Scarlett looks for redemption at Redbull Battlegrounds NYC

Sasha 'Scarlett' Hostyn is the best player in North America and one of the top non-Korean players in the world. After disappointing results in the last few months, Hostyn is looking to redeem herself at Redbull Battlegrounds.

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Team Acer's Zerg powerhouse Hostyn has been one of the most revered StarCraft 2 players in the world since her breakout performance at IPL4 in Las Vegas nearly a year and a half ago. After suffering injuries to her wrist in early 2013, Hostyn struck back with impressive performances at the WCS Season 2 America and Season Finals, cementing her as the best non-Korean player in the world along with Swede Johan 'NaNiwa' Luchessi. Now after missing BlizzCon and under-performing at HomeStory Cup 8, Hostyn looks to finish the year on a high note, as next year's future is quite uncertain.

onGamers: You said that travel impacts your play, how do you feel going into Redbull Battlegrounds after flying from HomeStory Cup?

Sasha "Scarlett" Hostyn: I got sick last week from a lot of travel, but after that I'm fine I guess. I just got here yesterday and it's a six hour time difference. It's in North America so its not as big of a deal for me but it may affect me a little bit. It's nice they flew us in early so we have some time to adjust. It'll be easier to manager than HomeStory Cup.

Have you been able to adjust from HomeStoryCup leading into this weekend's Battlegrounds event?

It wasn't really due to my play it was my mindset there. It wasn't the best for some reasons...It'll be better this weekend, so hopefully I'll play better.

Do you feel any pressure to perform for North American and/or Western fans?

Not really North America and maybe somewhat as a foreigner, but mostly I just represent myself. I don't think I'm the North American hope even though other people say I am.

Does this make you play or feel any differently that you are a lot of people's hope?

Not really, I'm kind of used to it by now. There's not too many foreigners at the WCS finals for example.

Who have you practiced with leading upto the event?

I mostly play ladder honestly, as bad as my ping is. Especially with my teammates in Korea and me traveling a lot, it's hard to schedule anything proper.

What do you think about your Redbull Battlegrounds group?

At first I thought it was going to be like the other Redbull events this year - a round robin format - so I was pretty happy with my group. I felt confident against Golden, somewhat against Bomber, and not so much against Parting. Now I've it's GSL style and that I have to play Parting first, so my confidence has gone down the drain. I lost 0-3 to him at WCS Finals last year when he won. He hasn't been doing so well recently, but as I mentioned before I'm not too confident in my ZvP right now. I'm hoping to get 2nd place in the group, but I don't know about winning it. I think if it was the round-robin format I'd have a much better chance of advancing.

Do you have expectations going into this event?

I definitely want to get top 3, I'd be really disappointed if I lost my group. I don't know about winning, it depends on my bracket. Top 2 would be nice. I don't really expect it, but it would make me happy.

How have things changes from your breakout performance at IPL until now?

Yeah back then no one knew about me. It's a lot harder now. You have to live upto expectations. Fans are disappointed, the team is disappointed. Especially this year with a lot of foreign players retiring, I've been the big Zerg foreign hope with Naniwa as Protoss. So with that it's been hard if I lose early, it's really disappointing.

How much of that has to do with other players having played you a lot, gotten used to your style?

Actually opponents don't seem to adjust to my play as much as I would think they would. I play a really predictable style sometimes and they just play standard, I don't understand why. Some of my style plays abusively but they just don't seem to go for that.

Why do you think that is?

I think most players just like to play their game and not so much against specific players. You can practice against a specific player, but if you end up losing your group against the same race of a different player, it doesn't make a difference you won that first game. You'd rather be good against every Protoss than good against a single Protoss.

Do you see your Zerg style as still different than everyone else?

My ZvP style is pretty unique. I've been going double evolution chamber zerlings a pretty long time. It's my most confident style. I don't think many players use it as much as I do or as well. For ZvT I play pretty normal, and ZvZ I've forever played mutalisks.

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Not more than six months ago many considered you to be the best Western player in the world. How do you feel about your game right now?

Right now I'm not too confident in my play. Not practicing in Korea for a long time, my wrist injury, and time off have been the biggest factors. And especially ZvP, Protoss players have been getting better and they got buffed, so it's much harder.

How is your wrist?

Sometimes it gets pretty bad. Actually now I have to use 2 fingers to click a mouse button. If I'm clicking the left-click I have to use my index finger and middle finger, and if if I'm clicking right-click I have to use my middle finger and ring finger. I don't know why exactly but my tendons are quite weak. I can't really click as fast because I have to switch my middle finger back and forth, so it hurts my APM a bit. Sometimes it's just painful so I have to take a few days off practicing completely. Usually in tournaments it's not a big deal but it does slow me down a bit. I used to get a little bit of soreness before, but by the end of January of this year it was just terrible.

Have you been able to see a doctor?

They just said I needed time off and to stretch well. It was mostly really really bad in February, just awful. I lost to Lucifron because of it. I couldn't play at all. But it's been decent since then. I play less because of it. If it wasn't there I think I'd be playing a bit better but not enough.

How much do you put on the injury for not being your best?

I think a lot of it is due to not being in Korea. I was considered (and maybe still am) to be the top 2 foreigner in the world along with Naniwa. I had to take a month off from the injury, and now there's no spot in the Acer-Axiom team house.

I'm only able to play on the North America ladder and sometimes Europe - my home internet connection is awful. Even me playing to North America from my home is the same as playing on the Korean server from California. There's quite a bit of delay. Being in the team house too, you have much more motivation to practice. When I'm home there's distraction of doing other things than playing StarCraft all day.

How long will it take you to get back to where you were before?

It'll take me going back to Korea which I plan to do. I won't be in the team house, but I'll still in Korea practicing in Korea. I expect to do a lot better after then. For now, it's iffy, I'm not sure how I'll do it. I have to play NA ladder for ShoutCraft which isn't ideal.

Seeing how volatile StarCraft 2 esports is, with champions never able to stay on top for an extended period of time, are you worried you won't be able to get back to your former shape?

Pretty much since I started as a pro, a month or two after I joined my first team, I've been been the best North American player undisputedly since then. I don't see that changing, but I can't say past that.

Is it enough for you to be the best player in North America, or do you need to be one of the best in the world?

I want to win a premier tournament on LAN before I stop playing. I don't know if I'll play full-time next year actually. I'm not the most interested in the game anymore.

Why not?

It's just getting boring playing it so much. So I may start playing part-time, start learning something else.

Is this because of of StarCraft 2 specifically, or if you had been playing Dota 2 or League of Legends these past few years, you'd be just as bored?

Yeah, any game.

I want to win a premier tournament on LAN before I stop playing. I don't know if I'll play full-time next year actually. I'm not the most interested in the game anymore.

Is there anything that could be done to re-kindle your interest?

It's not about the game specifically.. I just get tired of something after awhile. But I'll still be playing a decent amount, more than for example ThorZain who doesn't seem to play much anymore after saying he would go part time.

What do you want to play now?

Probably not competitive gaming honestly. I won't be going to play Dota 2 or League of Legends or anything. I don't want to play a team game professionally, I don't like relying on teammates.

You've only been competing for a year and a half, winning events and signing to a major team during this time. Why leave now?

I won't leave, it'll just be part-time playing. I won't go to as many events but I'll still play Online tournaments. It's just...the travel is tiring for me, I don't like it too much. I don't think it'll impact how good I do, especially Online tournaments, I still think I'll do quite well. I expect to still get Top 16 in WCS.

Is there a drive to win that major tournament before you stop playing full-time?

I'd definitely like to, but it's not that I have to win before I stop. A lot of Korean players think that way. Look at Jaedong. He's got 2nd place at five or six tournaments this year including BlizzCon. I would be happy, but he isn't.

What about WCS next year?

I actually like WCS next year. I think the format is better except Challenger league. I think it should be group stage. I think it's silly you only play one match in Challenger and if you lose it you're out, I don't like that at all. I like how it's semi-region locked, it's easier to stay in Premier. I got to the Round of 16 every season this year, so if I do the same thing next year I'll always be in Premier. I think these changes would be better if they only kept the Top 8 players in.

Besides yourself, who are your picks to play well this week?

sOs, HyuN, and Bomber.

Edit: Changed header picture. Scarlett lost to Lucifron, not Thorzain.

Image Credit: Ethan Ahn at GEM Asia, AcerEsport.com

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