LongWalk at Yosemite Park
Hey Phil, can you give us a little introduction?
It's nice to meet you. My name is Philip Crawford and I'm 26 years old. I grew up in New York, went to college in New York, and now I live in New York City and work for New York University as a Financial Analyst. Are you seeing a pattern here? : ) Anyway, I've been playing Warcraft 3 for almost 13 years now, and it's a pleasure to be speaking with you.
When you registered for WCA America, did you expect to end up winning it?
Honestly, I did expect to win the tournament, or at least place in the top 2 for the trip to the finals. However, I did notice a lot of seasoned veterans in the American Qualifiers (Sonkie, Ferfe, Hunter, etc.), as well as some really strong new players (Insuperable), so I knew I'd have to play my best to win, and avoid making too many mistakes. It was also a challenge to learn the new metagame to see how the game has progressed in my absence.
I'm proud of my performance, though I do still see a lot of room for improvement in my play and mental game. I hope to make these improvements before my showing in China, because I'm also planning on winning in Yinchuan.
How much do you play Warcraft 3 nowadays?
September and October were extremely busy months for me this year, so I didn't find too much time to practice. I spent most of my time studying my opponents, and watching the latest replays of top players and their strategies. Now that I'm going to the finals, in an interesting twist of fate, I find myself facing the same top players whose games I studied.
I plan on playing as much as I can with my busy schedule, and maximizing the use of my practice time to improve as quickly as possible.
When did you play your last big Offline tournament?
I believe the last offline tournament I played was the IeSF Grand Final in Daegu, South Korea. This was in December 2010. It's strange to be gearing up to travel to Asia 6 years later for the same game - but its a great feeling, too.
Do you have any major tournament title or tournaments memories to share?
All of my major winnings have come from winning American (North and South) National Finals - I don't tend to play in the online cups (ZOTAC, GERA, etc.), because of the significant time commitment. If there were larger tournaments with increased prize pools, I would definitely consider participating - I don't know about you, but it seems like the interest is there…
LongWalk in Daegu, 2010
My favorite tournaments in America have been the WCG National Final in 2007 (Orlando and hanging out at Universal Studios was a great time), various Blizzcon Qualifier tournaments (Austin was such an interesting city), and a few others. I also loved the Blizzcon Qualifier held in Cologne - I have fond memories of playing there, and hanging out in Germany with the other American/European players.
Actually, now that I think of it, I also loved the Digital Life tournament, which took place in the Jacob Javitts Center in New York City. That was in 2006. I took a game off Spirit_Moon in the grand final! I still think I'm the only American to ever beat him in a game on LAN! I'll never forget that day, which was also the first time I ever tried Korean BBQ. The Javitts Center still has a fond place in my heart today.
Do you often play against Americans, North and South?
Because I tend to end up versus the other North and South American players in tournaments, and want to keep my strategies and playstyle hidden, I don't practice much with any of them. I prefer to play ladder and face random opponents, or else do some targeted practice with European players.
Can you go through the day that lead you to the WCA America title?
To qualify for the WCA Finals, I had to play a total of 17 games in one day. I've never played so many games, and I'm most proud of myself for having the stamina to last 11 hours (with the help of some coffee). I'm also proud that the quality of my play was highly consistent, and even improved at the very end of the day when I needed to overcome Ferfe.
To me, this day represents the importance of managing one's mental game and outlook. All of us are capable of so much, whether in Warcraft III or in any other endeavor in life, and we really are largely responsible for whether we succeed or fail. There were so many opportunities for me to give up and accept a loss - but a small part of me knew that I wanted the win, and was unwilling to give in to the temptation.
More than anything else from that day, I want to hold on to this feeling of determination, and what it feels like to remain calm even during the most stressful, bleak situations - because there is always a next move you can make to take you closer to where you want to be.
Any comment about feRfe pauses during the Final that raised a lot of comments?
It's unfortunate that Ferfe had computer issues during the series, because these only detract from the art and beauty of the game. I do, however, strongly believe that it is each player's responsibility to manage their own technical issues as not to interfere with the natural flow of the game. I hope in the future that he is able to find a more suitable arrangement for playing Warcraft 3, because it seems like he tends to have trouble with his current setup.
You end up in Group B with Lyn, TH000, Infi and Orcworker : what are your expectations?
I would be lying if I said my group didn't look tough, but I believe that every player is beatable, and that I can win this. Nobody is infallible. I'm looking forward to rematching Infi in China once again, 7 years later, and to playing the other great players in my group. As the lone Night Elf in my group, I hope to make a good showing - can't wait.
Have you ever been to China before?
I have been to China once before - for the WCG Grand Final in Chengdu. I remember feeling very jetlagged both during and after the trip, but it was an incredible experience! I feel extremely honored and lucky to be traveling back to China to follow my passion. The curse of being a Warcraft 3 player is that when you travel for pleasure, and not to compete in a tournament, it always ends up feeling like something is lacking. If you've ever seen the movie Kill Bill, where the heroine is sitting on the plane and plotting out all of her next moves with pen and paper, I feel the same way about tournaments.
In Yinchuan, when I'm not preparing for the tournament or playing, I hope to make the most of the experience by exploring the area, meeting some of the locals, and hanging out with the other players and casters.
How will you arranged your daily life to participate into WCA?
I actually am just finishing up moving to a new apartment in New York City, so I've had a lot to figure out lately. But I wouldn't miss this tournament for the world ! I've arranged with my job to get the time off, and my friends are being extremely supportive and helpful with my move to make sure I can focus my time and energy on the tournament.
How did your entourage reacted to your qualification?
I think my friends and family were shocked to hear that I ended up winning at the end of the day. A few different people had checked the stream at different times, and seeing that I was down a few games, or lost the first match against feRfe and assumed I might end up losing… so it was fun to explain that I came back and won! assumed
Do you openly talk about your Warcraft passion to them?
It's funny, too! I've found myself talking about "Demon Hunters" and "Moonwells" to a lot of people who I never thought would ever need to know about this stuff. I feel truly lucky to have the friends that I do, they always believe in me and remind me that I can accomplish anything that I work hard enough for. And my parents, who watched for 11 hours straight and never gave up on me. I may be going to China by myself, but I don't feel like I'm going alone.
Warcraft 3 has played an interesting role in my life. Before I was attending and winning tournaments regularly, I didn't tell any of my classmates about it, because it was hard to explain, and there wasn't much to discuss. When I started winning and had an article written about me in the newspaper, I remember being nervous to explain to my friends why I was traveling to Europe - and to my surprise, everybody thought it was cool and admirable.
All of my friends and acquaintances pretty much know now, though if I meet somebody new, it usually takes awhile for it to come up in conversation, understandably…
Is WCA America a chance to revive Warcraft in America?
I feel VERY strongly that WCA America is a chance to revive the scene, and has already started doing just that, and I thank the tournament organizers over at WCA and LNEE for inviting us to participate. There was so much energy on W3Arena and across all the different forums for Warcraft 3 during the tournament. It's incredible how many people share my love for this game. I think it's telling that there's a YouTube channel called "Warcraft 3 Art" - because that's exactly what is is: art. I strongly believe that if sponsors continue to give Warcraft 3 a chance in America, they will find themselves well-rewarded financially. With the advent of Twitch, the age of a game hardly matters - it's the excitement that matters, and WCA America, along with the help of Neo's casting, created so much excitement.
Any plan to play on Netease?
I've thought about Netease, I'll probably install it once I move into my new apartment. I am a believer in the saying "don't fix what isn't broken, so if it doesn't work out for me, I'm happy to practice on W3Arena. But I do see the value in playing with more Chinese and Korean players, whom I'll be facing in the finals.
Many different people told me you are the nicest person in the Warcraft World?
I'm flattered that people still say I'm the nicest guy on Warcraft 3 : ) I remember playing many years ago and thinking that the only negative factor of the game was the occasional bad mannered player really ruining the vibe. Games like Warcraft 3, chess, and poker are already hard enough on the mind and the soul - every game is not only a game, but an expression of your greatest effort, of your playstyle, of your determination, and so on. So when you lose (or win) only to be ridiculed by an angry player, it can really turn you off to the game. I wonder how many players quit after being taunted by opponents, thus shrinking the size of our community. So I made it my goal to always try to leave other players with a positive feeling, whether I won or lost.
Of course, my comment in the last game against Ferfe was not ideal, and I regret being caught up in the heat of the moment. But it's nice to know that my efforts overall have been noticed - the best thing you can do, if you're reading this, is to spread the same positivity!
A word about Back2Warcraft?
I hadn't been following Warcraft 3 too closely before this series, but lately I've spent a ton of time watching Back2Warcraft's casts. Neo and Remo are incredibly talented casters, but more than that, they're fun and interesting guys to listen to. Anybody can talk about Warcraft 3 strategy… but not just anybody can make it thoughtful, exciting, and funny. I truly believe in their ability to bring the game to a modern 2016 audience, which they're continuing to do every day. I probably look forward to their casts a little too much. I'm also looking forward to meeting them in China!
Also important to note: they are an inspiration by showing that if you have enough passion for something, you can do it, and people will literally give you money, time, and energy to make it happen. Their passion is infectious. Thanks for everything you do, Neo and Remo!
Anything you want to say or something I should have asked?
As for last words, I'd just like to say I'm grateful for everybody who has encouraged me and been there for me throughout my life: my sister Lauren (who made actual LongWalk posters during my last match!), my parents, my friends (Eddie and Pedro, you guys missed the last one), and several others I won't mention here. Of course, WEAREFOALS gets a shoutout for his last minute coaching, prepping, and for being my teammate. But really, I consider myself extremely lucky for all of the people I've met and all of my life experiences leading up to this one - everything happens for a reason.
I think when one graduates college and enters the "real world", it can be a difficult time to find oneself, and I'm no exception. Having the chance to be reintroduced to my passion as an adult has meant so much to me, and I hope to put on an amazing show in China for all of you.
Thank you, Ugrilainen, for taking the time to interview me - it's been an honor!
LongWalk with his sister Lauren
The honor was all mine Phil! Cannot wait to meet you in Yinchuan and send many pictures of your victory over Infi to your family in NY :)
If you would like to follow me on twitter, i would very much appreciate that : www.twitter.com/playffa