Blizzard’s StarCraft is not only an iconic RTS title but has been a main driver of esports. My passion for esports was re-ignited during the glory days of Korean StarCraft such as GSL and OGN seeing the huge crowds and fan boys and girls following superstar esports players. Seeing the support and passion from this people got me intrigued and ultimately a fan of what esports was. This was the future.

However the massive StarCraft scene we once saw has crumbled over the years and MOBA titles such as League of Legends taken the spotlight locally and globally. Blizzard today, is still making moves to keep this once legendary esports title above water. I talk to a local player Nick Hutton who goes by the igl ‘syfHuT’ about the current state of the scene and why he got into professional StarCraft 2.

How did you get into StarCraft 2 and how long have you’ve been playing the game?

I got into StarCraft 2 from its day one release, I’d played other RTS games like Age of Empires, Command & Conquer and of course Brood War, and as I loved the genre naturally StarCraft 2 was an easy pick up for me.

I’ve had bouts of becoming disinterested and playing other games, which included most of last year, but overall I’ve been competing in the game for over 6 years.

What made you decide to move to competitive StarCraft 2?

I was particularly fond of the RTS genre and StarCraft 2 released just as I was getting bored of playing cricket and football, I decided to put some time into the game and see where I was skill-wise. I was always competitive, regardless of what game I was playing, so naturally StarCraft hooked me in quickly, especially once I realised how many tournaments were around online that you could participate in.

At first it was just winning a local tournament of probably 8 people in my hometown to most recently winning my first proper LAN event in Melbourne, the Probe StarCraft League, which was something I wanted to achieve and be able to look back on.

You’re signed with SYF, in what way does the organisation support you?

The organisation has been incredible throughout my time with them, it definitely feels like home to me. Recently we had an issue regarding BaseTradeTV (https://twitter.com/syfHuT/status/904990322928865281), which ended up in myself being permanently banned from their tournaments, however the messages of support from SYF management to me for standing up for what I believed was right were incredible, they really look after their players.

We’re also incredibly lucky to have support from Turtle Beach and msi, so a massive shout out to them for everything!

StarCraft is an iconic RTS esports title but has been out of the spotlight since it’s glory days, do you think it will ever get back to the stage?

A lot of people in the scene are obsessed over view statistics, so naturally the scene compares itself to League, Dota and CS which are obviously massively more popular. I still think that StarCraft is an important pillar in the scene as the sole RTS game, so I don’t see it going anywhere soon.

With the BlizzCon announcements for another War Chest (think Dota compendium) for the 2018 season, the future looks good. Will it ever be as big as it was? StarCraft had its time and had a big hand in the explosion in popularity of Twitch.TV , which other games now thrive off. With crowdfunding and skins being pushed more regularly now, who knows. I wouldn’t mind!

What kind of things do you see lacking in our region for StarCraft 2 esports?

Biggest issue will be new blood coming into the scene. As some of the biggest games in esports are team based, people getting their friends in to play them are easy. However, Eugene from Blizzard and ESL have been amazing with the changes to World Championship Series format, from having online only qualifiers to international events at the start of the year, to now being able to have a good old fashioned online qualifier into the top 8 fighting for the chance to represent our scene overseas at LAN, all in front of a live studio audience at the ESL studios.

Shout out to Probe as well for all his work this year too in keeping the scene ticking along, with his 3 LAN events and regular online tournaments.

How would you rate our region in comparison to the rest of the world?

We’re on the lower end of the skill level in high-end tournaments, with Probe being our strongest international competitor. Other regions have levels of support that aren’t possible in Australia, with many of our top players having other commitments in tandem with their competitive aspirations. Maybe that will change next year!

StarCraft 2 was announced going free-to-play at BlizzCon, what are your opinions on this?

Good decision. Majority of the player base are playing the Co-Op missions, so hopefully exposing a team-based element freely to a wider audience will get people both interested in Co-Op, but also hopefully they try out the ladder and explore the 1v1 aspects of the game.

The more people we can have enjoying StarCraft 2, the better.


Thanks to Nick Hutton for taking the time for this interview. You can follow him on Twitter here. StarCraft 2 will go free-to-play on November 14th, you can read the announcement here.