The tiger, in addition to having long-standing cultural ties to Korea, is a serious predator. Tigers hunt at night and rely on camouflage and surprise. They typically kill by biting the neck, killing their prey through blood loss or strangulation, but they can adapt – they are known to blind crocodiles with their claws. A paw swipe is powerful enough to smash a bear’s skull. Tigers’ short-term memory lasts about thirty times longer than humans’.
We might call the Chunnam Techno University team an “ambush” of young tigers. Not much has been seen of the CTU team’s play, and little is known of their players. Here just before the ACC finals, we’re seeing a great hunt – Chunnam Techno University is the ACC’s Asian league finalist, joined by the University of Washington, Aarhus University, and University of California: Berkeley. Despite being a small team (four Terran, two Protoss, and one Zerg), they have proven themselves ruthless, not dropping a match in their climb to the finals.
In an interview with the team coordinator, Kang Byung-Ho, says “CTU is the only school in Korea with a e-Sports department.” With head professor Lee Myung-Keun [of the Brood War team Hite SPARKYZ] and Kim Min-Ki [a current STX SouL coach], the department shows excellent StarCraft pedigree. In fact, having an e-sports department is what attracted these players to CTU. When asked if all team members intend to go pro, Kang answers “all of us are considering e-sports as our career path. It’s hard to say it’s just a hobby.”
This does not mean the team is all business. Kang tells CSL that the team lives and trains together at school. When preparing for a match, they help each other out. They socialize often and play other games. Some have girlfriends.
Fighting Tooth and Claw
Kang says Doo Rang Bae (NosRedBlack; Protoss) and Jin Hyeok Ju (eins; Terran) improved the most over the season, a terrifying notion as both are now 140+ EAPM (SC2 Gears) Masters on the Korean ladder. “But most of our players got a lot better through this tournament,” Kang says. “We all train together and prepare for each match. So that helped us in many ways to have good results.”
When asked about the team’s matches throughout the season, Kang says “Seoul National University was the most meaningful. It was our first match of this season and motivated us as a team. Our matches versus Chungkang College of Cultural Industries were the hardest. Every match with them was tough.”
Looking forward to the finals, the CTU coordinator says it was difficult to research the other league finalists. “We believe there will be great matches at the finals as we all represent our countries,” he says.
Unlike a housecat, tigers can’t purr. Instead they squint their eyes (weakening their vision) to show they feel comfortable and safe. Will we see our baby tigers paw happily at the trophy, or will they fly home tail-tucked? E-sports fans won’t have to wait long with the finals right around the corner.