Worlds Apart - Tyler vs Naniwa

Written by Offsajdh
Mar 06 2012, 8:51 AM EST

Worlds Apart

Liquid'Tyler recently changed his ID back to NonY, a gesture many considered to be a sign of hope, a sign that he would once again rise to the very top of what the foreign world has to offer. But for the purpose of this article we will continue to use the name he has gone by in the past year, Tyler, and as the year 2012 progresses we'll see if his new/old ID will stick.
The story of "David vs Goliath" is as old as it is well known. It's featured in the Hebrew Bible, Christian Old Testament and the Qur'an, with each religion promptly putting its own spin on it. But you all know the gist of it, a sling, some stones, and an unexpected victory by the heroic underdog. When the story is retold today, most people often leave out the fact that David proceeds to behead the passed-out giant laying face down on the ground. They also often ignore that David strips the armor of his foe so that it can be worn as his own.

Today, we prefer our heroes to be slightly more noble in victory. In modern times we've updated the notion of what constitutes a true "hero" from that crude and raw origin. But the underlying story structure, the riveting human tale of victory against fearsome giants, literal or otherwise, remains almost untouched to this day. Heroes come with a thousand faces, but the story is often the same.
In StarCraft II, there are many heroes to choose from. The thousand different incarnations of a hero are all here, anti-heroes, tragic heroes, and even comic heroes. But no pair spark a stronger contrast than Quantic'Naniwa and Liquid'Tyler. These two are very different from each other, in many ways almost polar opposites. Let me re-emphasize that they are both heroes, not rivals, and they both deserve our utmost respect, but for entirely different reasons.
Tyler is very internal, Naniwa is all external. Tyler’s biggest enemy is himself and he fights to win his own mental battle, while Naniwa’s biggest enemy is the world, and he will light it all on fire if it gets in the way of him achieving victory. Tyler is cool and calm, like a Jedi. Naniwa is passionate and rash, like a Sith. Tyler is so eloquent and socially savvy that he's been a permanent guest on "State of the Game", the most popular SC2 show out there, while Naniwa is laconic and puts little value on talk in general -- he's all about actions. Perhaps as a result, Tyler is inconsistent in his play, while Naniwa is consistent. 
We could do these comparisons all day; the fact that they both happen to play Protoss is a minor miracle in and of itself. So let's dig deeper.

apathy > motivation. self-destruction > will power. depression > practice 

Since 2005, Liquid'Tyler has been struggling with Major Depressive Disorder, more commonly known as clinical depression. It’s a difficult condition to describe and utterly impossible to reason with. This is the towering Goliath of Tyler’s world. 
It would be presumptuous of me to try and put his situation into words, so I won’t try to. It’s a personal matter that is best left to Tyler himself to speak on when he so chooses. But we all need to acknowledge how remarkable it is for him to take on a demanding (and often very frustrating) profession like competitive StarCraft knowing it may unleash his internal demons. It’s as if Tyler, despite having seen the full shadow of the Goliath above him, refused to back down. Just like David didn’t cower away from facing his giant head on, neither did Tyler.
While the community was discussing how difficult of a mental obstacle "ladder anxiety" was, Tyler would be combating a far tougher beast. But he would force himself to press that "Find Match" button, and in doing so also give his Goliath the finger, even if only for a brief moment. We will all celebrate the return of NonY when that Goliath stays down, if it hasn't gone down already. But unlike David from the story, Tyler would never behead or desecrate his enemy, Tyler has become too classy of a hero for that, too modern. Naniwa on the other hand... 
Naniwa effortlessly embodies the principles he stands for, which is really quite fortunate since he's not that well-spoken. Determination and sacrifice, doing whatever it takes to win, that's his mantra. The beheading of enemies is a quite viable option. I have written about Naniwa before, about how he was kicked from home at the age of 17 and expelled from school etc, so I won't go into the details of his story again, aside from borrowing one of my own lines: " a time when most teenagers have no idea what they want to do with their lives, Naniwa knew exactly what he wanted, and more importantly he was willing to put it all on the line to get there..." family included.
He is a remarkable character in a sea of more traditional and often less interesting heroes. He sticks out from the crowd, and not everyone likes that. But that's the beauty of Naniwa, he doesn't really care all that much if you like it or not, he's not in it to be entertaining, he's not in it to be charming or pleasant. Naniwa is in it to win. And although this mentality is not unique to Naniwa (far from it), he is still one among few who personifies it the best. After all, no one else has had the balls and poor judgement to probe rush the legendary NesTea on his home soil, live on gomTV, simply out of principle. And this leads us to the Goliath in need of conquering. His rashness. 
It is, to a degree, a wonderful thing to see someone care so little for anything aside from victory, but it's not always healthy for your career. Naniwa played for three different teams in 2011, while Liquid'Tyler by comparison has stated that he'd be willing to put down his own money if needed just to be able to stay on Team Liquid. Quantic Gaming has already weathered the probe rush storm, and did that well, but I doubt they would want a repeat incident. Yet that's almost what they got over in Kiev at the Intel Extreme Masters, merely one month after the probe rush "uproar". Naniwa decided to forfeit the tournament due to utterly unplayable lag. He had actually already left the building and was halfway to the hotel when Rotterdam literally came running after him. The two have a common past as WarCraft III professionals and from what I can gather, know each other pretty well. Rotterdam managed to talk Naniwa down from committing career seppuku, and he returned to the tournament to win his group and reach the quarter final.
Still, it may well be the case that Naniwa needs his Goliath alive in order to perform as well as he has. It would not be unreasonable to assume that his rashness produces the precise fuel he needs in order to perform and prove the world wrong, however harmful it may be to his career. 
It’s as though Tyler and Naniwa draw their inner strength from two entirely different sources, the light and dark side of the force if you will. Their personalities lead them to tackle obstacles in very different ways. Take a moment and consider how well the following texts fit our two heroes: 
Although these two players are worlds apart, they have both earned our respect. And in their struggles with personal giants through the year of 2012 we offer them these words of wisdom: "Try not! Do, or do not. There is no try."
Written by: Joel “Offsajdh” Hakalax
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Extra Credit Reading:
The most interesting aspect of the David & Goliath legend is not necessarily that the underdog ends up winning, but the manner in which he does so. Refusing to play into the strength of your enemy is something that underdogs have done throughout history to create great upsets.* 
T.E. Lawrence was a British archaeologist, later more commonly known as "Lawrence of Arabia", who rose to fame for his exploits in the first World War. He fought a war of attrition against the Ottoman Army, leading a scruffy band of insurgents against a much stronger army. Riding on camel-back like the best of them and fluent in Arabic, Lawrence was not your typical British war hero. But he was constantly blowing up railroad tracks and cutting telegraph cables, being a proper thorn in the side of his immobile enemy. Lawrence was called a coward without honor for refusing to fight his Goliath on their own terms, for avoiding to attack into the well defended Ottoman strongholds. We might laugh and find that being called a coward is a small price to pay for military victory, which indeed it is. But the truth is that Goliath always gets to dictate what game we should be playing, it is up to David whether or not to accept.
Within the competitive StarCraft world, there is a similar and obvious scenario wherein David pays a social price for refusing to play the game according to Goliaths preference, namely: to win by cheese. It is taboo, it is frowned upon, it is everything that the giants of the game hold in contempt because it effectively removes their biggest advantage. We are told that it takes no skill, that it is lame and so on and so forth. But at the end of the day, it was David who stood victorious upon the corpse of Goliath, and it was Naama who won against IdrA with a 1 base Battle-Cruiser rush. We can go back and forth all day to decide where to draw the line for skillful play, but the one thing that cannot be argued with is the end result. David always chooses to bring a sling to a sword fight, and that is why he wins.