Training With The Pros: mOOnGLaDe

Welcome to Training With The Pros, a week-long series where we'll be talking to some of Australia's best professional gamers to find out who they are and what tips they have for those aspiring to play at their level. First up is Andrew "mOOnGLaDe" Pender, the top-ranked StarCraft II player in all of South East Asia.

A quick search of Andrew Pender's gaming handle, mOOnGLaDe, reveals why he is the top-ranked StarCraft II player in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand, and other countries in the South Eastern Asian region. Representing the entire region at international StarCraft II tournaments, mOOnGLaDe has played against some of the best in the world (the featured video shows his recent match against South Korea's top-ranked player, oGsTOP) and regularly leaves his opponents biting the dust. Even those who know little about pro-gaming can't help but be impressed by the level that he plays at. So who is this kangaroo plush toy-carrying character and how did he become Australia's best player?

Can you introduce yourself to the Kotaku community? Hello! My name is Andrew Pender, also known as mOOnGLaDe in StarCraft II. I play as Zerg and I've been gaming competitively for about eight years now.

You're clearly a huge fan of StarCraft II, but what was the first game you ever loved and what was so special about it? The first game I ever loved competitively was StarCraft I. When I learned about the pro-gaming scene in Korea for it I was so fascinated by it. I was still in high school and it became my dream to reach that level and experience what it's like.

At which point did you decide to become a professional StarCraft II player? What is it about the game that drives you to want to compete on such a high level? After years of playing Warcraft 3 competitively as more of a hardcore hobby than anything, I decided I would try my best to do well in StarCraft II, so I played as much as I could from the very beginning. StarCraft II was the shining hope for the RTS competitive scene, as Blizzard RTS games usually are, so there was going to be a lot of people backing it, pushing the competitive scene forward, so I decided it was the game to focus on.

Describe a typical training session. Usually my training sessions are kind of dependant on how I feel, but the rule I have before a major competition is at least 30 games a day, which is about 5-8 hours of playing, sometimes more if I feel good and want to keep going, but it's important not to burn out! And it is also important to focus on physical training as well; healthy body and mind. It's good to focus on something else to take a break from time to time.

What are some rookie moves that you often see people make when playing StarCraft II? I guess the most hardest thing to master in StarCraft in general is the macro side, where a player has to continuously make units and buildings no matter what is happening in the game, and that is the biggest problem for rookie players and something that takes a lot of practice to overcome.

What tips do you have for someone who is hoping to play at your level? Practice practice practice, study replays to analyse build orders and study replays of your losses to learn what you did wrong. Keep a cool head and don't rage if you lose.

What does your gaming set-up look like?

With thanks to Kotaku friend Zorine "Harli" Te for her assistance.


Comments

    I see you're reading a song of ice and fire. I too am reading this, let's be pals.

    Wish him all the best at the SEA invitational! Game of Thrones on his desk too, the man has taste in games and books.

    Isn't "pro gaming" just excessively abusing overpowered weapons, abilities and units?

      I am pretty sure if the average gamer excessively abused overpowered weapons, abilities and units, the result would be much different to a pro-gamer doing it. :P

        Not really, all headshot weapons in Halo: Reach puts all average players on the same level as pro-gamers.

          In terms of Reach, you're dealing with something that is a skill barrier. I would love to see 99% of players pulling off the feats that the pros perform in terms of weapon use, not to mention the strategy that is involved in team games.

          In terms of Starcraft 2 though, I would find it difficult to call any unit overpowered (except for buffed infestors, those guys are dicks). If all you did in that was produce one unit that you consider "overpowered", then your opponent will simply counter it. SC2 is as much about reading your opponent(unless you're ACE, who just blind counters) as it is handling the complex aspects of Macro and Micro.

            I'd love to see that too. I'd also love to see weapon variety. But in it's current state all headshot weapons are broken and overpowered, leaving all non-power weapons pointless. But all "pro" players demand that everybody plays the game with the same weapon, completely eliminating the variety aspect that Halo built itself upon.

            I've never played Starcraft 2 to know what's overpowered or not, but I do remember hearing plenty of people complaining about underpowered units. Starcraft is hard to judge because it seems like it's not really about using the right units as it's more about who can click the fastest. I've seen units win over fights they shouldn't have, such as two Medics destroying an entire fleet of Carriers mainly because of excessive microing that the Carriers couldn't keep up with. There's something wrong when a support class can destroy something that's used for an end-game.

              QUOTE
              Neo-Kaiser
              "I’ve never played Starcraft 2"

                Well I'd say that's clear.

                I'd be quite impressed if a medic killed anything.

                Hell, I'd be even more impressed if a medic appeared in SC2.

                That said, everyone always bitches about overpowered v. underpowered units. Reapers used to be an overpowered unit, except for the fact that any number of stalkers and good game sense could counter them. Hellions used to never be used in TvT, until BoxeR and some other pro level guys popularised them, causing a monumental shift in how the game worked. Not only can the games consist of back and forths, but so does the meta game on top of that.

                  Screams of OP only applies because of 2 things

                  1) People just aren't able to adapt and tech the counters fast enough and hence scream OP even though high end players are more than capable of stopping it.

                  2) A player uses a unit in such a unique way that no one has been able to figure out before and creates such a convincing winw/ the unit its deemed godly/op

                  I love the way this sort of thing happens not just in strategy games but even in FPS. You will see one tactic take dominance in a game type and other units/abilities will be neglected until someone comes up with a great strategy using the neglected units/abilities and you will see it take over. Then will come the ways in which to counter it.

                  I don't play much SC2 but I have seen this plenty of times even in FPS. In MW1 many people used martyrdom where you drop a grenade at death to kill the foolish enemy that runs over your body. After a while people didn't run over dead bodies due to this perk, so people stopped using it and moved on to others like last stand. Then once most weren't expecting it, many moved back to martrydom to trick the enemy.

                  The same could be seen in the Halo Reach games. Most people loved the jetpack at first but then people learned how to make use of armour lock really well. You could lock and unlock quickly enough to nullify a melee attack and return with your own, if an enemy stood too close the emp would knock off their shields and they would go down.

                  Once people learnt to stay away and wait armour lock fell out of favour for other abilities like sprint. Then people started to run around in pairs both with armour lock, alternating who was locked and who wasn't so they could take on enemies without either one every dying.

                  Long post, but I just love seeing these evolving strategies in games.

        There's a couple things pro-gamers do that avg joe's don't. They use the powerful builds well, with as few mistakes as possible. In the top competitions it often comes down to who made the first mistake, or was out manouvered and taken by surprise and thats it. They punish that misplay hard. The other thing is innovate; they come up with the power plays first and everyone else starts copying them. I guess the third thing would be consistancy. Anyone can have a good came, but can you have 20 in a row?

          *facepalm*

          good game.

      Seriously? Wow, you've obviously never seen a competitive game of Starcraft then.

        Nice assumption. I've seen plenty. They dance back and forth until one side gets in a lucky ability spam and then overwhelm the opposition.

          Hahahahahahahahahahaahahahaha.

          Not quite.

            That's pretty much all I see in all videos. Two blobs of units keep approaching then running away from each other until one side throws down a shield, or web or something then gets rushed by the rest of the units. Sometimes when they get rushed they themselves get spammed by an ability to even it out but that's the majority of what I see.

              Either you're trolling or you don't understand the mechanics of the game. Also it's very rare for a professional game to involve no harassment and therefore 'two blobs approaching and running away' is rare until both teams are 200/200, and then there is a lot going behind the scenes including macro and expansion harassment. Not to mention for your 'blob' to destroy his, you need to scout to get the right unit composition and counter his units.

              So no, its not excessively abusing overpowered weapons, abilities and units.

                Don't know why you're specifically talking about Starcraft when I'm talking about all games in general...

                Most harassment I see is early game and later only on expansions. Besides, I'm talking about what I've usually seen, I don't spend hours every night watching Starcraft matches on Youtube. Macro and expansions are usually ignored by the person "filming" the game. So it's their problem if I can't see everything that happens in the game.

                  It's the only game I watch competitively nowadays. DOTA2 too soon, so long as Valve implement good competitive features.

                  I know you can't see everything in the game, I'm guessing you don't own the game and I'm explaining that there's a lot behind the scenes involved. If you built the most powerful units every game, take brood lords for example, your opponent can just counter with anti-air and win. Each unit has a counter, which is one of the things that makes it so interesting to watch.

                  "Don’t know why you’re specifically talking about Starcraft when I’m talking about all games in general…"

                  Simon
                  September 5, 2011 at 12:18 PM
                  Seriously? Wow, you’ve obviously never seen a competitive game of Starcraft then.

                  Neo-Kaiser
                  September 5, 2011 at 12:22 PM
                  Nice assumption. I’ve seen plenty. They dance back and forth until one side gets in a lucky ability spam and then overwhelm the opposition.

                  Simon
                  September 5, 2011 at 12:27 PM
                  Hahahahahahahahahahaahahahaha.

                  Not quite.

                  Neo-Kaiser
                  September 5, 2011 at 12:30 PM
                  That’s pretty much all I see in all videos.

                  Uh-huh, I'd imagine that's why.

      So you're saying someone who had never played SC2 or Halo could beat a pro just by using something "overpowered"?

        No, I'm saying "pros" limit themselves to playing with overpowered weapons. Although there are some guns or abilities that take less effort to use then other weapons. That's how the popular term "Noob tube" came up, because it's usually easy to use and even low-skilled players can abuse it to get cheap kills.

          Well nothing is really "overpowered" in that sense then is it. You use the best you have.

            But it's limiting the game. It's why I could never take Smash Bros. seriously (especially hwne it's supposed to be goofy fun). They limit the game down to only a few fighters, on the same map, with no items.

              All games/sports are the same though. Fighting games always use the same few characters, FPS always use the same setup.
              At least in SC2, most units have a hard-counter. Sure, there's a few units that probably don't have as many counters, but players with better macro/micro can overcome that.

                Which I don't agree with. What's the point in including them if nobody is going to use them? I'm in favour of everything in a game being balanced and able to be used effectively rather then just being ignored because it's "not strong enough".

                Even in SF4, the latest MLG round-up had 2/3s of players using the same 2 characters, clearly defining those characters as overpowered.

                  It limits the game, but then watching pros go against each other is exciting as it becomes a game of whoever plays the best. At least imo

                  SF4 is not played at MLG.

                  Arcade Edition is very imbalanced with a high focus on the twins (Yun and Yang) but the top eight for the biggest fighting game tournament in the world was as follows:

                  1st: Fei Long
                  2nd: C. Viper
                  3rd: Seth
                  4th: Yun
                  5th (equal): Yun
                  5th (equal): Akuma
                  7th (equal): C. Viper
                  7th (equal): Zangief/C. Viper (the guy used both characters).

                  Three of the top eight had C.Viper but she's only an upper tier character, not a top tier.

                  Seth is low tier and the guy using him (Poongko) came pretty damned close to getting to the Grand Finals.

                  How powerful the character is gives you an advantage. Winning still depends on the player and not all players will go for the most powerful character if they can play better with a less powerful character.

                  Achieving perfect balance in a game is the goal of almost all competitive games. The point many replying to you are trying to make is that most of the time, x unit is not underpowered and y unit is not overpowered. x unit just isnt being used right or the counter to y unit just isnt being utilised. Its only ever until people see a pro use x unit right that people scream overpowered.

                  Screaming overpowered is a very big statement though because half the time, the new strategy formed with x unit is very new and people have not thought about an effective way to deal with it. It usually takes extensive testing and gameplay to truly determine whether a unit is overpowered or not and even then, they could be wrong. That's why blizzard doesn't release a new patch nerfing the overpowered unit as soon as someone shouts overpowered. (Note: I am generally talking about SC2)

                  As for you saying that its stupid when for example, 2 marines take down 20 zerglings. It is still a big statement to cry overpowered especially when you dont know the mechanics. When you see an outmatched unit beat their attackers in SC2 it IS mostly to do with strategy. For example, the 2 marines could have held out in a chokehold to prevent themselves getting surrounded. Competitive gameplay in SC2 is very in depth and until you understand all the core mechanics, you probably shouldnt make big statements such as yours.

    SexyGlade!

      And I realise that this as a comment is rather pointless, but it had to be said.

        IT'S NOT POINTLESS, ITS TRUE!

        Yays!

          Harli Harli! I mentioned you! Did you see that? I mentioned you right there! Thank you again!

            Yes of course! :) Thanks youuuuuuuuuuuuuu

          True? Maybe, but there's also the fact that he always seems to look a little bit like a weird creepy stalker.

          Which doesn't make sense, he plays Zerg, not Protoss.

    Awesome Idea - Ihope you interview more people that are Hardcore/Professional Gamers. Its a fun read

      Seconded.

      I think it'd be interesting to get ex pro-gamers for games like CS, Quake or TF to ask if/how they think pro-gaming has changed since they played.

        Awh yeah, agreed. Interview HeatoN, he was my Counter-Strike god back in the day :P

    The problem with SC2 is that it seems so non-approachable for a newbie of the RTS genre like me. I'd get destroyed if I didn't have 9000 APM.

    But I guess that's why they are pros and I'm not.

      Bah, their APM's aren't that high. HuK, Mr. "Top 3 Micro" only averages around 250 APM while stuff is going on.

      You're not gonna play your first game and beat a pro obviously, just like a local footy team won't beat someone in the NRL/AFL. But once you've adjusted to the game mechanics and learnt the units, you'd have no trouble playing on the ladder and competing strongly. Give it a shot!

        I'm pretty certain I could beat the Parramatta Eels in a game of footy.

        But on a more serious note. That divide between casual players and pro players will always exist in every game played competitively. But RTS games seem to have almost no middle ground at all.

        But then again, what do I know. Last RTS i really played was Warcraft 3

          That's the thing with the SC2 ladder system though. There's bronze, silver, gold, platinum, diamond, master and grand master (i don't think I'm missing any). All the pros are obviously master and grand master. I'm silver. I play bronze, silver and gold players, and lose/win to all three. The matchmaking is pretty damn good in SC2 and because it has such a large community (for an RTS) there's a pretty decent middle ground as you mentioned. :)

            I'm Gold, and I beat Plat's, lose to Gold's, and have about even rates v. Silver's.

            There is way too much Cheese in Gold League.

              Too much cheese full stop.

              Prepare for normal game? Lose to cheese.
              Prepare for cheese? Lose to normal game.

              Can't win T_T

                I think the worst is when you get out-cheesed.

                I lost to a bronze guy doing a cannon rush because I took too long getting my proxy gates up.

                So fail.

                And this is why my only strategy now is to macro. Macro like a boss. So I always lose in the first ten minutes...

              Yeah, there was quite a bit of cheese in Gold, I think it's died down a bit now, I do however play on the NA server. After a while, you find a build that can hold of most things and then learn to alter it slightly or how to react completely to stop a cheese. Although as you said, sometimes people do really really wierd things.

      As someone who is just getting into SC2, I'm not sure that you're right.

      There is a base level of skill required to be competitive but you can obtain that just by practising. The actual physical task is very simple, I'm confident that I can physically perform 300+ APM. The problem for me is that I cannot mentally perform them. I haven't learned what actions I should be doing and in what situations I should be focusing on specific actions.

      SC2 is nowhere near as micro intensive as SC. I've even heard of people getting into Diamond league without microing a single unit, simply macroing a giant army and going to town on their opponent.

        Yerp, I remember reading an article from a dude who built nothing but stalkers and managed to make diamond. It's amazing what good macro can do for you.

          For those that haven't seen it.

          Basically he joined up with a new account, threw his placement matches and then massed stalkers before just attack clicking the main. Got him straight to Diamond.

            I love how everyone uses stalkers, when they are really such a bad unit.

              The guy clearly should have used Sentries.

                Hey, 100 Sentries beats 100 mutas. Although, that does require guardian shield...

                Ok, so, yes, they are the best T1 unit Protoss can get, but they are so easily countered, and their dps is so bad for their cost(vs. non-armoured). Their main advantages are their speed, which doesn't come into effect if you're just a-clicking, and their range, which only kind of comes into the picture.

                  I heard Blink is a pretty cool ability.

                  Plus, you know upgrades.

                  And the whole "when all you have is a hammer" type situation that Protoss tend to find themselves in.

                  Everyone knows Marines are the most OP unit in the game.

      White-Ra, unquestionably one of the best players in the world, has an average apm of 150. I've seen him stream, so I know he actually does make superfluous actions such as spamming right-click on a single location. SC2 isn't nearly as action-intensive as SC1 (where you couldn't group buildings and you could only group 12 units together at a time), another pro named Goody even has sub-100 apm in some tournament matches.

    The koreans used to call him the prince of persia

      I'm actually disappointed that this article makes no mention of the "Prince of Blades", which is what he's generally known as.

    Peripheral companies take note - tenkeyless keyboard. I knew I wasn't the only one that used them for gaming..

    <3 Andy!! <3

    Thanks for the professional eSports coverage Kotaku.

    Moonglade, win NASL 2.

    that is all.

    P.S Queeennnnssslandaaaaaa!!

    in terms of game-balance. it took SC1 Broodwars how many years to get it balanced...until they release SC2.
    it's an on-going process.

    I was curious to see who was number 1 on SEA, so I checked out his profile.

    I then clicked a random game in his history, and saw that the first item on his build order was a spawning pool.

    Yup, the #1 player 6 pooled a guy.

      Cheese is a legitimate tactic. Even Korean pros cheese every now and then to keep their opponents on their toes. Someone who has a stagnant build, even if it's very polished is very predictable. Jaedong (the best BW Z of all time) 6 pools every now and then, even in high-stakes games, and it just comes down to execution.

    I love Moonglade, he comes off as perpetually drunk and is so nerdy it's amazing. The "Clash of Kings" on the desk was the cherry on top.

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