Her name is Olivia Wong, but she much prefers to be called Olimoley online. She runs a small, crowdfunded tournament for Korean pro gamers called Olimoleague. The tournament is every Saturday, at 10 pm KST, on the channel of BaseTradeTV, a StarCraft II community channel for which she is Head of Media and Admin.
Sarah Gaulin: Thanks. What is your first gaming-related memory?
Olimoley: I guess this is not the first, but it’s the most memorable for me. I remember me, my sister and two of my cousins, both girls, we were all around the same age, so we’d have a lot of sleepovers, we were close. The one thing that we would always do when we had a sleepover was playing a game called Desert Storm and I remember, we would spend every sleepover that we had just playing the game and trying to beat it. We stuck with our characters and we tried to plan out strategies on how to beat certain bosses. We still call each other by our character names.
S: Did you have any favourite game as a kid? I suppose it was Desert Storm?
O: I don’t think so. I think it was more Mario.
S: What is your favourite recent game?
O: I think my favourite recent game would have to be Stardew Valley. Although, Overwatch has recently come out and I’ve been playing in the beta too and I think it’s really fun, but I think I would say Overwatch for something where you want to compete against other people and you really want to just take out your anger or something. But if you’re feeling super stressed and you just want something to chill to do, I would say Stardew Valley.
S: How did you get involved in gaming?
O: In esports or just gaming?
S: It can be both, just gaming in general or how you got involved into esports.
O: Well, I can answer both. I got into gaming because a lot of my family were big fans of console games. When I was growing up, we always had a console available for us to play, and it just grew when me and my cousins, that I was really close to, tried to play games together and defeat each level as a team. So we did Desert Storm, Gauntlet and then we moved on to another game that I don’t remember the name. So since then, I’ve always enjoyed playing games and it just continued as I was growing. Of course, I didn’t get into esports until I went to college to my alma mater, the University of Texas in Austin, which is where TeSPA started. I was volunteering with them, and my first event was Lone Star Clash 2. I was running behind the scene stuff most of the time and since then, I’ve just enjoyed the atmosphere of it all. Having people compete and the crowd cheering and then the fact that you (kind of) helped created it. It was a really really thrilling experience. Once it was done, I knew it I wanted to do something such as maybe esports event management or something like that. I wasn’t sure what yet, but I wanted to be involved.
S: That’s really amazing. So the next question is more about your opinion on the subject, but the scene has been evolving rapidly in the last few years. What are your thoughts on it?
O: Since a lot of my focus is on the Korean esports scene, of course, my thoughts may be a little bit different than most people. One of the biggest things that has happened to StarCraft II is the WCS (World Championship Series) format change. You need passports, you need residency and I think that it’s good and I understand why Blizzard had to do that, I understand the reasoning behind it. However, I also feel that they’re saying: “OK, the Korean scene is doing fine, so let’s start focusing on Europe and North America.” The problem is that they also stopped, in a sense, thinking about the Korean players. I know that there’s ProLeague, GSL (Global StarCraft II League), and StarLeague, however, it’s an extremely cutthroat competition for Korean players. The side effect of this is that they don’t really have any online presence anymore and they’re not really motivated, they’re not required to. If you’re a Korean player and you can’t get a Visa to America, you need to join a Korean team. Those teams are all doing ProLeague, GSL, and SSL (StarCraft II StarLeague). When you’re on a team and if you’re not placing in GSL and you aren’t on the roster for that week’s ProLeague lineup, your focus and what your salary comes from is from what they tell you to do. So they’re saying: “Hey, you’re not playing against anyone this week, you need to focus on helping your teammate practice, so they can win their tournaments.” And so it’s no longer about the individual Korean player, it’s about their team and what the team wants, because the team is the one that has their salary. They don’t get their salary from anywhere else but from playing those tournaments, and sometimes, the team will allow them to play online competitions, but for Korean players, there’s no motivation. There is no “I can go overseas and I can win an award, I can be in front of thousands of people and compete”. That’s the experience that I know, from being part of Axiom (Olivia was player manager for the former team Axiom, who disbanded in the last few years), the Korean players desire the most. That was one of the things almost all of our players wanted and requested and were seeking. Now it’s no longer a thing really available for them.
S: It’s true that you don’t really see Koreans online or at events anymore.
O: It’s just one of the side effects that I don’t think they could have realized, but it happened that way and something has to be done. I’m not saying that they should change the whole WCS format again, but it’s something they might have to look at in the future.
S: What do you love/hate about the esports industry?
O: I think the esports scene is a really great place to be. I wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s really wonderful to be attending tournaments, going to events or getting the latest news about the players or matches. As a content creator, one thing that people might not realize, it’s very very difficult to make something new, to make something interesting for the scene right now. Content creation is kind of the life blood of an esport scene, making the esport scene sustain itself. For example, fan art is such a key thing with anything that has a fan base, and we’re not really seeing a lot of StarCraft II fan art and stuff like that. Esport is a really fickle thing, and sometimes the community is great and sometimes it isn’t, and sometimes, we often feel we’re entitled more than we are due. We don’t really cut a lot of slack to new people that are coming into the scene, we don’t cut a lot of slack to people that actually run the scene and we don’t cut a lot of slack to the people that are making the game that we like.
S: Any game that is a guilty pleasure?
O: Pokémon Shuffle. (laughs) People seem to really hate Pokémon Shuffle. I get it, it’s really really hard to catch them. It’s like most other games that you’ll download and just play, but I like it.
S: I know you’ve been to a lot of events, but how many events like this have you been to?
O: Five or six. If we’re counting something with multiple games, I would say 5 or six. But if we’re talking about StarCraft II tournaments, several, several, several! (laughs) We have GSL and ProLeague in Korea and I typically go to those, and I also went to the GSTL (Global StarCraft II Team League) when that was running. But I think I like this one a little better.
S: Is this your first DreamHack?
O: Actually, yes! Most of the time, I would help set up registration for my players, as well as their flights and stuff. But I wouldn’t actually go to the events. I would just help them get set up. This is the first time that I’m actually attending a DreamHack.
S: What do you think of it so far?
O: I think that because I was a player manager before, it was really stressful, but as someone who’s here as Press, taking photos and things like that, I think that it’s a lot more chill! I don’t have to worry about my players, like is he in a good bracket, is he doing fine, etc.
S: What do you look forward to the most for this event?
O: I think that what I was most excited to see was the TotalBiscuit comeback and cast. He’s a really good friend of mine and I, of course, was working with him and so I’m glad that he’s actually doing another StarCraft II tournament.
S: Your best memory of gaming/esports?
O: I have many different ones. When I was just dipping my feet into esports, the second event that I went to was IPL5 (IGN ProLeague Season 5), which was in Las Vegas. That was the event that really sold me to make the decision that this was really what I wanted to do. I was still in university and when I did Lone Star Clash 2, I thought: “Hold on, maybe it’s just the after effect of running a good tournament that makes me want to work in the scene.” So I went to IPL5 as part of their volunteer staff and I told myself: “This isn’t my tournament, but I still want to help in any way possible”. So I knew then that I probably wanted to do this. (laughs) I would say the best memory I’ve had in regards to accomplishments, I would say, would be when my team (Axiom) won GSTL. I was the player manager. It went to the ace match and it came down to a couple of Marines and a tank (Terran units, one of the three playable races of SCII) and we won. It was intense and it felt very satisfying to win. We were the last champion of GSTL.
S: Other hobbies/passions not related to gaming?
O: To be honest, I would say my other passion would be taking care of my dogs. I went to Korea and I had to leave my dogs behind with my parents. There were times where I felt really sorry for not being able to keep them with me the whole time I was in Korea. I’ve been there for 3 years now and I’m finally able to bring them with me. I’m really happy about that. I’ve spent a lot of time getting them certified with Canine Good Citizen (a program that stresses good behaviour for dogs as well as responsible pet owners). It’s just something that I’ve really enjoyed doing.
S: Final words?
O: I hope everyone enjoys the work that BaseTrade does and I hope that they enjoy the work that Olimoley does and if they want to support it, we have a Patreon. If not, that’s cool too. If you want to watch it, it’s every Saturday at a pretty bad time for North America, sorry (laughs) but it’s at 10 pm KST. Thank you to everyone.
You can follow Olivia on Twitter: @Olimoley.