Interview: StarCraft II Player Dennis “Succeed” Schmuck Dedicates His Life To ESports

Team Root StarCraft II player Dennis "Succeed" Schmuck explains why eSports is a global phenomenon in this exclusive interview.

Dennis “Succeed” Schmuck worked hard to get to where he is today. The Swedish pro is the newest member of Team Root. Schmuck moved to Peru in February to live with Root Gaming teammate Paulo “CatZ” Vizcarra to fulfill his lifelong dream of become a professional StarCraft II gamer. The Protoss player recently competed in the Red Bull Training Grounds at Full Sail University in Orlando. He talks about his aspirations and explains how much dedication is required to compete in eSports today in this exclusive interview.

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How did you get involved in eSports?

I’ve always known about eSports, even from a young age. I knew about eSports from probably the age of 10. And when you’re online and playing with other people, you’re going to run into eSports, especially if you’re Swedish – there’s no way around it. And I thought, “Hey, maybe this is something I like,” and I just went for it.

What does it take to be a pro gamer today?

I think a mixture of talent and dedication. You can’t really do it half-ass, you have to go all in. You have to put in a lot of hours – and it’s not just playing hours, it’s also thinking about the game, studying other people, learning. And never being too arrogant. Even if there are players under your level, you can always pick up things from them. You just absorb as much information as you can as fast as possible, and put it into your game.

What have you sacrificed to get to where you are today?

I didn’t sacrifice anything, except time with my family. I haven’t seen my family in six or seven months. Other than that, I’m doing exactly what I want in life. I’m pretty happy with it.

How popular are eSports in Sweden?

In Sweden, it’s a really normal thing – we have DreamHack, which is heavily connected to eSports. They always show eSports on TV, that’s how big it is.

What advice would you give to aspiring pro gamers who think they’re good at StarCraft II?

Never give up. Start to schedule your life revolving around StarCraft. When I was trying to get into competitive StarCraft, I would wake up at 4 in the morning and play until school. In school, I would write build orders, as soon as I’d get home, I would play StarCraft until I went to sleep. My whole life was StarCraft. You really have to put in everything you have. Or else, it’s probably not going to work out for you. It takes dedication.

All the Korean players who are the best, they put in that kind of time, and even more. They have coaches, managers, good set-ups for the team – so you have to work harder to make up for that.

How have you seen opportunities for new gamers in eSports evolve since you began as a pro?

Yes – it’s way bigger now. When I was 15, or even the age of 12 – I would never imagine anyone paying money or having a reliable income. And the whole streaming thing is completely new. And the thing now with the VISA – for League of Legends – that’s really big. That’s something I don’t think anyone would have imagined. I don’t think eSports will stop growing, it will just continue to be better and better with all the pro games out there.

What’s the biggest misconception about pro gamers?

I feel like, generally – most pro gamers come off kind of arrogant. But when you actually meet them in person, they’re really nice people. We act like we are in person, the way we are in streams.

What’s your life as a pro gamer like?

I wake up, I play StarCraft. And if I don’t play StarCraft, I talk about StarCraft — it’s pretty much only StarCraft. I try to mix in other things, like not only SC – I’m very technical with how I do my training. I try to do other stuff, like incorporating brain training and exercises — even chess. The way you develop strategies in chess is very similar to SC, so you can learn a lot from that. I try to train smarter than other people, while still putting in the time.

What’s the secret to your success in StarCraft II

I wouldn’t say I have success in SC, but for the limited success I have had – I guess it’s just train smarter than other people, find what works for you. Don’t be like, “Ok the Koreans train 12 hours, so I have to train 12 hours in a row.” You have to find a personal training schedule, test what works for you. And if you don’t do that, you’re going to run out of steam pretty fast. Find your own practice schedule, and try to actually think about the game. Like every single thing in the game should have a meaning. “Ok he, has a Zergling to the left – what does that mean?” Think about every small detail, and try to understand what everything means, and that will help a lot.

What are your thoughts on the fan feuds that seem to occur out there between League of Legends and StarCraft II?

I don’t really have too much experience with it; I don’t really care about stuff like that. I just play my own game – but it’s pretty silly though. There’s nothing positive that can come out of it. Hopefully, it will cool down soon. We’ll see what happens.

Where do you see eSports five years from now?

It’s just going to continue to grow, there’s no way around it. I do think maybe in five years, it will be a common thing to have StarCraft on TV. I’m sure it’s going to continue to grow. And with the VISA thing with League of Legends, I’m sure that’s going to be more of a common thing. It’s going to be way easier to be a pro gamer, and more comfortable. 

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John Gaudiosi
John Gaudiosi has been covering the video game business for over 20 years for outlets like The Washington Post, Reuters, Fortune, AOL and CNN. He's EIC of video game site