Interview with Arch_Koven_
Date: May 1st, 2002
After the Arbalet-Cup Tournament we sat down with "the one and only" Arch_Koven_, who is dominating the Age of Empires - Series since more than 4 years now. In this world exclusive interview we are trying to reveal some of the mysts ranking around this gamer who has inspired thousands of players with his strategies. Enjoy the read!
Arch_Koven_: Best AOK-Player in the World
FOPT: You are undoubtfully the most famous AOK player in the world. But we don't know much about you. Can you tell us something about your real life?
Arch_Koven: My name is Lee Jae Back, I am 22 years old and I live with my girlfriend in Seoul , Korea. I work as a Professional Gamer for Samsung, one of the biggest Korean companies. Apart from playing games I like to watch movies, I play basketball and football and I am a dedicated snowboarder.
FOPT: "Professional Gamer" - that sounds exciting. Can you describe how a professional gamer spends his day?
Arch_Koven_: Sure. I am part of the Samsung Khan Team. We play games and get paid for it from the company. If there is for example a tournament we wear shirts from our sponsor. Nowadays there are not many tournaments for AOK. But I also play Counterstrike and Empire Earth for the team.
FOPT: Do you have to go to an office every day?
Arch_Koven_: No, usually I play at home if there is no event. If they need me in the office I get called on the phone.
FOPT: For someone who doesn't live in Korea it's hard to imagine that you can earn a living with playing computer games but gaming is a big industry in Korea isn't it?
Arch_Koven_: Yes, Koreans are crazy about games. We have tournaments, leagues and many TV-Channels for nothing but games.
FOPT: Do they show AOK-matches? And if so have you been in TV too?
Arch_Koven_: Yes, I have been in TV several times. But not so much now because AoK is getting less popular.
FOPT: Which is the most popular game in Korea? Counterstrike?
Arch_Koven_: HmStarcraft I think, but it is dying now.
FOPT: Which computer and connection do you have?
Arch_Koven_: We have very good cable-connections here. My computer is a P3-866, Geforce2-Ti, 384MB RAM. For playing I use hotkeys and a Microsoft wheel mouse (but I don't use the wheel at all).
FOPT: How long have you been a Professional Gamer now?
Arch_Koven_: For 3 years and 6 months. If I go to the army I will have to stop and get a job after. Perhaps I have to leave in 2 months but that is not decided yet.
FOPT: So we won't see you play in the 2nd WCG in October in Daejun, Korea?
Arch_Koven_: Hm, don't know if I can. Military Service in Korea lasts 26 months.
FOPT: How did you become a professional gamer? Let me guess: You won a tournament and they hired you right away?
Arch_Koven_: Hehe, you are right. This is exactly what happened.
FOPT: Let's talk about AOK. When did you start playing the AOE - Series?
Arch_Koven_: Hmm, I think I started playing Age of Empires in 1998.
FOPT: Did you play other games before AOE?
Arch_Koven_: Yes, Red Alert. I was Number 1 in that game too ;-)
FOPT: When you started to play Age of Empires were you already using the name Arch_Koven_?
Arch_Koven_: Yes. With this name I was leading the Zone-Rankings in Age of Empires, Age of Kings and now in Age of Kings: The Conquerors. I have many names but this is my main name.
FOPT: I noticed that all your names are rated 2200+. Why is that?
Arch_Koven_: Well, I like to smurf my friends so I make new names and play them to 2200+. After it's getting hard because everyone gets scared of you hehe. Sometimes I wish I only had a 1900+ name but it's too boring to bring a new name to 1900+ only - it's no challenge for me.
FOPT: As far as I can remember you have always (with short breaks) been the Number 1 of the Zone Rating. When you first became number one, was it planned or did it happen more or less randomly.
Arch_Koven_: I want to be the best. Having the best rating is a challenge and of course it's good for the sponsor too.
FOPT: Even Arch_Koven_ has not been born as an expert I assume. Your games have inspired thousands of players. But who was teaching you?
Arch_Koven_: My teacher in Age of Empires was Ikarus_II. Do you know him?
FOPT: I know the name, but since I only started with Age of Kings I never met him. He was Korean too?
Arch_Koven_: Yes, I met him sometimes in real life. After some time he married and stopped playing. In AOK RD_ChampioN and pak_se_ri were my teachers. ;-)
FOPT: Tell us about your name, Arch_Koven_. What does it mean?
Arch_Koven_: Arch was a clan in AOE. Arch_Vile_ was the leader, RD_ChampioN was Arch_Sun. When I entered Arch I was new to the game and didn't speak English. After some time with AOK most members stopped playing and the clan died. But the few that are left still use the names sometimes. Koven is short for KOrea HeaVEN. It does not have a special meaning.
FOPT: Do you play only RM?
Arch_Koven_: I played a lot of DM in AOK and I was the best I think, but now only RM. I play 1vs1 a lot but I like team games more. I really hope Arbalet and FOPT can host a team-tournament in the future!
FOPT: We will see about that. ;-) New topic: Quite a few people say Koven never won a big tournament because he fails under pressure. Is that true?
Arch_Koven_: Yes, to be honest I got nervous because everyone thought "Koven will win, he never loses". This put a lot of pressure on me, especially in the WCG´s in my home-country.
FOPT: Do you get nervous when you play in public areas, with watchers behind you?
Arch_Koven_: Not nervous, but it's bad for concentration. A lot of noise etc. Tournaments like the Arbalet-Cup provide better games because all players can play in the environment they are used to.
FOPT: Is the Arbalet-Cup the biggest tourney you've won so far in terms of prize money?
Arch_Koven_: No, once I won $10000 in a Korean tournament! ^^
FOPT: In the first games of the Arbalet-Cup you looked a little rusty. Did you hide your real skill?
Arch_Koven_: Hehe, I was indeed rusty because I almost only played CS before. And I thought I don't need practice to play against rookies so I didn't play AOC.
FOPT: You are telling us you eliminated pG_FIRE_, RD_ChampioN, CNS_Grunt and _IamChris with no practice?
Arch_Koven_: I practised more for these games but not a lot. But I thought a lot about strategies. I watched the recorded games of my opponents from the previous rounds to prepare.
FOPT: Out of the many great games I would like to point out two: The 1st game vs. Grunt in the Semifinals and the 2nd game vs. Chris in the Finals. You looked pretty much dead but made an unbelievable comeback twice!
Arch_Koven_: Haha, yes. In both games I really wanted to resign. ^^
FOPT: So what made you stay in the games then?
Arch_Koven_: Hm. I don't know. Maybe the experience that in a game the craziest things can happen. Against Grunt I got a chance to kill his army because I used hill bonus. He played great in the beginning but he missed to kill me. In the game against Chris I forgot the wood upgrade. I think without this mistake the game would have been easier for me.
FOPT: How can the best player in the world forget wood upgrade?
Arch_Koven_: Haha, I read in the tournament forum "Koven is god, Koven is a machine". But I am only human and I make mistakes too. Haha.
FOPT: Which opponent in the tournament was the toughest?
Arch_Koven_: Fire, Grunt, Champ and Chris are all very good players.
FOPT: And who in general is the player you fear most?
Arch_Koven_: Grunt. I train him and now he is very very good hehe. But I still won more games in total.
FOPT: Now I have a tough question. Imagine you were a game designer for AOK and you could change ONE thing in the game. What would that be?
Arch_Koven_: Hm...I would like to have air units like in Empire Earth. Or maybe Heroes.
FOPT: I was told to ask you about your games vs RD_ChampioN. You chatted extremely much during these games. What about?
Arch_Koven_: Hehe, we talked about my new Korean clan and about the map. And when Champ had a huge army I said "wow too many units you will kill me kakaka" and stuff like that.
FOPT: A new Korean clan?
Arch_Koven_: Just kidding. Champ and me are good friends in real life.
FOPT: Why do Korean players dislike to record their games?
Arch_Koven_: Well, we don't want to teach other people. We work hard on new strategies and then all players come and copy us. But this is only my personal opinion. Further more I made bad experiences with posting recorded games, for example at MFO, in the past. Some players uploaded a game when they defeated me and posted shit.
FOPT: So you dislike the record game feature in general?
Arch_Koven_: No, it's good for everyone. But experts like to have a few secrets left - that's why they are experts. ;-)
FOPT: Do you watch many recorded games?
Arch_Koven_: No, I only watch very good games. Watching great recorded games is like watching a movie for me.
FOPT: Do you keep your best games ?
Arch_Koven_: No, I delete the files after some time. Additionally, some days ago I had to format my computer, so right now I have no game left at all.
FOPT: Have you followed the discussions in the official tournament forum here at FOPT?
Arch_Koven_: Yes of course. I read every day. So many people support my play - it really fills my heart with pride! I want to use this interview to thank all players who believed in me!
FOPT: Did you like the set up of the Arbalet-Cup? Any suggestions for the future?
Arch_Koven_: I liked the tournament very much. Good players, good organisation and good games. Thank you to Arbalet and FOPT and I hope you will continue this work!
FOPT: Thank you, I will make sure Arbalet is reading this ;-)