Clem versus the world
At some point in the middle of 2020, right in the middle of a global pandemic, a teenager in a French town of less than 10,000 people started to dominate one of the world’s oldest esports.
At 19 years old, Clément "Clem" Desplanches had rapidly become insanely adept at one of the most execution heavy matchups in the game, Terran vs. Zerg (TvZ), because it was the only way to dethrone the old kings and rising princelings of Europe. In April of 2020, Clem’s momentum mounts at Red Bull Xel’Naga - a prominent weekly series that regularly features some of Europe’s best competitors - including Serral, a Finnish phenomenon who had the best run of any non-Korean (foreign) player in StarCraft history.
When Clem goes into this match, it has to be at incredibly bad odds. Clem is massively behind Serral in record, having yet to win a series (0-5) and only once to win a map. But that record is deceptive.The two haven’t battled since 2019 and Clem has been ascendant towards the end of that year and beginning of the next, while Serral’s been on a slight decline.
In the last game of the series, Clem bullies Europe’s Zerg champion. Almost instantly, he’s inside of Serral’s base with fast Hellions and reapers, using the mobility of these units to harass Serral’s workers and disrupt the horde’s economy. From start to finish, Clem runs a higher pressure game that could fall apart fairly easily if he makes a mistake, but he doesn’t make many of those.
He’s nearly immaculate in picking targets, kiting away from the rush of melee units, and evacuating before Banelings can explode and kill his mass of Marines. Whenever he’s locked in a big battle, he’s multitasking by dropping Marines in from the air and running a skirmish inside one of Serral’s bases. The pressure from one end of the map allows him to sneak tanks and Marines in on the cliffs of another side and chip away at the Zerg’s numbers.
It’s an absolute chokehold. Much like in an actual grapple, it’s a testament to Serral’s defense that he doesn’t have to tap out immediately. He keeps a squad of Zerglings and Queens in reserve to respond to Clem’s harassment. But each trade is just that bit better for Clem and as Serral has to replenish armies and protect workers, Clem is getting upgrade leads, expanding his economy, and tightening the hold. Serral runs out of breath and taps out.
When Clem and I talk, there is an orange cat asleep and sinking deep into a sofa behind him. He’s naturally soft-spoken, seeming quiet and casual even when he’s animated. Outside of the game, staff at TL talk about how cordial and nice he is. As he talks about the game, it’s clear there’s a gulf between his playstyle and his personality.
Inside StarCraft, he’s one of the more aggressive, confident, and highest execution players out there.
Your pressure is very exceptional in this [TvZ] matchup. How did you develop your approach and confidence in the matchup?
Historically, I was always a very aggressive player. I was even more aggressive some time ago, always try to attack, always drop here and there. Recently I tried to learn how to back off a little bit sometimes and play a little bit more defensive when I have to.
I think my strength was usually micro in the past, more than anything. Now I’ve become overall more complete, especially in that matchup. But yeah I’ve always had this aggressive playstyle - and micro-oriented. The confidence comes with it. [...]
I think it’s something really important to the Terran sometimes, to just have confidence to take certain fights that other players wouldn’t necessarily take, but still end up giving you a good trade.
Do you think about your attacks [in terms of mitigating risk]? Like, “What happens if I lose this trade? What happens if they flank me here, if he has some Banelings hidden in this part of the map? Things like that?
Yeah, in StarCraft you always have to think about every possibility and try to scout and then be like “from there he could do this, this, and this.” You kinda have to take all the possibilities into account and then you need to be able to scout and then defend everything to not lose too many games.
It’s really important to be aware of what your opponent could do and then try to have it in mind and getting stuff [ready] against it. Be like, “if I have to scout at this timing to hold that…” Just try and be safe [against] everything and play the most overall solid as you can.
That’s not what every player does but when you look at the best players like Serral and Maru, that’s mostly what they do right? They’re gonna try to be overall very solid and be safe against everything and also do some cheesy timings and some early aggression.
Risk is the key to aggression, micro is the key to control
Serral might have been the best Zerg in 2018, and stretches of 2019-2020, but in 2021, Reynor has since pushed past him. It’s set up a fascinating scenario where two of the youngest competitors in the oldest esport are colliding to be the best in the game. The Clem-Reynor matchup has become a classic that - in recent days - Clem tends to win. If you want to see Clem’s best work as a StarCraft player, a recent set against Reynor is a solid bet.
If you want a good breakdown of just what Clem excels at, then UThermal’s analysis is a great bet. As a teammate, a European Terran, and someone who’s played 151 tournament games against Clem, UThermal can pick apart the matchup and the player. Above, he highlights and aspect of aggressive play that flies under the radar in almost any sport:
In the timestamp above, Clem is behind Reynor in worker count, supply (overall unit count), and getting harassed off of minerals he wants to mine. He is in danger of falling behind in economy, losing control of the map, and letting Reynor take control. So he chooses to counter with a rapid burst of aggression that will destroy one of Reynor’s bases.
In doing so, Clem’s taking on a big risk, pushing past a chokehold that’s far from his reinforcements. Reynor realizes he can wrap around, cut off Clem’s Marines and potentially take out a huge chunk of them - but Clem realizes this too. At around 34:25, right before the attack, Clem splits his Marines into two and has one group fall back, while he also moves another squad slightly forward (you can see the green clump up on the map just outside the base at 12 o’clock).
When Clem pushes in, it’s with a group of Marines that’s just big enough to destroy the base as the horde of Zerg melee units come in. Then Clem picks up his attacking Marines with medivacs (flying units which can pick up, drop, and heal Marines), and uses the Marines on the backfoot to kite back and give space for the medivacs to retreat. He brings up the reinforcements he’d positioned at the top of the map so he can retreat into them and form a concave of Marines that the Zerg have to attack into.
He’s gone from being surrounded to surrounding Reynor.
What makes the play unique is less so the casually strong micro or confident attack - it’s the great risk management. As he stresses in the interview, it’s important to play as safe as possible but that doesn’t mean Clem opts out of his risky attacks or takes only high-percentage plays. It’s more that he mitigates the risk in his aggressive moves by looking ahead, considering how his attack could get countered, and building a way to reduce the damage from the counter.
This aspect of risk management often goes unnoticed when we talk about a player with insane skill on the offense. The execution will take precedence partly because it’s easier to see and partly because execution very obviously matters a lot. In Clem’s case, he readily admits that his style runs off of a very practiced and refined micro game.
(“Very practiced” is closer to understatement than hyperbole. Clem’s has an insane competitive stamina and according to Liquipedia, Clem’s entered 54 events this year. That’s roughly two events every week.)
Nearly every Clem game has a great example of micro, the most visible often being when he’s controlling a mass of bio (units made of flesh and fats like Marines/Ghosts) or squeezing so much out of an early harassment with a few fast units. His ability to multitask also stems from that micro - being able to handle several fights on a map at once through really high APM (actions per minute) and fast movement. In the clip above, he fends off harassment while setting up his attack.
Underneath all the movement and execution that comes with strong offense, that risk management easily gets lost. Since it’s one of the key strategic components of aggression, it’s also why audiences tend to see aggressive competitors as all brawn, where the defensive competitors - who often have more visible strategies and traps - get seen as all brain.
In Super Smash Bros. Melee, this effect runs wild, with casual fans separating the aggressive and defensive like oil and water, when they’re both part of the same current. In Melee, the defensive great Hungrybox gets talked about like he has no skill in execution when he actually as insane APM. Meanwhile, master of aggression Mang0, gets talked about like he players every set as a drunken master - pure, feeling execution with no thought.
In an interview I did with Ginger (another top Melee player) for Inven Global, he revealed that Mang0 approaches risk management similarly to how Clem does. When he goes in for an attack, he anticipates what the counter will be provided the attack misses or gets blocked. From there, he readies his defense - a counter to that counter. In this way, when Mang0 is being unsafe, he’s still much safer than most Melee players because he manages the risk so well.
[A quick note: the section below is from the interview with Ginger and dives into Mang0’s aggression in Melee. You can scroll by if you like.]
You said that Mang0 can mitigate the counter-hit in a way - or can mitigate when he gets called out. How does he do that? Is that just a really good understanding of DI, SDI, disadvantage?
Ginger: If you ask Mang0, his answer is that he has been knocked down more times than anyone else so he knows what to do when he gets up. To a degree that’s very true. [...]
Mang0’s very aware of the counterplay that could come back to him so when he goes into a mix-up [tricky attack] he knows exactly what he needs to do on the defensive end next. So being paired with supremely good execution on his DI, SDI, techs, all of that stuff sort of helps mitigate the damage.
Essentially he just knows the [decision] trees. If we imagine a combo tree - okay somebody DI’d left so I’m going to do this. On his end, I feel like there’s this kind of working damage mitigation tree that’s like, “Okay, if they do this counterplay with this forward air then the next thing they would be able to do to combo me is this dash attack so I’m going to shield before that comes out…”
You’ll find that, in many sports, the greatest attacks layer their offense with so much defense. Muhammad Ali, famous for his brutal jab, speed, and knockouts, had built much of his offense around how to take a hit. And he could take a hit more intelligently than perhaps anybody. His rope-a-dope strategy was both insanely high risk and really well thought out.
This is all to say that Clem’s game goes deep - deeper than raw offense. Anyone who gets to a top 10 level in a sport as competitive and studied as StarCraft will have defense and offense layered together. Of course it also takes insane execution to pull it all off. You can’t have Mango without insane tech skill, Ali without insane agility, and Clem without insane micro.
I heard from a recent interview at DreamHack that you feel the map pool is very good for Terrans against Zerg right now. I was curious if you could expand on that.
So I feel like in best-of-3’s, then the map pool is pretty much even, maybe slightly Zerg favored cause you’re gonna play 1 slightly favored Terran map, 1 slightly favored Zerg map, and then the last map is usually Romanticide which is a decent Zerg map.
It’s more like when it comes to best-of-7’s (best-of-5’s too but mostly best-of-7’s). The maps that Zergs would usually always veto cause they’re like, “Oh this map is unplayable!” Then they can’t veto this map - Beckett Industries. They also have a good Zerg map they usually veto in Jagannatha, they can play this map in best-of-7’s but I think it’s a better trade for Terran to play Beckett Industries.
UThermal points out you go to a 2-base start where other Terrans might not. What advantages do you think a 2-base gives you that makes you opt into it more often?
I would say last year I would almost always go for a 2 base opening against Zerg and then take a 3rd base and then go Hellion, Banshee to really get a lot of harassment down and map control. Then I’d have big potential to do damage.
But this year I’ve mostly been going [the] 3 CC [Command Center] build actually. Very fast 3 CC openings on one gas only and then taking the game from there. Either going Hellion, Banshee or really fast 2 barracks with stim, to put a lot of pressure with those stim Marines very early on. [...]
TvZ is a really mechanical matchup, right? So it’s a matchup where you can do kind of a standard opening and take the game from there and then try to outplay your opponent - play faster, play better. In other matchups like TvP it’s a little more tricky. [...]
I feel like in TvZ what’s really important is to have a lot of confidence in your units and once you have that you can start doing some really cool stuff and taking some really cool trades. Other Terrans will just pick up their Marines and leave but if I feel a bit more confident I’ll try to focus fire some Bane[lings] and stay and get a good trade. I think that’s a big difference between me and some other Terran players.
What caused that switch [from 2 base]? You were doing pretty well against Zerg last year as well. Is it just more versatility?
I feel like nowadays Zergs just got really, really good at holding the 2 base pressure. When you play a style when your 3rd CC is a bit later you kind of have to do some damage to make up for that. You have more damage potential but you also have to do some damage. [...]
Nowadays Zergs got really good at holding without taking too much damage. I used to go for Liberator openings but nowadays Zerg players, they don’t really take any damage from Liberators. They’re really good at microing away.
That’s probably why I’m going 3 CC, just makes it so that you don’t necessarily need to do a lot of damage early on to have a chance in the game.
How important would you say the micro is in setting the foundation of your macro play? For example, do you need to have a certain really high threshold of micro to be able to do certain macro strategies?
Yeah, for sure. Like when you play the 3 CCs opening and you’re going for a really high paced early game in TvZ, you also need the multi-tasking and the micro to keep up. We’re still talking about the higher level games but in like a little lower level you don’t really need all that micro and you can just focus on your macro and make a lot of units and then a-move the guy.
But at some point when your macro is on-point and your opponent is also on-point you kinda need these extra moves and micro to win the game. TvZ’s a very high-paced matchup so you need a lot of multitasking.
Obviously [that’s if] you wanna play like a very dynamic game. You also have some other playstyles where you’re a bit more campy and play the game a bit slower but if you wanna play a high-paced game you have to multitask a lot and do a lot of drops and harassments. It’s really not easy but it’s mechanically really hard more than strategically, in some sense.
Is TvZ your favorite matchup to play right now?
Yeah for sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s also the most fun one, I think.
Do you think that’s coincidence or do you think you play better when you’re really having fun with the matchup?
Yeah but I think also TvZ just fits my style really well - the micro, the multitasking. Also if you have a lot of fun in the matchup you’re gonna practice it more and just think about it more and also winning a lot in the matchup makes it that I enjoy it maybe.
It’s really hard to say! Do I enjoy it because I win a lot or do I enjoy it because I enjoy it? [chuckles]
Converging at TvZ
Looking at his strengths, Clem almost seems built for the modern TvZ. His insane micro, particularly with medivacs and bio, means that he trades insanely well even when he makes mistakes. His focus on control and risk mitigation in the macro game fits perfectly too, since there’s less risk in TvZ’s macro openings and controlling the tide of creep (encroaching terrain that buffs Zerg units) and the rival economy is most important.
The results show the TvZ as a converging point for Clem’s building skills. Before he lost to Dark at Shopify TSL 7 this weekend, he’d had a wild 3 month winning streak where no Zerg had defeated him in a best-of-3-5-7 series. This is particularly insane given not only the volume of events Clem has entered but the fact that two of the world’s best Zerg players (Serral and Reynor) are regular opponents.
It’s a matchup that Clem enjoys, but he’s not sure if it’s because of how it plays or because of how much he wins in it. There’s also a “learn to love it” element in there, given Clem had to master this matchup over all others if he wanted to conquer Europe. Beyond even Reynor and Serral, the European Zerg horde is strong.
The process of mastering TvZ may have also cemented Clem’s style in general. He talks about how the more intensive part of the game is the micro - that need to make sure you weave your units into firing range, out of Melee range; drop your units into the fray, pull them before Banelings explode and ruin your day. You also need complete confidence in your micro, and Clem will routinely show that confidence by kiting out that bit longer, killing that extra unit.
Growing his already good micro game into something exceptional was vital not only for better trades but also for macro. Clem’s chokehold style revolves around taking control with very consistent pressure. If he’s getting attacked, he’s probably also attacking elsewhere. If he has an army lead, he’s probably using it to destroy creep tumors and keep the Zerg’s creep speed buff outside of the middle of the map so that he can effectively retreat, reinforce, and form up a concave firing line.
Clem has shaped the way TvZ plays but even more curiously, TvZ may have shaped the way he plays. Admittedly, It’s a bit of a chicken and the egg scenario, but either way he’s so good at TvZ that it’s a career centerpiece and a historic achievement already. Were it only that there weren’t two more matchups in the game...
When it comes to international competition, are you at all concerned about TvP [Terran vs. Protoss] or TvT [Terran vs. Terran]?
Yeah, I’m a little bit concerned. Maybe even more about TvP than TvT since my TvT vs. Korean Terrans is usually pretty 50/50 - except maybe against Maru who is the best TvT, then he’s pretty favored. [...]
Against Protosses and TvP it’s a little bit harder and I’m always a little bit concerned about that. That’s also why I try to practice TvP a lot and try to find some new cool builds to do and new cool stuff.
There’s also the thing that if you play TvP against Koreans, you’re gonna play on the NA server [...] so there’s ping. There’s ping for both players but I play a lot worse with ping, especially in TvP. I think playing in TvT is not that big of a deal but in TvP and TvZ it’s pretty bad. [...]
Regardless, the Korean Protosses are really strong. It’s always hard to play against them.
In the TvP matchup how important do you feel build order is?
I think it’s really important because there’s a lot of build order clashes that lead to one player or another taking the advantage in the game. It’s usually like there are some build orders that are better against certain things but you can’t necessarily always know what the guy’s gonna do, right?
So there’s always a little bit of, in TvP more than in other matchups, randomness. Because you can’t really play safe against everything, I feel like. There’s also a lot of possibilities and different stuff you can do from both races. I think it’s a pretty hard matchup to play from both sides and it's also a pretty hard matchup to be consistent in.
Does it feel very Rock-Paper-Scissors?
Yeah a little bit. It still has its opportunities to outplay your opponent. Let’s say you both try to do some harassment and let’s say the guy has some DTs in your base and you have widow mines in the other base. Then it’s like crisis management and you can always try to play better than your opponent. [...] But yeah sometimes it feels a little bit like a Rock-Paper-Scissors, more than other matchups for sure.
Does that style, where the build order is very important and where making the right guess on the macro [game] is very important, does that hurt you as a player because your style is so built around really good micro?
Yeah, I would do better if TvP was a bit like TvZ where both players would do kind of a normal opening with some variations here and there and some harassment. I think I would do better if we would usually just go into a normal game and then take it from there and go for a longer game with a lot of multitasking. [...]
Sometimes it feels a bit like you do a build order and you kinda hope the guy isn’t gonna do something in specific [that counters it].
I’m curious how much you rely on prep and what build orders you often see the Protoss going for and how much you rely on unique in-game scouting or ways to figure out what they’re doing?
I think TvP is a matchup where it’s a bit more important to prepare well than TvZ and even maybe TvT. You also have to find some cool build orders to surprise the opponent. Preparing and knowing what the Protoss is most likely going to do is really important.
How confident are you feeling in your TvT?
I’m feeling quite confident, I think it’s my second-best matchup after TvZ. It’s not like TvZ where I usually win most of the time - I get some losses here and there. Overall, I feel pretty confident in my TvT, even against Koreans. It’s always a bit harder to play against Korean Terrans but I don’t feel like, “I have no chance.”
What do you feel makes the Korean Terrans more fearsome?
It’s pretty hard to say honestly, you could say they are just better overall, you know? [chuckles]
It always seems like they find some really cool new build orders and ideas of doing things and some small moves you’re not necessarily going to think about. It always feels like they have a really good idea of strategies. [...]
Do you feel like they scout you, like they prep or plan better for you than European Terrans might?
I’m not sure if it’s a preparation thing. It’s maybe not only about preparation but their way of playing the matchup is a bit different. If you look at Maru’s TvT, he plays in a really defensive way and it’s really solid and it’s really hard to play against cause even if he’s a little bit behind in the game and you have advantage, he’s just gonna sit back and go for the longer game. Then he’s eventually gonna beat you in the late game.
TvT, TvP, Clem Versus the World
Clem’s TvZ is so successful that when you talk about it, you wonder if we all aren’t just living in Clempolean Debonaparte’s world when Clem hasn’t even made himself an emperor of StarCraft yet. Reynor is still very much in contention for ruling Europe and Maru in contention for Terran. Hell, when Maru and Clem play it doesn’t look “in contention” at all - it looks like Maru is flat out better.
Clem is 1-4 in sets, 4-12 in games against Maru and has been brutalized by the Korean terran in a way that reveals some of Clem’s primary weaknesses. Namely, his Terran vs. Terran (TvT), Terran vs. Protoss, his international record, and his ability to play on the backfoot.
Before we go forward it’s worth noting that even these weak areas are stronger than the majority of competitive players. Aligulac is a website that generates ratings based on recent matches and Clem leads not only in TvZ but in TvP and overall. It's a good indication of Clem's overall skill in the match-ups, but it also reveals Aligulac's flaw in weighing all tournaments equally, regardless of their importance. When you go by results in only major tournaments, it's hard to claim Clem is the best player in the world.
However, his rapid rise in ranking, shows that it’s no longer Clem vs. Reynor or even Clem vs. Europe. It’s now Clem vs. the world.
To reach the next level (AKA best player in the world) Clem needs to forge his TvT and TvP into something world class while also fleshing out his overall playstyle. These goals go in tandem too, because Clem’s struggles with top level TvT and TvP come in part from playing outside of his style.
While Clem does have a strong defense to match his offense and is more well-rounded than most players, he likes to play a certain kind of game. He enjoys when he can run a standard set of opening strategies with occasional variations. From there he likes to build out, outplay the opponent in cross-map trades and fights, and then establish control.
Clem has a vulnerability to situations and matchups which upend that.
In the Protoss matchup, things are naturally weirder. The opening strategies matter a lot more in determining the outcome and Clem admits that while it’s not all a gamble on the opener, it’s much more a game of rock-paper-scissors than is TvZ. Clem explains that the R-P-S nature of TvP means things like scouting, conditioning, and especially studying your opponent become more important.
Clem is genuinely good in these heady macro areas but he’s not godlike as he is with micro, execution, multitasking, and cross-map trading. They’re also areas where he feels he’s still building and growing. Much of his intentional practice these days is VOD review and he knows before anyone that his TvP is maybe his biggest obstacle to being number 1.
If it isn’t TvP, then it’s Korean players in general. He has beaten top Koreans like INnoVation, Armani, ByuN, Zest, Dark, and Cure but he’s also lost to most of these players somewhat recently. He finds Korean TvT to be especially hard and when pressed why, he points to their ability to find slight macro openings, make small moves, and run better strategies. Inside the matches, it seems many of these slight adjustments help the Korean terrans to keep Clem from controlling the map.
In his 3-2 TSL 7 loss against top Korean Terran Cure, Clem would win when he could call out Cure’s early moves and take control. Cure would win sometimes via cheese but also sometimes by matching Clem’s aggression to keep Clem on the backfoot and behind in upgrades. In the first game, Cure really pushes the issue, chasing Clem’s attacking medivacs all the way out of the mid-map area with Hellions and reapers, then holding Clem back from the middle of the map with constant pressure.
Sometimes Cure’s aggression worked simply because he really committed to laying on economic damage and other times it worked simply because he had a better read of the macro game. In game 5, Clem and Cure both go for an attack with Medivacs at the same time but Clem goes for cyclones that cost more and do less economic damage than Cure’s units. Had Clem kept his cyclone back on defense, he’d probably have had a better chance to build up and beat Cure later.
Maru takes an opposite approach and runs such a firm defense that Clem struggles to get any foothold. Clem seems to make more micro mistakes in the TvT matchup and Maru takes advantage. Maru also does a good job of fending off Clem’s scouts and reading the macro game well for when to just hold and not throw and when to counterattack and win by rejecting Clem’s attack harder than Clem rejects his.
Even his legendary TvZ isn’t immune to Korean counter-strats. For Clem, Dark’s recent 4-2 win at TSL 7 is perhaps more worrying than Maru’s 3-0 sweeps. Dark demonstrated a resounding understanding of Clem’s gameplan - perhaps better than any Zerg had.
He stole away a Terran-favored map with an early cheese strategy that he knew Clem didn’t watch for. He constantly applies pressure on Clem with counter attacks because he saw what Clem did to European Zergs that let him get even an ounce of control.
He even altered his army composition, using Ravagers and Infestors for their special abilities. The Infestors to cast fungal growth and slow Clem’s Marines down and shut down their kiting; the Ravagers to rain down bile - a stomach acid artillery battery that destroyed tanks and shut down Clem’s attempts to retreat and form a concave against Zerg counterattacks.
After the match, Dark said that he poured his preparation into this matchup. For Clem, this is just another obstacle he has to face. Now that he’s competing to be one of the world’s best, the entire world will prepare specifically for him. Even his TvZ isn’t safe. After all, everything Dark did, Reynor can also do.
Parity and hope
Fortunately for Clem, there’s a rough parity to StarCraft right now. Pretty much every top 10 player has something serious to fear from multiple other top 10 players. There is no obvious ruler here.
This means that while Dark may prepare counters for Clem, Reynor prepares counters for Dark and overcomes him, giving Dark another thing to adjust to. Clem gains some space to find his counters to Dark’s counters as well as to improve his TvT and TvP. Besides, if there’s an element Clem is truly skilled at, it’s improvement.
Clem didn’t used to run the TvZ matchup. He didn’t used to be this complete of a player. He also just recently turned 19 and finished high school. It’s hard not to feel like his career is only beginning, even though he’s been playing StarCraft for a decade now.
That’s not only because of his age but also his mentality. He’s quick to acknowledge the areas he needs to improve on; he’s aware of how tough StarCraft’s top echelon is and doesn't take his opponents lightly; and boy, does he grind this game.
Clem’s had a bonafide rough patch of results recently - 5th at ESL Open Cup 75, 7th at TSL 7, 5th at NeXT 2021, and 3rd at ESL Open Cup 77. He’ll play at Dreamhack Masters this weekend, where he’s in a group of all Terrans and Protoss. That stretch could continue and he could drop out in the group stage.
But then, Clem’s also worked up to a point where it always feels like he could win the whole thing. Like he really could become the best player in the world.