Protests and the post-modern world.

I’m not really a political person. I’ve never really cared about the studied games of politics or social change, but the last election has got me thinking quite a bit. To some degree, I think that’s also the result of getting into journalism: it awakens a relentless search for the truth within you. It’s not okay to see what’s going on and ignore it or stay confused by it; it’s important to be informed, well-studied, and open to the possibility that things aren’t what they appear to be.

There are three simple parts to current politics in the US:

  • Trump is not qualified to be the president
  • The political agenda of the right wing is worrying on many levels
  • The left is not doing a great idea of getting their ideas across

The election and inauguration of Trump is unusual and deeply disturbing on many levels. Worldwide, we took it as a joke for a very long time, but now that things are becoming real, there’s more and more cause for worry. Ignoring the fact that Hilary Clinton was running against Trump, there is no doubt that he should have never been elected as president. He has no (read that as 0) experience in government and governmental planning and is not equipped to play the political mind games in Washington. He has a short fuse and often slips with incredibly offensive and nasty remarks. He has several conflicts of interest while in office, especially regarding his properties and business around the world. He is currently, right now this second, embroiled in several unresolved legal cases. These are just a few of the reasons why he is not qualified.

The executive branch is not the only Republican-owned branch of law, the legislative and even the judicial branches are securely in control of those in charge of conservative policy makers. The laws enacted and enforced over the next four years will stick much harder than those that faced violent opposition from an opposing party. The right wing agenda is straight up scary for a number of reasons. We’ve made a lot of progress socially and environmentally over the last fifteen years, and that is being threatened right now.

Perhaps the biggest and most important issue that is that of climate change. Increasing restrictions placed on businesses and factories worldwide in the last decade or so are super important for slowing (and eventually reversing) the problems of climate change. There is literally nothing more important in the entire world. If we do not fix things now, the entire human race will die out. That’s not a panic statement; it’s a fact. Like we work hard to make money so that our children can have a better future, we should be looking to lower our greenhouse emissions for the benefit of our offspring. The world won’t end in 10 or 20 years, not even for a hundred, but greenhouse gases can reach a critical tipping point where we can’t save the world, so we need to start now. The push for deregulation and the removal of environmental strictures from the right wing is incredibly dangerous, as the US is one of the world leaders in emissions and energy conservation. Analogy: just like a bad team in Heroes of the Storm, one bad teammate can drag the entire team down.

Other issues like women’s reproductive rights, healthcare, and racism are also important. There is a lot of law already in motion to undo a lot of the progress we’ve made and return us to a previous time. Humanity is, essentially, moving backwards in a modern, global culture. We live in a world society in the modern world; you can tune into happenings on the other side of the world as if it’s in your living room—and it is. Now, more than ever, we are all interconnected and intertwined in the strangest and closest ways. The actions of anyone, individual or government, has far-reaching effects on the entire world.

Right wing agenda has told us that it’s important to serve ourselves first and place importance on our needs before those of others. Make America Great Again.

But it’s not a war of us vs them. Nationalism is a thing of the past, extinct the moment we were able to reach out across the endless sea of darkness and speak directly to someone just like us who has feels fear, joy, disappointment, motivation. We no longer live in a world where somehow the people on the other side of an invisible line are dumb creatures we can’t possibly understand. We can relate to one another.

And yet, this is where the left has failed pretty hard in the last few months. For those that don’t understand why people are protesting: it’s because they’re angry and afraid of losing their rights and want their voice to be heard. I feel like this hasn’t been clearly articulated, but it’s evident from how many people care. On the other side, there are hard-working individuals who support Trump and truly and desperately want what’s best for the country. There is middle ground between the parties, even though we don’t like to admit it. Our approaches and even our solutions may differ widely, but we can still take comfort in assuaging each other’s worries and finding some compromise that will work for all of us.

“Punching a Nazi” is not a compromise, it is an exercise in futility. Violence begets violence, and does not create a middle ground which allows us to understand and work with one another.

There is no doubt that great changes will happen in this age. This era of social change was long overdue, and it is only beginning. I never thought I would see the government use tear gas and flashbangs on civilians in my lifetime, but it’s happening and it will continue to happen. There have been several protests, riots, and social media Tweetstorms over the last few months, and there will be many more. Voices will find ways to be heard; my only plea is that we attempt to find a middle ground.

Disease

Disease

i live with a disease
it’s small and discrete
and hides in dark corners
with furtive glances
through narrow windows

(if you ask me,
i’d say i’m doing fine)

it’s not cancer
i won’t lose my hair
and people won’t come
to the hospital
to leave me candy or flowers

no one will wish me well
or tell me everything
is going to be all right—
who would even know
what to say anyway?

it’s not like i’m dying

i don’t need a wheelchair
i can run just fine
and most races i finish
in first or fifth
or some odd number

i have a disease
with a poker face
that never gives out hints
or divulges secrets freely,
it is quiet

it eats days, weeks, even months
of sunshine; it strips trees bare

_

Warcraft 3 is actually amazing.

A few days ago, I was turned onto the Grand Finals of this tournament by RallyJaffa via Twitter, and I have been obsessive about it ever since. I was aware that WC3 was still alive in China, and I knew names like 120, TH000, and Lyn, but I didn’t really give it much attention until recently. I didn’t realize how godlike 120 was or the extreme skill it took to play this game until I looked at it from a fresh perspective.

Warcraft 3 was my first real Blizzard game, and I played it all the way through middle and high school. I never got much into competitive or paid attention to the pro scene (though I had arbitrarily decided that I admired SK.insomnia and hated SK.Madfrog); at the time, I was pretty vaguely aware of what “good” and “bad” play was. Plateauing at around level 20, I was pretty much a scrub with very poor mechanics. It wasn’t until I started to play StarCraft II that I got much much better at gaming and started to appreciate esports more.

Over the last few years, I’ve watched the occasional WC3 stream, especially Grubby. It’s so fascinating to watch how he seemingly knows everything that’s happening without seeing a single unit; that sort of mastery comes from years and years of experience. Even so, watching this Chinese tournament has lit a fire underneath me. I really want to play and watch some WC3 now.

I reinstalled WC3 and began to play a few games against the AI for practice. My mechanics from SC2/BW have carried over pretty nicely, but I’m still having trouble aligning my builds perfectly and I know basically nothing about the maps. I’m going to be playing a bit over the next few weeks and maybe even stream some of my cringe-worthy play. Really excited to load up this game again. It’s a breath of fresh air after all the frustration I’ve faced while playing Heroes of the Storm recently.

P.S. Watch Game 5 of the Grand Finals between 120 and Lyn on Ancient Isles. You will not be disappointed.

Ragnaros: First Impressions and Pro Opinions

ragnaros-banner-copy

Written by: EsportsJohn


Ragnaros, an elemental as old as the world of Azeroth, has been called to many realms…but rarely one so suited to his destructive nature as the Nexus. As he strives to reduce this new land to ash, Ragnaros hews about with the fiery hammer Sulfuras and takes command of allied and destroyed forts, scourging all who approach him with falling rocks and waves of magma. Though his power is vast, those who summon the Firelord must be prepared to watch the world burn.

At BlizzCon, Blizzard revealed the next two heroes to enter the Nexus with a thrilling cinematic featuring an epic battle between Varian and Ragnaros. The Firelord was available for play at the venue, but it was over a month before he was actually released. Advertised as an assassin that could take over a fort and become a “raid boss”, there was a lot of excitement for the upcoming hero.

Ragnaros lives up to the hype: he’s big, does lots of fire things, and makes the game feel chaotic—but maybe a little too chaotic. Perhaps the most broken hero since Samuro, Ragnaros dominated matches during opening week, peaking at 70% on HotS Logs. He’s since been nerfed a bit, but it still remains to be seen if Molten Core and Lava Wave are too impactful or potentially game-breaking. Let’s take a closer look at this destructive Hero and his devastating abilities!

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths

  • Strong solo laner
  • Long range poke
  • Good waveclear
  • Dynamic zoning abilities

Weaknesses

  • Weak escape
  • No CC in base kit
  • Vulnerable to CC chains

Abilities

Ragnaros’s basic abilities are a nice mix of poke, sustain, and utility. For his Heroics, he can utilize either global pressure with Lava Wave or build for teamfights with Sulfuras Smash. The combination of these factors make him a beast at solo laning and useful in a variety of compositions. There are certain battlegrounds like Braxis Holdout and Tomb of the Spider Queen on which he is exceptionally strong, but he isn’t necessarily bad on any.

Even though he’s classified a melee assassin, Ragnaros can put out a lot of long range poke damage with Living Meteor. Using some of the Meteor talents like Molten Power and Meteor Bomb, he can maximize his poke and deal insane damage from afar while still retaining the ability to walk up and smash someone with Empower Sulfuras. The ability to fight from both a distance and in close quarters is one of the factors that makes him one of the most well-rounded characters in the game.

Ragnaros the Firelord

Artwork Credit: Sendolarts

Molten Core and Lava Wave are game-changers. The way the abilities are designed makes him exceptional at pushing and defending forts and can even change the way objectives are played on some maps. For instance, Molten Core can delay tributes on Cursed Hollow or altars on Towers of Doom using the insane range on his second set of abilities. Lava Wave literally melts the Zerg rush on Braxis Holdout and makes him a must-ban Hero on that map.

The one glaring weakness of Ragnaros is his lack of escape. Despite having great sustain with Empower Sulfuras and a small speed boost from Blast Wave, it can be difficult for him to get out of a tough situation. Grabbing talents like Catching Fire and Resilient Flame can help boost his tankiness when he goes in too deep and hopefully him buy enough time to deal good return damage.

Talents

Ragnaros has one of the most adaptable talent trees in the game at the moment, but that might be largely due to his colossal damage numbers; when his numbers get nerfed a bit, we may see a bit more stability in talent choices. As with most assassins, his builds usually empower one ability while taking defensive or utility talents where necessary.

Perhaps the most common build right now is the Living Meteor build, which does insane amounts of poke damage from a safe distance. Talenting into Shifting Meteor allows Ragnaros to keep the ball on someone for the maximum possible damage; it also makes it easier to consistently build stacks of Molten Power. Once he gets Meteor Bomb at level 16, he can wreck the back line and dish out some serious AoE damage.

Ragnaros in World of Warcraft

If you’re looking to play more of a melee style, you can go for a Q build. Sulfuras Hungers at level 1 is similar to Azmodan’s Taste for Blood talent because it requires Ragnaros to last hit minions, and in turn, it greatly increases the damage of Empower Sulfuras. The quest doesn’t take that long but requires him to solo a bit so to gain maximum value out of his Qs without teammates accidentally clearing minion waves. Once you tack on Hand of Ragnaros and Giant Scorcher, Ragnaros does some insane burst damage with his Q on an absurdly low cooldown.

His level 20 Storm talents are all very good and situational. Heroic Difficulty makes it easier for Ragnaros to abuse his trait and push/defend far more often. When he’s taking a lot of damage in teamfights, Submerge can help him survive for a bit longer and potentially dodge lethal damage. If he takes Lava Wave at 10, he can significantly increase its efficiency with Lava Surge; not only does it provide a second wave which can be staggered with the first, but it also lowers the cooldown by 10 seconds. More lava equals more winning.

Professional Opinions

On Kit, Design, and Implementation

Wings, Super Perfect Team
The second ult Lava Wave deals so much damage that I feel it’s getting nerfed pretty soon. As for the weaknesses, the model is huge so it’s easy to get body blocked. And since he doesn’t have any escapes, you need to be very careful with positioning. He’s also weak against dive compositions for the same reason.

m, ZeroPanda
I think the hero is pretty interesting. His kit is enjoyable. Some of his talents can provide some self-sustain and damage mitigation. On the other hand, his mobility is mediocre. Sometimes an attempt to engage with Q might cost you your life before the ability even connects. As for his defensive utility, the value you can get from the trait as well as Lava Wave is tremendous.

Baphomet, Please Buff Arthas
I think the overall design is good. The kit is decent and the trait is very unique. Though categorized as a melee assassin, the hero is actually very good at poking. For now, I think a poking playstyle works well and can deal lots of damage. Some might feel the trait is a bit weak as you can’t move while it’s activated. However, when it comes to defending—say like enemies pushing with mercenaries or map objectives—the trait is extremely valuable. And it can also be used offensively. I think the trait is powerful enough to be considered a second ult and might open up a lot of potential strategies around the hero himself.

Sunshine, Coach
I think a great way to look at Ragnaros is to compare him to Thrall. He has self sustain in his Q, great poke potential in his W, and he can either speed himself or an ally with his E, which brings a lot of utility. Both of his ults are very good, and you probably just pick according to comp and map.

His passive seems a little broken to be honest though. Love the concept, but it does so much. Prevents building damage, has massive range, very high damage output, slows, stuns, and just feels way to hard to play around. I feel like they left out a weakness to it, but that might just be me complaining about the OP hero being OP.

Youngbaek, Coach
His kit and especially the last hitting talent is a really interesting change for Heroes of the Storm. If we start seeing more talents like this, we’ll see the meta and team compositions change based on talents like Sulfuras Hunters. It’s similar to stacking Seasoned Marksman, but due to the last-hitting mechanic, it will be forced to play out differently.

sCsC, L5 (Ballistix)
All my teammates agree that Rag is plain OP. He isn’t the best in standard teamfights, but his power near allied/enemy keeps is extremely imbalanced.

On Professional Play and Meta Changes

Baphomet, Please Buff Arthas
Overall, the character is strong and well-rounded. It’s likely we’ll see the hero in competitive play.

Sunshine, Coach
Ragnaros has great solo lane potential, good self sustain, wave clear, and utility. I don’t really know how Ragnaros couldn’t find his way into the meta. I would be shocked if he wasn’t picked, and he might even be ban material even with the nerfs.

Youngbaek, Coach
If he’s strong enough, you’ll see him in every region. I’m not talking about his current state, but after the nerf that should be coming from Blizzard’s side. I can see his playstyle work great in Europe though; regions [like EU] that I consider a bit more careful and calculated will be able to execute the stacking game better than other more aggressive regions if that’s the pro build.

On Map and Composition Viability

Wings, Super Perfect Team
The W ability provides decent poke and even burst damage in teamfights. His trait is extremely strong on maps like Battlefield of Eternity and Haunted Mines, as it can deal with map objectives really well. The trait is much less valuable on huge maps like Blackheart’s Bay/Warhead Junction.

m, ZeroPanda
The second ult Lava Wave is very powerful on small maps or when teamfighting in lanes.

Baphomet, Please Buff Arthas
Maps like Infernal Shrines or Haunted Mines are where his trait shines, as it helps a lot in defending against enemies pushing with the map objectives.

Sunshine, Coach
Any map where the objective is forced to push down a certain lane will be a good map for Ragnaros, since it guarantees value from Lava Wave. I don’t think he will really have a bad map, but Braxis Holdout and Tomb of the Spider Queen seem like maps that he would dominate.

Youngbaek, Coach
It honestly depends on what build the professionals decide on in the future. If he becomes a stacking hero, he should fit perfectly into the smaller maps like Dragon Shire and Tomb of the Spider Queen. But if it becomes another variation of the build, he should be good on larger maps as well. Maybe multiple builds will be viable, and you’ll see him played on all maps.

Final Thoughts

Wings, Super Perfect Team
I think the hero is overpowered. His auto attack damage is quite high. At the moment, he can be one of the best solo laners in the game.

Baphomet, Please Buff Arthas
The Ult Lava Wave is very strong when pushing, as it clears minion waves immediately and can force enemies to dodge it so they can’t defend their structures.

Sunshine, Coach
He’s incredibly fun to play. Simple kit, but he has a lot of skill with how you play him. Knowing how to use your E will probably be what sets apart the good players from the bad.

Youngbaek, Coach
Expect a nerf coming to him. I think his overall kit is difficult to balance, and he’ll likely be in a OP or undertuned stage forever.

sCsC, L5 (Ballistix)
We haven’t scrimmed with him yet, so I’m not too sure about how team compositions will factor in. In Hero League, he’s just a standard melee flex pick.


Huge thanks to everyone who contributed their thoughts and opinions! You are the true Heroes of the Storm!

Also, props to yaya, DogRay, and RallyJaffa for translations!


EsportsJohn is likes long walks on the beach but hates lava waves. You can follow him on Twitter or help support him on Patreon.

Plans for 2017 and learning how to move forward.

A little over a week ago, I began the new year with a rather bleak summation of my progress in 2016. Nonetheless, my eyes are set forward and I have lot of plans for this year. I wanted to share some of my personal goals so that I can be kept accountable for my work.

Branding

Branding is a big part of my plans for 2017. My reputation, website, YouTube, Patreon, etc. have all been pretty miserable failures overall, and a lot of that has to do with my failure to represent myself well.

As of today, I finally secured @EsportsJohn on Twitter as well as got my name changed on Team Liquid. I plan on spending a lot of time cleaning up my website, YouTube, and Patreon and creating proper graphics and a logo for all of them. It will take a lot of time to learn the necessary skills and adjust everything to my liking, but I plan to put a huge emphasis on branding this year.

I will also finally invest in a domain name for my website so I no longer have to deal with the WordPress URL. I didn’t have any money to spend last year, but I think it’s an important part of my success to invest some money into my name this year.

Writing

I bounced around between several companies last year trying to find some semblance of stability doing something I enjoyed. It was a year of growing pains, and I think I’m the better for it.

Inven Global
In November, I began working as a copyeditor at Inven Global and have since been promoted to an editor of sorts. For the first time in a long time, I have a stable job that pays nicely, and I intend on keeping it for the duration of 2017. My focus at Inven is primarily news articles; currently I have the goal of writing at least one news article per day for a total of over 300 by year’s end. So far I’ve kept pretty close to that standard, and I’m hoping that no sudden depression will suppress me anytime soon.

LiquidHeroes
also joined back up with LiquidHeroes. It’s hard to describe exactly how I feel about the organization, but it’s sort of like my personal project. When I first came on board in late 2014, I didn’t expect to do much other than write a few guides for Heroes of the Storm since my interest in StarCraft II was waning, but it quickly grew into a lot more than that. Fueled by the passion from my co-editor Vaalia, I spurred on ahead and attempted to really make something out of the section. From July to December, our news coverage and feature article numbers more than doubled, and we were actually one of the top sources for Heroes of the Storm alongside GosuGamers and even The Score.

When I split from the org in March, we were commissioned by Blizzard to write all of the HGC coverage, and we received numerous invitations and paid trips to championships around the world. In short: we were the real deal. The material and organization of the group fell off the face of the earth after I left, and LiquidHeroes pretty much died. Coming back to the organization, it’s my hope that we can regain our previous standing and push things even further than before. If nothing else, I want to prove that I can run a group of writers and create a successful publication. My work there is primarily the work of a head editor, but I do plan on writing a few feature pieces for them.

Blogs
When I first opened this site, I told myself that I would write a blog post once every week at minimum, but I’ve published almost nothing. This year, that’s going to change. I’m not a very interesting person, I think, and most of my thoughts revolve around gaming; nonetheless, I really want to make a positive effort to write more often, even if it’s just a paragraph dealing with frustration or boredom.

There is no specific amount of posts I’m aiming for; this is more of a self-motivation thing.

Video

I originally opened a YouTube channel so I could just post things occasionally for articles, but at some point in 2015 I ended up getting caught up in several mediocre podcasts and eventually doing my own personal videos. As mentioned above, my YouTube was a complete failure. I put very little effort into the videos, and I got very little out of them. Both of the podcasts (Strat Chat and Nexus Nights) are now defunct, but at least I learned some valuable skills from them.

HotS Thoughts
The original thought process behind creating this was to educate people with informational videos that drew deeply on my own analytical knowledge of the game and statistics—basically, I wanted to be like a Day9 figure for Heroes of the Storm. Unfortunately, I think that train derailed at some point, and I got more and more complacent with the videos. On top of my insecurity about my weight and my self-image, the videos were very sporadic, often going several months before the next release.

My goal this year is to re-purpose this series and use it more for my personal branding. Video time lengths are getting seriously shortened, from 15-30 minutes down to about 5-8 minutes. Subjects will be straightforward and to the point without preamble or announcements or anything of the sort. I will include overlays as well to make it look a lot better. Release dates may still not be regular; it’s something I’m still working on.

Heroes History
Heroes History is a new video series I’m looking at creating. The idea is to discuss one specific event or set of events in Heroes history alongside a “guest historian”, which would be a pro player or a caster. The show will be tight, only around 3-8 minutes, and will include a lot of detailed facts and video clips. Again, I will also create a nice overlay so that things look professional.

Personal stuff

There are a million things I need to improve on personally…self-image, eating choices, work motivation, time management, etc., etc. The biggest ones (pun not intended) on my mind are losing weight and protecting my mental health. I’ve gained back a lot of weight in 2016, and it’s very disheartening trying to work it off, but I’m making an effort to walk/run or do some parkour every day. Physical well being is the first step to mental well being.

Mentally, I’m doing my best to avoid stressing myself out. After a year of examining my condition, I think I can generally recognize when my brain is speeding up or slowing down; by compensating and finding ways to reduce my stress levels, I will hopefully avoid severe bouts of depression in the future and maintain my workflow at a steady rate. Some days I’m itching to do more and more and more, but I have to force myself to hold back, and that’s very difficult.

At the end of July, my lease is up, and I’m moving from Georgia to California (Sacramento). I am still quite poor with a lot of debts that need to be paid off, but I believe if I put my mind to it, I can afford the move. Going to California will be a huge shift in lifestyle, but I’m hoping that getting away from all the stuff here and being on my own helps me focus on my work and improve. It will also be a huge boon for me when I want to go to esports events since California is chock full of them.

Last, I will end up at BlizzCon 2017 as a reporter. Whether I make enough money to move to California or not, I will be at BlizzCon. I am absolutely determined in this resolve.

The burden of journalism.

This year I’ve probably learned more about writing and journalism than during the whole of my college career. For a few months, I went to the nearby college library and read books upon books about the subject, and I became much more literate in a relatively short span of time. Nonetheless, there’s a big difference between knowing about journalism and doing it.

Journalism ethics are pretty straightforward (for the most part) and work well for most areas of your life. Seek the truth, respect others, be accountable…all very relevant and useful concepts, not only for writers, but for the general population as well. Details like libel are murkier. This is where I started, and I think it’s been an excellent vantage point for everything else I’ve done since—it’s much easier to build something if you can survey the area properly first.

But the rest of it is actually quite hands on. Writing mechanics have never come easily to me even though I’m quite aware of good sentence structure, spelling, grammar, etc. And as for article ideas and implementation, sometimes I struggle there too. But perhaps the biggest hurdle has been getting used to being plugged in at all times. The burden of journalism is the constant state of awareness that a reporter requires in order to catch all the details, connect all of the dots, and write the story sooner than the competitors. Deadlines don’t care about your sleep schedule, and there’s not enough time to go back and find all the details you need. There are no days off.

In esports, this awareness extends to tournament results, roster swaps, game features, esports league formats, potential new esports, game design…and the list goes on. If you’re covering more than one esport, there’s not enough hours in the day to actually feed all that information into your brain and process it; you’re tuned in 24/7 and constantly reading articles, watching VoDs, and reading live tweets just to keep up to date. Any time that you lose to sleep or inattention can’t be easily made up for.

It can get very exhausting.

For that reason, it’s good to take a personal day every now and then. If you don’t take breaks or unplug yourself from the mainframe every now and then, it’s really easy for stress to affect your sleep or your health. I don’t know if my brain tires out more easily than others—Pulitzer, for example, was hyper-vigilant and made it a life mission to examine every fine detail closely and add it to his memory bank—but it does sometimes become cumbersome. I’m not great at letting things go and relaxing either, but I’m trying to go outside and do some walking for at least one hour a day and just rest my brain.

The idea of doing journalism doesn’t seem too difficult. Writing news or feature articles doesn’t take a lot of effort, really. But the constant state of awareness and ravenous hunger for information might just eat you up if you’re not prepared for it.

Reflections on 2016

To be honest, New Year’s always hits me hard. Late December has always been difficult as I struggle to make ends meet, and New Year’s Eve is usually my lowest every year. Everyone is celebrating about their progress the previous year and looking forward eagerly to next year; for me, I’m simply watching people pass me by and move forward with their lives. I have been stuck in a sort of limbo for the past two years, unable to make ends meet and battling bouts of depression along the way, and this year has been no different.

The beginning of 2016 was decent to begin with except for a dramatic yearning I had for a particular girl. Unable to tell her my feelings and potentially break off her engagement, I kept quiet and suffered. Later, she betrayed me, and a lot of those emotions turned to anger. The first half of the year I was very unhappy. I still have small fits of rage at some of the most irrational and minor things, and I have not been able to fully relieve myself of the anxiety and pressure I feel almost every day. Anxiety saps the ability to be happy out of your life.

My career during the first half of the year was actually pretty solid. I was writing for Blizzard through Team Liquid, and I got a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go to IEM Katowice as an esports reporter. The trip itself was a blast, and I have a lot of really great memories despite the exhaustion of work and travel. The people that I met there (in particular Kitara/Snowholmes from StormKings, the mYinsanity players, and my fellow writers TripleM, Muugi, and Zullhammer) were absolutely incredible, and I enjoyed spending time just talking and hanging out with them very much. I had no idea what the hell I was doing; I had never flown on a plane before, had never been to foreign country, and had no idea how or where to go to get from the airport to my hotel. At the event, my first interview ever was with Kim Phan, Senior Director of Esports at Blizzard, and I scrambled to ask relevant and interesting questions. But I got through it. Over a four day period, I wrote three articles and did four interviews alongside close to 48 hours of travel.

However, my career took a big step backwards not one week after coming back from Poland. I quit TeamLiquid.net, got blacklisted from TeamLiquidPro, and I was on the rails looking for a new job to pay rent. During the next few months, I was split between a volunteer position at mYinsanity, paid articles at Splyce.gg, and a new startup organization called Esports Edition. Looking back, there were a lot of problems with all of those publications, and even though I was technically writing a lot between February to July, I wasn’t really progressing anywhere. My deepest desire is to relive my experience at IEM Katowice; to travel the globe and interact with other people, get their stories, and bring them to life in interviews and articles. That’s what I’m most passionate about. None of those organizations were really offering me that nor helping to improve my writing, technique, or education.

Esports Edition in particular caused me a great deal of distress. Their vision of blase content saturation differed from my view of impactful, hard-hitting articles that brought the esports scene to life, and in the end, I lost pretty much all interest in writing for them even though I was actually making enough money to pay bills with them. I’m not the type of person who continues to do something I hate for the sake of security; call it a flaw if you will, but I have difficulty with having my dreams stifled. I quit Esports Edition (was technically fired) and decided to just take matters into my own hands and created my current website. I have pages and pages of notes about business goals, how I would start a freelance writing business, rates, marketing strategies, etc., etc. I went in hard on the idea and began to just create the content I had always wanted to create: mass interviews and big feature pieces.

Since the conception of my website, I have interviewed several players and casters such as Equinox, Khaldor, darkmok and Nurok from Misfits, and Sunshine. I still have plans for many more. I also did feature pieces like the First Impressions pieces in the style that we did back at Team Liquid and big quasi-journalistic pieces like the Road to BlizzCon articles. There were plans to do a full 16-article series for the Road to BlizzCon, but I was hit with depression quite hard in the middle of October and I completely only two pieces during that time period.

Unfortunately, I hit a rock wall with my freelance material. Despite the immense amount of work that I put into these articles, my view counts average between 500-1000 on most of them; only two people have ever signed up to support me on Patreon. My follower count on Twitter has slowly creeped up by about 50 people this year but has otherwise stayed stagnant. On top of that, I have applied to several writing jobs all year and faced countless rejections or have been ignored completely. News sites that I look up to like The Score, Dot Esports, or The Esports Observer have pretty much completely overlooked me despite a fairly impressive resume and over three years of experience writing about esports. I don’t mean to complain, but I will admit that these relatively poor results have greatly affected my motivation and often keep me wondering if I should be doing this. Some days, the feeling of futility is so strong that I’m not sure I can even publish a finished article.

Added to that, I have slowly gained back all of the weight that I lost two years ago and have to once again climb out of the crater of obesity. My self image is so poor that I cannot fathom doing HotS Thoughts videos on most days because I can’t bear to look at myself; this is largely why these videos are so few and far between. I struggle with bouts of depression which completely deny me the ability to put together even a single coherent sentence and often deny me a lot of work. I’m not looking for pity points, but these are some of the problems I face daily, and I want to be honest.

Of the positive things I’ve done this year, I acknowledge at least that I’ve learned a lot. I read several journalism books cover to cover in early fall, and I have slowly come to think of myself as a journalist instead of a writer. My knowledge of HTML and formatting has improved significantly, and I work hard to make my articles look excellent. I also learned quite a bit about Excel, SQL, databases, and php programming doing my statistics project even though much of it is useless for what I do (BTW, that statistics project is dead, unfortunately). I have slowly come into my own this year, and I think I’m actually one of the highest ranking editors in the Heroes of the Storm scene. I can easily manage a group of writers and run a publication of my own if I wanted to. In fact, I have considered opening my own publication several times. I’m a pretty mediocre writer, but my skill as an editor and a mentor is quite high. I still have infinite amounts to learn, but I am more confident in my abilities than I have ever been in spite of all the depression and disillusionment.

Here are my stats for 2016:

  • 116 pieces of esports/gaming content
  • 18 videos, 97 articles
  • 58 paid articles, 58 unpaid articles
  • Average 8 articles per month
  • 41 News, 28 Features, 15 Guides, 14 Interviews
  • 11 @TeamLiquid, 9 @mYi, 4 @Splyce, 35 @Esports Edition, 17 @Inven Global, 20 self-published, 2 @Blizzard

My latest goal at Inven Global is to backtrack and begin writing news articles as often as possible. In 2015, Thorin produced over 365 pieces of content in a single year; as a baseline, that is my goal. I want to be able to sit down at my computer every day and create something. Daily news articles combined with my feature pieces at Teamliquid.net (I’m back, we’re back) and my own site and occasional videos will patch things up nicely. I have a lot of plans for the future, but I am living under the weight of a lead cloud; I am not unhappy with what I am doing, just unable to find happiness quite yet. Perhaps when I reach a tipping point….

Thank you for your support over the year. Even just an occasional shoutout helps so much.

P.S. I’ll do a video and talk about my specific plans for this year soonish.