Zoe Summers: The Most Famous Scottish Esports Competitor You’ve Never Heard Of

Scottish Esports is something not really known about to the outside world. We have had a few notable players over the years, but never were those household names. We have no Daigos, no Fakers, no Zeros or Serrals. Our biggest names come in the form of personalities such as MarleyThirteen, Limmey and Rag Tagg.

Still, there are those who hail from our small corner of the world that are achieving things in the world of esports. This is one such person; a StarCraft player from Edinburgh competing and streaming in South Korea for a year.

Could you give us a brief Introduction about yourself, how did you get into gaming?

Hi, I’m Zoe Summers also known as CadenZie currently living abroad in Korea. I first got into gaming as a child just playing console games with friends and family; Mario games, fighting games, RPGs. We would often play a variety of games mostly just casually.

How did you get into StarCraft?

The first time I saw StarCraft a friend I admired a lot at the time introduced it to me so I tried it without hesitation. I was a young teenager and actually, I didn’t care at all for this type of game so I actually wasn’t very interested at first. I preferred games such as Zelda, Skies of Arcadia, Final Fantasy, the sims, and virtual pet games. One day my friend showed me a game between “professional players” where the player won with only a handful of units controlled with incredible skill to kill the opponent’s units endlessly in a seemingly impossible way.

Somehow just from watching that game I fell in love with it and continued watching StarCraft games since. Occasionally I would try to play myself (horrendously of course) but mostly I just enjoyed watching replays or videos of good players, and actually spent most of my time playing different games for the most part until the release of StarCraft 2.

CadenZie competing in the Twitch LAN StarCraft 2 tournament circa 2011. Photo credit: OnTwoPlanks

What has competing been like in StarCraft over the past 10 years?

Actually until more recently; within the past 2 years, I didn’t watch or play StarCraft for about 7 years. So I don’t have a good grasp of the past 10 years. I played StarCraft for a while in the months leading up to StarCraft 2 and for a while after I stopped playing, but over the past 10 years, I mostly did other things.

In terms of gaming I played League of Legends with friends sometimes and other games very casually also, Stardew Valley, Don’t Starve, and probably most of all Europa Universalis as I became intrigued with history for a while.

The past 2 years has been an incredible journey back into the world of StarCraft though. I started actually trying to learn things about the game and put them into practice, although I did mostly just watch others play again at first I was starting to be interested enough to emulate what I saw and put time into actually learning how to execute the strategies.

I had also heard talk about a remastered version coming out soon and all the old Korean pros returning, even Jaedong, whose games I always admired.

Why did you decide to go back to Brood War after competing in StarCraft 2?

I actually did think about playing Brood War seriously after I stopped playing StarCraft 2, which I don’t think I even played for a year really, just because I had always enjoyed watching Brood War and it had some sort of magical appeal that I didn’t find myself in StarCraft 2.

I played brood war for a couple of months after I quit StarCraft 2 but eventually, I moved on and left everything StarCraft behind until 2 years ago. The original StarCraft just has an unexplainable magic to it that captivates me, so when I saw old players returning it renewed my interest in the game and I just fell in love with the game all over again.

I can’t really say I competed in StarCraft until the past couple of years though, I’d definitely say until recently I was merely a fan and other than my brief few months of early StarCraft 2 I didn’t play any measurable volume of 1v1 games in either, and I have already surpassed the number of games played in both combined within just the past couple of years by a long way.

What is the scene for StarCraft like in Scotland and the rest of the UK?

If there is a scene for StarCraft in the UK I can’t really say I know about it, there was a bit of a UK scene for StarCraft 2 when I played but I have no idea what happened to that or if it still exists in the same way as I haven’t taken any notice since.

I know there is a commentator for Brood War who lives in the UK, that being my good friend Qikz! Also for a while, we had the return of Sayle too which was pretty cool, other than that I have no idea about people playing StarCraft in the UK, sorry!

What got you into streaming StarCraft?

I simply started streaming StarCraft because my friends asked me to stream all the time and I gave in!

How has the experience of streaming it been?

It has been a pretty incredible experience, a rollercoaster of ups and downs though. When I started playing StarCraft again 2 years ago I was extremely terrible so everyone would sort of backseat game and tell me to do this or that. I could never really tell if the advice was good or not, but I just kept improving quickly and started to understand more and more and maybe the nagging from stream watchers helped for that, who knows ^^

What made you decide you wanted to travel to Korea? Did you initially plan to stay there long term?

I started streaming on Afreeca at the same time as on twitch and sometimes even doing Afreeca only streams. Eventually more and more various progamers/Korean streamers took notice of me. So I started chatting and playing games with them and started to feel like a part of the Korean StarCraft community because they were always so nice and helpful to me. Occasionally they would ask me to come to Korea and I decided to go to Korea for a holiday.

I enjoyed it a lot and even participated in the ASL qualifiers while I was there! From that more Korean players/viewers started to learn about who I am and eventually I got invited by Rain to join his team for BJ Destruction Season 1 but to join I had to go to Korea at short notice. Britney offered to get me a hotel room near their practice house in Busan, and Effort also joined our team so I couldn’t pass up that opportunity right? I packed and left within a couple of days and enjoyed it so much.

I decided to stay for a year.

CadenZie competing in the BJ Destruction tournament series. Image provided by AfreecaTV.

How has streaming and competing in Korea been so far?

Streaming in Korea has been pretty crazy. At first, there was a lot of hype and I would have thousands and thousands of people trying to watch my games and cheering for me. Being a foreigner* and also very well known on Afreeca from doing collaborations with various Korean streamers I started to become famous enough here that fans would recognise me at restaurants, on the subway, and definitely many people in PC Bangs. So it has been interesting to experience some sort of fame. ^^

*Writer’s note: “foreigner” means a person from outside Korea in the Starcraft community. This is due to a long history of the game being centrally played and watched by Koreans at a high level.

Whenever I go to watch ASL or some other event in the studio I get so many fans lining up to take a picture with me so I feel very loved in Korea, its awesome!

You’ve competed in some events such as the BJ Destruction tournament where your team won season two. How was that experience? What was competing with players such as Jaedong on your team like?

Yeah we won season 2 with my team of Last, Jaedong, Tyson and I. Everyone wanted to be on a team with me, so I sort of had choice of anyone but I really wanted to play with Last. He had just won KSL and seemed like a really nice person so when he asked me I said yes right away without thought and he promised he will ask Jaedong to join so I was pretty excited about that too. Pretty awesome to play on the same team as someone whos play I had been trying to emulate for the past couple of years, and his English is awesome.

I also really like Tyson, he’s such a warm and caring person even though he didn’t speak much English and he also didn’t win a single game haha. But I don’t mind that because is really nice so I instantly forgive him.

You mention season 2 but actually, season 1 was the tournament I initially came to join with Rain, Britney and Effort and we won season 1 too… so actually, I’m two time champion with two different teams!

Everyone, my friends and family back home, and also my new friends in Korea have all been really supportive of my stay in Korea! My stream viewers are almost all Koreans these days though. I think foreigners are still too stubborn to use Afreeca much.

BJ Destruction season 1 winners. Image provided by AfreecaTV.

How does life in Korea compare to Scotland?

Life in Korea is a lot different and the language barrier can be a struggle. I’m okay with talking to shopkeepers and ordering food and such, but when I get a phone call about something more complicated it is so hard! I really should work on my Korean a lot more but I actually focused mostly on just StarCraft the past 6 months.

Recently some people have been helping me with learning Korean though. Doomi (a Korean English tutor who is also amazing at Protoss), Narism (my practice partner), and Jisoo (Tossgirl) who has become one of my best friends. ^^ They have all helped.

Recently.

Also, tonnes of people helped me a lot from the start when I got here; Rapid, bbonuna, Effort, Britney, Guemchi, Rain, Shine, Scan, FBH, Larva, and many more. Pretty much every Zerg progamer of past taught me something in StarCraft, even June helped me out!

What are your plans for the future? Do you plan on staying in Korea for longer than you had originally planned?

Initially, I thought I will stay for 3 months, but then I decided to stay for a year and bbonuna helped me a lot with that, and so far I haven’t changed my mind on that so maybe I’ll decide in 6 months what I’ll do next.

CadenZie visiting Seoul Sky Tower.

Do you have anything to say to those who might consider competing in esports more seriously?

I think the competition is insanely tough so you need to stand out and be special in some way, either become the best at your game or become a very entertaining person who can sustain themselves from streaming etc.

I’d say keep studying though, even if you do become successful at a game it will be very useful to have qualifications to back it up.

I’m recognised almost every time I go anywhere in Korea, and I’ve won 7 tournaments in 6 months, and it’s still not very easy for me, so good luck and do your best because maybe it will take a lot to make it work. ^-^ fighting!

Any closing thoughts and social media people can follow you at?

I hope some foreigners might visit my stream sometimes, it would be nice to see some people speaking English in my chat from time to time so I’ll notice you right away ^-^ I don’t use social media much, but maybe you can find some pictures on my Instagram @cadenzieyeyo, and updates on my board on my Afreeca page sometimes http://bj.afreecatv.com/cadenzie

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