Hey! – Hey Laure, how are you doing? I’m fine and you?
– I’m great thanks Ready for a walk? – Welcome to Prague Thank you! So, tell me, how did everything started? I started playing videogames 3 years ago and… … and I always love all kind of games. I’ve kinda play everything like board games with my family, videogames and other stuff I’ve played a lot when Internet started, and Starcraft was released in 1998 and it rose to a whole new level There was a lot of tournaments in a little bit everywhere in France and in Europe – So you got into in right away at the release?
Yes! Right at the beginning I wasn’t playing that much. I was still focus on Total Annihilation.
And after everybody was playing Starcraft and I started playing myself I really loved the game, the competition and every aspects of the game the fact that it’s quite easy to understand but you can still get better and better indefinitely plus it is really demanding strategy-wise and I really enjoyed that. I’ve done various tournaments in France After that I got my highschool degree, and when I got it I got accepted in a preparatory class focused on physics and chemistry Saying that to you, I realize I could’ve been an Heisenberg in Breaking Bad. So, I was admitted in this preparatory class, my brother went before me I had an easy time with highschool lessons. So I was almost never studying I was playing Starcraft all night, sleeping a few hours and going in class right after for tests So I guess that between preparatory class and Starcraft… – Yeah, my brother told me that during preparatory class I would not be able to still do things that way and that I’d need to study after lessons So I went like: “Wait what? Work after lessons, you’re mad” It was at this time I heard there was some professional players on Starcraft it was really a “first thing of its kind” at the time and it was only in Korea So I said to myself that it was something that gaming was my passion, I was fully into it it was something I really wanted to try and take the risk.
I was like “at worst …I play two years, it doesn’t work and I would get back to my studies” no big deal – At this time you already started doing some tournaments in France? Yeah I had already participated in different tournaments in France a little bit everywhere in France. Some also in Europe but mainly in France There was a lot of tournaments but at the time you could only win some graphic card or some hardware.
It was really tough… really tough to live from it Even if I was sponsored at the time by some LAN video game cafes, like Parkage and one other but they were only paying my travel expenses for the tournaments There was no actual business model behind it. It was impossible to live from it the only way was to leave for South Korea, because there it was crazy with matches on TV (Bulii) : So finally in Europe it was not something… (Elky) : Yeah, in Europe you were talking to people saying that you play videogames they’d look at you… “This is not an actual job, what do you really do ?” – Well I’m Starcraft professional” and they’d look weirdly at me but in South Korea people are like “Wow! Starcraft!”
In South Korea it was crazy. You go in night clubs and girls are like “Oh, Starcraft really that’s great! – Yeah I play Protoss!” Everybody knew it back there so it was really… (Bulii): So what gave you the desire to jump forward et and I’ll go from amateur to pro and move to Korea? Well I wanted to try it.
I loved videogames and competition so it was the next logical step once that I was kinda dominating the French competitions, the next step was to go pro and to go pro at the time, there was only Korea It could not have been Korea, if there was another country to go pro I’d have been to this country. Now I love Korea. It was an amazing experience it is a great country and I think one day I’ll go back to live there. Wasn’t it too hard going to Korea and adapting to the life there? It honestly wasn’t too hard, I was lucky the first foreign professional player there was a guy from Québec who became one of my best friends He was Guillaume Patry, and so I had someone to talk french with Plus when you’re young Seoul is awesome, it’s always lively you can go to the hairdresser at midnight, or go for drinks Korean are crazy people really!
I would love you to tell me more about your journey as a foreigner in Korea Is there a place you like in Prague where we could go? Yeah, there is a café I love, we can go for a coffee – Let’s go! Cheers! Are you coming often here? Yeah quite often.
When you come to this kind of place you understand that coffee is some kind of art Everybody knows that Korean players are the elite in esports Is it something that was already the case at the time? How did you placed yourself to the other players? Back then it was just a little bit less When I arrived there was already a Korean who was a Starcraft legend, Lim Yo-Hwan, so BoxeR And when I arrived in Korea I ended 2nd at the World Cyber Games by losing against him in the finals It was the reference and it stayed that way for years but it is true that it was already extremely difficult to beat the best Korean players but back then there was more Koreans who were “more beatable” if we can say it that way – Ok. And so you stopped Starcraft in 2004? – Yeah, mid or end of 2004 approximately I discovered Poker at the end of 2003 (Bulii): That’s what gave you the desire to stop Starcraft and focus on something else? (Elky): Not exactly There was a lot of problems actually. With our manager for example.
At the time, our team… Pro League were more important And two Korean players who needed to join the army because they all do a 26-months military service in Korea And so our manager made us sign a deal which we didn’t like much And we had to do every Sunday something like 7 or 8 hours round trips for the opening of some PC bangs So when I started playing Poker I had way more freedom The schedule of a pro Starcraft player is extremely difficult you have to train every day 8 to 10 hours per day – Do you have some regrets regarding your career as a pro Starcraft player? Yeah, I would have loved to win a Starleague The best place I’ve reached is… 3rd. But I gave my all playing and I had one of the most beautiful career at the time I have few regrets and Poker is treating me well so… And do you still have some memories about your esport career?
Actually I have been moving out so much that I lost quite a lot of them but I still have one at home so if you want to come! Well, let me just finish this delicious coffee. Welcome to my place!
so let me show you what I talked about, my only victory until today! But I hope it won’t be the last! (Bulii): Yeah. You want to continue? Why not!
Today I play a bit less because I prefer to play the game when I can go all-in, and do only that and do some tournaments than just playing once in a while for fun And so recently, they announced the remastered version of Starcraft: Broodwar Yeah! Starcraft, it’s crazy right? Did you follow the launching event? Yeah I followed it a little, especially since my friend Guillaume was playing It kinda brought back so many memories (Bulii): Do you miss the competition in Korea? I kind of miss it, and I’m a bit nostalgic because it really changed my life. The game, the fact that I went to Korea so young It has really been a domino effect for me And it’s true that it is special.
If I never played Starcraft, I don’t know… I would have probably never found Poker I would have had a life and a career really completely different I would probably have never discovered Korea if it wasn’t for Starcraft I would have probably never went there and I would have clearly missed on something So you keep good memories? Excellent ones definitely