How I (Accidentally) Became a Sports Fan

When I was young, I used to watch the football games with my dad every Sunday night. I didn’t know what was going on, but I had nothing better to do and it was a good chance to spend some time with the people I found interesting at the time. I even played some baseball and soccer in rec leagues until I was about 13. But as I grew older and drifted away from my parents, I also drifted away from sports; I just didn’t derive any particular enjoyment from watching a guy throw a ball to another guy, and I didn’t get the frenetic energy sports fan got when “their” team won. I just preferred to play games and study music.

So you imagine my surprise when I suddenly realized, sitting alone watching the finals of the Mid-Season Brawl on mute using library wifi, that I had become a sports fan…just not the type I had always imagined in my head.

Everyone knows that guy who insists on going to a bar for lunch so he can “watch the game” or that person who plans out epic Superbowl parties or the person who listens to the ball game on the radio during their commute back home at night. We all know those people who thrive on competition and bracketeering and meticulously tracking stats and arguing with co-workers over who the greatest quarterback of all time is. I never saw myself as one of those people and I never understood their obsessive need to be involved with the sport constantly (especially if they didn’t play it themselves), but in the arena of esports, I’m beginning to realize I’m exactly like those people. I am those people.

During the Mid-Season Brawl, I technically had no work to do outside of keeping up with the LiquidHeroes bingo and tweeting out any boxes we had checked off. I had no obligation to watch all the games, but I did anyway. I followed the games religiously, kept notes wherever possible, and paid attention to the drafts of each team and how the metagame was evolving. Unfortunately, I had to miss at least two full days driving my mother back and forth between the house she’s fixing up and home (a two hour round trip, and up to five or six hours in between transit), but it didn’t stop me from trying to get all the information I could.

I checked Twitter and Discord constantly for hints about what was going on. I didn’t have the data (or battery power) to stream everything from my phone, so I had to rely on wifi wherever I could get it, so I drove to libraries, coffee shops, Waffle Houses, etc. And for the first time, I noticed that I was moving outside the realm of pure analysis and self-improvement to actual fandom; I suddenly understood all of those crazy emotions people went through watching a football or soccer game.

Esports is all about the competition and the storylines. It’s about the underdog slaying the giant. It’s about meaningless but thoroughly entertaining games. And it’s about building a community of people that will stick together because of this one random thing they all have in common.

This wasn’t the first time this has happened. I remember watching LoL Worlds in the university library while studying journalism last year. I remember staying up ultra late just to watch Korean SC2 players play the most epic GSL finals of all time. I’ve experienced it all, even in games I didn’t play. But that moment watching the Mid-Season Brawl was a wake-up call. It turns out I have a lot more in common with sports fans than I thought.

I Can Go the Distance: An Interview with Daihuu

Daihuu onstage at ESL Burbank

Photo Credit: ESL

For me, interviews are a chance to meet people and get to know them better. Not everyone can afford to go to events and meet the pros and the casters in person, so—like me—the best they can do is watching streams or following their favorite players on Twitter. We don’t get that face-to-face time that really allows us to meet people as friends, family, equals. There is so much more to people than their onstage persona or the avatar they play as, and I want to share that with others.

With that in mind, Daihuu seemed like a perfect candidate for an interview. Daihuu has been on several all-star teams including Resurgence, Afro Doge, and now Vox Nihili, and has really separated himself from the pack with outstanding tank plays. On top of that, he’s legitimately one of the most chill guys to talk to via Twitter, Skype, etc., and I greatly admire his drive and determination to become the best player he can be.

On Personal

I notice that you’re pretty vocal in old interviews. Do you just have a lot of opinions?

Yeah, when people ask me questions, I just flood them with all the things I’d like to say about the topic. Since I’m so quiet, not a lot of people ask me things, you know? So when they do I’m just like: omg, here—have everything. I also just love talking about games so there’s that.

Hahaha I see. Delving into your past interviews, you’ve mentioned that you’re a very emotional player. Do you think that impacts your play negatively?

I think it definitely used to prior to joining Vox. I started playing competitively when I was 18, and right when I started, I discovered I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. At the start of my career, the stress of playing and the constant mood switches heavily hit me on a mental level. I was super down on myself all the time. I would take it out on my teammates by griefing them with random unprovoked passive aggressive comments, and I had no confidence in my performance. From Lunatik to, I’d say Squirtle Squad, I wasn’t as good of a teammate as I could’ve been.

But then I really started taking the time to learn myself. I would record logs of when I would switch moods, what were the triggers, and how to handle myself when I switched to a specific mood. Bipolar Disorder, if not treated properly, is really hard to play competitively with. Imagine one day you can play to your heart’s content like you know you can: you’re landing every skill shot, you can see everyone on the map, you can predict movements and call all the shots. But then the next day comes and now you’re sluggish, you feel like you’re the worst player in the world, and nothing is going right for you…but then you go back to having an extremely good time [later]. That’s the struggle with playing with this. But now that I’ve grown and have had help from Zoos, I think, emotionally, I don’t get impacted as much as I used to. I’m more focused on the game now and Zoos helps me get through my issues if I ever have them.

One thing I’ve really learned about myself is to just be quiet after a tournament or a scrim and just empty my mind. Because I get really flustered even now when things aren’t going right. I would like to say I’m very meticulous when it comes to things. If we move to A and B and we’re 3 levels up, but we move to C and it goes horribly, I get out of place because C should’ve worked, and then I start losing track of things. By emptying my mind, or meditating after a game, I reset myself and am able to focus on learning or winning.

My mood swings are very very frequent. But luckily I’m still around and I’m finally able to conquer it.

I understand exactly what that’s like, that stuff is difficult. As for your playstyle, you’ve pretty much always been a Warrior player ever since alpha. What was it about the role that drew you to it?

I was actually forced into it when I first joined haha. I was looking to play Support for my very first team but no one wanted to play Warrior so I ended up doing it. Then I started really learning the role and realized it fit me really well. I like taking charge and leading my team through fights. I’m a very observant person, so I can feel [the] cooldowns of the enemy team and my own team (i.e. something like: Medivh has no portal, kill him! Or our healer has Cleanse, still keep going!). I’m a huge huge huge fan of ganking and teamfights. Those two things are the reason why I play this game as much as I do. The fact that Heroes enables me to play to my strengths as well as I do now makes me really happy, haha.

One of the things that always interests me is how progamers balance their progaming career with their daily life (school, work, etc.). Did you go to school while playing? Do you work a day job?

Yeah, so early last year I was working a full time job on top of playing. I actually lacked a lot of sleep due to this haha. But then I started getting more and more issues with my disorder and ended up dropping everything for a few months. I quit my job, I stopped playing competitively, and I just laid in my bed depressed all day for a solid month. Thankfully, my mom, stepdad, and my girlfriend supported me through this, despite just dropping my entire life. After that month, I started showing signs of life again and made an effort to do the things I really wanted to do, so I rejoined the Heroes scene, I went to classes for my GED, and I worked part time when I could. Not all at the same time, of course; I took all these steps very very slowly, but that was the order I started to do those things.

As for present day, let’s see. I currently do not work anymore, as my job relocated. However, I’ve obtained my GED! I currently just play Heroes full time until either this kicks off or a job calls me back. Then I’ll balance work and Heroes once more until I can live my passion of playing professionally full time without worry.

So you plan on staying in esports indefinitely if possible? Do you have a job or profession in mind if you don’t?

Yeah, that’s the dream, right? Haha. If progaming doesn’t end up working, I would love to be a sports psychologist or a motivational speaker. I have a passion for getting people to smile even when they’re down (even while I’m down, for that matter lol), and being able to do that for a job is something I see being very realistic in my future. My life doesn’t end when I stop being a pro, you know? I feel like people have this misconception that taking time away from school or working at a young age—I’m 20—is wasting time away from your life. But life is what you make it, right? You gotta do the things you can while you can.

I had this existential crisis when I dropped everything for that month. It was wondering how life worked and why we got up everyday to go to work, slaving at a 9-5 and either being happy about life or extremely unhappy, right? It got me thinking if I was wasting my life doing nothing. Then I thought about Indian people who immigrated to the U.S. who own convenience stores. Those people are extremely hard working, and I can’t praise them enough for being able to start a store, do what they gotta do to live, and be happy because they’re doing something with their lives.

Daihuu meditating between games at ESL Burbank

Photo Credit: ESL

The reason I’m bringing this up is because they started generally from nothing, and despite all the turmoil they could’ve faced after years and years of stress and wondering if they could survive the next day, they end up [surviving] and becoming successful. That crisis actually made me realize: just put in the time, do what you can do, and at the end of the day, as long as you know you tried your very best—whether it’s practicing as much as you can or studying all night or working as hard as you can—you can be happy with what you’ve accomplished.

Absolutely. What are your personal goals as a progamer?

I think an obvious answer that everyone will say is that they wanna be the best in their region or in the world, which is obviously one of my goals as well. However, my goal is more [about] fame and glory. I want to be recognized as that play making Warrior player in NA. I want people to be like, “Yo Daihuu on (insert random team name)? Yooo, that’s such a good pick up omg. What a great tank!” Sure, money and being called the best is great, but being acknowledged for being world class is truly all I want in being a pro.

On Teams

You’ve been on…A LOT of teams throughout your Heroes career. What would you say are the qualities for good teammates?

I’m really glad you asked that. I think for a game as team-intensive as Heroes, you really need to like everyone on your team. You don’t have to see eye to eye on everything, but you do need to be able to tolerate them and be able to put the team’s success over your own quarrels. A good teammate will pick you up in-game when you’re down. If you start feeding your ass off and have that inevitable hatred of self-pity, someone—it doesn’t have to be everyone, but someone—has to be like, “It’s fine, don’t worry about it, we’re still okay/still even/ahead. Don’t worry, we got this.” This actually happened in our Road to BlizzCon match when I was on Panda Global vs Team Blaze. It was 1-1 and I burrowed on Anub past their fort wall and just randomly died. I legit tilted my ass off after that and Zoos was the one to be like “Daihuu, it’s fine. Pick it up, we’re gonna win.” and he brought my morale back up.

I think another good quality to have is the work ethic. This might sound weird, but a team needs to have the same goals in mind, and with that goal comes the work ethic. You can say, “Oh, I wanna be the best in the world” but only play an hour or two a day. If you and your team put in the hours needed to be good, then it’ll show in tournaments. And the final trait that comes to my head at this time is the perseverance. Teams take about a month to fully flesh out, and throughout that time you’ll go through a bunch of trouble. But if you endure that and you like everyone on your team, you’ll go far. Let’s take my team, for example. We formed a month before Burbank qualifiers, we managed to qualify and get top 4, right? PAX comes around, we did a roster swap, and we end up not qualifying at all. Despite all that, we’re still together, and we even added Zoos back to the roster to bring back that top 4 team that showed at Burbank.

On the flip side, you left Panda Global about a year ago because of “toxicity”. Have you experienced an environment that bad since then?

Before I answer that, David and Alan [the owners] from Panda Global did nothing but positive things for the team and me, and I’m truly grateful to have met them and blessed to have my first contract with them. They’re a great group of dudes, and PG has gotten better and better after my time with them. To answer the question though, no, I don’t think so. There are a few times on random teams that got too tense for no reason due to egos or people not seeing eye to eye, but nothing got as bad as PG.

So let me explain more as to why PG was toxic. The team on PG wasn’t like [trash] talking each other every day or anything that negative. We just started getting worse and worse results, and from the result of that, [we] just stopped trusting each other. Lex and I actually didn’t like each other at some point. He and I would bicker so much for no reason—one, due to my immaturity, and two, due to how everything was going wrong with the team. Obviously, now Lex and I have great respect for each other, but back then noooo, haha. We would play a scrim, and mid scrim we would either just passive aggressively make comments at each other or just bicker after the game. Now scrims are two hour blocks generally, and you can fit three to four games in those two hours…so you’d get two hours of us going back and forth every 30 minutes. Nowadays though, it’s really chill. I truly respect Todd (LexUther) as a player and think he’s one of the best Supports in NA—and if we ever bicker, it’s constructive and purely to get better.

Good to hear that things weren’t that bad. I think a lot of young teams suffer from that sort of attitude, especially when you’re gathering a bunch of young guys who haven’t had much experience working together on a team.

Yeah, after leaving PG, I really learned a lot from that experience and, though I regret all the negative things I did, I’m glad I was able to learn from it.

I first started paying close attention to you on Resurgence back in the day, and I thought you had potential to be one of the best tank players in the scene. Unfortunately, RSG didn’t think so at the time…can you run through your thoughts about being kicked from the team?

Being on Resurgence for the first week or two, I was actually really confident in my ability to improve. However, things started dwindling really fast for me. I lost my confidence, and I felt like I kept getting judged on every little thing I did. I actually lost confidence in a game every time I missed a Storm Bolt on Muradin. It was really crippling my performance and it showed in scrims. Now, if you asked me this the week after I got kicked, I hated the hell out of them. But if you ask me now, I don’t blame them. You gotta do what you gotta do to win, you know? If I’m not performing then hell, Fury definitely will.

Nowadays, I don’t really have any negative feelings towards any of the players from RSG. I was blessed to be able to play with Equinox, Kilick, Ryxie, and Shot, and I was able to learn so much from them during my time there.

Oh I’m dumb, it was RES, right? Or was it? I always get it confused with the Singapore team Resurgence.

It was RES. RSG sounds way better though.

Yeah, I remember we had a meltdown on what name we wanted to do, and we were just like, “Eh, let’s hope Singapore’s RSG doesn’t mind.” We didn’t make the name up until like a few hours before a roster lock, if I recall correctly.

Let’s talk a bit about Vox now. Vox Nihili came out of left field for the first NA Fall regional. Why do you think that the team suddenly became so strong?

I think there are two reasons as to why we were so good at Burbank. So the first one is how much time we put into the game. We spent nearly every day during qualifiers and heading into the event just breathing Heroes. Here was a daily schedule for me: I’d wake up, do whatever I needed to do, play Hero League by myself or with Zoos for three to four hours. [Then] take a break and watch replays of any performances I thought I did badly [in]. Then scrims came around for four hours, six if we were feeling frisky that week. Then we’d do team VoD review for an hour or two, and then people would either sleep at this point, chill, or play solo queue at night. We put so much time in, and we were able to luckily reap the rewards at Burbank.

Vox Nihili onstage at ESL Burbank

Photo Credit: ESL

Secondly, I think a huge part of our success was our trust in each other. We have a really good dynamic where we don’t micro [manage] each other. Let’s say an opportunity arises where we can do a Gust play into a Mosh, right? I won’t tell Hosty. “Gust them into the wall, and I’ll Mosh them.” He’ll tell me he’s about to Gust and I’ll Mosh right after. I see the opportunity for him to Gust, but I don’t have to tell him. I trust him and everyone else on my team to be able to do things like that. If someone says go, even if it’s bad, we will all listen to the call.

Aside from Vox, have there been any other teams you’ve been on that you thought could go the distance and shake up the NA scene?

Yeah, obviously Resurgence with Ryxie, Shot, Kilick, Equinox, and me. Hmm, what else…. Team Banana with Tigerjk, Haeun, Skullkid, Jun and I. We had a super stacked random team called Afro Doge with Khroen, HaoNguyen, Tigerjk, Jun and me. I think that’s about it though.

I notice a lot of Jun in there. A lot of people didn’t know Jun Jang before Murloc Geniuses’ sudden rise to prominence in the last two regionals, but you’ve been playing with him off and on for a long time, haven’t you? Do you think he deserves the “god tier” title people have been giving him? :p

Haha, he’s so good! To answer your question, yes, because he [works] extremely hard and does everything he can do to have that title. People don’t know this, but prior to playing with Tiger for the first time on, I believe Bang Bang?, he never spoke. Tiger actually molded him to talk more and be so active in his communication. And you can see it’s working now with his current team. I’m super happy for him. I always told him he was gonna be one of the best in NA—hell, even the world. And now he has two titles to prove it!

Do you think the long-term dominance of Cloud9 and Tempo Storm had an impact on the amateur/up and coming teams in North America in 2015? Do you think some of those issues have been solved in 2016?

That’s an interesting question, I personally don’t think C9/TS had an impact on rising stars, but I can definitely see the argument behind it. You see C9 randomly form, automatically get #2 in NA, then after a sudden rise in play, become the best team in NA for like what, a year, right? It’s very daunting to see players like iDream be so good, while someone like me has to put hella work to be able to play as well as he can. So I can definitely see how that could be a thing.

Daihuu at ESL Burbank

Photo Credit: ESL

I actually don’t think the scene started getting better until the Rosterpocalypse. During the C9/TS reign and even a little bit now to this day, all the players that were being put on good teams were just recycled from the list of other notable good teams. But due to the Rosterpocalypse, it caused all the talent to split up, for the most part, and form all these amazing teams: Denial, Murloc Geniuses, Naventic, Gale Force eSports. Fun fact: Astal Authority (King of Blades [Alpha] back in the day) is the only team I’ve seen from the C9/TS days that was able to make a splash on the scene from nothing. They were amateur players that ended up mauling other teams to be a top 8 team. So yeah, [in] 2016 it’s been a lot better, and I think NA is stronger than it’s ever been.

Interesting. A lot of people would contend that NA is weaker than it’s ever been, at least on a world scale.

Hmm, maybe I worded it wrong. Before NA only had two good teams: C9 and TS. But now we have MG, Denial, NVT, GFE, Astral. I’d have to agree though I think Korea and China really stepped up with their play and they’re probably the best regions.

[Revised statement:] So yeah, [in] 2016 it’s been a lot better, and I’m glad we have more teams being able to play at a top caliber level in NA.*

On the Game

Right now, a lot of people are saying that first pick (FP) has always had an advantage during drafting. Do you agree with this argument, or do you think it’s largely meta-dependent?

I’m not that involved in drafting, so I feel like my answer isn’t going to be good of good input. However, I do agree that FP has a huge advantage during draft. I recall in Burbank, after we lost a coin flip to determine if we were first or second pick, we would huddle up for a second and be like, “Okay, what maps should we pick for second pick?” Because some maps just have the worst [possible] time being second, and other maps slightly elevate it to a closer chance of SP winning. Even the Korean match that occurred recently (SPOILER) ended up in a 3-2 where first pick won the series.

How do you account for MasterLeague.net’s near 50% win rate over 6 months of data though?

I actually don’t have a good answer to that question, but I will say if both teams are performing well that day, I feel FP has an advantage. FP doesn’t have an advantage if one team is choking extremely hard or not performing (i.e., GFE vs Denial at PAX, us vs MG in top 4 at Burbank).

Blizzard is trying out something new with this Nexus Games tournament before BlizzCon. What are your thoughts on it?

I’m so glad, haha. Prior to the Nexus Games, there was a big period of time in between the last qualifier and Worlds that had nothing for teams that didn’t make it to Worlds. So if you didn’t qualify, you’d sit around for like three months doing nothing and practicing just to kill time. I’m really glad Blizzard is stepping up and giving pros more things to do who didn’t make it.

Do you think the onus is on Blizzard to provide more opportunities, or do you think we should fill these gaps with more community tournaments like SolidJake’s Bloodlust tournament?

I think if Blizzard didn’t step in for the Nexus Games, then it’d be on us, the community, to produce tournaments for the pros to play in. Let’s look at how the two big name MOBAs do it, okay? [The] League of Legends scene is 100% all Riot’s doing. They host the LCS, they host Worlds, everything is on their end of things. Meanwhile [for] Dota 2, outside of The International, [everything] is community-based with Valve outsourcing their casters for the community. The HotS scene is kind of in the middle of the two, with Heroes United and regional qualifier stuff, so I think it’s a shared responsibility on both Blizzard and us to help the pros out.

Do you have any particular criticisms about the state of the game, matchmaking, balance, etc.?

Yeah, I truly wish Hero League wasn’t as annoying as it is right now. I love PPL (shoutout to Panda Pro League), but sometimes I just wanna listen to music and work on my mechanics instead of talking to people all the time. I think there’s a few Heroes that could be reworked to be better: Artanis feels clunky, [and] Dehaka has random delays on his spells and can’t unburrow himself, for whatever reason. But balance is really good other than that. I actually believe Heroes is heading in the right direction finally, and I’m really excited to see what’s in store for the future.

[On Artanis:] I don’t know why he can’t just cancel his Q at any time or why he has to stop in place when he swaps people, but something has to change.

Wrap-up

If you could go back to the beginning of 2015, would you change the course of your progaming career?

No, I don’t think so. All the things that occurred at the start of 2015 really allowed me to mature and be the person that I am today. Let’s hypothetically say I just got on an amazing, great team at the start of my career. right? I think I’ll just end up being an asshole and a bad teammate. I got to understand myself so much from my humble beginning, and I really don’t wanna forget it.

Daihuu and GOAT celebrating their victory over Gale Force eSports at ESL Burbank

Photo Credit: ESL

I went from a no-name to one of the most well known tanks in NA, from zero to Hero—from human Hercules in the Disney movie to being able to climb on Mount Olympus with KingCaff and Fury hahaha.

Any last statements? Do you have any shoutouts for teammates, fans, or supporters?

Yeah. First off, huge shoutouts to my fans and the Heroes community. I would not be here today if it wasn’t for ya’ll. Shoutouts to my team and Zoos especially for shaping me to become the player I am today. Shoutouts to my girlfriend Basheerah for being my rock, my high school sweetheart; she’s shaped me to be the man I am today. Shoutouts to my family—my mom, my sister Ly and my brother Lam for being my “parents” while my dad went to work and the love they’ve shown me unconditionally. Shoutouts to my dad as well, I know he’s up there in the sky proud of me. And thank you for interviewing me!


EsportsJohn remembers like a few years ago when every other guy was named Jason and all the girls were Britney. You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

All the World’s a Game: An Interview with Nurok

Nurok playing Infinite Crisis

Photo Credit: ESL

Ever since my trip to IEM Katowice earlier this year, I’ve been a big fan of the former mYi team, tracking their progress and writing about their achievements. What has captivated me most has been their outstanding dedication to the game—an unwavering thirst to constantly improve. After my recent interview with Darkmok, I decided to get in touch with more of these Misfits, and Nurok seemed like the next best choice.

Nurok has been playing MOBAs at a high level for a long time. His vast Hero pool and seemingly effortless skill make him one of the best Heroes players in the European scene currently. On top of that, his carefree attitude makes him super easy to approach and talk to. If you’re ever at a LAN and see this guy, hit him up for a fun conversation!

On Experience in MOBAs

Let’s start with your background. A lot of people may not know your roots in the competitive scene, so could you just give a brief history of how you got into progaming?

I’ve always been a very competitive person, and I put most of my energy into gaming [ever] since I was a young child. Obviously things weren’t as serious as they are now, and I probably wasted a lot of chances on my early games like World of Warcraft or even League of Legends.

Anyways, my first real step into esports was when I joined n!faculty in 2013, a German organization, as a League player.

Aside from playing on the nerdiest LoL team ever, have you had any notable
achievements in other games?

I’ve never placed worse than Top 4 at an offline event, except for the Spring Championship in Korea (2016). But to be fair, most MOBA LANs were held by ESL, and those had only four participating teams, so I guess that doesn’t count haha. Apart from that, I was kinda successful in WoW (WotLK and early Cataclysm). I reached World #2 on one of the biggest Realmpools in Season 8 with RLD (Rogue/Warlock/Druid), just behind Reckful. In League, I wasted a lot of time. I also was mostly playing for German teams, which probably hurt my options quite a bit.

Pictures from Nurok's past as a progamer

[In WoW], we made top 5 in 3v3 bracket a few weeks into the season (was around ~2.9k MMR) and camped that spot until the end of that season because we didn’t feel like playing anymore (pictured above to the left). I left the team close to the season ending since I wanted to play, got [screwed] and didn’t manage to play up [to that level] again. On the other side, my two mates got their Gladiator titles (best 0.5%).

I was bored and didn’t want to camp. I wanted to play 3v3…was a mistake since I didn’t find proper teammates again. But [forget] that one Gladiator title, I got enough :).

The n!faculty lineup was pretty strong for a German team though, and we managed to win an EPS (Summer 2013) (pictured above to the right). Sadly, I got kinda burned out by LoL very fast and I never tried to reach the LCS sadly. I think I could have made it with the right contacts/mates. Eventually I stopped playing and switched over to Infinite Crisis. I won the Gamescom promotion tournament and the first season of it as well. We were pretty dominant in EU back then, I was playing for Team Dignitas [Team Liquid’s Cris was also part of this team]. Finally, with the end of Season 2, we swapped over to Heroes of the Storm.

You’ve played a bunch of different MOBAs (LoL, HoN, and Infinite Crisis) on a very high level now. What made you stick with Heroes? Do you think you’ll find another MOBA you enjoy more than Heroes?

I like the unique aspect of Heroes, which is its fast pace connected with a lot of brawls. The only thing I miss a bit is the famous 1v1 lane matchups (which are partly a thing in Heroes, but not as much as in other MOBAs).

What do you think of Battlerite? That seems to be the newest MOBA trend right now.

It’s pretty fun, and I will definitely play it from time to time in future. Pure skill-based games are my favourite.

How has your previous experience in other MOBAs translated into Heroes? Are there any other games or genres that you’ve pulled ideas from in order to succeed in Heroes?

Basically everything I’ve learnt in any game over the years can be applied to Heroes. Short version: Be smart, be fast, and be better than your opponents in those regards.

Are there any mechanics from other MOBAs that you miss or wish could be ported over to Heroes in some way?

There should be a stronger backdoor protection in the game, e.g. let the structures be nearly invincible before the minions clash [with] each other. Also missing the deny feature from Dota, but that probably doesn’t fit into Heroes. Lastly, they should remove some RNG factors from certain maps (e.g. Chest spawn from Blackheart’s/Immortal spawn points from Battlefield of Eternity).

On Playstyle and Practice

You’ve obviously always been a very flexible player. Have you felt that you had a lot of freedom in Heroes of the Storm compared to other games that have very meta top/mid/bot lane Heroes/Champs?

For sure, yes. In League, I played every role except Jungle competitively, mostly because I decided so for myself, but I got “forced” once. In Heroes, I can pretty much play anything—with Support being my worst role, most likely—on a very high level, and I love the freedom I have.

What’s the most difficult part about the Flex role, other than just having to learn lots of Heroes?

You need to have good mechanics and you also need to know how to use them. The shift between melee and ranged Heroes is not easy, because your positioning is different from role to role and Hero to Hero.

Nurok celebrates after a close victory at IEM Katowice

Photo Credit: ESL

You always need to know what to do with your given Hero if you want to be efficient, and that is the hardest part about it, since you have so many different Heroes you must be able to play.

Speaking of lots of Heroes, we’re reaching a point in the metagame where there are a lot of compositions out there and drafting is very complex. Do you feel comfortable in that type of environment or do you prefer environments where you can just perfect a small handful of Heroes?

The wider the Hero pool, the harder it gets, obviously. But as I already mentioned, I love the freedom and, if needed, I would even add Supports to my Hero pool. I see it as a challenge and I just want to win—as long as I don’t have to play Tassadar, it’s fine for me!

In my opinion, Tassadar is very boring to play. Your “playmaking” abilities are very limited, and I don’t like it. I feel like a useless shield bot when playing him.

How do you think the game will evolve as we add more and more Heroes? Do you think we’ll reach a point where we need to add another ban?

At some point there will be an additional ban slot, I am pretty sure about that. But not in the near future, in my opinion. I didn’t do the math, but as far as I know there should be 80+ Heroes for an additional slot. Otherwise, the options might become limited, e.g. people banning support Heroes and thus forcing an early pick.

What do you think about the map pool at the moment? Do we have too many maps? Are there any particularly bad maps?

With the addition of the two new StarCraft maps, there could be a discussion for lowering the pool for competitive play. But I think it’s important [that] not too many maps will be cut, otherwise we might have to play a single map twice in a Bo5 or Bo7 series, which is not that we want for this game, in my opinion. There could be a system similar to CS:GO. At the moment, we have one map ban only at the recent tournaments, but I think it could be improved.

For example, we could play a Bo5, and there are eleven maps in the pool. Each team gets to ban three maps, gets to pick two, and the last remaining map will be played as 5th if needed. Regarding your second question, I hate RNG-based maps, and Blackheart’s and Battlefield are the worst in that regard. I also hate Garden of Terror, but just because it’s Garden and I can’t see [anything] during nighttime.

“[Favorite map is] Definitely the ‘Haunted Mines’, though my team hates this map.” You made this bold statement in a Dignitas interview about a year ago. Do you still believe in the Mines?

I do and I’m looking forward to its comeback! I miss you my beloved map 😦

Gross. Moving on, tell me a little bit about the way you practice. Darkmok mentioned that he just likes to play—a lot. Do you just play constantly too? Or do you sit back and think about the game, analyze replays, etc. more?

It highly depends on my mood and my available free time I have for certain activities. Sometimes I just play constantly like Darkmok and try to get as many games in as possible. On the other side, I watch replays from scrims or tournaments, but not as much as Splendour, for example.

On Heroes Production and Misfits

Do you think the 2016 Heroes circuit was a success? If you could make any changes to it for next year, what would they be?

In terms of competitive fairness and tournament activity it was [a success], but the viewership is really lackluster, in my opinion. I hope Blizzard decides to go for another wave of advertisement/marketing for Heroes in 2017—the game is just a lot more polished now. If I were the Director of Esports for Blizzard, I would think about additional slots for the big regions (NA, EU, KR, CN) and, if that comes through, I’d also discuss a point-system for 2017, which is similar to the WCS Circuit from Starcraft 2. But let’s see what Blizzard’s plans are for the next year.

I agree with you totally. I know missing out on BlizzCon has hit you guys really hard, especially for how hard you worked all year. How supportive has your new organization Misfits been during this period?

Very supportive actually. The staff cheered us up a lot. Also, the Overwatch roster was watching our games and supporting us, but sadly, in the end, it wasn’t meant to be.

Nurok helping his team during draft at Gamescom

Photo Credit: ESL

Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the next year. If my wrist issues will be fixed permanently, I will be even stronger in 2017.

How have you been spending your time off the last week or so? Been visiting with friends and family? Relaxing?

I’m in full sloth-mode: watching movies, relaxing at home, and doing sports regularly—I am a very active sloth—belong to my daily life at the moment.

The Summer season was very one-sided in EU with mYi and Dignitas basically dominating every tournament, but the Fall season has been much rockier. Do you think that’s because the scene is stabilizing and finally settling down after the great Rosterpocalypse™ during the Spring season?

For sure, yes. For example, Fnatic worked very hard to claim that BlizzCon spot in the end. They played very well. Also, some other upcoming teams in the European scene like Mopsio’s team ExcelenteEleccion or The Jabronis looked pretty solid. They just have to get comfortable on stage and then they will do even better.

On the other side, I think it was also our fault that we dropped off a bit. We had a very awful tournament in Spain because we wanted to adjust our playstyle, but we didn’t have enough time to make [progress?]. At Gamescom, we played pretty well overall, but eventually we did very stupid mistakes and got punished for those.

As much as I would hate for the any sort of roster changes to occur, it’s statistically very, very unlikely for the (Misfits) team to stick together forever. Do you see any roster changes on the horizon or is the team still content with its members?

As long as all five of us are motivated and we have the same aims, we will be fine, I think. There are a couple of teams from other games which have been together for a very long time—like Virtus Pro [in] CS:GO—and I do not see a breakup in near future, unless some of them retires.

On Personal Life and The Future

What are some of your interests outside of gaming?

I like to chill and watch movies, do some sports, or have a nice night out with friends. To my own doom, I [dug] out my old Warhammer figures, so I might start collecting again. <.<

Do you see yourself continuing as a progamer for the next few years? Have you ever thought about a future outside of esports?

Yes and yes, but to be honest, I’m not a human being who would want to live with a normal day job. I love esports, I love visiting places around the world, and I love participating (as a player or whatever) at tournaments. So if I’d retire at some point, I would try hard to remain in the scene.

Nurok at Gamescom

Photo Credit: ESL

Do you have any shoutouts or words for your fans?

I would like to thank our organization Misfits and its sponsors for their support. It has been great so far, and I will be happy representing your brand in 2017! Also, I would like to do a shoutout to all our supporters throughout this year, we will try to do our best in the next year, keep cheering for us :).

Wrap-up

Fun time. What’s the worst Hero that Blizzard could introduce into Heroes of the Storm and why? (Literally any reason you’d like)

Any RNG-based Hero (e.g. Ogre Magi from Dota 2) is bad for the health of a game, seriously [screw] RNG.

If you’re stranded on a deserted island with no food and one BlizzHeroes character, who would you pick and why?

I’d pick Medivh as my mate, so he could place a portal and teleport us out!

Good answer. Final question: Alliance or Horde? Mystic or Valor?

Horde and Team Instinct 😉

You’re the worst.


EsportsJohn is on Team Valor, which, as everyone knows, is the superior team. Are you on Valor? You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

The Conquest of LatAm: Interview with Typhex

 

Typhex Headshot

Minor regions, in general, tend to get a reputation for being weak or uninteresting, especially when it’s in a language we don’t understand. We’re quick to write off the teams and players without giving them fair trial or recognizing the talent that’s there. In most cases, we don’t even look at them at all until we get to Globals and there are some guys we don’t recognize.

Part of my ongoing quest with these interviews is to bring the players, their motivation, and their talent to the forefront of the scene. Big Gods piqued my interest during the Spring Global Championship, and, as I’ve watched more and more of their games and interacted with the team on Twitter, I’ve grown more appreciative of their deep knowledge and unrivaled skill in the region.

That said, I was extraordinarily happy to sit down with Typhex for an hour via Twitter DM and talk about Big Gods and the Latin American region. Typhex and the core of the team have won every single championship in Latin America all the way back to BlizzCon 2015 qualifiers, unquestionably staking their ground as the best team in LatAm. Like me, Typhex also shares a passion for giving minor regions more exposure and improving the scene, a passion which he is very vocal about over social media.

On Big Gods

First of all, can you give me a brief introduction to Big Gods—who you are, how long you’ve been together, etc.?

I’m Typhex, Captain/shotcaller for Big Gods. My main role is Tank, but I also play as Melee/bruiser.

Most of the players in the team [have been] together for around 15 months, and we have been winning everything in LatAm since we got together.

Haha, you’ve been winning everything, hmm? Do you think you’re the best team because you have that history together or because you’re just the best individual players?

At first, for sure was because we were better individually because, when we got together—Me(Typhex), Vieira and Murizz—we got results instantly, but after a while we got a really good synergy, and now days, I feel like we are better [in] every sense of the game in our region, which isn’t enough sadly.

Who would you say is the playmaker on the team?

Well, that depends what playmaker means to you. The guy [that] initiates stuff? Or the one that does the most “Highlights”?

Yeah, the guy who gets the most “highlights” :p

It’s really hard to say one name like, since everyone does their part most of the time. Probably Muriz, he’s really good mechanically and has a good understanding of the game, and he also plays Greymane, Li-Ming.

Gotcha. How does the team do Hero picks? Do you have one guy who basically decides what to pick or is a group effort?

We try to do it together, but most of the time I’m the one deciding, and they try to give me tips just in case I miss something and they see it.

In general, Big Gods has a very aggressive playstyle. You guys run dive comps and double/triple tank compositions a lot. Is that a stylistic thing that comes from the players or do you think it’s just the best way to play the metagame at the moment?

Well that depends. If you saw us only in the DreamHack Summer [Championship], you’d surely think we are really crazy. I could say we are, for sure, aggressive, but [at] DHS, we kind of overdid it because we made a role swap before going there. Beto was playing in a another team as tank, and he just came in and we didn’t really have enough time to get the synergy going on for an event of that level. And since I’m the shotcaller and I’m used to playing as a Tank, I was always calling out people [out] of position, but sometimes it backfired because he wasn’t as fast and the team wasn’t following him as they used to do with me.

Typhex onstage

Photo Credit: DreamHack

And as a tank, I think you need to be making those decisions yourself. You can’t be getting calls for pick offs, since the delay [that] communication brings is just too much for HotS.

I watched a little bit of Copa America where you ran the triple tank with Tyrael/Sonya/E.T.C., I believe.

Oh, we just did it because it was the best comp we could’ve gotten that game, but I guess it does fit as aggressive :D.

On Latin America

Let’s talk about the region as a whole now. For those who aren’t very familiar with Latin America, what is the structure for qualifiers? It looks like you have a North Region, South Region, and Brazil qualifiers?

Well that is basically it. You have open qualifiers separated into three “sub regions”—North, South and Brazil—and only one team goes through the qualifiers from each region, and each season they bring one additional team from one of the regions: Spring was two South teams, Summer two North Teams, and now in Fall we got two Brazilian teams!

I hope that this format changes for next year, because it’s really killing the scene in Brazil and South America.

Why do you say that?

The prize pool is divided in 3 regions, and it is giving the “North” and “South” teams an easy time to qualify for the regional since they don’t have to face the Brazilian teams, who are better overall.

Ah I see. So out of curiosity, what other players or teams are good in LatAm besides the guys on Big Gods?

Infamous Gaming from the North Region is good, INTZ from Brazil and Kaos Latin Gamers. They are all close to the same level, but I feel like they need more experience/knowledge in the game to get close to us .

Kaos Latin Gamers [is] from South Region.

On Improving the Region

You’ve ranted on Twitter about how much you hate the LatAm servers. Do you think the region would be better in skill/experience if they played more often with NA players?

Surely it would help, both for competitive and ranked players, but since the server US10 (hosted in US East) got removed, we can’t really play in NA, since 180 ping.

Ah I see. Is there anything else that might help the region develop talent better?

Fixing the matchmaking, since most of the time it seems to not work properly, making two different games for players of the same rank, putting them in two unbalanced games.

End the qualifiers division [of] South, North, Brazil and make more tournaments.

What can Blizzard do to help promote or advertise the scene? How can the community help?

For the community, all I ask is to watch Tournaments and pro stream. There is a lot to learn in those and, by doing that, you are really helping the scene. [Also?], talk about it with their in-game friends.

Typhex Interview

Typhex is passionate about growing the LatAm region and drawing more exposure to the talent there. Photo Credit: DreamHack

Now from Blizzard…minor regions need the attention and advertisement that major regions get. I feel like a lot of people in South America don’t watch the tournaments because they don’t even know that its happening, like do posts from the minor regions in the HeroesEsports page, in battle.net, and in-game background just like they do for the major regions. It’s the basic stuff that sometimes is just forgotten.

Well said. I’m sure we could talk forever about game, the scene, Blizzard’s plans, etc., but I’m gonna wrap it up in the interest of time. Last question: Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any shoutouts for friends, players, or sponsors? 😀

So I guess that is it. Thanks for the intervew, Chris, means alot for me and our scene overall, and make sure to watch the latam regional at: http://www.twitch.tv/copaamerica_pt1.

Dates are: September 3 and September 4

If any English-speaking casters want to cast the games for English-speaking viewers just DM me on Twitter and I can help with that, I guess. [Typhex and I are working together with community casters to make this a possibility; contact me if you’re interested!]

Finally, shoutouts to my teammates Murizz, Vieira, jschritte and betogg.
Thank you again Chris!


At the end of the interview, Typhex also informed me that the team is leaving the Big Gods organization this season. The future is uncertain for the team, but Typhex hinted that they may spend a season in NA next year if they make it to BlizzCon again.

“[A]s far as I can see, we would probably [be] getting into top 3 in NA [at] our current level,” he commented, clearly confident in the team’s abilities. He also believes the team has plenty of room to grow, adding that “…we would get a lot better with frequent scrims in NA.”

Keep an eye out for the Brazilian boys, and never underestimate the minor regions!

Typhex
beto
Vieira
JSchritte
Muriz


EsportsJohn is passionate about global esports becoming a reality, and you can be too. You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

How to Go to College

UGA Arch

Photo Credit: athensbusiness.org

Let’s start with the meat of this topic. If you’re a good learner and a self-starter, you don’t need to go to college. In fact, it can be more beneficial for you to avoid college altogether. However, it’s important to recognize the resources that colleges can provide for you and learn how to take advantage of it for your own benefit.

My advice: Pay for one semester at a large college or university, and then reap the benefits of being a student forever.

There are a lot of perks to living next to a university. Learn how to utilize them and jumpstart your own education without having to rely on a strict programme of material or a punitive system of reward/punishment.

How I Failed at College

First of all, I’ll be honest: I never finished college. I originally entered college as a music major (piano primary). I wasn’t bad. I auditioned at a few different schools, was accepted at all of them, but ended up going to the University of Georgia.

Suffice it say that school has never been a strong suit of mine. I strongly dislike being told what to learn, and I get easily frustrated when I’m required to learn material I have no interest for. I went through a plethora of music-related majors trying to find what worked best for me—composition, music therapy, and performance—but in the end, I found myself more and more estranged from the path I was seeking: to imagine and write beautiful music that could change lives.

After that, I took a two year break to recoup some of my financial losses and get a fresh head. When I finally went back to school, I decided on English, which felt like a step in the right direction. That’s when I learned how much I hated writing. Ironic, right?

Park Hall Steps

The steps leading up to Park Hall, where I spent most of my time as an English major. Photo credit: AJC.

The long story short: I decided I didn’t like college. It’s just not for me. It’s been nothing but a money sink that’s caused me nothing but perturbation and stress over the years. I’ve had long bouts of depression linked to my schoolwork, and I’ve discovered that I just can’t do it anymore.

The Perks of Having a Student ID

This is where it gets good. Despite my eventual departure from university courses, the campus is still a big part of my life. I still drive through campus every day; it’s an important place in Athens.

That said, there’s a lot of resources at your disposal once you get a student ID and/or familiarize yourself with campus. Perhaps the biggest perk is that I have access to every single educational resource within UGA’s four campus libraries (plus lent books to other colleges/universities from all over the state) as well as its online system of books, journals, and newspapers. There is literally more information on one floor of the Main Library than any one person could ever read or learn.

Student IDs are rarely discontinued, especially at large universities, so you can often use yours long after you’ve graduated/left the university. If I want to read a book on journalism, I can go check it out with my student ID; even if my student ID is outdated, I can still make daily trips to the library to read and study.

UGA Main Library

The UGA Main Library holds one of the largest collections of books in the country.

There are also unexpected surprises—access to tools and software you wouldn’t be able to use at home. The public computers on campus have Matlab loaded on all of them. The music school has MIDI controllers and all sorts of composition software. Even if you’re not a student anymore, you can still go in and make music. All it requires is a student ID number + password, which can potentially be maintained indefinitely by resetting your password every six months.

The second biggest perk is private study areas, free wi-fi, and access to other people’s opinions and thoughts. There are tons of extracurricular groups to keep your mind sharp and pique your interests, even if you’re not a student.

Sometimes dorms are off-limits without special access, but in any case, it’s easy to find quiet nooks where no one will bother you.

Oh, did I mention the Health Center and world class Athletic Center that are open to the public? (BTW, former UGA students scored 8 Olympic medals in Rio).

An Ideal Education

For me, nothing in the world beats this sort of education. It’s a chance for me to work on my own topics at my own pace with nearly limitless resources. I’m sure I still haven’t even found everything available to me, but it’s already more than I think I could ever use.

UGA Miller Learning Center

Walking alongside others, but on your own path. That’s the dream. Photo credit: onlineathens.com

This is something I wish I had done years ago before I had accrued thousands of dollars in debt and put myself through a grueling gauntlet of success and failure in the scholastic world.

I think the main thing to draw from my story is that a traditional education is not for everyone. Having a Bachelor’s Degree that officially states that you know things is nice for credentials, but often it means very little compared to relevant experience and depth of knowledge, especially in the realm of esports and content creation.

Man on a Mission: An Interview with Khaldor

Khaldor Behind the Scenes

Photo Credit: DreamHack

If you don’t know who Khaldor is, you probably haven’t been in esports very long. The man has a list of esports contributions a mile long ranging across an entire decade, from tournament admin to caster to streamer. He’s primarily known for his StarCraft II debut in the GSL, and now for his involvement in Heroes of the Storm, though he has casted several other games including Warcraft 3, FIFA, and Dota 2.

I was lucky enough to sit down and have a Skype chat with him about his career, his casting, and his current thoughts on Heroes of the Storm. Part 1 will cover some of his history in esports—it’s impossible to cover it all in one interview—and his motivation for doing the work that he does.

On Casting Career

Before you ever became a caster, you were managing a web site and a WC3 team (4k). When was the moment that you knew you wanted to become a caster? Or have you just pretty much always wanted to do it?

It was more of a coincidence to be honest ^^. Back in the days of WarCraft 3, we did only radio-broadcasts, and even those were very infrequent. Videostreams were more or less unheard of and only used at big offline events. With radio-broadcasts every 2-3 weeks, it was a pretty big deal when a weekly tournament could announce live coverage for one of their cups. I was involved as the webmaster of a WarCraft III website back then and also helped out as an admin during the cups. One day one of the casters got sick, but, as the broadcast was already announced and people were super excited for it, the organizers were looking for a replacement. I offered to do it if someone could help me with the technical side and we were able to fix it just in time for the tournament start. I didn’t even know if people could actually hear me or not when I started :D. Turned out they could and people seemed to enjoy the show quite a lot. From that point on, I broadcasted those tournaments regularly. I really enjoyed myself casting tournaments and, in the years to come, I sacrificed tons of weekends and time growing the esports scene in Europe and casting online and offline tournaments in my free time :).

Awesome. That’s such a cool story. I understand back then you casted in German. Later on you obviously transitioned into English casting. For someone like me who is not multilingual, that sounds insanely difficult to do. What do you think the most difficult part of that transition was?

The most difficult part is that, no matter how good you are at speaking a second language, you will always have a more limited vocabulary as [than?] a native english speaker. Especially when you are trying to make puns or just try to make the commentary a bit more colorful, that can be a problem. There’s a lot of situations where I want to joke about a situation in the game and I know the perfect anecdote or pun in German, but I’m unsure if it translates properly into English. So it can be a bit difficult for sure at times. It’s also a lot harder to commentate in English (especially when you do a solo stream) than to have a normal conversation with a friend. There’s so much stuff happening in a game that you have to be able to speak fast and be on point with what you say. I think it was more of a problem for me when I first made the switch, but now I’m very comfortable commentating in a second language, but it was definitely a challenge at the start.

One of the things I remember clearly from your GSL days were the over-the-shoulder videos you did of players so that viewers could see their hands and the way they moved their mouse. What was the inspiration behind this? Do you think this was a successful set of videos?

Haha yeah, those were quite a bit of fun ^^. There are some pretty funny pictures out there where I recorded a few of the videos and some of the Korean editors photoshopped me into a Lion King Meme :D. I think the series was super interesting for most people that are interested in StarCraft.

I really wanted to show people how fast players are when they are playing the game and especially the Korean players were super impressive. I had the idea during the Qualifiers for Code A because it’s such a great opportunity to record extra content. The players were extremely nice when asked about it and I remember that one of the first players that I recorded was SlayersBoxer, a living legend. I have to admit though that it hurt like crazy standing there for 30-40 minutes at times, holding that camera over their heads haha :D. Totally worth it though, I still go back and occasionally watch some of the videos with Losira or Flash.

Oh god, the Losira hands hahaha!

The King of APM 😉

During the first six months or so of Heroes, we didn’t really see you casting much at live events, just qualifiers and online events. Was this your own choice or were you just not given the opportunities at the time?

I casted actually quite a lot of offline events during that time, but most of them were not official Blizzard events. It was a bit of a rough time for sure, and not being part of the official circuit was definitely disappointing and at first very demotivating. But in the end I decided that all I could do was focus on my own work and keep doing what I do. I’m happy that it all worked out and that I’m now a part of every major event in Europe, and I’ll make sure to continue improving to keep it that way ; ).

Now that you’ve casted all three games—WC3, SC2, and Heroes—which game have you enjoyed casting the most?

I don’t really have a favorite. Every single one of these games is different, not only as a game but also in regards to its community. I have very good memories casting all three games and haven’t regretted the decision to become a full time caster as a result. There’s just epic moments that you will always remember and I have those with all of the games I casted.

Khaldor Casting

Photo Credit: ESL

I have to admit though that it’ll be a special day for me when Blizzard finally hears my prayers and announces WarCraft IV ;). That series is what started it all, so it’ll always have a special place in my heart!

Are there any other games you’ve thought about casting? Or are you just a Blizzard fanboy for life?

Oh, I casted quite a few other games actually. Mostly when commentating at the World Cyber Games. Two examples would be FIFA and Dota 2. But in the end, I’m a person that focuses on one main game, and I’ve always been a fan of Blizzard’s games.

I actually had no clue about that. The list of stuff you’ve done in esports grows longer….

Haha, you’d be surprised. I’m pretty sure you also didn’t know that back in WarCraft III, I was actually the Supervisor of one of the biggest WarCraft III leagues in Europe, the NGL ONE. And also heading “GameSports”, an Esports project where we were training new commentators. I always liked to be involved in the scene and try to grow Esports. It’s always been my passion and it’s how all of this started for me.

On Motivation and Determination

You’re well known for casting insane hours for qualifiers and such, sometimes almost 24 hours straight. What’s motivates you to do this sort of thing?

It’s fun :P. I enjoy casting and I also want to promote the scene, the teams and the players. I have no problem casting two tournaments back to back if I can achieve that, and I simply love casting the games that I care for. As a general rule, I will always try to cast as much as I can. I have no intentions of focusing only on offline events. I think that the online tournaments, especially the qualifiers, are incredibly important, and casting a lot helps me also to get to know the teams and their style. The amount of hours I’ve spent casting online tournaments is, in my opinion, one of the main reasons why I know so much about the players and even minor teams.

In Korea, for example, I’d cast European StarCraft tournaments simply because I enjoyed it and because I did not want to lose touch with the European scene while I was living in Korea. That meant casting from 1am to 7am in the morning. It was exhausting but it was also a lot of fun and very rewarding. I don’t think I’d ever give up the online casting part. I enjoy it way too much.

The community jokes a lot about your muscles, but I think physical fitness is actually a tell for industrious people. Would you say your approach to a physical routine reflects your approach to your work? Or are those just two completely separate parts of your life? :p

For me, sport is a way to balance out the time I spend at my computer. I’ve always been doing a lot of sports, ever since I was a child, and it has become a big part of my life. I spend nearly my entire day at my computer playing the game, watching scrims, talking to admins and players or casting tournaments. I need something that allows me a certain balance. For me, working out is relaxing because it’s an opportunity for me to simply shut out everything else, not think about the next tournament or broadcast, and simply focus on something completely different.

Casters often get a lot of dirt thrown at them. In the face of criticism, you often stand your ground when somebody says something stupid. How do you keep your inner compass from interfering with meaningful advice?

Haha, good question actually ;). I think it’s pretty much known that I am very outspoken and not necessarily the most politically correct person :P. I have strong opinions, and I think it’s one of my best qualities since it also motivates me to do a lot of the things I do. At the same time, I have to admit though that it’s also a weakness since I react to too many outside influences and sometimes go overboard. I believe that it got a lot better in the past year and that it’s easier for me now to ignore a lot of the trolls and unfounded criticism, but it has been a problem for sure.

Khaldor and Kaelaris

Photo Credit: DreamHack

At the same time, though, I think it’s important to stand your ground when faced with ignorance or stupidity. One of the problems in our society is that people are afraid to have opinions these days. Everybody wants to be politically correct and nobody wants to take a stand anymore. Finding a balance is difficult, but I feel it’s important as a “figure” within a community to also address problems that need to be fixed. It’s very easy to be the nice guy, but it won’t really help to improve things. It’s a really interesting dynamic and could probably fill an entire interview by itself :D. To come back to your original question though: a lot of advice that one receives on the Internet is well meant but oftentimes useless because people don’t know why someone is doing certain things. If someone has a point, though, I usually talk it through with friends that listen to my casting and ask them about their take on it and if it’s something that I should address or not. It’s very helpful to have friends inside and outside the Esports bubble that can give you their opinion on such things and offer maybe even a new perspective and therefore help you to improve.

Wrapping Up

In a 2011 interview, you said you would have to make a decision between esports or returning to a “normal” job after your time at GSL. Has esports been the right decision for you?

Yes, it was definitely the right choice. Moving back from Korea, I wanted to focus more on my own channels on YouTube and Twitch to make sure that I’m not completely dependent on a company like GomTV / ESL / Dreamhack in the long run. I’d still consider to work for one of the big Esports companies, but I’d always make sure that I can maintain my own channels. I’m quite happy with the way that things are going and didn’t regret going fulltime in Esports at all. It’s a lot of fun and a very exciting job. The pay might not be as good as with a normal job, but I would not want to miss it :). I plan on staying in Esports for as long as people still enjoy my commentary :).


EsportsJohn is obsessed with space and loved watching the NASA Spacewalk yesterday. You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

Always on the Rise: aPm Interview

aPm onstage

I recently tried to get in touch with Francis “aPm” Gilbert-Brodeur to get an interview before Denial eSports took to the big stage Burbank. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out. But, we’ve caught up to bring you some post-tournament chat.

aPm (formerly known as MATRE) is a talented Support player who has been skirting the edges of top competitive play in Heroes of the Storm for a while. He’s best known for his aggressive playstyle and reliability as a teammate, and has an excellent informative stream.

On Teams and Team History

Many people probably don’t recognize you from Goon Squad Inc, one of the dark horses from the HWC qualifiers last year. Can you tell me a little bit about that roster and your success on the team?

Goon Squad was my first team. I found Hosty and GOAT in HL, and they picked me up for their team. We really started from the bottom and grinded to be able to get top 8 in [the] NA Regional last year. Roster was me/Hosty/GOAT/Goku/BOSSFLOSS. Four of those players still play in high competitive, and I’m really happy to see everyone be at the top—especially Hosty and GOAT, who just performed really well at their first LAN event with Vox Nihili.

After that, Team Higher Consciousness/Team Name Change has obviously been where you’ve spent most of your time recently. Did you expect that team to make it as far as they have in the NA scene?

Thr first time we qualified for regionals with that team (DreamHack Austin), me and Prismaticism joined the team one day before the event. Me and prisma were playing with PPST before, and Srey decided to leave the team to play with Blaze the night before. I knew Justing and Buds [from] before and asked them if they had room for me and prisma since we had no team anymore. The day we qualified was really special for me because it was my first LAN, and we had no practice together, so there was no expectation. After that day, I realized that this team had a lot of potential, and I’m not surprised to see them getting better placement in the next LAN.

How did you end up playing with k1pro and KingCaffeine on Crescendo?

They offered me a tryout, and I made the team.

Oh. So you didn’t know them much beforehand? Or…do all top NA pros know each other?

I played with them a little bit in SEL and met them at Texas for the first time—it was a really good time to meet every player.

Obviously, you guys have some exceptional players and great synergy. Did the team expect to smash the first qualifier for Burbank so hard?

We did not do that great in the qualifier :P.

I mean, it’s the most stacked one, and you guys came out on top looking strong, so… :p. At the regional event, Denial ended up doing a lot worse than expected. I hope it’s not too soon, but I’m just curious what you think the issue was.

We obviously didn’t play at our top potential at Burbank. Murlocs was the better team and they played better than us. That was a good wakeup call for everyone and I cannot wait to play at PAX.

Would you say that the Murlocs were the most surprising team at the event?

I dont think so. Vox was, for me, the most impressive team by far, not because of their player quality but because it was the first LAN as a team, and they did pretty good. I respect every player on Murlocs.

Denial watching replay

People that just watch the game and [don’t] play with/against the player cannot see what they really give to a team. Just the fact that they have less attention doesn’t mean that they are weaker player.

On Playstyle

You played a lot of Kharazim during the qualifier for Burbank. How would you gauge his overall power among supports right now? Are there any other supports you prefer?

Kharazim is really situational pick for Support. he can play really aggressive and help the front line because of is Q escape mechanic. He is stronger against poke comps and stronger on certain maps too. My favorite Support to play is Rehgar, but I just like to play the best Support possible in the best situation possible.

Gotcha. I’ve seen you play a bit of Brightwing on stream too. Were you practicing that now that she’s slowly creeping back into the meta or just having some fun?

I was probably practicing Emerald Wind since I feel like it’s good now, and it was never picked before, so I had low [amounts of] practice on it.

Have you had a chance to play Auriel yet? Do you think you’ll get to play her in competitive?

I played her, and she felt really strong in low tier games. I haven’t played her yet in scrim, but I feel like she is gonna be a situational pick because she doesn’t have Cleanse. I still think that she is gonna get picked a lot because [her] numbers/cooldowns are too good right now.

Double tank is back in vogue now (kind of). Do you think it’s easier to play with those sort of compositions as a Support player since everyone’s a little beefier?

Not really, it doesn’t affect Support play. You still need to be vocal and clutch on your big cooldown.

That makes sense. Has it been easy to adjust to the recent minion changes? Do you feel comfortable with drafts in the new metagame?

Ya, we adjusted to minion change really quick, but I don’t like the PvE aspect of the game, so I don’t like it. We had miss[ed?] certain draft at Burbank, and I feel that we understand more the draft now and we are gonna be more prepared for next LAN since we have HandleBars, who is gonna help us a lot with analyst stuff.

On Personal Life

Some professional gamers have continued to attend college while simultaneously competing (like MichaelUdall) and some have skipped college altogether to pursue their dreams. Which camp are you in?

I left university a couple month ago because I had a really good job opportunity. I’m almost done a Master’s in Management/Marketing and working for a Bank company [called] Desjardins. Its a lot of sacrifice to do esports and work, but I can do it without sacrificing my focus on the game. I wouldn’t let something affect my gameplay since I want to be the best myself and as a team.

Excellent. That’s a really hard line to balance. Lot of respect for that.

Ya, working 7h + scrimming 6h ;p.

Yeah nope LOL—but seriously, that’s impressive. You also stream occasionally when you’re not scrimming or competing. What do you enjoy most about streaming?

I just enjoy helping people that want to get better and come to my stream and ask me questions about gameplay. That’s really what I like the most, helping someone that can take criticism and wants to get better.

Anything else (general, playstyle, metagame, future plans, w/e) you want to add?

I’m sorry for our fans for our performance at Burbank. Everyone in the team is super motivated, and we will do everything we can to be the best at PAX….we will be the best at PAX.

Any particular shoutouts?

Shoutout to Denial eSports, who its really great to work with them and make sure everything is ok for us and help us to only focus on the game. Shoutout to my girlfriend Laurie who understands my sacrifice since I’m really busy lately :).


EsportsJohn is like a wild west gunslinger…only much lamer because he uses words and interviews instead of guns. You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

Equinox Interview Part III: Playstyle and Future Plans

Equinox Spirit Hood

Jon “Equinox” Peterson is a talented Heroes of the the Storm player who has played at the top of the scene for over a year. He’s well known for his incredible prowess on melee assassins such as Kerrigan and Illidan, and often assumes the role of shotcaller on his teams.

I recently sat down with Equinox to talk about his HotS career and some of the things he’s learned from progaming. Part III is all about his thoughts on the recent NA Regional in Burbank and the direction of the game as well as his future plans as a progamer.

On the NA Regional in Burbank

First of all, let’s talk about the NA Regional last weekend. Your former team Murloc Geniuses won their first tournament ever. How do you feel about that?

Overall happy for them. Nice to see people who have been working hard succeed. Doesn’t really affect me much that I left and they ended up winning, is what it is.

Mostly happy for Jun since it’s his first LAN and he had that level of success.

Yeah, a lot of people are really complimenting him for his outstanding play. After watching the tournament, do you think he’s one of the absolute best Supports in NA too?

I think he is. However, it mostly depends how consistent he ends up being in tourney play and how the rosters do after they settle down.

There were a lot of impressive showings overall by “lesser” teams at Burbank (Vox Nihili and Murloc Geniuses, in particular), but the “bigger” teams struggled. Why do you think that happened? Was there a weird shift in the metagame from qualifiers?

Naventic overall looked very strong up until they went against GFE, who beat them with Tracer. Honestly, if Naventic didn’t lose that series, they would have most likely won the entire tournament just because they wouldn’t have to deal with stuff they aren’t used to. I feel like GFE just tries to be different too hard instead of drafting what’s best and fits to their strengths the most. They have good players who can play standard, so I feel like if they just stick to what they’re good at and use the off-meta picks at the right time, then they’ll be a much better team.

What about Denial eSports? A team with k1pro, KingCaffeine, and Glaurung seems pretty intimidating on paper, but they had a lukewarm performance at best.

You saw in all three of their series that people did the same strat against them: ban/pick away three Heroes that people know Glaurung plays and just abuse that weak point. Also Prismat had a really weird performance—was really good or just really bad. Like, that Tomb game, he was just ripping silences on nothing before the fight even really started, so idk what’s up with that. They need to be comfortable on LAN and also expand their Hero pools because, just judging off draft, people figured them out pretty quickly.

I see. Do you think the overall quality of games in NA is better, worse, or the same as last season? How about last year’s?

Quality of games? Definitely worse. I think that has a lot to do with how new most of the rosters are, to be honest. You aren’t gonna have really good games when a majority of the rosters are brand new—a lot of bad decisions and throws were very common. That will get fixed with time though, as long as people stay together.

Compared to last year’s regional, I think the game is just on another level from that point. The teams were a lot closer than last year, and the top 3 teams don’t have a solidified spot like last year.

So Rosterpocalypse™ is for sure a bad thing.

I think it’s a good thing IF people stay together. The teams seem to have more potential with the new rosters but less immediate results. I think it’ll be a really bad thing if people continue to change rosters.

On Playstyle and the Metagame

For a long time, many argued that you had a “one-trick pony” style of play (AKA Kerrigan or bust :p). How would you describe your playstyle?

I just like playing aggressive Heroes. Tracer, Kerrigan, Sonya, Illidan, Thrall, any of the fight oriented tanks—stuff like that. However, I can also play passive Heroes well if we build our comp around stuff like split-pushing and poke because that’s how you shotcall those comps.

Kerrigan

Art Credit: Blizzard

I wouldn’t want to say calculated aggression is what I do, just mostly whatever I think the right decision is in the current circumstances. Like, if I see a pick on Tracer, I’m gonna go for it even in the middle of 5 people cause I know I can pull it off.

Interesting. I know I tend to be a very safe player, so pairing me with hyper-aggressive players somehow tends to balance things out. What sort of players do you synergize best with?

Ranged who have good comms, know when to make plays, and are strong laners. A front line that’s vocal (tank + support) who know when to listen but also know what they’re doing on their own (AKA good game sense).

When a new Hero or map comes out, how do you approach learning it? Do you just play it a bunch or do you think carefully about it outside of the game?

Both. Whenever a new Hero comes out, even one that I won’t be playing, I spam it when I can. Auriel, for example, I’ve played a lot of her so I know how to play against her when the time comes. A lot of the game is about knowing how to play against certain Heroes and what those Heroes’ win conditions are. Maps are a bit tricky. You have to just play them a lot and think about it to become really good at those maps. What rotations work optimally, what Hero abuses the map mechanics the best, and what Heroes benefit from the landscape of the map.

The Scaling Changes were obviously the biggest change in the history of Heroes. Do you think they’ve impacted the game positively?

They did for sure. They lowered the gap between scaling of early and late game Heroes so you aren’t like forced between late game draft and early game draft. Every comp has their power spikes, but they can do fine in early game if played correctly, which was a huge problem before the scaling changes.

The recent minion changes are arguably the second most important change to the game. What do you think about those?

Good and bad. It punishes low map awareness and not clearing your lanes but also makes keeps that more valuable and push Heroes that [much] more valuable. I think it increases the diversity of the Heroes that are good in the current meta, so overall it’s a good change.

On Future Plans

Excellent. Moving on, let’s talk about your future plans. I know this is the most anticipated part of the interview for both myself and the community. You quit competitive Heroes (again) but…did you really? You’ve been dropping some hints lately that you want back in.

No I didn’t quit completely yet. I plan on competing at PAX and hopefully BlizzCon. We’ll see what happens after PAX though.

I’d like to continue competing because that’s the part of the game I really enjoy doing. I still hate Hero League though. However, I have an idea to make it more enjoyable for the time being.

Oh yeah, what idea is that?

Stream, play on smurfs more and do like X Hero to Grandmaster streams so I’m getting practice on Heroes I want and also having fun at the same time.

I see. So it sounds like you’ll be doing quite a bit of streaming. Have you thought about coaching or casting or anything like that?

I did coach for a little bit before the regionals that just passed. I thought about doing it and I’d still like to do it if I end up not playing again.

Are you planning on joining back up with the Murlocs or just looking for a team wherever?

Have a team in mind already. Not Murlocs though, don’t think they’ll be needing anyone for quite awhile.

Random question, but did you ever consider going into Overwatch at all during your “retirement”?

I did, but I’ve been out of FPS games for so long, it’d take quite awhile to get back into them.

Wrap-up

What would you say is the most important factor to being a really good player?

Learning from your mistakes and being objective about your play. There’s always something you can learn from even if you win everything. Always strive to improve and never get complacent.

To some degree, that “hard work” is difficult to see in professional gaming. What are some of the ways you think we (as fans) can fix the stereotype that gamers are lazy and/or don’t work hard?

I mean, just the fans realizing what hard work in gaming actually is. It’s just an ignorance about what that term means. People who do actually work hard at being a pro gamer scrim/practice 10-12 [hours] or more a day.

Equinox Interview

Photo Credit: ESL

Also, putting in the extra time to study macro play and draft is something that shows someone really works hard.

What’s the best thing that fans can do to support a player or team they love?

Cheer for them regardless of results. Support through thick and thin is a massive motivation.

Any other shoutouts you’d like to make? Anything else you’d like to add?

Shoutouts, hmm. Guess I’ll start with people who have supported me through all the shit that’s gone on and the whole contract thing. Even 1-2 people supporting you does mean a lot. Personal shoutouts probably start with Cauthon/Fury as players—they both made me a better player over the time I had playing with them and definitely wouldn’t be the same without them. Coach wise, Vaalia was probably the biggest impact on me as a player. A different perspective on things made me improve a lot more, not just in personal play, but macro decisions and drafting as well.

Other thing I’d like to add is Blizzard please make a new Kerrigan skin. It’s been well over a year since Kerrigan’s last skin.


EsportsJohn is operation cwal. You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

Equinox Interview Part II: Looking Back

Equinox Spirit Hood

Jon “Equinox” Peterson is a talented Heroes of the the Storm player who has played at the top of the scene for over a year. He’s well known for his incredible prowess on melee assassins such as Kerrigan and Illidan, and often assumes the role of shotcaller on his teams.

I recently sat down with Equinox to talk about his HotS career and some of the things he’s learned from progaming. Part II features Equinox looking back on his HotS career and the people he’s met along the way.

On Murloc Geniuses

MG was obviously the highlight of your career. The Murlocs were together longer than any other team without any huge roster changes (mYi may have overtaken that title as of now). Do you think that the synergy you guys built up was strong and healthy?

The synergy we built up was healthy. We all had a lot of trust in each other for the majority of the time we spent together, just kind of got shaky near the end of our time together. Around the December-January timeline, it wasn’t going over too well; scrims weren’t that productive, and people lost faith in a couple of players on the team. So the trust didn’t stay forever, but we kept it until after Heroes Rising, then the team ended up disbanding and Cauthon/Faye went to COG.

Zeveron? Or do we not speak of that?

Zeveron was a pretty interesting situation. We were doing well going into it initially, and after we lost to Tempo Storm in WCA semis, the trust that initially was had in us from the owner was thrown out the window. Got worse and worse as time went on. He’d constantly shit talk us to managers/coaches of other teams as well as tell us personally that he didn’t believe we were a good team.

Equinox Spirit Hood

 

We ended up going through a slump from the end of June all the way through July and decided as a team we didn’t want to be apart of the org anymore. Also because a Reddit thread of all the shady shit that the dude has done in the past popped up, which further cemented our decision. Not exactly the luckiest with orgs, so I lost a lot of faith in ones going into the future.

Some of the friendships you forged on MG were obviously tested during the team split at the very end. Did you ever reform those bonds?

I believe I’m still friends with everyone on the team—maybe not nearly as close but don’t think there’s any bad blood anywhere. As far as everyone else, idk if everyone’s still friends with each other.

The basic formula of MG drafts was: 1) get Fury a good tank, 2) grab some strong, well-rounded Heroes, and 3) put Equinox on a hyper carry. Do you think this formula was exploited by other teams? Did you ever discuss changing drafting strategies much?

That was our basic draft strat. A lot of our success actually came from some of the different things we tried—stuff like Vikings/Sylv split push, no tank Illidan and no tank Kerrigan w/ Vikings. A lot of crazy strats that we practiced and perfected but never ended up getting a chance to run due to Kerrigan being permabanned.

Murloc Geniuses Interviews

The Murlocs answer questions at the Americas Championship.

I think our biggest issue was just not being able to close out games vs the top 3 teams. We’d always get so close then throw once or twice and lose. Overall, our draft wasn’t exploited too much unless we just fucked it up ourselves.

Why do you think it was so difficult for MG to close out games against the top teams?

The biggest thing was just not realizing the gravity of late game. We’d always take a bad teamfight, get caught, or make a bad core decision. After making a lot of bad core decisions, I ended up just…not making them anymore after messing up so much.

MG was the king of stun train deletion comps. What’s the secret behind the perfect execution of these comps?

Playing together and building up that synergy in Hero League, scrims, and tourney games. Knowing who your tank/melee are most likely to go for and being able to follow that up. Also trusting your teammates. Something a lot of people don’t understand is you need to trust your teammates regardless of whether you think it’s the right or wrong thing to do, because if you aren’t on the same page, then it’s gonna fail anyway.

If you could go back and do anything different with MG, what would you do?

Watch a lot more replays. That’s something we never were strict about, and it messed with us so much. We watched replays at Vegas and improved so quickly in a short amount of time but never did it afterwards, so we didn’t improve as much as we should have.

On Teams After The Murlocs

After the breakup of MG, you were looking for a new team to play with. Did you ever plan on joining a big team like Tempo Storm or Cloud9? Or was the appeal of forming your own team more exciting?

After MG broke up, I thought about if that would be possible but figured it’d be easier finding a team/forming one more than joining an established/high placing team. Resurgence was one of the first teams I tried out for after leaving MG and it ended up being the team I stuck with because I liked the way their comms were and I didn’t have to shotcall on that team.

Did you consider a role switch during this time?

No, not during the Resurgence era. I did later on down the road though.

So Resurgence was your first attempt after MG, and it was…a pretty disastrous failure. I still maintain that the team was great, but the community pressure and the DDoS attacks were probably some of the worst experiences of your career. What lessons did you learn from that?

The DDoS thing was an easy lesson to learn from: get a VPN, have a backup plan ready if anything happens, and try not to make people hate you that much. Regarding the community things with our matches that made us look really bad, it was mostly just miscommunication between teams and admins that got blown up to a something big and annoying. Basically, the lesson learned is just let admins do their thing and play the game like you’re supposed to.

That must have been really devastating considering the way the community treated you and the rest of the team. How did you process and recover from that experience?

It sucked not being able to qualify but after a day or two, I didn’t really care—just worked on moving forward and prepping for the next round of qualifiers. The way the community treated us, I never really cared—never will, because at the end of the day, I’m gonna learn from my mistakes or whatever happens and do my own thing, so no reason to be bothered by what people say.

After Resurgence, you joined Astral Authority (formerly Gust or Bust/King of Blades Alpha). I remember you saying that the best part was that you finally got to do shotcalling again. What made you want to start shotcalling again?

I just enjoy having control of the game and a bigger control of the outcome of the game. On Resurgence, KilicK was our shotcaller, and I did enjoy having someone else shotcall at the time because they were really good at it, so I could just focus on playing. However, being the shotcaller also puts that pressure and responsibility on you that feels really rewarding and also very devastating, which is something I love about the role.

Astral Authority Draft

Equinox captains the draft from his phone.

You also have to be very objective and critical of yourself to become a really good shotcaller. Which also translates into you improving as a player. I was never a very good MOBA player, but I’m very self-critical as a person, so it doesn’t take long for me to figure out what I’m doing wrong and fix it.

That’s great! I have to admit that shotcalling is really hard in Heroes of the Storm, especially while playing carry Heroes. How do you make huge plays while still staying focused on what the team needs to do macro-wise?

Trial and error from scrims mostly, I try to do a lot of crazy things in scrims and end up dying/throwing, but it’s for the reason that, if I do those things, I’ll always know my limits when it’s in a serious game. So since I already know my limits on the Hero I’m playing, I can then focus on the macro decisions going into the game instead of worrying about how I’m going to play.

Were there any odd picks you held in reserve (like a secret Chromie strat or a deep, hidden love for Gazlowe) during your time on AA?

We practiced Chromie a couple times in scrims and had success with it. Also our Butcher pick we played against Tempo once was one of our most successful strats. Never got to pull them out though.

Haha, that was actually a complete troll question.

I love Chromie lol. Made us play her a few times cause she’s really fun to play.

What was the best part about playing with the guys on Astral Authority?

They’re all very genuine in their opinions and don’t hide their feelings about things. It allowed us to improve on things pretty quickly instead of wondering what the issue was. If you know everyone’s true feelings and outlooks on the game, then it’s not that hard to improve. They’re still the team I felt the most comfortable being on to this day—everyone from the players to our manager/coach, was just an enjoyable experience overall.

Why did you end up leaving Astral Authority? Was it just a difference of opinions?

Our scrims were pretty unproductive for awhile and, as a person who really hates losing, it was wearing me down over time. It didn’t feel like we were improving for a few weeks because it’d be like the same thing most nights. However, it was most likely just a slump after the event, something I’ve also been through with old MG. Just didn’t feel like it was the right decision to stay at the time.

You sounded like you were dead set on competing with the reformed Murloc Geniuses. Why did you retire at the last moment?

I really didn’t enjoy playing the game outside of competitive—still don’t unless I’m just in the mood. If I’m not enjoying what I’m doing and it gets to the point where it’s just a constant frustration, it’s not worth it to continue playing. So I retired. Don’t know how long I’ll stay retired from competitive but wouldn’t mind coming back eventually because I do really enjoy competitive. It’s just very unenjoyable outside of it.

The positive, optimistic side of Reddit disagrees with you :p.

About the game?

About the game being fun. Lots of posts about how people love playing this game over LoL or Dota because it’s stress free and super casual.

If you’re a casual player and you’re playing it casually, it’s a really fun game. However, if you’re really competitive or a pro player and you’re playing solo queue, it’s not that fun because the quality of practice is insanely low.

Career Summary and Fun Stuff

Looking back on your career so far, what was the best moment of all time? Best tournament?

I have two favorite moments. First one is qualifying for Vegas back in 2015 with MG. It was my first LAN and I also got to travel to one of the places I’ve always wanted to go within the US.

Murloc Geniuses in Vegas

 

My second favorite moment was getting top 4 at Summer Regionals 2 [in Burbank] with AA—finally was able to reach that goal which avoided me for the longest time. Was a great feeling, especially because we won off of a five man Leap and our crazy Greymane, Abathur, solo heal Tass comp.

Who is the most underrated player you’ve ever played with (or against)?

Probably Nightmare or Cauthon. Nightmare is someone we tried out on MG, and he’s a good player with a strong work ethic, but no one’s really given him a shot yet. Was easily one of our best tryouts. Cauthon is a player that doesn’t usually get a lot of praise or is underrated due to his age or whatever it may be, but he’s easily the most consistently high performing ranged player I’ve played with in HotS. He’ll always do his job and he has solid comms, which makes it easy to play with him right off the bat.

Are there any exceptional people you’ve met along the way that you want to give a shoutout to?

TalkingTrees. Never really had much experience with him until AA, so it was nice to see how good he was at playing carry Heroes like Li-Ming. Faye is still one of the best players to me, regardless of what people think of her Hero pool. She’s a very consistent player who also is able to make plays at the same time.

Zuna because he’s probably the most aggressive player in NA when it comes to shotcalls and just individual play. You can learn a lot from just watching him play. Last, but not least, Mcintyre is someone who I respect a lot. He has a very large Hero pool and a strong passion for the game which makes him one of the best players in NA. He’s someone I learned a lot about melees from watching him play, especially on Heroes I wasn’t very comfortable on.

Awesome. Well, I don’t want this to sound like a funeral for your career. There’s still a huge future ahead of you, so we’ll end things on a lighter note. What are some of your interests outside of gaming? Gardening? Wine tasting? :^)

Outside of gaming, probably traveling and anything to do with astronomy. That’s a big reason I got into gaming in the first place was to travel. I plan on making this my career as long as possible so I get to enjoy traveling and gaming.

I actually did not know that about you. We should talk about astronomy sometime, I’m crazy about stellar masses ^^. Next, an important question. Worst roommate: Chen, Murky, or Nazeebo?

Murky, can never understand what he’s saying and smells like fish.

Marry, boff, kill: Chromie, Li-Ming, Sonya?

What does boff mean rofl. And marry Chromie, kill Sonya, boff Li-Ming. Gotta marry the timelord, can do some crazy stuff with that…and Sonya might kill me if she’s any of the other two so rip.


In the final part of the Q&A with Equinox, we’ll be talking about his future goals and whether or not he plans on continuing in Heroes of the Storm as well as a brief breakdown of his playstyle and advice to new aspiring players. Stick around!


EsportsJohn is unbelievably excited that OGN is re-uploading classic Brood War VoDs to YouTube. You can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

Refocusing. Planning a new goal.

So, to be straightforward: I was fired from Esports Edition this week.

A large part of the reasoning for this decision was my chronic failure to produce articles on time and communicate properly with the management. This isn’t the first time. In many ways, it reminds me of my schoolwork in high school and college; I’ve never been much of a prolific writer, and I often miss deadlines.

I have the worst form of writer’s block. The inability to put two sentences together if I’m not sincerely interested in the topic. Then, when I’m late, I tend to quiet myself because I know that I have no real excuse (and I hate making excuses for my failures). The only thing I can say is, “I just didn’t do it.”

The more overdue my material becomes and the more impatient those waiting on me for it become, the more difficult it becomes for me to write at all. I let the weight of all that pressure push down on me, unable to lift it away piece by piece. The only real release is dropping all of it, quitting, and starting over.

This is something I’ve lived with and tried to understand for many years. It’s possible I just have a fundamental “laziness” that I’ve yet to overcome. Maybe I don’t understand the value of “hard work”. I’m not really sure. I haven’t discovered why I do the things that I do yet.

Whatever the case, I’m moving forward and trying to figure out what works best for me.

What Was Wrong With Esports Edition

The first and most important goal that I have is writing about the things I want to write about. When I am excited about a topic, I put everything I have into it, and thoughts and ideas flow out without effort. Part of the reason why it was so difficult for me to write pieces at Esports Edition was because I was continually being forced into a smaller box.

First of all, you should understand what Esports Edition is, and what it’s goals are. Esports Edition is a subsidiary of a larger corporation called Perk.com. Perk.com makes its money through advertising on apps that reward viewers for watching videos, reading articles, and using the app. Like all companies that make most of their money from ad revenue, their goal is to create lots of short, engaging content that will keep the viewer interested and looking at the screen.

I was told early on when I joined them as a startup that they were looking to foster a gaming community and create a sort of “grassroots” news movement. I’m not one to put all of my eggs into the “community” startup basket, but I’m also not a huge fan of large corporate identities (as can be seen from my constant criticism of ESL). It seemed like a good goal, and very much in line with the sort of community I was trying to foster at TeamLiquid.net before I was expelled quite unfairly. In hindsight, it’s ironic that I placed so much faith in the Esports Edition group.

The first few articles I wrote for them were supposed to be “general, evergreen” content. They wanted me to write pieces that anyone could read, whether they were new to the game or seasoned veterans, could read and learn from. They also wanted it to be “evergreen”, or “timeless”, meaning that it had to be general enough to not attach itself to a single patch, event, team, or player’s success. I wrote about using the Dragon Knight and the perks of Talents vs Items.

It was boring, tedious work trying to fit myself into this box, but I was promised more freedom in the future once they had built up a base of articles for the site.

Needless to say, this never really happened. They kept pushing for very general content and disliked my pieces that went over 1200 words. When the 500 word cap rule came into effect this month, I was already done. Not only would that cut my pay in half (1000 words/article on average previously), but it was fitting me once again into a very small box which I didn’t care for.

The best analogy I can give is a BuzzFeed article. And I swore I would never write BuzzFeed articles when I first started my freelance writing career. Never ever.

When that rule was implemented, I was already considering new jobs, including the writing position at ESL. Being fired is no loss in terms of where I was headed anyway, though it still stings to know that I failed. It has put me in a situation where I need to figure out my priorities and the direction I want to head very quickly. I don’t have time to sit around and think about what I would like to do in the future; the future is NOW.

What I’m Refocusing On

About eight months ago, I decided that I was going to make a living in esports. My ultimate aim was always to be an Editor-in-Chief. I loved the work that I did at Team Liquid managing writers, scheduling content, and filling in whenever a writer was sick or unable to write. It was everything that I could ever want to do in life. But you don’t get to a position like that without lots and lots of writing first.

Luckily, there are still things I definitely want to write about. I’ve never been interested in straight up news or interest pieces. I’m not a flowery writer. I parse through a situation or incident, find what’s right and what’s wrong, and I try to convey that. It’s very similar to editing in a way.

To that end, I love writing editorials providing criticism. I’m honestly not that opinionated, but when I see something that is particularly worrisome like AA’s behavior during ESL’s recent rulings, I am compelled to speak out. We don’t have a lot of criticism in the community anymore aside from Reddit mobs, and I don’t think that does the scene any favors. Criticism is a guideline for discussion, understanding, and improvement.

I also really love doing interviews. To be honest, I haven’t really done many, but the ones that I have done felt truly amazing, and I think I have a knack for it. My goal is to expose people as they truly are so that people don’t have to sort through the multitudes of opinions of them based on hearsay and speculation.

There are actually so many incredible people in the Heroes scene like Equinox, Khaldor, and some of the guys from Big Gods. At the same time, there’s a lot of connotation with their names and “arrogance” or “attitude”. You really don’t know until you talk to them and treat them like human beings instead of celebrities.

The last and final piece of the puzzle is guide writing. I have always loved writing guides, dating all the way back to my time on TL Strategy. I love it. They are time consuming and can be a nightmare to update, but I love them so much. More guides to come.

The Great SQL Project

It’s no secret that I’ve been working on statistics for Heroes of the Storm. Up until MasterLeague.net launched only a few months ago, there was literally no definitive source for finding the drafts of every game in the order that they happened.

This was a problem when I first started trying to think about collecting drafts and studying them, so I began to build spreadsheets to collect the data. Despite rather lukewarm responses, I think the spreadsheets were a resounding success in terms of what they were intended to do.

But they had some limitations. I managed to find some SQL-like query functions in Google Sheets that slimmed them down substantially, but it still wasn’t what I ultimately wanted. I wanted tools that viewers, casters, and analysts could use to quickly gain information, study, and use to predict the game.

So I started creating a fully fledged database. I literally know nothing about this field of programming and I’m learning on the fly, but I feel confident that I can create an in-depth collection of games, drafts, and even player picks that can be used as a powerful tool for searches.

I’ve planned out the entire database and gone over it with a friend of mine who is a DBM (database manager). The MySQL server is being set up this week, and Dthehunter and I are going to be working tirelessly over the next month or two to populate the database with the appropriate data.

The ultimate goal is an app that will have several tools that help users dynamically view and predict games. I can’t reveal too much about the tools at this time, but I am eagerly anticipating the finished product that I envisioned almost four months ago finally come to fruition. Stay tuned for updates.