Last Saturday evening, in the Singtel Recreation Club @ Comcentre, two Nominees were crowned to represent Singapore in the 30th SEA Games. We spoke to Thomas “Blysk” Kopankiewicz from Resurgence on his journey towards becoming Champion in the tournament.
Congratulations Blysk, on your win in the Singapore National Esports Selection. You have a storied history with Starcraft II. Could you tell us more about yourself?
Thank you very much! So, I started playing SC2 when Wings of Liberty came around and got introduced to it by a close friend of mine. I started from Bronze and just being so intrigued by it, started to put in a lot of time figuring it out. I studied the game and eventually joined a neighbourhood competition and beat the best player at the time (while me being an unknown), that’s how this whole journey began. I took a hiatus from Starcraft due to National Service and had my skills drop quite significantly. But with SEA games announcing their inclusion of Esports, I went back to the drawing board and re-forged what I had lost.
Now, I’m 24 years old. During the day I’m a Creative Writer and Producer for Wahbanana, a local Youtube channel and also a Lifestyle Blogger, Storytelling for my own channel. At night, I guess I’m a competitive gamer.
You had a rough start to the tournament, how did you manage to turn it around?
Mirror matchups are always a little hard to control especially when it comes to Protoss vs Protoss, and I might have been a bit too passive in terms of controlling the game and strategies; so my opponent felt very comfortable in what I would deem his best matchup.
However, it’s been quite common for me to drop in my first game of a tournament, then to turn it all around once I get a kick in my arse. I just refocused, dealt with each series one at a time, and came back thereafter.
During the tournament, you had to face your teammate Revenant to progress. What was it like to have to face him?
I was not too worried about facing him, but I did help him prepare a lot for the tournament, which meant he knew a lot of my tricks. So on the fly, I had to come up with a few new strategies to throw him off. In general I just played very defensive to hold whatever he threw at me.
I mean, Starcraft is a 1v1 game, and we’ve both been in the scene long enough so there really wasn’t any hard feelings. Just played our best and then wished whoever won the best to win the whole qualifier.
You got a chance to have a rematch against Saiko, who beat you earlier in the tournament. What were your thoughts going into the match?
On ladder, Saiko generally keeps going back to just 1 build/strategy. In the first series I tried to play to that strategy. But he seemed so comfortable with it to stop anything. So in the second series I tried to play my own game, and have him react to me instead, and it worked out perfectly.
How did you think Saiko fared in his rematch against you? Do you have anything to say to Saiko after beating him?
He was way more nervous, shaken, partially due to my strategies but I think a lot due to the fact he had just lost in the upper bracket and felt a little flustered. I realized this when he made one or two small mistakes that could’ve definitely changed the tide of the battle. I feel this happens to newer players in tournaments, so maybe my experience to keep my composure paid off.
We spoke a little after, he basically asked me why he could not hold my game 2’s push and I was advising him on the units and reactions he had used which might have been inefficient.
You eventually beat Lobo 2-0 in the finals. What were your thoughts when you realized you were going to win?
Relief. With the amount of practice, preparation and sacrifice I put in, or maybe it’s because I went into the qualifier as the most favoured player, it’s moreso relief than happiness I felt. My eyes were really just on the gold medal and nothing less. But part of me definitely was happy due to the fact that my friends actually came to support me and I deemed their support worthy by winning that day.
You’ve been successfully nominated to be the Singapore representative. How confident are you in facing the top players in Southeast Asia? Are there any prominent players that come to mind?
I’m confident with the right practice, and momentum, and hopefully not too many balance and map changes, going into December, I should place Top 3. But my eyes are just on the Gold once again. I’ve matched the SEA players multiple times in tournaments and now that I can feel my form of old coming back into shape, I think I can beat them.
Prominent players are definitely from Philippines; Enderr, and Vietnam; Meomaika. Enderr and I’s rivalry go way back, and Meomaika’s a little bit of the new blood compared to us, but he’s doing so well, and also recently beat me in the WCS circuit in close 2-1, 2-1 series. So I can’t wait to rematch him!
If elected, how will you be preparing for the SEA Games in November?
Continue what I’ve been doing to prepare for this recent qualifier and my recent WCS games. Basically just don’t let up this momentum of watching games, keeping in the loop of new strategies and practicing. But probably, find a few more practice partners, because that’s really where I gain the most practice from rather than the ladder.
You’re also a prominent figure in the popular Youtube Channel, Wah Banana. How do you manage to juggle your time so efficiently?
Sacrifice. I’ve been doing this since my Poly days when I first went competitive, and would very much like to have the credibility to speak about this in the future. One factor is that when you’re at each commitment, you focus on that, nothing else. Once you’re done, you focus on the next thing. The only time you can focus on separate things is during breaks.
So for e.g: My job is from 10am – 6pm. I make sure that at 10am – 6pm, I finish all my work, and I bring nothing home. 6pm onwards, I’m watching streams, practicing, coordinating practice partners to play within my schedule. Note I also need to spend time with friends and family, so that cuts in there as well. Most times I sacrifice sleep more than time with friends and family, which isn’t the best in the long run. But certain days, it’s okay.
Also, you need to figure out what form of practice works best for you, is it grinding on ladder, or custom games? Or maybe studying strategies for 60% of the time and just practicing 40% is better. There are a lot of factors that go into this, which I guess is part of my experience from the years I’ve played the game and been under multiple people/players who have coached me and guided me. We can get into this another time. *Laugh
Finally, do you have anything you wish to say to your fans, friends and family?
It’s funny, I only told my mom about the qualifier after I won. But anyways, I am so grateful that my friends came down and spent 6hours with me there to just watch me play a game they barely have any idea what’s going on. I never realized how much of a morale boost it is when you look back, and you see your friends having a picnic behind you; Stellar. And to all those rooting for me, I see the DMs and texts and all the support. I will do my best to do the seed and representation justice.
Lastly, I want to thank my management and sponsors who make this RSG team and me playing this qualifier possible. They have worked round the clock pushing appeals and emails after trips down to ICA to make sure my citizenship could come in time to play for the qualifier. I’m so glad all this was not in vain. I’m glad I made the right choice to have partnered up with them, and have so much faith and support poured right back to me from RSG.
We look forward to watching Thomas “Blysk” Kopankiewicz wield his Protoss prowess in the 30th SEA Games in November.