Twenty-one-year-old French Starcraft II player Clément "Clem" Desplanches became the latest of a long line of Terran players to clinch a major event by winning the ESL SC2 Masters Winter tournament at DreamHack Atlanta.
It’s the result of an impressive run for Clem that saw him defeat various strong players like Park “Dark” Ryung-woo, Kang “Solar” Min-soo and Joona “Serral” Sotala. By doing so, Clem captured his first-ever international tournament in his career — after winning numerous European titles within the game.
Following the event, BLIX talked to Clem for an interview about his victory, what adjustments he made this year, how he looks back on his career amidst his success and much more.
Pedro Romero, BLIX: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. You finally got a major win by defeating Dark [Park Ryung-woo] in the grand finals and taking home the SC2 Masters Winter trophy in DreamHack. What's going through your mind?
Clément "Clem" Desplanches: It feels unreal, honestly. Lifting a trophy for the first time in front of a crowd that's so cheerful feels so amazing. It honestly feels unreal for me right now. I'm so happy.
BLIX: What was going through your mind when you were lifting that trophy?
Clem: I just remembered every past tournament where I lost, and I was like, 'Okay, now it's my time. Now it's my tournament. Now it's finally my time to lift the trophy.'
BLIX: Looking at your journey in the playoffs, you had to go through so many obstacles and quite a lot of big players, such as Solar [Kang Min-soo], Serral [Joona Sotala] and Dark, for this grand finals. What do you feel went right for you amidst these playoffs?
Clem: I was playing a bit more relaxed than usual, and my TvT was also feeling pretty on point. I wasn't feeling that good about it before the tournament, but as the games went on, I think I started having a better idea of exactly how to play against pretty much anything [my opponents] did. And yeah, a lot of practice before the tournament also helped a lot.
BLIX: It's interesting to look back at your journey and compare the past, such as the SC2 Masters Summer event from earlier this year, where you finished 9-12th, with right now as you are standing on top of the world. Comparing these two events, what single thing changed the most for you?
Clem: Just being able to play more relaxed and also getting a bit more used to playing on stage and playing in front of a crowd. I used to be way more nervous than I am now. Also, having my TvT on a higher level made it so that I was able to go pretty far in the tournament by beating GuMiho [Koh Byung-jae] to get into the Top 8. One year or six months ago, I might have lost that series because my TvT wasn't as good as it is now.
BLIX: Taking an overall look at this entire year, what do you feel was the biggest obstacle that you had to go through? Also, what was the one thing that worked well for you?
Clem: The two biggest obstacles were my TvT and dealing with the pressure and the stress on stage, and for this tournament, I was able to overcome both. As for what worked well for me, it was just a lot of preparation and practice before tournaments. I think that helped a lot. And lately, I have been playing a bit more in general and practicing more than last year or even six months ago so that's probably what made me be able to accomplish this today.
BLIX: Taking a focus back onto this event, which moment was it when you started believing you had a real chance of winning this competition?
Clem: I think it was when I beat Solar and I went to the Top 4. I was like, 'Alright, there are only two matches to go, and that's very doable. I've done this from home before and I can do it offline as well."
BLIX: So I guess that match against Solar was the biggest obstacle for you, in your opinion, in this tournament?
Clem: Yeah, it ended up being the closest TvZ in the playoffs. Although I would usually consider Serral to be a harder opponent for me, Solar is a ZvT beast, and that match was very difficult and very close, but once I won against him, I think it gave me a bit of a confidence boost going forward.
BLIX: And going forward to 2024 and beyond, what do you feel you have to do to maintain this level of performance from Atlanta?
Clem: Honestly, I think just keep practicing as much as I was practicing before this tournament, not be lazy and just do a lot of practice and play a lot of online tournaments as well. That's very good practice, and it can help a lot. Just trying to keep the motivation and the practice going.
BLIX: How important is it for you to get this win as your first big success in your career?
Clem: It means a lot. I've been playing this game for 11 years, and after all this time, being able to win a major offline tournament is just incredible. I feel like I'm dreaming, you know?