The first WCS Circuit Championship will take place during Intel Extreme Masters Katowice, with 32 players battling it out for their share of the US$150,000 prize pool as well as a WCS Global Playoffs seed at BlizzCon and 10,000 WCS points. We talked to Juan "VortiX" Moreno Durán about the upcoming tournament, the current state of StarCraft II and more.
ESL: Hello, Juan, and thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Just one month ago, you announced your return to StarCraft II and instantly qualified for the WCS Winter Championship in Katowice. How did this make you feel?
Juan "VortiX" Moreno Durán: I kinda expected to qualify at some point but at the time I played the first qualifier I didn't think I was ready to beat the very best Europeans, so it was quite pleasing to see that even if I wasn't in my best shape I could still beat at least some of them and with such a dominant performance in some cases.
ESL: 2015 was all about Heroes of the Storm for you. After a long and successful career as a solo player, how did you find being part of a team (and especially one with your brother)?
VortiX: Mixed feelings. On the one hand, both the practice sessions and the trips to tournaments were much more enjoyable, and it's easier to analyze losses together as a team. Also avoiding the curse of having to play against my brother in every tournament was cool! On the other hand, not being the only one influencing your losses is something that is quite hard for someone who has been playing solo games for over six years.
ESL: Back in 2015, you said it would be unlikely for you to return to StarCraft II. What changed your mind?
VortiX: Well, at that point I was kinda annoyed by the current state of StarCraft II and also was pretty saturated after so much time playing the same game. I probably picked my words poorly as well. In my mind, what I meant is I would never go back to Heart of the Swarm - Legacy of the Void brought so many things that made me regain passion for the game.
ESL: StarCraft II has changed a lot with Legacy of the Void. What are your favorite changes introduced with the latest expansion?
VortiX: Games are faster now - that's something I like. With the same amount of time, I get to practice many more strategies and thus have more useful practice sessions and the games seem more fun with less turtling. Strategies like Swarm Host turtle or mech Terran turtle, etc. are not a thing anymore and that's cool - it's all about non-stop action most of the time now.
ESL: Over the past year, some quite new faces have made it to the top of the scene. Are there any players in particular you’re keeping an eye on?
VortiX: There are so many good players now that it's hard to name someone in particular. In Heart of the Swarm there were certain periods where there was a relatively big dominance of two to three players per region but right now it seems much more stacked.
ESL: You’re competing with 31 other players for a good placement in the WCS Winter Championship in Katowice. What’s your goal for this WCS season and how important are the points up for grabs at this event in reaching it?
VortiX: Qualifying for BlizzCon would be a good goal, I guess, but basically I just want to attend every tournament I can/want and win it.
ESL: The crowd in Katowice is known for carrying its favorites through the tournament. Do you have any plans to win the hearts of the Polish fans?
VortiX: I hope my playing is enough to win their hearts - I'm a player, after all.
ESL: How much would it mean to you to qualify for BlizzCon 2016?
VortiX: It would mean a lot - I've never been to a BlizzCon and I think it's the dream of every StarCraft II pro gamer to compete at one of them. I can't even imagine how motivated I would be to practice and go there to show the best game I could offer.
ESL: What are your thoughts on the new WCS format?
VortiX: Compared with the format I experienced in 2013 and 2014, I think this one is kinda cool. There are more opportunities for the players of each region to shine now, and that's better for both the viewers and the players themselves.
ESL: Thank you very much for your time, Juan. The final words are yours!
VortiX: Thanks for the interview and thanks everyone for the cheers. This is going to be my first big event after coming back to StarCraft II and I know there are high expectations from some people - I won't disappoint!
Watch VortiX compete live in Katowice!
VortiX will be joined by 31 other top StarCraft II players in the battle for fame and glory. Attendance is free of charge so don’t miss the first major StarCraft II event of the year!