Snute on Life, Leisure, and StarCraft

  • Dave Oliver, Blizzard Entertainment

Few players have been as prolific in the professional StarCraft II scene as Jens “Snute” Aasgaard. As an aspiring musician, he started playing the game as a hobby in 2010 when Wings of Liberty was released. As the game grew and the esports scene became a global phenomenon, he grew into the role of an ever-present high performer at nearly every event. We sat down with Snute to chat about his career, where he wants to go from here, and what life is like in general for one of the best-known players in the World Championship Series (WCS) Circuit.

What's your typical day look like as far as practice, hobbies, etc.?

It's changed a little from year to year, since I've been playing for a long time now. When I was starting as a full-time player, it was all about waking up in the morning, getting the normal stuff out of the way, and going straight to practice afterwards. Pretty much the whole day was about practice: just laddering, online tournaments, watching pro streams, pro games, and learning from them. That was how I improved tremendously in one year. Just playing, eating, sleeping, repeat. It was a really fun and peaceful lifestyle, so it was easy to keep up. It's quite similar these days, but I find it a lot harder to do raw practice as much. My improvement rate has stagnated quite a lot, but it's also nice to spend time on other hobbies. Some days are still like that, though, just a lot of StarCraft.

How do you juggle so much practice and traveling to events with other interests and your social life?

Mostly just by reducing other interests and social life to a minimum. I still see friends and family sometimes, but going two weeks without seeing anyone is also perfectly normal. I talk with friends online and one is always connected these days. You also get to meet friends every time you go to an event, so that becomes part of your social life too. Traveling can be exhausting because of jet lag or colds. As for interests, it's just about taking some time off when you're feeling like you've done enough StarCraft for the day. I don't have a very rigid structure to things, just focusing on the game, and if I have some interest in a hobby I can put the game aside for a bit.

Do you have a favorite tournament or event that you've participated in?

HomeStory Cup is my favorite event for sure. It has a very social and relaxed atmosphere compared to the other tournaments.

What are some of your biggest goals right now?

It's a bit weird to me, because I've been a pro gamer for such a long time. I've been near the very top level for years on end, had many tournament wins, near-wins, and failures of course. A part of me feels like I've reached my goals, having experienced a lot. I do regret not having been more dominant or hitting a higher skill peak, like how Neeb and Serral are these days. Part of me still wants to do everything possible to reach that level. But I also started to become more interested in other things.

I'm spending more time thinking where to go next; I do have more different interests these days compared to when I became a pro gamer. But it takes a long time to get better at things, and I haven't decided fully on a future in studies or work just yet. My goal for 2018 is to keep a high level in StarCraft II while spending more time and energy on exercise and hobbies. Less raw practice, and hopefully finding a way to retain or improve my level regardless.

What are some of your non-StarCraft hobbies?

Sometimes I play Golf with Your Friends, chilling out with Norwegian friends on Discord. Occasionally a few Hearthstone Arena games to relax. That's about it for other games. I used to play a bit of Dance Dance Revolution, but the machine was unfortunately removed from the local arcade recently. I still make a little bit of music in FL Studio, but things have been too hectic with StarCraft tournaments and travels. I think it would be fun to make music more often, but it's a bit tricky to be inspired, creative, and patient about it.

If I'm traveling or done with a long day of games, I sometimes browse the internet or watch documentaries about things that interest me. Science, nature, finance, things about the world. Or fiction shows, like anime series or movies. And at home, I try to go to the gym regularly and read up on things about it. I have a lot of fun hobbies, but sometimes travels knock me off balance and it's hard to spend time on everything in a consistent and productive manner.

What are your thoughts on the new balance changes in StarCraft II, and what are you most excited about in 2018?

I think the new balance changes are showing a lot of promise, but it's a bit early to tell where it's going. I hope there will be more minor adjustments that help races with their struggles at different parts of the game. It's unfortunate when a race is significantly weaker in early game or late-game for example. It's no fun if players get forced into a specific style or desperate solution by design. My dream for 2018 is that all races will have viable and fun-to-play options at all stages of the game, especially late-game.

I really hope I can do well enough to keep traveling. I took it more for granted before, but these days competition is so much harder, so I appreciate each opportunity way more than before. That's what I'm the most excited about: traveling, having fun, and playing more StarCraft.

The WCS Circuit returns for its 2018 season on January 26th in Leipzig, Germany. Keep an eye out for Snute to continue making waves and bringing some incredible Zerg play to the global stage throughout the year.