Jens "Snute" Aasgaard is known worldwide as one of the best foreigners currently competing in StarCraft II. Now heading to Intel Extreme Masters San Jose on the 6th and 7th of December, will the Norwegian Zerg be able to come out on top at the SAP Center?
ESL: Hi, Snute, and thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Did finishing as the best foreigner in the world in the 2014 WCS rankings give you some satisfaction or does finishing 17th, one place away from the finals, leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth?
Jens "Snute" Aasgaard: It was a bit disappointing initially but nothing special. There's always something to focus on anyway. In terms of being the highest ranked WCS foreigner, I obviously improved a bit but the main difference was that other top foreigners didn't attend as many (WCS) tournaments.
ESL: What was it like for you watching BlizzCon realizing you were so close but unable to attend? Has it fired you up for 2015 and, if so, what do you plan to change for 2015 to give yourself a better chance?
Snute: I didn't have all that much time to watch the event live because I was so busy with things outside StarCraft II. I'm catching up on real-life things I've been neglecting - it should improve my skill at StarCraft II as well as quality of life for the next year.
ESL: How do the 2015 WCS changes affect you personally and what is the best thing about them for you?
Snute: A lot of Korean players are leaving the EU region and this will reduce the quality of practice for me. I don't know if there's anything good about the changes for me - maybe it's easier to make money? I think I might go to Korea more often in 2015 for practice.
ESL: You already have a tough group with Rain and Scarlett with you - who do you hope to avoid most from the open bracket and why?
Snute: Hydra - I think he is very strong in ZvZ. We played a lot in the CJ house about a year back!
ESL: It’s interesting having Scarlett in your group as viewers might get the chance to watch arguably the two best foreigners face off against each other. Does this add extra spice to the match for you? How important is it for you that you have the ‘number one foreigner’ unofficial title? What would you take if you had the choice: winning against Scarlett but not advancing from the group or losing to Scarlett but advancing?
Snute: It depends on how you define the best. Scarlett, Bunny and VortiX are all better performing players than me in my opinion but they don't attend as many offline tournaments as I do. If you view attending tournaments as a skill (or making money from tournaments) then yes, you can count me in as the best foreigner. However, consistency overall is more important than winning against big names…
If I had the choice of winning against Scarlett but not advancing or losing to Scarlett but advancing I'd obviously go for advancing. If I lose to Scarlett that's just like losing to any other great player. As much as Scarlett and I are skillful, there's also Bunny and VortiX - being the undisputed best out of that player pool takes more quality play than what any of us have been able to bring to the table, in my opinion. I'd love to be the number one foreigner in terms of consistency, skill, peak placement, attendance and earnings but I have to play better. Right now I'm more like top five...
ESL: You were the last European to win a premier title back in 2012 in StarCraft II - when do you think the next European will make that breakthrough and win a premier tournament? If it isn't you, who is the most likely non-Korean to win a premier tournament in 2015?
Snute: Bunny. He can win the first season of WCS Europe 2015!
ESL: What, if anything, have you done differently to prepare for Intel Extreme Masters San Jose? You've played in other Intel Extreme Masters before - what makes them stand out as great tournaments for you?
Snute: At first I wasn't very comfortable with Intel Extreme Masters, but with time they've grown on me and now I feel good when I'm there. There's always an amazing audience and a great atmosphere in the venues. I enjoyed being in Toronto and I think San Jose will be great too. I don't tailor my preparations any different to Intel Extreme Masters - I just think that my style works well against players from every region... No matter where I go, I should be able to win games.
ESL: You have Day9, Artosis and Apollo. One will teach your child how to play StarCraft, one will cook your meals for you and one will look after your wife while you are away at events - who would you make do what?
Snute: Apollo would teach my child how to play StarCraft because he still plays the game some. Day9 could cook meals because he is healthy. Artosis could look after my wife because he'd be too busy playing HearthStone to try something sketchy while I'm gone.
ESL: What do you expect from the Legacy of the Void expansion and which are the most interesting changes?
Snute: The most interesting changes will be to the units. I don't think the economy changes will be too significant - it can help certain compositions some - but it will all depend on how the units work and how much value you can get for the minerals and gas.
ESL: Thanks a lot! Anything else you want to add?
Snute: I want to get past the round of eight this time! See you at the venue!
Want to see Snute and the other StarCraft pros in action live at the SAP Center? Grab your Intel Extreme Masters San Jose tickets now!