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December 14, 2011

Naniwa and GOMtv - Cause and Effect 101

More articles by GoSu_Doa »
Written by: GoSu_Doa

Check out Ayesee's take on the issue in his blog as well: http://www.itsgosu.com/game/sc2/blogs/growing-pains-why-naniwa-and-gom-are-both-wrong-but-for-different-reasons_128

I don't normally speak publically about these types of issues. I'm making an exception to my rule on this topic since it's one I feel I've got an insight on that a lot of people don't have. I've worked with GOMtv for most of 2011 and I've also lived with and gotten to know Naniwa for a little while in Korea. The main intent of this piece is to help fans gain some better understanding of the perspective that both sides had on the situation, but I'm sure a bit of my own opinion is going to creep in from time to time. Here we go!

I like Naniwa. He's been fun to get to know and I've enjoyed living with him. I'm of the opinion that a lot of his BM is done more in a teasing way than with any sort of malicious intent. Maybe that's just because I felt we got along best when I BMed him back. One day at the GOM house our entire day's worth of interaction amounted to him walking up to my door while I laddered, looking me in the eye and saying "Terran Bastard". Naturally, I responded with "Protoss Crybaby" and he walked away. Neither of us were offended by the other and I think people take what he says too seriously sometimes. That said, I also think in a lot of cases he acts immaturely. He also needs to think more about how people see his actions. he needs to realize that even if he doesn't mean something in a mean way, it's still going to be seen as such because of how he does it. Being a mature adult means considering other people's feelings and viewpoints and Naniwa has a ways to go yet in that regard. I'm convinced that what he did at the Blizzard Cup wasn't intended to insult Nestea himself or the Korean player community, but the context in which Naniwa did what he did had that effect anyway, whether he meant it or not. Historically, Naniwa has been quick to criticize tournaments and his Probe rush was meant only as an "F U" to GOM. He was also dealing with the frustration of losing 3 very winnable games before that and was going into his game vs Nestea knowing that this particular game didn't have an impact on his tournament. What he failed to consider was the impact that the game has on his fans and his professionalism and now he has to deal with the fallout from that.

A lot of people have been asking the question of why that game was even played to begin with. Normally GOMtv has skipped games that have no impact on a tournament, so why play this one? To answer that question you need to look at what the Blizzard Cup is intended to be.  It's a tournament, but GOMtv also saw it as a celebration of sorts of a year of great Starcraft 2 tournaments around the world. Because of that to a certain extent it was meant to be a show match as much as it was meant to be a serious tournament. In Korea a lot of emphasis is put on showing good games for the fans. You hear the players talk about it all the time.  At its core the GSL is a television show as well. It's made to entertain first and foremost. GOMtv planned on all the games being played because of the great matchups it would provide for fans. Who wouldn't want to see Naniwa vs Nestea after what happened at MLG? I don't think anyone would have predicted both of them to go 0-3 by the time they got to their match. In fact I suspect GOM put their match near the end in order to guild a bit of hype during the show as well and keep it as a game people could look forward to. In a normal tournament scenario I doubt the game would have been played, but in this case GOM wanted to give their fans all the good matchups they could. That's why the match was played. Whether it should have been played is entirely different debate and not one that I'll get into here. I personally feel that while it certainly didn't need to be played it wasn't wrong of GOM to do it. There certainly is a bit of culture clash involved though in that decision by GOMtv. Naniwa is playing with the western mentality that largely puts an emphasis on match results while GOM and Nestea are operating on a mindset that puts an emphasis on showing your skill for the fans even if you don't personally gain anything from it. It's up to the reader to decide which you favor.

So Naniwa throws his game with a Probe rush. Let's firstly establish that fact that he clearly threw the game. Saying "oh, but working rushing IS a strategy" doesn't work here. Naniwa boxed his workers and A-moved them across the map. If you look at the VOD you can even see him take his hand off the keyboard and rest his chin in it after he does it.  He didn't micro or do anything even remotely resembling playing the actual game so let's not kid ourselves and say it was a "valid strategy". Be serious, people. He did a long-form version of hitting F10 and then N as soon as the game started and nothing more. How do you think that looks to GOMtv? Of course they're going to be furious. Unfortunately Naniwa either didn't understand the impact of his decision, or did and forgot about it because of his emotions. GOMtv isn't without blame here either though. Despite how the Korean scene feels about how players should act, they should have also considered how a non-Korean player might feel in Naniwa's situation.

So that brings us to the consequences. GOMtv has decided that Naniwa is going to lose his Code S spot for next season. I won't try to play it down by saying things like "He's not banned so it's not that bad!". It's pretty serious. Naniwa did work hard for that spot and it's unfortunate that he lost it. GOM is perfectly justified in their decision though. Naniwa did break the GOMtv's interpretation of their rules of the tournament. Even if he wasn't aware of it or didn't intend to, he did disrespect his opponent and the GSL. If you're going to play in someone's event you have to play by their rules. Simply put; it's their event so my interpretation or your interpretation of those rules doesn't matter. If you want to challenge those rules you need to be aware of the right time and the right place to do that. It was fine for Naniwa to be upset about having to play what was in his mind a meaningless game. It was not fine with GOMtv, however, in the way he expressed his unhappiness. Despite this punishment, I doubt that this will be the last we see of Naniwa in the GSL. To me he seems way to dedicated to improving and staying in Korea to leave after this. Clearly GOM doesn't want to just get rid of him completely either although he may find it difficult to stay in a Korean pro-gaming house for a while. I'm sure the Startale coach is taking some flak for having him there. I'd imagine GOMtv would even let him stay in the GOM house if he wanted to remain in Korea and needed a place to crash.

I grew up with the motto "It's not whether you win or lose. It's how you play the game." I spent a lot of my time as a kid playing both team and individual sports and I do know how Naniwa feels. I don't need to know it in the context of Starcraft to relate to it and neither do you. We've all been in situations in a sports competition or elsewhere in life where we were expected to do things we didn't want to do for other people. Doing those things without letting our emotions take over and cause us to stop thinking rationally is part of being a responsible adult.  Unfortunately what Naniwa did was selfish and immature. You might think it seems cool or something to be a rebel and "stick it to the man" or whatever, but in the end you accomplish a lot more of your goals in life by being nice working with people than against them. That's not my opinion. That's just fact. If Naniwa would have played the game and then spoke with GOMtv afterwards about it we'd have gotten to see a possibly great game and we'd still have Naniwa in Code S. A lot of times when I told people I was living with Naniwa the common response was: "Oh man. He's a jerk. That must suck." I always defended Naniwa and told them that I thought he'd begun to mature a lot since coming to Korea and I liked living with him. I really felt that way too so it's a bummer to see this happen.

Ultimately this should be a learning experience for both sides. GOMtv has had a habit for quite a while of not being as considerate towards the feelings of foreigners as they should and hopefully this will show them that there are real consequences to blindly assuming everyone will immediately assimilate to the Korean mode of thinking. On the flip side I hope Naniwa takes a hard look at how little he considers the feelings of others and realizes that it's caused problems for him in the past and it will continue to do so until he grows up a bit. If both the leadership of event organizations and the players consider each other's views than there's no reason why we can't have a lot of great tournaments in the future.

Thanks for reading and I encourage both Naniwa and GOMtv to contact me if there's anything they want to add to this.


Comments (3)

  • As much as I agree that Naniwa acted immaturely, I think ultimately the responsibility is in GOM's hands by having an inconsequential match which HAS to be streamed. You never see MLG having an issue when idra skips his 7th-8th place match, which is undoubtedly going to be a matchup viewers should enjoy.

    That said, i do think he should have been punished to some degree, as you can't just throw streamed matches, you have to at least pretend you give a shit. HOWEVER - GOMtv has no right t

  • AcerMki wrote

    It's GOM's tournament. They have every right to do what they want. I'm sure there is a clause in the tournament rules which states "We reserve to change the rules and regulations at any time". This is pretty standard practice for every tournament so saying that GOMtv has no right to punish Naniwa is pretty naive.

  • Zyori wrote

    great read, doa! Thanks for providing some insight; definitely helps to clear up all the nonsense others are saying on the forums

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