Stephen “GAMETIME” Ankawi is a Grandmaster Zerg player who has qualified for WCS Challenger League on multiple occasions. A highly ranked, highly skilled North American player grinding games every day to improve himself even further. He started streaming earlier this year and now has 5842 followers and more than 500 subs.
PrairieDog: As a high-ranking Grandmaster, what do you think it takes to reach the level of mastery to break into top tier play such as WCS?
GAMETIME: I get this question a lot, “how do you improve in StarCraft?” for ranks like Diamond and Masters. It’s all about learning the game, you kind of get to a point where you hit a brick wall, and it’s all about efficiency. You got to try to get a better understanding and have the knowledge to not have to think in game. People need to have better reactions. In my opinion, last year the way I was practicing I was watching a lot of pro games and then playing. Once you have that game knowledge you can play fast and not have to worry about it, you can worry about the mechanical things like creep spread. To answer the question, it all comes down to these things coming together. It’s almost like how you worked in school, taking notes and learning about what you’re doing different from all these pros, see what you’re doing wrong and fixing it.
PD: How much has streaming helped or hindered your progress, mindset, and devotion to achieving even higher ranks?
GT: So streaming is incredibly fun. I’ll have been streaming 170 days missing only 10. People watch you because they enjoy StarCraft and you as a person and talking about the game that we love. If you wanna be one of the pros, someone like Neeb or Serral you shouldn’t stream. I used to do 1-2 hours of gaming and then watch vods and come back with a fresh mindset. When streaming you can’t do that you’re grinding for the 6 hours of stream time. There’s positives and negatives to it. You’re playing a lot and improving mechanics, but you’re easily distracted by the alerts or the chat or telling a story. When you’re playing StarCraft and want to be one of the best in the world you need to be completely focused on the game. If you forget even one little thing you can fall behind. It is hard to climb but your mindset can be better because chat can make you feel better after a loss. Devotion wise it helps, cause you’re grinding the game the whole stream.
PD: StarCraft is twenty years old and counting, what do you think we would need to keep seeing newer faces rise, like Reynor?
GT: StarCraft has been a consistent game as far as players and viewers, it’s not going anywhere. We have a really dedicated fanbase. If you like RTS games, StarCraft is the best. It will take people who really enjoy this kind of game to keep seeing people rise like Reynor. The FPS games appeal to the younger ones, but the passionate young people that really like RTS and the 1v1 concept enjoy how hard the game is in general. We will see more people like Reynor, Clem, and Future. Passion is what it takes to see new faces rise.
PD: Looking at Serral’s recent success both in the WCS Circuit and the GSL vs The World, what are your thoughts on whether the gap is closing between Korean players and non-Korean players?
GT: Serral is obviously the best player outside of Korea and maybe even the world after GSL vs The World. He has won every WCS Circuit event this year. I think Serral is just the outlier. Everything he does is just faster and smoother, I wish one day I could get there. His attacks are thought out and his decision making is perfect. He does all the little things well. I think Koreans in general are at a higher level than the foreigner scene. I know we didn’t have the best of the best at GSL vs the World and I have respect for all the pros, but the Koreans are still better. I think the gap is closing in terms of skill level, but the foreigner scene is still struggling outside of Serral.
PD: My last question for you is, what made you want to play StarCraft 2?
GT: I think I was like 14 or 15 and I walked downstairs and saw my brother playing on his laptop. He explained to me what StarCraft 2 was. I thought it looked fun as hell and I like working throughout a game to win. I started off in team games playing like one base mass, Void Rays, not knowing what I was doing. Then I started watching people compete and wanted to do that. I was playing 1v1 for like 6 hours a day probably grinding harder than I am streaming now. I wasn’t going crazy macro, I had one build for every match-up and I got stuck in Masters for a couple months and I started thinking to myself “Why am I stuck?” and this concept is what made me want to play StarCraft. The challenge itself is what makes this game. I saw the roadblock as another challenge and it’s what kept me playing StarCraft. If I didn’t come downstairs and see my brother playing StarCraft, I never would have started.
GT on “The Movement”
I just started my stream one day and had like 15 viewers and then I got hosted by PiG because he knew me and there were a thousand people watching and telling me to keep streaming. So, I kept streaming for like a week and got a lot of support. Everyone was passionate about StarCraft and hanging out and I was like “This is the StarCraft movement.” And here I am 180 days later. I call my subs the movement because we have 580 subs or something like that and our community got so strong so quickly, that’s the movement baby!
Thank you again GAMETIME for the interview.
Make sure to follow him on Twitter: @GAMETIME301
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