Interview with ElMichaJ
Michael Jänsch aka „ElMichaJ“ founded sensiblesoccer.de in 2001. He's not only the website's main admin but also organizer of endless online- and offline events as well as winner of various tournaments. Highest time to talk with the actual PC-SWOS vice world champion about the history of ss.de, offline-events and his personal aims for the future.
AndYpsilon: ElMichaJ, characterize SWOS in just three words!
ElMichaJ: Fast, fouls and fun.
AndYpsilon: How and when did you get into the game?
ElMichaJ: I got the game Sensible Soccer from a friend in 1992 and I played it with my brother and many friends at home. In 1997, a schoolmate got SWOS for PC and a group of 5 to 7 players played some tournaments in free periods at school every week. Until the end of school I have played at least 10000 matches of Sensible Soccer or SWOS.
AndYpsilon: You are 'father' of ss.de and member No. 1. When did you have the first ideas about this project and what has been your intention creating the website?
ElMichaJ: After schooldays my SWOS posse (number 1 to 4 of the members list of sensiblesoccer.de have always been part of it) played tournaments twice a month. Although some players were always favorites to win those tournaments, in most cases noone was able to defend his title. So we decided to introduce something like a ranking list. I am a coder since 2000 and thus I created a program (made in Delphi with text database) to enter the standings after each tournament: A strange formula that put out some ranking results.
I did also some research in the internet to find something about SWOS. I found a lot of fansites and a bigger community called “SWOS Witnesses” from Serbia, who hosted some bigger offline tournaments back in the days. However, I found this Serbian project too late, because it was not very active in organising offline tournaments anymore. But they played some kind of Online-SWOS: Playing a 'szenario-match' like Malta/Germany vs PC and comparing the results. Well, that was not really cool but it was a start.
I created a small website (only HTML) of our Berlin SWOS League and entered every result on that page. Some time later I had the Idea to search for some German SWOS entries to find more players for our tournaments, at least in Berlin, and I found some people who played with us every now and then. The next step was to organize a bigger tournament like the Serbian guys did. The first attempt was a real disaster. I rented a room for 20 players, but only 3 showed up … well, I guess it was my own mistake becuase It has not been planned very well. However, by the same time I came in contact with Redhair. After some talks he showed me a website he created (looking better than mine) and I completed it with backend and database functions. The inofficial date of birth was 4th May 2001. The website started to grow and attracted more fans of the game.
I started another attempt of a bigger tournament at my homeplace with enough space for up to 10 players:
7 players came and we played our first official offline tournament on ss.de.
I was motivated to improve my skills as a coder and Redhair gave me a lot of designs for planned functions and subpages. So we built up sensiblesoccer.de togehter – step by step.
AndYpsilon: Do you have a special highlight in the history of ss.de?
ElMichaJ: Yes, the implementation of SEGA Online OOO. That was the 'main kick' to build up a bigger community. AMIGA SWOS boosted it a second time.
Personal highlights are the medals I won at Sensi Days as underdog and favorite killer. And that the community lived on during my break from 2006 to 2009.
AndYpsilon: And did you ever want to quit the whole project?
ElMichaJ: No. Only when I am dead or when better and more professional structures are implemented by other SWOS communities. But even then I would try to work with them together.
AndYpsilon: You've already spent a lot of money and countless hours of work to keep ss.de alive. Tell us your secret staying motivated after all those years.
ElMichaJ: At some time this community will rule the world, so by then it is not bad to be #1 … just kidding ;)
Well, I've been into some other communities for PES or Counter Strike. But these communities were not really fun for me. The SWOS community is very active and there are always new challenges, tasks and things to bring to life. I only coded functions, but I wasn’t forced to moderate this. But the people I met and still meet are great and I never would give it up!
Visiting other countries, not as a tourist but to meet friends and sensible people from everywhere and play SWOS with them – well, these experiences and impressions are priceless.
AndYpsilon: Today sensiblesoccer.de has nearly 12 000 members. Compared to this impressive number the list of active players is very small – maybe 100-200. Do you have an explanation for this phenomenon?
ElMichaJ: We had many more active players who played for many years. At some point they have probably been satisfied with playing SWOS and had enough.
But there are two bigger problems we need to solve. We need more admins (!) for marketing/advertising and helping new players into game. The initial setup to play online is really hard and not easy to manage for newcomer. Can you remember how much time you needed to be able to host a p2p match? It takes a lot of time to help new players and therefore it's not a very popular task.
If we had a game with in-game-lobby and plug-and-play we could reach a mark of 1000 active players easily. Currently, only hardcore SWOS fans are playing online (which is not so bad in my opinion, but not good as well).
AndYpsilon: Compared to the „golden years“ 2007-2011 there seem to be less and less offline-cups: Events like Saltgehtto Cup, Prague Open, Wroclaw Open, the WST's have obviously died out. How do you rate the actual Offline-SWOS movement?
ElMichaJ: The present situation is like a rebuild of structures. The big hype has gone and realitiy is back. Many players took a break because of several things (childs, work, other stuff) but you can still watch some of them coming back from time to time. There are less events nowadays (30 offline tournaments a year was crazy) but hey, if I can play 5 to 10 offline tournaments across europe a year, I am happy (btw. that was my main intention for creating the website => OFFLINE-SWOS).
AndYpsilon: At this year's Sensi Days in Billund you came in 2nd in the PC-SWOS tournament – a great success and certainly a milestone of your career. Any other cups and titles you like to remember?
ElMichaJ: Well a lot: My titles at Eifel-X-Mas-Cup, the bronze medal at an ISSA cup, Berlin “high” skilled tournaments, Polish cups, Serbian Open, tournaments in the Netherlands, Denmark, Bulgaria and Prague Open of course. I remember a lot of tournaments. Once in Prague I was the only one who beat ALI (3-0) - he won the Amiga title without any other defeat. All those little details I will never forget and there is a lot of space for more :D
AndYpsilon: Tell us about your future ambitions – considering your SWOS career and sensiblesoccer.de.
- Winning PC SWOS on Sensi Days
- More community and group features. Trying to implement SubCommunities (atm working together with the polish one)
- doing a lot more tournaments
- maybe to manage the project of a real new SWOS version of that we dream of
CommentsElMichaJ @ 2016-06-07 22:34:38