With World of Warcraft’s 8th Arena Season in full swing, Alex “Sodah” Ringe took some time to sit down with us and talk about how his life has changed since becoming a professional gamer, as well what it took for him to get where he is today. With MLG Columbus just around the corner, Alex also breaks down what coL.Red has been doing to prepare for the event.
If you would, please start off by introducing yourself to the community and sharing a little bit about yourself.
Hello I am a World of Warcraft addict. I play discipline Priest and restoration Druid for whoever wants me to heal them. It’s a boring job and I hate it but I do it because I’m the man.
Take us through a day in the life of Alex Ringe.
I wake up and turn on my computer and check up on the news and stocks, where I discover I’m late for class and bike to school post-haste. I stare at the ceiling for a few hours and head back and play arenas until it’s suddenly 2 AM and I pass out. I’m just kidding but seriously that is my day.
Does your family live near the UCSB campus? How often do you get to see them?
I live 1.5 hours away from my home in West Hills. I see them on various holidays, and often I’ll head down to LA to chill with WoW nerds at Reckful’s and I’ll stop by at home then as well.
When was your first real glimpse into gaming?
I was LANing Doom 1 with my brother and father, I think around when I was 8 or 9. It was more fun than soccer or biking or any other damn thing that I’d ever done, so from then on it was RPGs, Counter-strike, and then WoW.
Before all your eSports stardom took place did you have any other dreams you wanted to conquer?
My dream was always to do what I loved no matter what. I suppose I wanted to become a computer programmer like my dad but that faded away a long time ago.
Did you have any plans on becoming a professional gamer before all that?
I never planned to become a “professional gamer” at all. I just played too many games as a kid and had way too much fun doing it, and still do.
At what point did you realize you had what it took to become a professional gamer and what were some steps you followed in order to become successful? Do you think you’re successful?
I think this is actually a good question, because it’s going to be different for everyone and will always be an interesting answer. It definitely happened when I was first playing Counter-Strike scrims. 5v5 was so much more fun than pubbing, and from then on I developed a huge competitive streak. It was so satisfying to beat another team through teamwork and skill. From that point on I began prioritizing intelligent and skilled people over my good friends from school who were way funnier and way cooler. This especially happened in World of Warcraft, where I would duel people all day every day until I found someone that could kill me, so I played with them. I would say I am only partially successful – while I posess the ability and I love to play, I do not posess the ultimate drive to win no matter what. That is, I play for the joy of it rather than the need to stay on top.
You are a top-tier arena player in the US in WoW, what kind of advice would you give other players?
Identify why you love arenas so much – is it because the people you play with are fun to be around? Is it because you love to win? One cannot go without the other, unless you get really lucky. Realize that WoW PvP is an extremely team based game. Your partners are the most important thing you can influence to improve your success. Once you understand this, you can get a lot further.
I know a lot of parents have a problem with their children spending so much time behind a monitor. Was your family supporitive of your decision to become a professional gamer?
No, not until I turned 18 did my parents let me do what I wanted. I probably wouldn’t recommend letting your kids rot on the computer all day myself. Professional gaming is something you do by defying your parents and really, a lot of other things in society.
As a student UCSB, how do you find that balance between school and your gaming?
That balance is extremely difficult. I mostly cope by not doing anything social. When I do actually do social things, my WoW time falls behind and people start playing without me, so it’s tough.
Imagine yourself 5 years down the road, where do you see yourself?
Playing games for fun still, but not in any professional manner. I really have no idea what things will be like.
What other games have you played before World of Warcraft?
Everquest, Fallout 1 2 3, Baldur’s Gate 1 2, Oblivion, Starcraft, Warcraft 3, Battlefield 1942, Counter-strike, the list could probably go on another few paragraphs, but those are the bigger ones.
What made you choose WoW over all the other big name titles?
My entire group of friends in high school bought it and played it, and I was being left in the dust. Plus it’s Blizzard, theres no way it wouldnt be good. The reason I stuck with it? Probably because it had the best interface and gameplay out of any RPG I’d ever played.
How long have you, Reckful and Venruki been playing together?
Venruki and I have been playing together roughly for 2-3 years, ever since Season 2 in Burning Crusade. Reckful joined with us last summer, so it’s almost been a year with him.
Does the team ever get time to hang out with each other outside of tournaments?
Reckful and I do, but Venruki is too busy freezing his ass off in Canada to do anything with us.
What is your most memorable moment while playing amongst Reckful and Venruki?
Probably 4-0’ing Button Bashers and screaming in Korean when we won.
As a professional arena player how do you feel about the current state of Arena?
As someone who plays the game pretty much every day, I can get pretty cynical about balance and design. However, it’s not too bad at all. Comps like RLS, RMP, and PHD seem fairly well set up and usually are pretty fun. Unfortunately with the addition of so many new specs in arenas things are getting warped, and people are starting to favor damage oriented comps using hybrids like Enhancement and Elemental shamans, Shadow priests, Prot paladins, and Prot warriors. I think the focus needs to go back to the pures, and in my opinion each class should have only 1 or 2 PvP specs, maybe even a designated PvP spec for each class. Unfortunately there are also a zillion bugs related to arenas that could be fixed, like Divine Sacrifice through Hex and Silence, Haste not applying to shape shifting or stance shifting, Tremor totem stacking on top of other totems so its untargetable, etc etc.
Why did you choose to abandon your druid and purely work on your priest?
Season 5 Resto Druids were the worst designed class in the game, because they used to be so good in BC. So I was forced to quit if I wanted to succeed =(.
Do you have any plans on making the druid your main character again?
Yes. Recently my Druid became much better geared than my Priest because of my focus on it. You can check out both of my characters (Sodah is my priest, Sodahz is my druid), and you can see that I’m playing both competitively. My priest is Rank 1 in 5v5, and my druid is rank 1 in 3v3. I haven’t picked one over the other, so I’m starting to become a little bit more useful because of my ability to play both really well.
How do you feel RMP fits in with all the other burst heavy comps?
I don’t think you’re going to see RMP being run very much until some new changes hit. It’s just not good anymore, it’s tired, and no one wants to put in the effort to try to make it work, especially because it’s been this way for almost 6 months. It still has a few strengths, like fighting WLD and RLS. But, it’s the most frustrating comp around to play because it’s so easy to lose.
Can you picture yourself playing any other comps as a Discipline priest?
Sure, I’ve already run Priest – Warlock – Mage at Orlando, and I’m playing around with Death Knight – Priest – Rogue on the TR with Massive and Enforcer. Priests are still decent, but I don’t think either of these comps are the best of their type.
What is the next tournament in line for CompLexity Red?
MLG Columbus, June 4th-6th.
After last year’s 2nd place success at MLG, how are you preparing for this years MLG?
Well we’ve been playing Rogue – Warlock – Druid a lot on Bloodlust. It’s a really interesting comp that no one seems to run, and the perceptions about it seem really varied. Some people call it mainstream, other people act like they’ve never even heard of it.
Are there any noticable differences on how your team is preparing compared to last year?
We haven’t been practicing RMP because it’s so weak.
Well, best of luck and we can’t wait to see you there! Anything else to say?
Sure. Thanks to Creative, XFX, QPAD, and G8 Brand for supporting us with all the awesome gear, and make sure you watch the MLG Columbus stream, it’s going to have a lot of teams and should be some good fun with some surprises from a lot of teams going.