot about how you can become better.
Can you explain why Warcraft 3 is fun to play for the users who may gain interest after Reforged comes out?
Personally, I think it’s the best-made RTS game. It’s an RTS game that has some RPG elements in it such as hero items and levels. This is why Warcraft 3 custom maps such as Dota/Chaos came out. Then came LoL. User Map Settings games are really fun. A lot of people only play those. In regards to that, the game itself seems very well-made.
I’m not sure how Reforged will look like. I did hear that the graphics and campaigns will be upgraded, and moreover, I hope that there will be more content to enjoy. You know, Starcraft 2 has the co-op missions and skins. If that kind of content can be brought in to Warcraft 3, I think it can gain more popularity. If they can add in some neutral heroes in the Melee games, it would be more fun.
The game is being patched periodically after Blizzard announced that they’d release Reforged soon. What are your thoughts on Blizzard’s patch concepts?
Night Elves benefited a lot from the patches. I thought it negatively affected the other races and that’s why I said, “Night Elf should be nerfed” in another interview. I hope that the races can be balanced.
Although it wouldn’t be easy to balance, it’ll be nice if we can use more builds. For example, currently, Undeads mostly use the Fiend build and I think it would be more interesting if they could use Ghouls as well. I’m afraid that only Night Elves shows strategic plays these days. I wish the other races could do that too. The players can get bored if they use the same strategy over and over. It will be more fun to watch since people can look forward to what kind of strategy will be used.
Lastly, do you have anything more to say?
I’d like to thank the fans that have stayed interested in Warcraft 3 until today. Although the market isn’t as big compared to the past, players have gone abroad and been delivering good results. I think there will be more tournaments this year and I’d like to repay [the interest] with good results. I hope people will become more interested after Reforged comes out and I hope a Warcraft 3 tournament will be held in Korea.
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