Select, the eldest of two brothers, was born and raised in Korea. He speaks highly of his father, an adamant perfectionist and his mother who watched over him and kept him in check. “I was a well behaved kid. My mother was happy about that. Every time she went somewhere her friends said I was a well behaved kid,” said Select. “On the other hand she was mad at me sometimes because I fought a lot and hit kids who were around my age. At least I was well behaved to the elders,” joked Select.
The young Korean’s first passion was as a pianist, studying the piano for six years, eventually performing in some small concerts. As he grew older, he drifted away from the piano towards sports, soccer in particular, training at a soccer academy led by Cha Bum Kun, one of Korea’s most acclaimed soccer players. Select’s team was the best in his state and he regularly competed against the best teams of other states. Select’s trump card was his speed, which he put into use on the soccer field and also outside.
“When I was 11 years old, my friends and I enjoyed bombing people’s houses with small fireworks. We just lit the fireworks and then threw them directly at their door!” said Select with a grin. “They were only small ones so there was no chance to hurt anybody, but they made a huge annoying sound. It was pretty dangerous because if I got caught by the security guard my parents would have gone crazy. However since I was good at running, I was always confident at not getting caught.”
As a teenager he found yet another passion, and one which would make a name for himself on an international scale, computer games. “I stopped playing piano after I started soccer, and I stopped soccer after I found computer games,” said Select. “Do I sometimes have regrets? Sure I do. Perhaps if I had kept on playing soccer or the piano I think I would have been really good at them, and who knows perhaps I would be a soccer player or a pianist instead of a pro gamer,” said Select. However, Select’s passion for competitive gaming roared within him and his natural ability to pick up new skills would prove invaluable for what would later become his career.
Select, like most gamers, started out just playing computer games for fun but his competitive fuse was lit when a website approached him for an interview. “It affected my heart, and made me want to go pro,” said Select.
His first competitive title was Blizzard Entertainment’s Real-time strategy game Warcraft3 where his skills caught the attention of Team Saints, a Korean pro gaming team, which also included WCG 2004 runner-up Min 'Zacard' Hwang and WEG 2005 champion Jung Hee 'Sweet' Chun. The team was an unfathomable depth of talent, so much so that Select’s team were recruited by world-renowned multi-gaming organisation SK Gaming in January 2004. Under the banner of SK.Asia Select further polished his abilities, his confidence continued to rise and he began pulling off unconventional strategies against top flight opponents.
However, following the dissolution of SK.Asia in late 2004 and with trouble brewing for the Korean televised MBC Warcraft3 league, Select decided it was time for a change. The Warcraft3 pro-gamer made a bold move and decided to take a leap of faith and switch games, dedicating his time to a new RTS title, Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War. Select quickly became a pioneer of the game, overwhelming his opponents to cruise to victory at the World Cyber Games for two consecutive years in 2005 and 2006, remaining undefeated throughout and cementing himself in the WCG history books with a place in its hall of fame.
As the competitive scene for Dawn of War died out, Select took a break from competitive gaming to concentrate on his studies from 2006 to 2010, pouring his time and energy into his dream to study in the United States. In the summer of 2010, Blizzard released Starcraft2 and after four years hiatus Select re-entered the competitive gaming scene while having simultaneously achieved his goal of studying in the United States.
“I actually came here to study. I studied really hard in high school and also I was planning to go to college but without the green card or citizenship, the college fee was too expensive,” said Select. “That is why I decided to wait until I get the green card and go. Fortunately or unfortunately, I started playing Starcraft2 while I was waiting for my green card, and now even though I have my green card I am just playing Starcraft 2,” laughs Select. The 21-year old still plans to complete his studies however, “I am pretty sure I am going to finish college though! I don’t think I am taking the easy road since I did not come here to play a game,” said Select.
Select has performed well in three competitive gaming titles; does he believe that makes him more of a pro gamer than someone who has only excelled at one? “I don’t think it makes me think more of a pro gamer than other because I am pretty sure most of top players who are good at their games are really smart and talented. I also think if they try the same way I did, I am pretty sure they could have done this,” said Select.
Given his life experience in the United States, Select is a popular figure among Starcraft2 fans, not only for showcasing his singing talents in a popular YouTube video , but also for his presence on the MLG Pro circuit events which made him extremely well known in the North American scene. His performances across the events crowned him the highest ranking Terran player in the competition defeating the likes of Greg “Idra” Fields. Select was one of two North American representatives at Blizzcon 2010, and also was selected to compete in the North American Star League.
The young Terran player is an example of east meets west, a mix of Western exuberance with Korean dedication; some might say the best of both worlds, and a stark contrast to the stereotypical Korean professional gamer. His trademark “Sup son ¯\_(ツ)_/¯” in-game greeting encapsulates the playful attitude which has made him what he is today, the first in a new breed of Korean gamers.
Select will be representing North America at BlizzCon 2011 later this year after winning the North American qualifier.