Alexey White-Ra Krupnik is the only active player in our topic ”Live legends”. In e-sport it is possible to consider him as a veteran since he is playing for 12 years already. During his career he repeatedly was the winner of prestigious competitions, being five times the champion of the Ukraine and aiming for the title of the world champion. Anyway the main thing for him still remains being the Starcraft 2 community and his fans that support their favorite player.
Recently Alexey turned 31 years old. He is no longer the impudent young man who was laying a path in e-sport for future generations at the beginning of the century. Now he is married, and has many more duties besides playing the game. But he still continues to play for the community. Now it’s time for the community to pay it back with support.
Chapter 1: Childhood. Youth. Universities
It was in the far 1980s, on November 15th, on the bank of the Black Sea in sunny Odessa where Alexey, the future legend of e-sport, was born. However, at that point in time hardly someone guessed it. It was surely not easy for his parents as Alexey was very restless boy: always hanging around and being up to something.
At school he was also not a sample for imitation. The director of studies on educational work was perfectly familiar not only with Alexey, but also with his parents. In an interview to the portal goodgame.ru White-Ra remembered:
Once we made a heap of condensers (we charged them from the socket, and then gave somebody an electric shock). I had a backpack full of them. I was just charging one to show a friend how it works. Unfortunately I did not think of a better place to charge it as across of the teacher's room, so I was caught by the director of studies on educational work. I have quickly hidden the condenser in my pocket, but she noticed it. She then called me over and asked what I put in my pocket? I certainly told her, nothing. She has decided to grab in my pocket, and in this moment was struck by an electric shock so hard, that she literally jumped up and even started to stammer a little at the beginning. After that she started to dislike me and constantly called my parents to school. Well it’s her own fault. She should not be grabbing in my pockets! :)
After school Alexey started to study at Odessa State Environmental University, wanting to become an oceanologist. Unfortunately he could not finish studying due to personal reasons. White-Ra himself is joking sometimes, that he didn't finish studying because
“the Black Sea fleet was plundered including all scientific vessels”. Later he rehabilitated himself, but has changed his specialty to ecological law.
At university he first started playing computer games and of course with the release of StarCraft, Alexey has completely applied himself to e-sport.
First of all it was necessary to choose a nickname. Because of his love to the Egyptian mythology, Alexey has chosen a combination known to every gamer, referring to the god of the sun - Ra. The prefix White sometimes vanished from his nickname, but he was always a god.
To choose a proper race was more difficult than choosing a nickname. The balance of the game was far from ideal at the beginning, therefore depending on the race of his opponent, Alexey chose either Terran or Protoss. His ability to adapt to different opponents, even the strongest and unpredictable ones, has played an important role in the career of White-Ra.
During this time all gamers where playing at clubs or at a friend’s house, where there were some computers. At first everyone played for themselves and then began to gather in teams. Alexey's first team became, strangely enough, the team White. Only inhabitants of Odessa and only friends of the players were allowed to join.
The meeting with one of the strongest players of the Russian scene – Asmodey became one of the most important factors for his development. To face him it was necessary to go to Kiev. Being the strongest representative of the well known Moscow clan “Orky”, Asmodey has managed to give a necessary push to the ambitious inhabitant of Odessa. And after that everything went very fast.
Chapter 2: Path of glory (2003-2008)
The victory on WCG Ukraine 2003 became the first outstanding success for White-Ra. It is now that WCG is only one of the large tournaments. Back then it was one of the unique tournaments uniting Europe, America and Korea. The career of a majority of non-Koreans directly depended on their performance and results at the WCG.
As it often happens in the beginning, his first participation was not that successful. White-Ra wasn’t able to deal with his excitement and has managed to not only lose to the Russian player Advokate, but also to little-known German and Australian players. With result of 3 victories – 3 defeats he did not pass his group.
This loss has badly affected the further results of White-Ra. During 2004-2005 he practically doesn't gain large victories, being content with rare European online tournaments. Two years in a row Alexey remains without a participation at the WCG.
But gradually White-Ra has solved his both personal and gaming problems, and things have quickly turned to the better. The continuously rising level of Cyber sports at CIS was very helpful during this period. Androide reached a top-4 placement on WCG twice in a row, Advokate was in excellent form and the young generation like Ex, Strelok and many others have grown bigger.
From spring to summer in 2006 Alexey won two large tournaments from USL, the summer ASUS Tournament, the Open Championship of Russia in computer sports and several little small European online tournaments. But the most important thing – he reclaimed his rank of the champion of the country based WCG, and therefore received a chance, for the second time in his career, to play in the World championship.
Tremendous level of play which White-Ra has reached at the beginning of the WCG 2006 in Italy, allowed him to pass the group stage without major problems. In the End - only one defeat in five games! But in the round of the last 16 he had to face the well-known Korean Terran player IloveOov, who was considered to be one of the favorites to win the tournament. The community named him “The Terran Machine”. In the end, he was the one to win this tournament.
For White-Ra it was the first encounter with a Korean player on such a large tournament, but he was able to give up a good fight. Its favorite Reaver-Shuttle play style has given him a big advantage in economy during the early stages of the first game. After his transition to dark templar the Korean was on the verge of defeat, but managed to hold on and finally turn the tide of the game due to his insane macro.
In the second game after he actively harassed the economy of his opponent White-Ra again lost to the superb macro of his opponent. Would you consider the 0-2 defeat in the first playoff round as a good result?
Well if we are only considering the result, its surely not the best performance, but you cannot always win without being defeated.
The next WCG were one year later. According to many people, White-Ra was already one of the best non-Korean Protoss. His will to take the initiative during all stages of the game, his ability to find small weaknesses of his opponent and his ability to constantly punish them have given him a lot of recognition among the European players. Outstanding sports qualities and his good mannered behavior with opponents have helped him to become one of the fan favorites. But one strange fact remains: in these years White-Ra was appreciated in Europe more than he was in the CIS.
Alexey could not avoid the problem of changing teams. He has his team seven times until 2009, some of them being famous teams like 3D and MYM. Therefore he was also very active in team tournaments. When asked, White-Ra always answered without hesitating, that he joined the team that offered better conditions.
In his preparation for the WCG 2007 White-Ra primarily focused on his PvT, due to the fact that he was very convinced in his PvP and the most common race at WCG was Terran. Apart from earning the title Champion of the Ukraine for the third time, there were no further large achievements during this year.
The most part of his time White-Ra played trained the Korean players, like he says about 80% of all games were played against Koreans. Apart from that he continued studying replays, but never tried to copy any tactics. Instead he was willing to create his own.
The drawing at the WCG 2007 has not turned out to be as pleasant as last time. Apart from the brilliant Korean Protoss Stork being in his group, he also met an old fellow from Russia – Ex. The fact was, that White-Ra, beat Stork, and lost to Ex, while Stork beat the representative from Russia and therefore the group ended in a three way tie and had to be re-played. Unfortunately, information about this group did not remain on the WCG site, but rumors say that White-Ra had to rematch Stork three times. However, it is somewhat obvious: the artful Korean, most likely, was choosing a more convenient grid. By the way, in the end he was the one taking home the WCG trophy.
In first two playoff rounds White-Ra has won against a Bulgarian and a Polish player, without having any problems. In the semi-finals he had to face the strongest Chinese player Pj, who defeated the Korean saviOr'a in the quarterfinals. Theoretically Chinese players weren’t so scary but considering Pj’s level of play, he was able to beat any European player. White-Ra lost 1-2, and sadly also lost the match for third place against Mondragon.
In spite of the fact that Alexey has lost these games, the community was delighted with his play style. In some rankings he was considered being one of the three best non-Korean players. Regularly beating players from the west (especially him beating Idra was a pleasure for the whole community) gave him the name -”beast from the east”. At this time White-Ra was one of few professional gamers outside of Korea who was ranked A or A +. Except of him only players like IdrA, Morrow, Mondragon, Ret and the Chinese player Pj were ranked the same.
Besides the game, White-Ra now also had other opportunities to make a living. He became one of the authors of the authoritative edition “Best computer games”, where for some years he conducted the topic -”Councils of the masters”. He also didn't refuse to train young players. The desire to pass on his experience and to be useful for the community is starting to get more important for Alexey. Therefore, after he won the bronze medal on the large tournament PGL 2008 in Beijing, his results have become worse.
Chapter 3: The fall of The Emperor (2009-2010)
The new phase Alexey's life has begun with the wish to have family. Cyber sports started to become not only a hobby but a possibility to provide for him and his future wife. At the same time, he had to deal with some problems concerning his team. His team MYM, have decided to disband the StarCraft: BW fraction. It was then also necessary to search for a new team. He changed to the well known German team Mousesports, which has given White-Ra further motivation.
He has directly qualified for the ESWC Masters and WCG 2009. But the Korean tournament IEF was the main event of year. In the group stages he had to face the greatest Korean player of all times, BoxeR. This match was broadcasted live in Korean television. The Koreans have been simply amazed, to see this Ukrainian Protoss outplay their champion. As a matter of fact, White-Ra has repeated his strategy from the WCG 2006 against ILoveOov. The only difference was that this time the Korean player couldn’t stop the Protoss invasion from all sides after the early game economy harassment. The emperor was defeated. It probably doesn’t sound as dramatic as it was, but if you followed the game live, you could hardly believe what you were seeing. Here is a recording of that game (two parts):
On WCG in Korea Alexey couldn't pass his group, having lost to IdrA and Advokate. It was again IdrA who became an obstacle in another large tournament, the ESWC Masters. In the semi-final of the upper bracket, White-Ra has beaten the American 2-1, and in the end destroyed the strongest female professional gamer ToSsGirL. But in the grand finals having the advantage of the winner of the upper bracket, White-Ra has managed to lose to IdrA again. After the game he said: “A game is just a game”. But rumors were saying that we will never ever see White-Ra in cyber sports again.
Nevertheless, Alexey has taken part in the last WCG on StarCraft: BW, becoming the champion of the Ukraine for the fifth time. But in the world championship the only notable success was during the group stage where White-Ra and his good friend Pavel Kuznetsov (BRAT_OK) have knocked out the great Taiwanese player Sen. However, for both the tournament has ended in first stage of the playoffs. Pavel has lost to Jaedong, and Alexey to the polish player Yayba. At this point his Broodwar career ended. With the release of StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty, a new era started.
Chapter 4: The second youth (2010-2011)
White-Ra was one of the first who switched to the second part of StarCraft. Due to his experience he adapted to the new game very fast. By simplifying the game play, Blizzard decided to lay the focus of the game in understanding the way it’s meant to be played. This was exactly what distinguished White-Ra from other players during Broodwar and therefore directly made him one of the best Starcraft 2 players.
The HDH Invitational was the first large victory for White-Ra. In the semi-finals he defeated the well known random player from Germany, TLO, being one of the best Starcraft 2 players during the beta phase of the game, and in the end beating his old rival Idra 4-2.
Soon after the release of the game White-Ra has concluded a contract with Duckload and therefore became the only player in their team – Duckload-Ra. Shortly after, there were two more pleasant events, the opening of the official White-Ra Homepage and the long-awaited wedding. On September, 18th, 2010 Alexey and Aljona have married.
I think it is not necessary to explain, why White-Ra could not present any outstanding victories on LAN tournaments, only winning minor online tournaments. A very important event was the BlizzCon 2010 where White-Ra won the bronze medal, defeating Fenix and Dimaga. A big problem of White-Ra was his PvP, so that he lost to twice to the future champion, the Korean player Genius. He continuously refused to play the classic 4 Warpgate Rush in PvP which might have been a mistake, but nevertheless offered us one of the most outstanding games this year.
In January of 2011 White-Ra has set up a record: in only one week he has managed to take three major tournaments, at first Homestory Cup II ($1750), SCReddit Invitational ($1600) and the DreamHost Root Gaming's WARZONE ($2000), winning a total of about $5500 prize money! During these tournaments he has beaten players like TLO, Demuslim, ClouD, Naniwa, Minigun, CatZ, Machine, Morrow, BRAT_OK, Dimaga, Sen and hasn't lost a game. A tremendous result!
The fifth season of the IEM was not so successful. During this tournament he was one of two Protoss players fighting against a major army of ten Terran players. In the finals, he then finally lost to Sjow, after an insane battle.
On the world championship he again lost to, like he says, the “evil genius” Idra. After losing to his main rival, he was even for third place in his group, but had to leave the bracket due to personal reasons.
Perhaps, the main event of this year for White-Ra has occurred in March. Alexey was one of representatives of the national team of the world at the GSL World Championship and participated in showmatches. The championship itself hasn’t developed well: in PvP White-Ra has lost to San, afterwards praising his opponent for his accurate 4 Warpgate build. But in the showmatches all eyes were focused on White-Ra. The national team was leading 4-3 against the Koreans, when MC, the world’s strongest player at this time being almost invincible in any matchup, entered the stage. Shortly after this he evened up the score. Who could stop MC?
Artosis, the coach of the national team has made the right choice. It was White-Ra to face a Korean player on television for the third time in his career. And again he used similar tactics, like in games with IloveOov and BoxeR, but instead of a shuttle with Reavers he used a Warpprism with zealots. This unexpected move in PvP struck very hard in the economy of the king Protoss and forced him to a last attack. This game was included into the ten best PvP in the history of StarCraft 2:
The story of МС and White-Ra didn’t end. They were to meet again very soon, at the TSL3, where MC completely destroyed White-Ra with 3-0. They were then to meet again in the finals of the Dreamhack Stockholm Invitational, after White-Ra revenged himself by defeating Jinro and Sjow. In the finals White-Ra was leading with 2-0 when he slowly started to give the advantage to MC. He started to get nervous and make small mistakes which caused him to lose to games in a row. At last there was a unique ending to this series, like we have never seen on a major tournament before – MC’s two Warpgate Zealot rush:
In the last half a year White-Ra’s play was very unstable. After a bad ending at the NASL Season 1 and the European Battle.net Invitational, where he could not take one series, he followed it up by good performances at MLG Anaheim followed by a victory on IGN ProLeague Season 2. It is interesting that on MLG Alexey was already disqualified in the second round due to delayed arrival on stage and was moved to the looser bracket. He put himself together and beat 10 players in a row! It is interesting that he and the opponent, whom he had to play when he got disqualified, met again in the lower bracket. Having the advantage of two maps, he showed fairness and quickly tied up the score, playing a worker rush twice in a row.
Because of numerous advertizing actions, show matches and trips, White-Ra has taken only fourth place on WCG Ukraine 2011 and only the last place in the group stages of NASL Season 2. But again he put himself together to beat IdrA and MMA in the IGN ProLeague 3 in outstanding manner. And even though he did not win this tournament, there was one more battle in the never ending story of White-Ra and Idra.
Chapter 5: Special tactics
Having tracked the history and the performance of Alexey on various tournaments, we haven't talked about the most important thing – about his relations with the community. In an interview after one of the tournaments he has said the following:
I know that it is important to give something back to the community. So for me the community support is more important than winning tournaments. Maybe tournament wins would give me more money, but community support it gives me energy and support for the future.
Wise words by a wise man. And the most important thing – he absolutely means them. For the sake of the spectators he is ready to stream for 10 hours per day, he is ready to disregard his results just to please with the beauty of his play, he is ready to publish training videos and articles regularly, rather than anybody coming from the CIS. White-Ra is constantly in the center of attention by European sites, he acts in advertisements and on television (one of the broadcasts were shown on Eurosport). On his Homepage he always uploads the most interesting photos and videos from his trips to foreign tournaments. Despite of his broken English, he doesn't hesitate to be open to all his fans from all around the world. The slogan ”Special tactics” has caused a boom in the community, it is not only used in the primary value but also as an appeal to support Ra on tournaments.
The 31 year old White-Ra is not simply an expert in what he does and one of the best Protoss players in the world. He is a role model for millions of people worldwide. Something tells me, that if the Black Sea fleet would not have been plundered and Alexey would go to work instead of playing Starcraft, he would still inspire people worldwide. It’s just the way he is. And in cyber sports there are only a few that you can consider being like him. He might even be a legend?
I am sorry, but what did you think he was?
GL HF, White-Ra!
Source: Living Legends: White-Ra (http://starcraft-2.place2play.ru/material?id=7535)
Author: Boris Derjabin
Translator: Mikhail Ioffe