Recently G4TV.com partnered up to stream the Evil Geniuses StarCraft 2 Master's Cup finals, and we got the chance to talk to the winner of the tournament. Here, Pro StarCraft 2 player Kevin "ROOT.qxc" Riley talks about his matches as well as a slew of other things. Kevin played exceptionally well, and by the end he had only lost one game out of twelve in the single elimination tournament. Check after the break for the full interview.
G4: Talk to us about how the EG Tournament went for you. How were you able to dominate all of the other final competitors losing only one round?
Kevin: The EG tournament actually came right after my finals week so I hadn't been practicing very much in the last couple of weeks. I was somewhat surprised at how well it went. But, I think spending the previous day cooped up on an airplane helped me get pumped up and ready to play.
What were some of your favorite matches?
The series versus EG.Machine were my favorites, as I was unsure of how well I would do. The whole series turned out to be very one sided. A number of people asked where they could download some of the games afterwards as well.
The series vs. ROOT.SLush was my least favorite, as it was almost entirely gimmicky builds back and forth. Neither of us was really playing for a later game which tended to make them a little less interesting.
If you're counting the best of five I played vs. EG.IdrA, then that was definitely the toughest. But in terms of the actual tournament, it was playing vs. NOVA.stalife, as I was starting to get somewhat fatigued after playing most of the day.
Tell us about some of your favorite tournaments that you've participated in. What did you like about them?
My favorite tournaments are the ones that are well run and have good players in them. EG's cup was well organized and all the information was very clear and the player base was strong. Tournaments run by GosuCoaching/Xeris also tend to be good as well. Recently, I think my favorite tournament was the FXOpen where I defeated ROOT.KiWiKaKi 3-2 in the winner's bracket final using battlecruisers, and then went on to take out Fnatic.Sen 3-1 to take the whole event.
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You seem to be very aggressive and drop oriented against all three match ups, why do you prefer this playstyle?
I like to attack and get in to my opponent's head, much moreso than I like working on the game mechanics specifically. I would rather muck up someone else's timings and state than simply sit back and improve my own. This is the style that corresponds best with my competitive nature.
You've achieved quite a lot within the community, what are your goals when it comes to SC2?
I want to be the best. That's been my goal from the very beginning. Maybe I'll even make a career out of it - but I still need to finish up college.
Tell us about your team, ROOT. When did you become associated with them and what are some of your team's goals?
ROOT gaming is an organization born out of the aspirations of ROOT.Catz & ROOT.Drewbie. They wanted to make a stand alone StarCraft 2 team with the best players possible. The team was started back in beta and we have gradually accumulated players to become the squad we are today. Our team has always wanted to be the best.
How did you get your start as a pro SC2 player? When did you decide you wanted to go pro?
I started playing Starcraft: Brood War seriously around 2 years ago. My original goal was to go pro in that game. About a year into that journey, Starcraft 2 beta came out and I got a key. I switched over and never looked back.
How does being in college affect your ability to progress as a player?
College forces me to make a lot of sacrifices in other realms of my life (social/athletics) in order to keep up with my academics and StarCraft. I also have to rely less on rote memorization/massive practice to win games because I don't have time to do so.
What's is it that draws you to SC2 as opposed to other types of games?
SC2 is the biggest and most competitive game I've seen. When I was deciding on what game I wanted to play seriously, Brood War was also one of the only 1v1 games that I had much experience in. I don't like relying on other people, and so I've always kind of disliked team games in general.
What would you add or remove from the game? Both balance and features wise? Why?
I feel like reapers and hellions need something to make them more useful in the later stages of the game. Both are units that have a small role in the early game, and see almost zero use past that. Other than that, it'd be nice if battlecruisers weren't so hard countered by vikings/charged void rays/corruptors, so that they were viable in more situations.
In the coming year what are you most excited for when it comes to e-Sports and SC2?
I'm most excited to see the change that is coming, in terms of the growing e-Sports scene as well as my own position within that community. There's a lot happening and I don't really know where I'll be in six months.
Are there any players who inspire you? Do they drive you to do certain things/strive to be a better player?
Recently, I found Liquid`Jinro to be a fairly inspirational player because of his smart and strong play both as a Starcraft 2 player and as a competitor. I really felt like he understood how to win a tournament at MLG, and have since sought to copy some of his strategies.
Are there any players who you try to learn from?
Specifically, no. But I like to learn from anyone who has something to teach. I try to keep my mind open to new ideas even if they may be from unlikely sources.
Who are some of your favorite practice partners other than members of your team?
I don't have a lot of dedicated practice partners. I play at odd hours because of school and often play on ladder or against whomever is available at the moment.
How important is it for you to commentate your games and try to educate your fans on your stream?
The fans are what keep the community alive and growing, so to be able to encourage and communicate with them is one of my most important responsibilities as a player.
Do you consider yourself to be the best North American player?
Everyone has good and bad days. Defining what 'the best' means is not as simple as most would make it out to be. For the sake of my ego, and my dream, I have always considered myself to be one of the best players in the world because of how I think about the game and my work ethic. I'm not scared of anyone and I'm confident that, given the the opportunity, there is no one I cannot defeat.
What are your favorite match ups right now?
All the matchups are pretty similar in terms of favoritism right now. None of my matchups are specifically weak at the moment so I don't have a most or least favorite. Although, I tend to win TvT more than any other.
Do you have any rivals of the ladder?
Recently, no. Dignitas.SeleCT, Liquid`HuK, and Fnatic.Fenix laddered a great deal, and so I often saw them and lost to them on ladder. But, with them being MIA and a lot of the top North American players not laddering a great deal, I haven't had a lot of trouble recently while laddering.
Thank you so much! Any shoutouts?
Thanks to ROOT Gaming for banding together an awesome group of players. Check us out on at root-gaming.com. You can also check out my twitter and facebook page for more updates from me as well. You can see my stream at justin.tv/rootqxc. If you're interested in more instructional content from me check out nerdstomper.com.
Also, thanks to my friends and family for being supportive of my aspirations and goals. It hasn't been easy but it's all going well.
Kevin will also be providing G4TV.com a set of commentated videos of his grand finals matches vs. NOVA.stalife in the coming days, so stay tuned. If you're interested in more interviews from StarCraft 2 players, we also spoke with Greg "EG.IdrA" Fields and Taylor "LG.PainUser" Parsons last week. Who is your favorite StarCraft 2 pro?
Photo Source: John Engel