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Metal and Meta-Gaming: an Interview with EG’s Geoff “InControl” Robinson

Recently, I got the chance to correspond with Evil Geniuses’ Protoss player (and resident power lifter) Geoff “InControl” Robinson. I first encountered Geoff at PAX East, the annual Penny Arcade Expo in Boston, MA, where he was happily taking on all challengers from a crowd of fans. Ever the showman, he opted for entertaining strategies like mass sentries against the gleeful group of amateurs. When more serious opponents took the stage, however, his eyes focused, his builds solidified, and he unleashed some scary, multi-pronged dark templar harassment.

 Geoff "InControl" Robinson
Photo taken from InControl’s Facebook page.

A former caster for the NASL and a regular on the State of the Game podcast, InControl is never one to censor himself. He’s also one of the most enthusiastic eSports spokesmen in the community. As a mid-20′s Starcraft fan who coincidentally enjoys metal and is also named “Jeff”, I’ve always wanted a chance to interview him. This past week I got my wish.

While most of us know you, let’s begin by introducing you to those who may be new to the scene. Tell us a little about yourself, and how you found your way into the world of professional StarCraft.

My name is Geoff “iNcontroL” Robinson I am 26 years old and I have been playing SC since the very beginning. I became a pro when Evil Geniuses wanted to sign a BW team to cultivate an SC2 squad. This was several years ago!

What’s it like being a member of EG? Is your schedule regimented by the team, or do the players mostly self-manage?

Players mostly self-manage but the end goal of that training is to appease the team and be productive for yourself. So we set a pretty rigorous schedule for ourselves and keep each other honest about upholding that standard of training. Being on EG is a huge honor but it’s also a responsibility. We are the leading eSports team and not doing well is not acceptable. For me that means some added pressure but I’d rather have pressure to do great than no pressure at all.

You’ve done a lot of work with several major eSports outlets. With the massive influx of new viewers, do you think the business models these organizations adhere to are becoming more consistent and viable for the long haul? What, if anything, do you think may change next year?

I think the business model as it pertains to eSports is yet to be determined… Well, at least a successful one. This community and the greater industry is a conundrum to the heads of companies trying to find a place for themselves in here. I have worked with several organizations on a consulting level and tried to help them and to a certain degree it’s worked with some. For others the style of work necessary has proven to be too much and they have fled. I will say this… When some company gets it right there is a lot of money and loyalty to be made. SC2 fans are very good about supporting who and what they believe in, but they are intelligent consumers. They will read up on a product, they will listen to the word on the street and they will respect their findings.

Now for some gameplay: With Wings of Liberty approaching 18 months old, do you feel like this iteration of Starcraft 2 has matured from a professional standpoint? Or is the meta-game still in flux?

I am extremely happy with the game. You can go back to the beta or before the beta and hear some of my comments about how I thought the skill ceiling would be low, the various mbs, automine etc. kind of stuff was going to make it too simple but I am pleased to be sitting here to the contrary! The game has a high skill ceiling and is fun while being difficult. I think the game has a long way to go but in the positive direction and that’s a damn fine thing to say.

As a pro-gamer, are new expansions like Heart of the Swarm exciting? Or do they represent a frustrating jump in practice time?

Neither to be honest… Mostly it makes me apprehensive. Will it be good? Bad? Are we going to have states of extreme imbalance again? All those things are possible and even likely! That is not a good thing for a person that plays/coaches this game for a living. It means “new life”, but do we need that? I think SC2 is the kind of game that can go on for years with patches. An expansion is fine but a planned expansion every 1.5 years is kinda much in my humble opinion. That said it is happening whether I want it to or not, so lets hope it’s for the best!

Without giving too much away to your future opponents, what do you feel like your biggest weakness is? How do you try to overcome it?

My biggest weakness is probably my tendency to take risks when I play important matches. My mental game at the moment is very weak and needs continual work. I often jump out of builds or psyche myself out of matches versus good opponents and I never used to do that. Overcoming it is and has been a long path of working on my mental game, trying different perspectives/attitudes, reading self-help books and working with my team to build my confidence. So far the results are not there but I feel good and want to get better so all is in place for excellence.

I notice you’re doing another Rumble in the Bronze event with the guys over at the Penny Arcade forum (great group). The Starcraft 2 community seems to have a propensity for charity. Do you find yourself participating in gaming-related charity events often? Tell us a little about them.

Often? I wouldn’t say so. I am extremely busy and finding time to do other SC2 projects can get troublesome. That said if a charity approaches me that seems really awesome I find ways to get involved. These guys are extremely professional (check their vids!) and they are dedicated. I am honored to ride their coat tails and take some credit, lol. Hopefully the turn-out will be great and we can raise some money for this awesome cause.

Metalcore, Melodic Death, Heavy Metal, Hardcore, or all of the above?

I am mostly a metalcore kinda guy. I like some of the other stuff but mostly my music falls in that category. I prefer melodic vocals with some screaming and huge breakdowns.

With MLG Providence complete, what’s next for you? Any big events on the horizon (or announcements of announcements)?

Haha, well I will be going to Homestory Cup in Germany which is a dream come true. My first trip to EU ever and what an event to go for? They do an amazing job and I can’t wait. Additionally I have a few online events with big prizes that I will be attending. After those it’s the tourney circuit again. December is really the only month we take off. I also may be heading to Korea to do some training and other things

Where can people find you?

Well thanks for asking! My twitter is EGiNcontroL, my stream is iNcontroLTV and search for “iNcontroL” on facebook to like my fan page there!

Any closing words for all the fans out there?

Just a big thank you. We are coming up on the end of the year and while this year has been a struggle for me in tourneys, it has been a gargantuan pleasure to work with my fans and the community. Honestly, this can’t sound like anything but a cliche but it’s nothing like that… I am hugely blessed and I appreciate everyone who makes my life so charmed. THANK YOU ALL!

No no, Geoff, thank you.

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