I was on Liquipedia the other day and realized there was no page about Remo! What?
I was updating players' pages, adding their interviews, many of those were made by Remo during live tournaments... and it struck me, that he himself probably had not been interviewed in the last few years.
Remo is quite discrete on social medias and disappears from time to time, allegedly not being in jail. I've spent some time with him during 4 GCS and 1 WCA tournaments. Everything that confused me about the game or the scene, he could usually clarify.
There is so much to talk about nowadays, it's time for Remo to explain those points to you!
Dear Remo, thank you for agreeing to this interview!
Lets start by explaining the title: where does this "Remo is in jail" joke come from?
Well, as is the case with all beautiful memes (big meme fan right here), no one can say exactly when this started. But it had something to do with a somewhat longer absence on my part. And since I hadn't really given a reason or information as to what I was doing, I suppose there was a lot of room for interpretation. However, why everyone so quickly assumed it had to be jail, I truly cannot tell you :D
You are quite the talented player. Level wise, who would you compare yourself to? Why not playing some of those little cups for fun?
Thank you first of all. But I'm not quite sure "talented" is what I would call it, since I had to play a LOT to get to this level - ~65% W3A win rate. Across all my W3A smurfs and old Bnet accounts, I must have clocked something around 10k ladder games. At some point you're bound to get decent ;)
Can't really tell you which player is as strong as me. Since it fluctuates so horribly for me, given the match-up. I'm best against Orc, then mirror, then the rest.
I played some cups in the past, but honestly I don't enjoy the experience so much. The waiting in-between games (I'm a pretty impatient person), the additional pressure, the need/expectation to finish the whole thing instead of just stopping in the middle if you don't feel like it. Plus, when you're a caster there's always some people who resent you for playing instead of casting. Which I think is a fair point of criticism. Casting, I feel, is a way more valuable use of my time. Regardless of what Cup it might be.
Neo (left) and Remo (right) with a cold set-up at GCS Fall 2016
Actually, I discovered that this week: you are part of clan Fs. Can you say a few words about the clan and your history with it?
I got recruited by Jehu - shout-out, awesome dude - like two years ago or something. And we played WC3CL together. Though I must admit that I haven't played for them in quite a while. Because of less practice/time. It was always a lot of fun, hanging out in Skype together during clan wars, watching your mates, talking about the game with your other mates.
At certain moments, as through primal instinct, I would occasionally slip into caster mode, actually commentating the game before catching myself again after a few seconds.
Now about your casting: switching to English in 2014 has been a key factor in your rising popularity. Was it hard to start talking with Neo in English?
When we started out in German back then, casting for ESL-Radio, it was all audio. So you had to connect your VLC player or whatever you had with the stream URL. And then that feed had to be synced with 'WaaaghTV!'. It was quite cumbersome.
Honestly, I'm not quite sure what the concurrent peak stood at. Pretty sure Neo does, though! :D Certainly was at one of the WC3L finals. I'd assume somewhere around 1k.
Making the switch to English wasn't too hard for me. I had years of passive practice with TV shows and movies. To this day I am convinced that no teacher, or anything else for that matter, improved my English remotely as much as MTV's "Pimp my ride" did. Fuckin' loved Xzibit and his goofy laugh.
I still see quite a lot of movies, shows and nowadays streams as well, along with music. So I'm basically surrounded by the English language 24/7. And whereas I don't really talk with any of my friends in English, I sometimes catch myself thinking in English.
The best game you ever shoutcasted?
Come on, man. That's like asking "What's your favorite movie?". I can't just single out one. There are too many!
In recent memory though, has to be Foggy vs. Romantic and Foggy vs. TH000 at the last GCS. I for one cannot see matches in a vacuum. The players and their storylines come with it. And that tournament with those games was just the perfect metaphor for Foggy's rise to dominance. And now there's only one more step to take!
Foggy vs. Romantic Quarterfinal at GCS Winter 2017
Why don't you like 2s to 4s games?
Because I feel so lost in them. I have no idea what's going on. I don't know what's good, I don't know what's bad. One would think that it couldn't be very different since it's the same game: Warcraft III. But no, it's an entirely different animal. So that for one. And also: most 2v2s I've seen seem to be pretty replaceable and dull. But that may just be the uninitiated not being able to appreciate the fine nuances. And well, 4v4s I don't believe I've seen a single one in my life.
Could you tell us which are your best and worst memories at a WC3 live event as a caster? (not talking about in game situation but anything else)
Worst: WCA 2014. By FAR. The level of incompetence was mind-boggling. We arrived like 4 days early in Yinchuan, yet were only allowed into the venue the day before opening, late in the afternoon (!). We got to meet Kripparrian there, who is like the nicest guy, and he showed us his casting booth, which made us think "alright, you know what, that looks pretty solid". We expected a very similar area including equipment to have been set up for us. So we started getting our hopes up - big mistake. Because it turned out, after having had to ask countless people, that there was in fact no place for us. Because they had forgotten that they had invited War3 casters...
Yup, that was a punch in the gut. A feeling that was however quickly followed by rage. And with that came purpose. So I took it upon myself to claim one of these booths for us. There were quite a few after all. Reserved for all kinds of shit, other than us. So eventually I declared that one of the cosplay girls fitting rooms was now going to be ours. It took a while to communicate this to the Chinese staff, but eventually they did get the message.
That was just the very beginning. Of course the headaches didn't stop there. The connection was horrible, Neo had to work through the first night and got sick because of it, just to get a somewhat functioning stream to work, we couldn't get into the LAN network for the longest time, the on-stage match schedule was beyond idiotic, the attendance was lousy.
It was just atrocious. And the saddest thing of all: it didn't improve much, the next two years.
Best: WCA European Regional Finals at Gamescom 2015. It may carry the same "WCA" brand but it was COMPLETELY different. All the European Qualifiers were held by Freaks4u, an Esports company based in Berlin. They treated us very well, were always professional and it was just a blast to be working with them. But that's not the reason why it's the best.
Remo and Neo at WCA Europe 2015
Live audience. Nothing beats a live audience. I don't care if your prize pool is 1 million dollars and in a studio. I prefer 10k on a stage in front of fans. When you hear and feel people reacting to what you're saying, when you can guide them through the game and influence their reactions, it's just the best.
Is it hard to adapt back to your daily routine in Germany after a few weeks of hype in China?
Hell yes. Everything seems dull for a while. Not just studies and work and hanging out. Mainly it's casting, to be honest. You just had the most amazing Grand Final which was epic and unforgettable.
.... And alright, let's go, really looking forward to these round 1 Gera Cup (RIP) games.
Talking about Gera Cup, your thoughts about its cancellation?
Disheartening. First of all. Gera Cup was the weekly anchor around European Warcraft. And now it's gone. Where as I do fear for the activity of the EU scene with this development, I can already see that there are movements that show our community's resolve. On goodgame.ru several "large size" cups have sprung up. As if in protest to these recent events.
So even if this cherished Cup of ours has found its end, I believe we will find replacements. And perhaps even more than just that; betterment and opportunity.
Cast of the very last Gera Cup (#142) Grand Final
Would you ever like to stream another game? If yes which one? Being called "Back2Warcraft" kinda limits that option for the future, yes?
If a suitable game presents itself, sure. And for it to be suitable, we would have to love it. The name Back2Warcraft would most likely have to be changed then. Unless that new game was Warcraft IV. And re-branding is difficult and would have negative effects. But hard work, competence and reputation go a long way in this industry, so I think it would be far from impossible to pull off.
Do 120 and Happy show that UD is as strong of a race as any, or is their talent just out of this world? Why is Happy bulldozing everyone now and not before?
Yeah, I've been wondering that myself a couple of times. Their talent is undoubtedly remarkable. Thousands of Undeads have tried and Thousands of Undeads have failed. Only these two along with TeD have managed to compete for World Championships.
I know, I know, Happy not really, because he only plays online. But I am certain that a player of that caliber would have had very decent chances.
But then again, Happy was around back in 2010. Did his control really improve so dramatically after he came back? Doubtful. He had always been very strong, however never a gold medal threat. Undead had been considered irrelevant at the very highest level for years. So what exactly changed that? One big reason: Orc used to be very strong against UD. Pretty "OP". But the meta changed. 20 supply tech was discovered. Even fast DK, late fiends (even faster tech).
To get you to the faster Lich, the piece on your board that carries you through the mid game. With that opening you can go for quick Tier 3. That gives you the orb, triple hero and, if required, destroyers, making you dangerous in the late game.
Against Elf the frenzy timing and later the frost wyrm timing proved to be very powerful.
What I cannot tell you is whether it took all these years to figure out the correct way to play the race, or if only today we have players with the sufficient skill to execute at the level required.
I think his mechanics were always there. But Happy may not have chosen the best strategies back then (whereas today: wyrms, fast tech, banshees, Pit Lord, etc), and had the timings not worked out too well yet. Or of course everyone else got a lot worse and he is the only one who remained on the same level. That sounds rather unlikely though if you ask me.
Happy excels at micro. So does almost every War3 player of course, but he is one of the very best. And his race allows him to get the extra bit effect from that skill.
How does Happy dominate NE players so much now?
In NE vs. UD late game fight. 60 vs. 60 supply. Happy will use his frenzy ghouls to run past the front line of bears to nova the archers and pick 'em off. If there is a panda on the other side, he will first run in with the ghouls, bait the drunken-breath combo, but split them at the same time. Using their high movement speed to its full potential (Try box-splitting frenzy ghouls with lvl2 aura.... a freakin' nightmare. But he can do it).
The one / two frost wyrms in the air will slow both the heroes and the bears, reducing their damage output significantly. They will be parked next to a forest where they can mess with the dryad/archer AI.
After the archers, he takes out the dryads, all the while kiting with the fiends against the bears, and if there should be any, against the hippos. And the DK is manually parked in the back so he can consistently heal via coil and is out of reach to be burned.
Now look at this fight from the other perspective, as the night elf. You have to a-click the bears. Because they are too slow, thanks to the wyrms, to focus any targets. The demon is gonna try his best to burn the DK, who is the best target. But if the UD microes it well enough he can't do that / lose tons of DPS to reach him.
So what are you left with? Your second hero. The Panda will try to ignite as many ghouls or fiends as possible. Will be made difficult against the best UDs because of slow and splitting. Naga will focus the wyrms with the ranged army and spam forked lightning. No big plays from her possible.
Alright so what about archers, dryads and hippos? Hippos, same as bears: a-click. They all clump up in the air. Top UDs look for that. LVL2 Nova. Tons of damage. Archers and drayds focus fire wyrms. You can't kite with the archers cause the ghouls are too fast and they will probably be hit by nova as well. So the ONLY thing you can influence with fast reflex kiting is pulling back the dryads, when they are being attacked.
TL;DR: Undead armies always have a very high skill ceiling for unit control. Some other armies don't. Like knights + gyros and bears + dryads. And only the very very best Undeads can play it near perfection. Which is how you have to play it to compete at the highest level.
Remo grabbing a beer with Foggy
Why in the world is there so many NE around? And why can't they win any major tournament?
Since we are on the skill ceiling topic: night elf has the lowest. Now, my dear Twitch chat plebs, please don't get your panties in a bunch. I'm not saying Elf is a race for noobs. But it is the most forgiving. Tp out on 10hp? No problem. Moon well, sip-sip. Let's go. How do I use my mana? Oh yeah that's right lets find his hero and burn him. What units do I make? I heard bears are pretty good. Let's make a whole bunch of those. Apparently they can heal and buff my entire army.
Of course I'm partly joking here. There's quite a bit more that goes into playing the race. But as someone who has played as all races on mediocre ladder-level, and consistently plays against all races on decent ladder-level, it really does seem that night elf is the easiest to pull off, up to a certain level.
And herein lies the crux of the matter. As the skill keeps rising, Elf's toolkit seems to become more and more one-dimensional, compared to the other races. And I'm not talking about strategic variety here. I'm talking about ways to use your skill to get an advantage. Humans have perfect macro, army positioning, army composition and crisp timings. UD and Orc have seemingly unlimited micro potential. Elf have those as well, but not to the same extent, in my opinion.
But this only goes for THE VERY HIGHEST level. Tier One players, as we call them.
So I guess what I'm trying to say here is that it's easiest to get decent with Nightelf on the competitive stage.
As to no major tournament wins; I don't think I agree. They may not have won recently, but they are always in contention. Two night elves in Top 4 at last GCS. LawLiet, ReMinD and Moon just need to get their act together.
The balance between races keeps shifting while no patch is released: Wouldn't that mean that the game is just perfectly balanced? How do you explain that.
Well, a game can never be perfectly balanced. That's impossible. Especially when you account for (which you ideally should) the different skill brackets.
And something else we have to be aware of; we kind of see balance in a bubble. There are these, let's say, 30 relevant players that we see competing all the time. And they have their own meta between themselves.
Plus there is individual skill that plays a big role. Which makes trusting such a small sample size (30) inadvisable. Imagine there were no Infi and Romantic. Then suddenly TH000 is the only player in the world who can compete at the highest level with Human. But he won the last GCS. So what now, is Human too strong? Too weak? Exactly right?
The player-base is not big enough anymore to provide us with enough data. There are not enough competitors and up and coming players to give us a reliable sample size. But I think that's OK. Our game has been very small for the last 8 years. But we are still here. And I for one still really enjoy the game.
But anyways, I don't think the most important goal of a patch should be to provide perfect balance. But to shake up the meta. Make it interesting again. Make it fresh. Show something new. The most perfectly balanced game will eventually die. And die even faster if it receives no significant game-play updates on a regular basis.
What should the next patch correct asap?
Battle.net! It must be fixed. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT. No matter what else happens in the patch (if it's a significant one about balance), there has to be a good platform for it. We cannot rely on W3A. Not accessible enough and loads of other problems. Hi@Auto-Ban.
So Bnet has to be it. And at the moment it is beyond abysmal. High ping, bots, hackers, horribly outdated hosting feature, and so on.
Now as far as balance goes:
I have a lot of other suggestions. But I fear those are tremendously influenced by my main race, so I cannot be sure that I really stand by them.
2017 overall prize pool was a big step down from 2016: should we worry for the future of WC3 even in China?
A downward trend is only logical at a certain point, is it not? Then again, the prize pool may increase again this year. Depending on which sponsors become interested and how much NetEase cares to invest, this might be a good or a bad year.
It does not have to be this year or the next, but unless Blizzard/NetEase bring out a big patch that brings in new or returning players, a steady decline is what we have to expect for the future.
I would love to be romantic here and say: "I don't care about prize money. All I want is for fans to enjoy playing and watching Warcraft III."
But that's not how it works. If the prizes become too low, pros will lose interest in competition. And the more of those that abandon us, the less interesting it will be, viewership will decline, sponsors leave, prize money decreases, more players leave, and on goes the vicious circle.
Remo and I fooling around
You usually make video interviews on your Warcraft journeys. Which one impressed you the most and why? Why not doing some back in Germany too like Neo did in the Scouted! series?
Well Grubby gave me like a 1 hour interview. I certainly wasn't expecting that one to take so long. I don't know about impressed, but surprised I was the most by Lyn. I had always expected him to have a very high opinion of himself - perhaps because of his confidence in game - and to be very distant, on a personal level. But that was not at all the case. He was very approachable, humble and we got along very well. Yet he still didn't invite me to his wedding, what the hell!?!?
I did a few interviews with players online in the past. Sonik comes to mind with his iron door. I had toyed around with the idea of doing some again. But somehow never did. Perhaps that's something for the future!
Part 1 of the Grubby interview
Anything you wish I asked ~ or something you want to tell your fans?
Well, thank you first of all, for giving me the opportunity to give this interview. I'm not used to experiencing it from this side.
And to all the Warcraft fans, thank you guys! It's such a privilege and pleasure to be doing this for you. It sounds cheesy, but it's true: without you none of this would be possible. I owe everything in this scene to you.
I hope one day we will have a big time offline Warcraft event with a live audience where I'll be able to meet many of you.
Thank you Remo! This interview really is filled with interesting content, we should think of making this a regular thing!
We were not done with him yet. Now comes the segment "Questions Neo never dared to ask Remo"!
Neo and Remo smiling to the paparazzis
Neo : On April 1st 2015*, you scared the hell outta me by sending a lengthy text, stating you'd leave B2W. How close were you in the past to call it quits?
Not at all, really :D
There are those times when I feel entirely unmotivated and have to take a break. But I never played with the idea of abandoning ship.
*Note : April fools?
Neo : We all love Remo Story Time, how much of that shit is real and do you exaggerate the stories for the purpose of entertainment?
As with all stories that are told, upon occasion, one takes liberties for dramatic effect in telling them. But they are real. How could I lie to my beloved twitch chat? <3