Interview with Dan "ROOTVibe" Scherlong, StarCraft II WCS USA Champion
I was recently given the opportunity to talk with ROOT Gaming's Dan "ViBE" Sherlong, a recent acquisition of the reformed ROOT Gaming after their departure from CompLexity. After ViBE departed his old team, Gosu, he went on an outstanding run at both the WCS Nationals here in the US and finished second at the North American continental finals. Read on to see what he thinks of WCS, where the StarCraft scene is going, how life as a ROOT player is and much more!
Dustin Steiner, eSports Editor for GameZone: Thanks for taking the time out of your training schedule to speak with me! You recently finished 2nd in the North American finals of the Battle.net World Championship Series – how has that second place finish motivated you in your day to day training for the World Finals in China in November?
Dan "Vibe" Scherlong, USA WCS National Champion (Z): I am very happy I was able to finish in second place in the North American finals and it definitely makes me feel proud of myself knowing I am capable of doing it. I wouldn't say it motivates me to practice more though simply because I have had a pretty generic practice routine for myself that hasn't changed due to success or failure.
DS: Is there any player that’s currently qualified for the finals that you’re preparing for specifically right now?
Vibe: I feel like if I said yes there are specific people going to this tournament that I am preparing to snipe then it would make this a more interesting answer but the truth is that I think preparing for a tournament like that is a bad idea because there are so many factors that go into a tournament where if you focus more on preparing for individuals that you may or may not even play, rather then just working on your overall game play then it can hurt you if you get unlucky by not getting what you wanted. So ya basically I just focus more on match ups, more specfically anything that I am struggling against and that's about it.
DS: How do you feel about the treatment WCS has gotten in North America versus other continents?
Vibe: I think WCS in North America definitely wasn't covered as much as other regions. The WCS Mexico event coverage was very small and so was the WCS USA event. The feel of the USA event was more or less get in get out and MLG continues so it definitely didn't get anywhere near the amount of coverage it should have received in my opinion. On the other hand I feel the Canada WCS event was definitely covered pretty well as there were storylines, interviews, and quite a few games broadcast throughout the tournament. Then the follow up continental event "WCS NA" was a huge improvement but I still think it would be amazing if we don't stop here and we continue trying to improve upon it. I was amazed at how well done WCS EU Continental Finals were broadcast and I feel that was the best show of the WCS series to date.
DS: You average upwards of 300 APM in most games. What’s your secret? Are there any particular exercises that you use to get your hands that fast, or does it come naturally?
Vibe: I have been known for high APM because a lot of people like to talk about it which is fine by me haha, but I don't do anything special or specific to strictly focus on increasing my APM. Really all I do that allows me to play that fast is I am playing SC2 all the time and just trying to get better and better. I feel I am naturally a pretty fast player but the big thing in my opinion is when you start to understand the game and stop having to second guess yourself and you start just doing things by relfex then that in itself makes you a faster player because now your brain is working faster and in turn now your hands are able to work faster.
DS: Since joining ROOT, how much do you feel your play has improved and why?
Vibe: I feel like ROOT gaming has both sides of the fence covered so there's no theres feeling like "The grass is greener on the other side" simply because in ROOT you have extremely talented players you can feed off of and learn together with them and there is little pressure in things like underpreforming and letting the team down because we're always so supportive of each other. We win together / We lose together.
DS: If there was one thing about StarCraft II you could change, what would it be?
Vibe: I have two ways I want to answer this question. From any players perspective be it pro or casual I would love it if they updated Battle.net 2.0 to add in a lot of the features that already existed in Battle.net 1.0, such as watching replays with a group of people, having the ability to make clans and have legitimate chat channels with admins and all, use the same custom game style feature as Bnet 1.0 and then also have a "most popular section" how they have in StarCraft II simply because it would rotate games around more and when you join a less popular game you don't wait so long that you just end up leaving, and so on... Just basically add Bnet1.0 features into Bnet2.0.
Then the next one will be very simple, from a pro player perspective add a feature that would allow tournaments to use LAN mode because there have been countless times when I am in a tournament where games will either drop, lag spikes happen, or some issue along those lines happens which can cause re games and other very frustrating circumstances.
DS: Tell me a bit about your life before pro gaming. How much has becoming a pro gamer affected you on a personal level?
Vibe: My life before pro gaming was more social I would say because it involved me going out of the house and going to school + having a job. I never went to college but I graduated high school and I ended up going to work right away straight out of high school. I worked at P.F. Changs and was a waiter there for about 4 years. I had friends who worked there including my brother so it was a fun enviornment to work in and was a easy going life style I would say. I always had a passion and was extremely competitive in games but it wasn't until just before SC2 that I told myself I wanted to attempt being a pro gamer. Ever since I actually became a pro gamer I decided to quit my job and just focus on this full time and I now spend most of my days inside on the game. So I would say I started to turn a bit pale, live in darkness and become a little more anti social like a vampire. I really do enjoy doing this as a job though so I want to do it for as long as I can.
DS: What challenges are you currently working to overcome in your own play?
Vibe: I always come back to this question and answer it for myself personally because I am always trying to improve flaws in my play. Previously it was my ling / baneling control and since ZvZ is my strongest match up at the moment I think that just shows that I fixed that flaw quite well for myself. The new thing I think I struggle with more than I should be would probably be my Zerg vs Protoss end game. I have problems with getting too tunnel visioned on my army and I neglect simple things like injecting or properly macroing sometimes.
DS: Other than WCS, what other tournaments will you be participating in?
Vibe: Other than WCS I'll be participating in quite a few online cups and some major lan events such as IPL5, MLG Championship Dallas.
DS: Where do you see StarCraft II, five years from now? Do you feel like the scene will still be going strong? Why?
Vibe: I think as long as nothing catastrophically terrible happens that turns investors away from e-sports then I could see the scene growing quite substatially between now and then. There are talks of certain things happening such as StarCraft II and League of Legends getting invited into the 2016 or the 2020 Olympics which I think would present a ton of new opportunities, but even if that didn't happen e-sports right now is definitely going in the right direction and I only see it continuing to grow. Then I guess I haven't anwered why yet and basically the reason is games are always changing as games are being more and more figured out as time goes on so the game is never the same. Then you have drama behind it with people ROOTing for the their favorite teams and their favorite players which will always give people a draw in to watch it.
DS: The final words are yours - any shoutouts you’d like to give?
Vibe: Thanks for interviewing me it has been fun and I also want to thank my friends, family, fans and my team ROOT gaming because as long as we keep supporting each other then the scene keeps growing. You guys should also check out my teams site at ROOT-gaming.com where we have lots of updates and other nice features you can check out. Also my sponsors "RushOrderTees" and "Twitch.tv". Then finally my personal twitter is @ROOTViBE and my stream is twitch.tv/vibelol. My stream page on twitch basically has any other information you guys would like to know about me.
On behalf of myself and GameZone, we wish you luck in WCS and the other tournaments you’ll be entering this year! Do the US proud, sir! You can find out more about Vibe's team ROOT Gaming at their Twitter, their Youtube page and their Twitch channel!
Dustin Steiner is GameZone's eSports Editor! Follow him on Twitter @GZSteiner and check out Video Gaming Hard Corps, where he is a local tournament organizer for the S. FL. Fighting Game Community.