Pricey hands aside, champion finds defeat in a mouse click
It was probably the most embarrassing night of his career: StarCraft champion Lim Yo-hwan stepped down from the stage last Saturday, defeated at the SKY Pro League, one the largest e-sport tournaments in Korea.
It was also ironic that the heavy drops of rain that pummeled down on the 40,000 spectators, who loyally remained seated on plastic beach chairs to watch the match, cleared up as his teammates on SK Telecom’s T1 beat MBC Game’s Hero one by one to eventually win the finals, four to one.
Lim is the head of the T1, often referred to as the “Emperor,” with seven years of professional gaming under his belt, a 1-million member fan club, and yearly income of 200 million won ($209,380), not counting endorsements and prize money from additional winnings. He specializes in playing the Terran race in “StarCraft,” a real-time simulation game played by an estimated 10 million Koreans.
In an interview after Saturday’s game, Lim admitted that he was disappointed. “I really worked hard and was sorry that it was over in a flash. In the beginning, I thought things were going well,” he said, shyly looking down at his lap and fumbling with his hands.
Lim lost while trying to launch a surprise attack on his enemy by transporting most of his forces on airships, during which his base was raided.
“I’ve experienced almost every kind of situation, but I’ve never taken a complete risk. This time I did and I think that’s why I lost,” he said.
Moving on to a more general theme of “e-sports” and the lives of professional gamers, Lim compared computer gaming to baduk ― the two-person Chinese board game more commonly known as go. “Adults enjoy baduk and teenagers like [computer] games. I think games are more complex than baduk because in baduk, you only have to think about where you have to move the pawns, but in “StarCraft,” each of the units evolve into more advanced units, and you have to build a strategy in your head before you start developing them,” he said.
Lim said that the life of a professional gamer is not like that of a celebrity. “Team members live together and we get up late, about 10 a.m., and spend about an hour exercising or stretching, and then we sit down and play computer games all day. I usually play until 2 or 3 in the morning,” he said.
When asked if his hands were “insured” Lim said they weren’t but that he would really like to get some insurance if such policies were available.
“Once when I got really angry, I was going to ram my fist into a wall ― you know, a lot of guys do that to let off steam ― but just before I did, I stopped myself and thought, ‘if I ruin my hands, my career is over.’”
by Wohn Dong-hee