The game itself has gone through a tremendous amount of change since its release. What game state was when Wings was most fun for you as a professional player?
IdrA: It was probably right at the start, even though that isn't really when I had the most success and definitely isn't when zerg was the strongest it was the most fast paced and fun gameplay. Also everything was new at that time so there was the fun of figuring everything out and learning something new after grinding away at Brood War for years. I feel that competitively I had a better run in the fall of 2011 and that for zerg gameplay was the easiest in the last few months of Wings, but I was personally burnt out during that run and while broodlord infestor zerg is very powerful and easy it's incredibly boring. I despise long, boring games and over time SC2 has definitely moved in that direction as people figure it out more and more, I've found it less and less enjoyable to play over time.
Is there anything you wish was handled differently, balance or design-wise, as WoL progressed through its changes?
IdrA: Balance goes up and down, I think design is the bigger issue. It really feels like the balance team thinks that late game passive death ball play is a pretty good thing to be aiming for. HotS was the opportunity to make large scale changes to address that tendency, if they were going to do it, and they haven't. If anything they've strengthened it.
What is your fondest memory of your time playing Wings of Liberty?
IdrA: I'm not really sure, but my mind usually goes back to my run in MLG Orlando. Even though that tournament was flanked by two tournament wins and I was incredibly sad when I ended up getting knocked out of the tournament, I was quite proud of my play in that tournament. The combination of winning game 7 under those conditions vs boxer, then beating bomber, laughing at hongun, and almost beating mc, felt pretty good.
Do you have any regrets from this era?
IdrA: Not really, of course little things could've been done better or worse. One large decision I made, coming back to the US the first time, turned out to be a bit questionable as all the leagues I thought, and was told, were going to be North American only ended up becoming international very quickly. But on the whole I am more comfortable living in the US and I have had periods of competitive success while practicing here, so I wouldn't really say that was a mistake. It just turned out the reasons that caused me to make the decision fell through. Overall things have gone very well for me.
What players from then, for you, stand out as the best?
IdrA: MVP has probably earned the title of best overall player in SC2. He started out as mechanically dominant and progressed into, while mechanically competent, the best series player in the game. No other player plans as well, uses mind games as well, and is willing to take the same kinds of risks on the same level as him. Nestea is similar in terms of strengths and progression as a player, he just hasn't been quite as good for quite as long. Beyond that there's been too many big, important players to count. Stephano probably deserves a nod as well. People always talk about foreigners being able to compete with the Koreans, but generally that's just foreigners taking games off of them or maybe winning a random undeserved series in a weekend tournament and getting kinda hyped. Stephano has been the only one to really stand toe to toe with them since Koreans started to become really dominant.
Heart of the Swarm is nearly here. Are you ready for the full switchover?
IdrA: Yeah, I'm beyond sick of the current state of the WoL metagame. HotS has plenty of problems but at least it's new and hopefully something can be done with it.
The beta for HotS saw radical design change. Are you satisfied with the way Blizzard settled on the new units and balance changes? Is there anything about the game you still see as an issue, from a small stats imbalance to a design flaw?
IdrA: No, I think the tempest is the standout design flaw. I've said since the beginning that a relatively fragile, expensive unit with really long range is a horrible unit design. It encourages stagnant play. If you heavily out-range your opponent with a mobile damage dealing unit you are encouraged to establish a very strong defensive position and then just pick at them until they tilt and attack you. That is the proper way to play to a long range glass cannon's strengths, so if they make the tempest strong enough to be a relevant unit, that is the kind of boring terrible gameplay that every protoss should aim for. Beyond that there's plenty of little balance things that should be addressed, I think reapers are a pretty dumb unit specifically, but those will change or fluctuate in and out of the metagame. Everything else is tweak-able, but I feel the tempest is a stupid idea.
Has your opinion of StarCraft II as a game changed since its release almost three years ago?
IdrA: Well back then it was just a professional opportunity for me, I didn't like that they were adding multiple building selection and smartcasting and other dumb down features, but otherwise I had no idea what to expect of the gameplay. At the end I just really dislike the gameplay, but I'm very used to the progaming lifestyle that SC2 ushered in. So it's just very different perspectives.
What about yourself? How have you, personally, grown as a progamer over these past years?
IdrA: I've become much more comfortable with everything. In Brood War I got ridiculously nervous at any kind of live event, to the extent that I could barely play. I actually threw up before my first live event. But now it's gotten to the point where I actually play much better at live events as the excitement and pressure motivates me and helps me focus. Beyond that everything else public has become second nature to me, public speaking and just being kind-of-famous in general. Had you told me I'd have tens of thousands of twitter followers or that I'd be playing and doing interviews, and even casting, on stage up in front of thousands of people, when I was in highschool I would have laughed at you, and been totally unable to do it.
What are you looking to accomplish during Heart of the Swarm?
IdrA: Win stuff.
Where do you see yourself after another two years have gone by?
IdrA: I'm not really sure, even though I'm still quite young I've been doing the progaming thing for a long time now and my time in Korea has really taken up a lot of my drive to really grind away at a game. If HotS doesn't go well for me I might start considering doing other things within the industry, but for the time being I'm still totally focused on being a player for as long as I want.
Do you have any final remarks?
IdrA: Thank you to EG and our great sponsors, RaidCall, Monster, Kingston HyperX, Razer, Astro, Intel, InWin, and SplitReason.