“How did you spend your holiday break?” Most of our answers would probably involve partying, visiting family, resting, or studying; however, for the men of the University of Washington, the answer would simply be “Starcraft 2.” From December 16th to December 21st, eight players stayed in Adrian “KawaiiRice” Kwong’s basement to focus on honing their skills in what could be called the very first CSL team boot camp.
The main reason for the gathering was to give non-pro players exposure to more rigorous training styles and, with any luck, to help push the entire UW team toward success as the AZUBU Collegiate Champions this season. Patrick “CaliberLighT” Coury and Kwong, along with other members of the team, took time out of their busy schedules to speak with us about how the boot camp went and if their goals were ultimately achieved.
(left to right) – Gom, Tilea, Caliber, Hwangpo, SentrY, KawaiiRice
“The aim of the camp…was just to improve everybody,” said Coury. Coury and Kwong, who are both members of Team LightT and UW, invited five more players from UW (Matthew “SentrY” Sacks, Douglas “Salgoud” Purcell, Jaesin “Gom” Kim, Victor “Hwangpo” Ho, and Jacob “Rawlz” Perez) to join them at the camp, as well as another Team LighT member, Tilea “TileaLighT” Flavall.
For a video tour of the camp, click here.
Kwong set the rules for the boot camp, establishing that players “really weren’t allowed to mess around” while there, Coury described. A typical day broke down to starting off with a meal, then playing for four hours, with a one hour break for food or rest, and another four or more hours of training after that. Kwong further explained the camp’s structure: “We had three GMs (me, Caliber, Tilea) acting as coaches and practice partners for the five other CSL players there, so they had a lot of personalized coaching and advice from all three races (Tilea and I know Zerg really well too).”
Kwong continued on to describe UW’s teamwork, saying “We’re also fortunate in that all of our players are pretty hard working and (for the most part) listen to everything I have to say, so it’s quite easy to get them to work on stuff.”
Hwangpo and SentrY
This isn’t to say the camp was all work and no play. When not training for eight or more hours a sitting, the guys watched some Proleague, GSL, and IPL 5 replays to pass the time. Matthew Sacks added: “We cooked awesome meals, [and] had an end of the world party (12/21/2012 never forget),” which kept spirits high.
For a video of some of UW’s cooking skills, click here.
Kwong streamed some of the boot camp on his own Twitch.tv page, catching some moments that have been unfortunately lost to the ether, including one player’s “…Thor dance that just looked hilariously bad after he beat a Zerg with mech,” said Kwong with great amusement.
As a result of this positive collaboration, Coury stated that everyone improved “a bunch,” and mechanics were trained, including builds and timings that benefit from repeated exposure. The bottom line was that “none of them have ever really played 40+ games a day, so just forcing them to practice was the most needed thing.”
SentrY and KawaiiRice
Victor Ho contributed a glowing testimonial of his experience: “We got to focus on practicing without having to worry about other things. Our minds were constantly thinking about the game and ways to improve how we played. Personally, I learned a lot more in one week than the whole year that I spent playing Starcraft.”
Kwong further reflected that “It was a good bonding experience for the team, so overall I think it was worth it…everyone made noticeable progress and it showed as we 6-0’ed our CSL match right after the boot camp." However, he and Coury had hoped to get at least one of the Masters players to ascend to Grandmaster on the ladder, which did not happen this time around. Jasein Kim did note that “…I was not able to hit Grandmaster but I am within the MMR to become one on my smurf account,” which is a positive step forward. Both Coury and Kwong admitted that it is hard to schedule training sessions of this style often due to school schedules and other commitments, but their hope is that there will be more camps in future CSL seasons.
(left to right) Gom, Salgoud, Rawls, SentrY, KawaiiRice, and Hwangpo
UW’s leaders are unsure if this boot camp model will be viable in other schools, because it depends on the presence of high level players and the availability of space to accommodate them for extended periods of time, but it provides good motivation regardless. It is always inspiring to see the creative ways that Starcraft 2 players find to improve their skills and create community, and UW is no slacker in this area. It remains to be seen if the boot camp strategy catches on for CSL teams, and how it eventually plays out in favor of UW, who are making a strong push towards the finals as we speak.
Douglas Purcell had a few last words to say before closing: “We’ve exited the hyperbolic chamber stronger than ever. I have a message to all schools in our way: In the words of a very wise man a long time ago, Come at me, bro.”
For a super overtime bonus video featuring KawaiiRice, click here!