July 01 2020
We're sure you'll recognize the newest addition to Team Liquid as he is a very familiar face to our org. We're happy to announce that Sjow has re-signed with Team Liquid and will be returning! Those of you who have been fans of Liquid since our StarCraft days will be no strangers to Sjow as he was one of the top Europeans throughout his entire StarCraft 2 career. His RTS roots go even deeper than that however, and his competitive days start with Warcraft 3 where he went up against the likes of Grubby and ToD. Sjow now primarily streams and competes in Hearthstone Battlegrounds and MtG. During the last decade Sjow has left his mark on many different titles as one of the best players in the world. We could not be happier to see him return to Team Liquid and we are eager to watch him reach even greater heights in the days, months, and years to come.
Follow Sjow here
Interview with Sjow
How does it feel to be rejoining Team Liquid after almost a year?
It feels great to be back. It was kinda sad to leave in the first place but I’m glad that I’m finally back again.
I was watching one of your streams earlier and I believe you mentioned playing Magic back in the mid 90’s, was Magic what lead to you discovering esports?
No, so I played Magic and got into it very early but I was always playing computer games. I think my first game was Command and Conquer and that really got me into RTS’s. Especially back then, RTS was a big genre. There were games like Red Alert, Dune, Total Annihilation — I played all of those games, I really loved them. Then when StarCraft came out I was like, “Oh this is the next best RTS game, this is for sure the next evolution of the genre.” After playing that I never looked back to play anything else. Then I saw that there were pro matches played in Korea and that you could actually compete in it so that got me interested. I was never trying to get to that point because I knew I wasn’t good but it was very eye opening to me to see that this could actually be done and you could actually compete in a computer game.
Did that make it even more surreal when you went and played in Korea, you were in Code A correct?
Yes, I qualified through the MLG program, so I did well in MLG and got invited to Code A. I also had a side tournament there to play in called IESF so I thought why not do this and try Code A out. My plan was to stay in Korea for a month and see what it feels like and maybe come back in the future. I went with Select who was my teammate back then, he helped me get into one of the pro houses there, I believe it was FoU and I lived and practiced there for one or two weeks before the big tournament and before Code A as well. I managed to win the first Code A match which meant I was qualified for the next Code A too but then I lost to probably the strongest player in Code A which was Curious. So I beat Maka to re-qualify and then got to play against Curious and everyone had said this guy was probably the best here.
He ended up winning that Code A I believe.
Yeah he did. What I felt at that time, after practicing for like 2 months with the Koreans, that type of practice environment is the best to improve in because if you play with the best then your mindset and your sense of where your own barrier is… like you know how good you have to be to compete with these guys. It was a bit of a breakthrough because in Europe I was doing well, not the best but I was doing well. When I first played with the Korean’s I was like oh man I can’t beat these guys they’re too good. After a couple of days practicing with them I started to get better and better and I felt like I improved so much over the course of those two weeks. Just playing with better players. That was also a really eye opening thing for me where I realized if I wanted to get better I’d need to stay in Korea. In the end I never really got back to that environment because I didn’t really like the game at some point when I came back to Europe. There was a lot of Broodlord / Infestor and it just wasn’t fun to play.
You were an incredible sc2 player, what do you think allowed you to be successful in SC2 that has also lead to being able to play Hearthstone and MtG at such a high level?
I think it comes from… well my first competitive game that I really tried to compete in was Warcraft. I played that in 2003 until 2006 I believe. It was never full time or anything like that, I was studying and I had other hobbies like Poker as well so I couldn’t commit 8 hours a day to play it. I felt like I could compete with the best, I could never beat them but I could have a good match with the best players like ToD and Grubby. Maybe even win a map in a best of 3 so I at least felt like I had a shot there. I also got to experience tournaments at lan cafes for prizes so I got a taste for competing there and I was decent so I thought maybe if I committed more time I could be one of the better players in that game. So when StarCraft 2 came out I told myself this is like my childhood dream so if I liked SC2 I would try my absolute best to become one of the best.
So what was it like then for you to play against Grubby and beat him in the grand finals of IESF in SC2?
It was very exciting. I remember I only won one game against Grubby in my whole WC3 career and I mean ladder, tournaments, everything, only one game. I still remember that game till this day because it was so exciting to beat Grubby but then playing him in StarCraft and to actually win the series felt very good.
What are some of your goals for the future now that you’re back with TL?
Right now I’m just focusing on creating good content while still competing. I think I’m always going to be a competitor at heart. If I’m not competing at all and just streaming I feel like eventually I will get bored and want to compete again. So I know that I need to mix it up, but also if you focus too much on tournaments then content suffers. In order to be a good streamer you need to not only focus on the game but also focus on making the audience excited and making sure you are interactive and make it a fun experience for them. If you just sit there and play games it’s not really a fun viewing experience in my opinion. I’ve streamed some SC2 as well and it’s like a totally different game when you stream it, you don’t really have time to interact with chat so you’re basically just watching someone else play the game and I feel like those types of streams get boring and stale after a while so I try to mix it up.
Any shoutouts you’d like to give to wrap this interview up?
Thank you for all the support I’ve received over this decade. This has basically been a decade of esports for me and I think I will play games for the rest of my life. I will also definitely stream in the upcoming future for a long time and continue to play games I enjoy so you’ll probably see me around no matter what happens!
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