I think it’s safe to say there have been some changes in my life as of late.
Last October, I packed up and moved to Toronto, giving me just enough time to settle into a new routine and prepare myself for my ninth year as a StarCraft II pro-gamer.
Moving someplace new is always challenging, but I think my time spent in Sweden and South Korea really helped me to adjust quickly to life in Canada.
It didn’t take long to figure out where to get groceries and importantly, the best place to eat tacos. As far as getting used to StarCraft’s fabled North American server goes though, that was an entirely different story.
I’ll be honest; laddering can be flat out terrifying. Back in Europe, I had a reputation for being a creative, maybe even risky player, but I’m standard as can be compared to the weird stuff you see over here. I’ve ended up playing this conservative, defensive style because I never know what kind of nonsense I might run into.
Every time I get frisky and flash one of my trademark builds, I fall flat on my face. It turns out those types of strategies only work when the opponents play “how they’re supposed to”.
Sure, there’s a little lag, but it’s safe to say I still prefer playing on the European server.
You might think that moving across the Atlantic would make things more difficult, but it’s actually worked out just fine. I generally prefer playing earlier in the day, and by the time I log in at 9 AM, it’s already the afternoon in Europe and the big names are queuing up.
If anyone was worried about my level of play dropping off after leaving Germany behind, I’m happy to say that won’t happen.
I still play all my EU buddies on the WCS Circuit, but I’ll have to get used to the weird strategies the Americans and Canadians are going to throw my way in Challenger.
I have to worry about Scarlett and Neeb of course, but while they’re certainly incredible players, the talent pool isn’t quite as deep over here… and thankfully I won’t have to worry about a certain Finn.
Placing highly in multiple challenger events has gone a long way for players like SpeCial and Has when it comes to collecting WCS points. It’s a long way off and I’m focused on the present, but living over here should theoretically help my chances of making it to BlizzCon. I think that’s one dream every StarCraft player has in common.
Of course, I didn’t relocate to Toronto just to play StarCraft. I could have continued grinding the ladder back at home and dodged a whole lot of snow in the process.
The real reason I moved was to be closer to my partner.
Living with her has been wonderful, and the experience has only been further enriched by the bond I’ve formed with her nine-year-old daughter, Holly.
Assuming a parental role has meant an unprecedented leap forward in terms of my maturity. Transforming from an average pro-gamer – flitting through life, doing whatever I want without obligation or consequence – to raising a child, has been far from easy, but it’s been completely worth it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Holly’s presence has added a lot of structure to my life. She’s given me perspective on what I can, and want to do, on a day to day basis. I never realized I could accomplish so much in a day.
My little family has helped me discover what I want from the future. Because of them, I’m able to push myself as I never have before.
In true nerd fashion @akawyf and I met at Blizzcon '16 and made it official at DH MTL '17. She has changed my life for the better. I asked her to marry me and and she said yes! I'm excited to spend my future with her. I love you Taya and thanks for always being so supportive. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/xguEbHLaBW— Dario (@LiquidTLO) February 13, 2019
In a way, it comes full circle because that newfound dedication could serve me well as I prepare for another year on the WCS Circuit.
Bottom line, StarCraft II is an absurdly competitive game.
There are a hundred really, really good players devoted to the same dream. It’s easy to fall down a deep pit when you’re on your own and results, or life, in general, isn’t going your way.
My small family has provided me with stability, in particular, emotional stability, an aspect with which I’ve struggled during my pro-gaming career.
I’m not just playing StarCraft II for myself anymore.
I know that when a tournament ends, I’ve got a family I need to take care of waiting for me back at home. Their love and support plays a huge role in keeping me motivated.
Being a parent is a big part of life, though you never know whether or not you’re going to be a good one because frankly, you have no idea what it’s like until you’re caring for a child.
Holly has become a huge part of my life – we get along really well. The fact that I can offer something in return for her love has given me a real purpose.
I’m really proud of that and I think it’s only going to make me a better person and a better StarCraft II pro.
Image Credit: Team Liquid, 1UP Studios & Dreamhack