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Starcraft: how Day[9] became the biggest star in esports | Technology |

Starcraft how Day 9 became the biggest star in esports Technology guardian co uk

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The most popular figure in Starcraft II isn't one of today's top pros, or a team owner, or even one of the game's creators. Sean Plott, better known by the alias Day[9], has been obsessed with this series and its culture since the first game was released in 1998. And he knows why. "It's safe. It is one of the safest things you can do. You will suffer no bodily injury, break no arms. It's not like setting up a business where you can really upset and offend people. It's highly social. You're playing against very kind, analytic, sweet-hearted nerds. I mean, hell, even if you're playing against a murderous drug dealer – you're doing it over the internet! And no murderous drug dealers play a lot of Starcraft."

Blizzard's real-time strategy series has a long history beyond the scope of this piece, but suffice to say Starcraft: Brood War and Starcraft II are two of the leading lights in esports – competitive videogaming – with millions of active players and year-round global events with huge prize pools. Sean Plott was 11 years old when the first game was released and, along with his elder brother Nick, has been obsessed with the game and its iterations ever since.

It is hard to quantify exactly what Plott does to someone unfamiliar with gaming culture, and in particular the recent rise in popularity of video streaming sites. A singular figure in the evolving ecosystem of esports, Plott is focused on Starcraft II but has fingers in all sorts of pies; streamer, analyst, commentator (aka 'shoutcaster'), event organiser, community focal point and many more.

The internet at the tail-end of the nineties, of course, was very different. "Back when I was a wee noobie and had just got this game, I didn't know about competitive balance; the internet was fairly new so there weren't really any venues for that kind of discussion. The idea of community sites was a new thing, most players didn't even know about them. So [the reason I kept playing Starcraft then] all comes down to the way the game feels. Just the act of moving things around and building stuff, and the responsiveness is really crisp and snappy. It's the difference between riding a good bike and riding one with a flat tyre – it just feels wrong. Starcraft feels full, it feels great."

The Plott brothers shared a passion for the game, which soon enough saw the pair entering tournaments – aided and abetted by their mother. Sean first realised he was getting seriously good after immersing himself in the World Game Tour ladder (a league system for Starcraft: Brood War), obsessively downloading and analysing replays from the top players, and seeing a drastic improvement.

It's just a matter of time before videogames are added to the Olympics, isn't it?

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