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.