Interview with Fnatic's Zanster; "I think it’s only a matter of time before a new [Swedish] challenger appears"

Fnatic's Anton 'Zanster' Dahlström shares his opinion on the current state of SC2 in Sweden, what it was like facing Ko 'HyuN' Seok Hyun early on in his career and NationWars Season 2.

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To start this interview off, I’m curious about how you actually found your way into the world of SC2. Had you played Brood War or any other Blizzard games previously?

I actually just managed to stumble across a video of Husky commentating a game and thought the game looked very fun.

Did something specific make you want to compete in the title?

Well, when I heard that there were people who made money off of it I almost immediately decided that I’d become a progamer. I had competed in some sports earlier, but none of it was ever as serious as my current path as a SC2 pro.

When looking at when you started competing, one of your first ever games in competitive WoL was against Ko ‘HyuN’ Seok Hyun. Was this an intimidating experience for you, given that you got to experience the Korean dominance so early on?

I actually think it was really fun to get the opportunity to play against a really good player that early on, I didn’t have anything to lose and I learned a lot from it.

What’s your own take on the current state of SC2 and the level of non-Korean competition?

I think the Koreans are far ahead of us still. Luckily, however, KeSPA doesn’t usually send a lot of players to non-Korean tournaments so I think there’s always a pretty good chance of a non-Korean winning a Dreamhack, or an IEM.

Being a young player like you, trying to get your name out, does it feel like the influx of Korean competition makes this really hard since they place as highly as they do?

It’s a bit of both. I don’t think you can become a Yun 'TaeJa' Young Soo or a Lee 'Life' Seung Hyun without the Korean training experience, which I think is pretty sad as I don’t really have the opportunity to do so currently. But it’s a goal of mine that I want to achieve, so it’s something to strive towards.

Sweden was considered somewhat of a factory when it came to producing SC2 talent early on with Johan 'Naniwa' Lucchesi, Markus 'ThorZaIN' Eklöf and Jeffrey 'SjoW' Brusi all being considered some of SC2’s sharpest players for a while. Do you feel that the level of talent they had has been replicated in the new generation of Swedish SC2 pros?

Those are some massive shoes to fill, so simply “finding” a new ThorZaIN will be difficult. But since Sweden currently has a ton of proving grounds for competitive players with tournaments like EsportSM, Svecup as well as the BYOC Dreamhack events, I think it’s only a matter of time before a new challenger really appears.

With the amount of tournaments present in Sweden, do you feel that there’s a sense of security of being a pro in Sweden compared to other countries that don’t have as many regular competitions?

You need to be able to do well enough at the Dreamhacks in order to make a living off of just your tournament winnings, I think. There are so many good players here in Sweden, so banking on winning all of these tournaments is almost impossible. But with the regular amount of competition it’s easy to become motivated and it does make it more attractive to chose to become a pro.

In the second season of O’Gaming’s NationWars, you and Stefan 'MorroW' Andersson will be part of Sweden’s line-up for the second season in a row. With the lack of a protoss player this time around, are you feeling confident about your chances in the tournament?

We are definitely stronger this time around. Our bracket is a pretty tough one, but I’m sure that we will perform much better this season.

A lot of controversy surrounded the line-up you fielded in the initial season of the tournament, where Naniwa was removed from the team to many fans' dismay. Did this leave a lasting impact on your performance?

I think it was really sad that our line-up, which was extremely strong, just fell apart like that. But that wasn’t the only thing that bothered us and affected our run.

Are there any specific Swedish players that currently look like they could take on international competition?

With Naniwa quitting and ThorZaIN studying it doesn’t really feel like there’s a player that seems to be of truly international caliber just now, but hopefully I can change that in the future.

You and your team mate Viktor 'Miniraser' Malmberg have been the two go-to names in terms of Swedish players garnering success in team leagues and other tournaments. Do you think you are the best players in Sweden currently?

I’d say we are top 3 in Sweden at the moment. We’re good friends and being on the same team really helps us in our goals to become better since we can share ideas and builds whenever we practice.

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When you look back at your career, is there a single moment that stands out to you?

Whilst I haven’t enjoyed a ton of success just yet, but winning Svecup in Jönköping was my favorite moment in my career so far, partly because it was my first LAN victory and also due to the fact that my dad sat in the audience and saw me win.

With SC2 being your full-time commitment, how long do you personally feel that you can keep on playing it professionally?

Whether or not I decide to continue or not all comes down to how good my results are and how fun I think playing the game actually is.

Final words or shoutouts?

Thanks to Fnatic for supporting me, and my sponsors avast, MSI, SteelSeries, EIZO, Winamax and fragnet. Please follow me on Twitter @FnaticZanster.

Photo Credit: Svenska Esportscupen, Fnatic

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