NaNiwa shared his thoughts with thealliance.gg shortly following his fantastic run at Dreamhack.
After months of silence, Johan “NaNiwa” Lucchesi is back! Taking second in Dreamhack Open Stockholm, he showed the world that he’s still a force to be reckoned with. We sat down with him, discussing everything from Korea to strategies.
How does it feel to be back on a team, instead of getting a personal sponsorship?
NaNiwa: It feels pretty cool to be part of a new project, but right now it feels pretty much like a personal sponsorship except that I have a Dota squad on my team as well. The Dota guys seem very friendly and are obviously skilled. I think in the future we will develop more of a “team feeling”. All in all I am very happy.
Are there any events in particular that you’re currently preparing for?
NaNiwa: Right now I’m focusing all my attention on WCS Europe. I really want to play in the world championship. I think it would be a great chance for me. I could test my level and prove myself if i get there.
How do you feel about the new WCS format? Is Korea still a viable option for foreigners, with GSL now being a much bigger commitment?
NaNiwa: To be honest it saddens me a lot. On one hand I am very happy that we have another big tournament in Europe, but one of my biggest ambitions in Starcraft 2 was to eventually get into Code S again and win it. It’s what I wanted the most for a long time, so I am not exactly happy with what blizzard did. I don’t think there’s any point to be in Korea anymore except for the practice.
Do you have any thoughts on the current state of HOTS, now that you have had the chance to play a couple of tournaments? Is there anything you would like to see implemented or removed in the next patch?
NaNiwa: This is obviously not going to be very objective so take it with a grain of salt. I do think that medivac boost is just a bit too strong in the midgame. They could perhaps make it so that they take extra damage while boosting, which would be a good change in my opinion. Other than that, I am not sure yet. I don’t feel like I’ve mastered the game enough yet to complain about balance. Terran is just very hard to play against, but I don’t know if its imbalanced yet.
Let´s talk about your most recent tournament, Dreamhack Open Stockholm 2013. How did it feel playing in front of such an energetic home crowd?
NaNiwa: It felt great of course since I am playing in my home country and I was in the finals, so it was something I’ve never had the chance to do before. I was very thrilled! I never expected to get to the final, but once I got there obviously I wanted to win, so it kind of sucks. It could’ve been a perfect memory in my life, but now it’s just a decent one. I am obviously not giving up yet, so I hope I can redeem myself.
How did you prepare for Dreamhack? Did you focus more on ladder or internally with players living in the EG-TL house?
NaNiwa: I prepared almost exclusively with playing ladder. The few times I played custom games with HerO, Oz, etc. they just stole my builds, so I didn’t see any point to keep doing that. Besides that most of the maps I played were proleague maps, which were totally pointless for me at Dreamhack. I only played in-house when the coach asked me, and played ladder the rest of the other time I had. I think ladder in Korea is perfect because you play almost every single player, race, and tournament map. It’s really an amazing way to practice. I wish I had the same quality in Europe.
Your 1-Gate expand into Stargate was something not many people had seen before. Is that your own build? Do you think coming up with new builds is important to succeed as a StarCraft player
NaNiwa: Yes, this is a answer I found in Korea since PvZ is my worst matchup, I felt I needed to make a change and I saw sOs opening with a gate expansion, so I thought it was viable in PvZ. After a lot of practice, I came up with this follow-up and I don’t think we’ve seen everything from it yet.
The way I see it there’s different kind of players, some players like me and sOs we focus a lot on thinking about the game,meta-gaming and making new builds. we might not have the BEST mechanics but they are good enough to keep up with the very top. I think heart of the swarm allows people who use their brain more than their hands to do very well since there’s so many things you can think about and tweak. But you can for sure be successful too without thinking up a new build, like innovation. But of course its a huge plus if you are the first person do a build that’s really good.
What went through your head when you, with your tournament life on the line, went for a 2-gate proxy against Jaedong in the semifinals?
NaNiwa: Honestly, I knew that Jaedong underestimated me because of what he said before the match. He said something incredibly cocky like ” I just want to get this over with so I can get to the final “. He might be a Broodwar legend, but that doesn’t mean anything in Starcraft 2. I think no matter how good you are, overconfidence can lead to your downfall and it’s important to always be cool, levelheaded, and not let the emotions get the best of you. This is something I still struggle with, but I’ve made a lot of progress.
I pretty much knew his thought pattern in game 2 / 3 after I saw game 1, so it didn’t feel like a gamble to me. It just felt like a natural response.
Do you have a personal favorite match from Dreamhack?
NaNiwa: I think I evolved during Dreamhack as the tournament progressed. I played decent but then I was in a group with MC, Hyun, and Yugioh after being against the wall going down 0-1 in the group and knowing that I HAD to win. I guess my survival instincts kicked in and allowed me to play my very best, as I often do when I’m on the verge of elimination. I almost always lose the first set in a boX. It’s not a good trait but its how I work. I lost to MC In game 1 to then come back and win game 2 / 3 pretty convincingly and then beat yugioh 2-0. I was really proud of myself being able to perform under such pressure. It was a great experience for me.
What were your thoughts on the Dreamhack tournament as a player? Did you get the chance to watch any matches on the stage while you were there? If so, what are your thoughts on the production
NaNiwa: Overall it was obviously good; playing on the stage was amazing. Yes, I watched Grubby vs. Leenock. It was pretty cool even if very one-sided. I also think the production was very good. Personally, the only problem I had was an admin telling me I played at 10 when I actually played at 12, which resulted in less sleep, but other than that it was all good. They were very accommodating when I had computer issues and made sure to fix them as soon as possible.
You seem to have quite a rivalry with Leenock. Do you agree? Would you like another chance to play him at a big event later this year if you had the opportunity?
NaNiwa: I would not want to call it a rivalry. A rivalry is where both players beat each other right? I haven’t beaten Leenock yet, but I am going to try my very best to do it and then we will have a rivalry. For now, I can’t really say much. I am not going to back down though, no matter who I play. It doesn’t matter to me if I face a Korean or a foreigner. My goal is to be the best I can be, and I think I have the potential to be the best player of all, so that’s what I’m aiming for. We will see if I succeed.
Written by Johan Svedberg