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Sammyboy: “The responsibility is on all three of the players as they all made the choice, but EE was the catalyst to kicking them before the major”


Samuel “Sammyboy” Anderson is an upcoming Dota 2 player and has played for teams such as Leviathan and Team Team. In this interview Sammyboy speaks on his departure from Team Team, recent controversy regarding EternalEnvy and much more.

Hey Samuel. Kindly introduce yourself to our readers.

Sup, I’m Sammyboy a 1/2 player in the North American scene and although I’ve been around for a long while in the scene I guess I’m still considered new blood or whatever you want to call it.

Let’s go a bit back. What have you done in terms of studies, job, etc before getting into esports?

I pretty much just played Dota 2 while in high school and am now in a gap year kind of just playing Dota.

I luckily had a job helping out OpenAI one summer and have got enough prize money to fund myself being able to live on my own for this year.

So in that sense I’m blessed to be able to just play Dota full time.

Speaking of which, how did you get involved into playing online games? What was the first game you ever played?

I originally started playing Halo 3 back when I was really young and playing online but my first game was my Dad letting me play Half Life 2 on his PC when I was like 7 or 8 I imagine.

You’re one of the up and coming player in competitive Dota 2. How hard is it to make the cut in this industry especially when residing in North America? Tell us about the challenges you’ve faced — socially, professionally and personally when you decided to commit full time to gaming?

North America in my opinion is especially difficult due to the fact that we have high living costs, almost no sponsors, and almost no tourneys besides NADCL to actually help make any money.

Compare that to Europe or China and they have team houses everywhere, tons of sponsors, and a thriving tier 2 scene especially in China.

That said, I’ve again been really lucky in that my adversity has mostly just been financial and I have tons of great friends that have helped me out along the way to let me be able to try to play full time professionally.

You’re mostly known for your time at Team Leviathan and later on at TEAM TEAM although the latter was rather short lived. What have you learned over the past few years as a player and as a person?

I’ve learned a ton about Dota over the past I would say year or so, I thought my time on Team Leviathan I was extremely new and just a pub player but over the past year or so I’ve grown a lot as a player who thinks about the game in what I believe are good ways.

As a person however I think I’ve come to realize that Dota can’t be the only thing I gain fulfillment from and I’ve been trying to not just get better at the game but grow as a person as well outside of it.

How did you take to the news that you were going to be replaced at TEAM TEAM?

I honestly wasn’t too upset, I originally was going to be replaced by Ryoya and he’s one of the people I have an insane amount of respect and admiration for. He’s taught me so much about the game and helped me improve myself as a player and person so if they wanted him over me I felt I didn’t really have a case to argue.

I obviously thought the way I got kicked was shitty, but I think that happens in every Dota team since the teams are ran by the player and not organizations like in real sports. Makes everything more personal.

I have had some in real life stuff too and it’s allowed me to take the time to help out the people that needed me in real life as well, so at the end of the day it might be a blessing.

I’ve been really happy honestly since getting out of that environment and focusing on my friends in real life for a bit although I obviously want to get back on a team eventually

Speaking of being replaced, what do you have to say about the recent drama surrounding Gunnar and Newsham being kicked out of TT?

I just think it’s scummy to kick players after they qualify for the major, the way I look at it is once you qualify it’s your shared right to attend the event and until that events over you should be able to attend if you wish.

You’ve been quite vocal about EE on Twitter where you imply that he’s responsible for the kick even though it isn’t known who was actually responsible for the kicks. Kindly shed some light on this.

The responsibility is on all three of the players as they all made the choice, but EE was the catalyst to kicking them before the major, rather not say more than that.

Personally speaking, I felt quite sad for Gunnar and Newsham on being robbed of their first Major a few weeks before the event begins. Do you think their performance at ESL One Mumbai has something to do with it?

They were told a week before ESL One Mumbai that they would likely be kicked if they didn’t perform well, but it was widely known around the scene they would likely be kicked no matter how they performed and it had been in planning for 2-3 weeks to my knowledge.

Do you reckon that Valve should put some restrictions in place wherein a roster cannot be changed once you qualify for a DPC event?

Yeah, a lot of the issues in the pro scene would be solved if Valve just made a rule set for the DPC events.

You even tweeted that you’re disappointed in Mike and Brax after “all that talk”. May I know what you’re referring to?

When we were at the minor Gambit did something similar where they kicked two players before the event and I remember specifically us all saying how scummy that was and how it was bullshit and so to see them do the same thing for a major leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

WESG and Bucharest Minor are two of the big LAN events you’ve participated in so far. Which one was more memorable?

Bucharest minor was definitely more memorable it was my first real LAN, but I’ll always remember game 3 vs BOOMID where I got to play terrorblade and pretty much 1v5 the game at a certain point and get a rampage and all that, that was the most fun I think I’ve ever had in a game.

As of now you’re without a team. Where will we see you going next?

I kinda have been taking a short break not playing as much, I had a ton of fun standing in for Black Sheep in NADCL and just playing qualifier stacks. The NA scene is really volatile so I’m sure I will be playing on stacks and hopefully something sticks which is kind of just how NA works compared to every other scene.

You’ve cast quite a few games in NADCL season 1. Do you think you can make a career out it? Would you jump at the opportunity to cast a event if invited?

I think casting would be something I could maybe make a career out of with a lot of practice and work, but I’ve personally felt that casting would only be something I could do after I have accepted I am not good enough to go pro or that I don’t want to go pro anymore.

Maybe that’s harsh but I think casting is what the pros do when they aren’t currently good enough to play on a team or after they are content retiring and not playing. You can’t do both.

Where do you see yourself in the next year or two? Have you set certain goals for yourself during this time period?

I honestly don’t know, my goal for this gap year was to make a valve sponsored event and I achieved that so I think I want to take a break and probably re-evaluate come next minor/major as due to the timing of when I got kicked off TEAM TEAM it was hard for me to find another team I felt confident with in time for the current Major/Minor cycle.

How do you see the latest patch from the perspective of a pro? Which heroes, items, etc you like and dislike the most?

Obviously the patch didn’t change too many things, I think Naga Siren will definitely be seeing more play as people experiment with her and she feels like a really strong hero at the moment.

I really like the fact that they didn’t nerf too many heroes and they are keeping all the heroes strength so the meta will shift more slowly and naturally. That said, the Pangolier nerf felt good, that hero was way too crazy in way too many roles.

Actually, the fact that they made the Dire pull way easier was a really big deal, Radiant’s had a massive advantage for a while and I’m glad they are addressing it.

Alright then, it’s a wrap. Anything you’d like to say?

Shout-out to Ryoya and Jubei for helping me grow so much as a player.

If you would like to know more about my work, you can follow me at KarY.

You can head over to our Dota 2 hub for more content.

Headline image courtesy:  WESG

Tweets of the Week ft. bowl cuts, debuts, and anime


After one of Overwatch League’s most chaotic weeks, Stage 2 is set to seriously change the landscape of how Season 2 will be viewed. Atlanta beating NYXL, but losing to Guangzhou leaves us with another strange love-triangle similar to Stage 1’s circular match records.

Transitive property aside, here are your Tweets of the week for the week of April 15th.

OWL is an Anime

As long as I get Yes’s Roundabout, cheesy training montages, and secret techniques–I’m good. In other news, Shock clapped the Spark, 4-0.



Leenock who?

Nothing gets by JJoNak’s vision alive. Why? Because he’s the exception, but he also might be a sentient race of alien that crash-landed on Earth millions of years ago. Just a thought!



The Boop God

A return to form is always nice to see, and Tobi is quickly climbing the ladder of world-class Lucio’s once again. New tricks for an old dog.


Interview? IDK

After having one of the most clutch saves in Overwatch to date, iDK reveals why he was bummed after the big win.


Sleepy to Washington

While the Justice sits at the very bottom of the league, at the very least, they are actually making moves to try and improve. Your move Mayhem.



Clever Use of Mechanics

eMIL from Angry Titans shows a cheeky Translocator placement aimed at hacking the Reinhardt which opens them up for a key Shatter. Upon reading farther, what’s even more interesting is that Davin, the enemy Zarya, read the play beforehand and was only a few frames from saving his team.




Not only have the Los Angeles Gladiators massively improved since Stage 1, but their social media is easily one of the best in the league.



Bowl Cut

Atlanta Reing’s flex support, Dogman, once said on stream that if he ever made it into the Overwatch League he’d get a Korean bowl cut. Welp, I hope you enjoy your bangs Dusttin.



Brigitte Bad

Can you remember a time where either ZachaREE or blase were not complaining about Brigitte?



Brand Lifted

Diya, the final remaining Chinese player left on the Shanghai Dragons, found his debut this week and had his first victory. Now he just needs to walk across the stage.


Joseph “Volamel” Franco has followed esports since the MLGs of 2006. He started out primarily following Starcraft 2, Halo 3, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. He has transitioned from viewer to journalist and writes freelance primarily about Overwatch and League of Legends. If you would follow his thoughts you can follow him at @Volamel.

Gunnar and his take on the recent Team Team drama


Esports Heaven in partnership with Afkgaming is proud to bring coverage from ESL One Mumbai 2019 to our viewers.

We got a hold of Nico “Gunnar” Lopez where he sheds light on his unceremonious kick from Team Team. He also speaks about his future and what he plans to do next.

Hi Gunnar, we’re sorry to hear what went down yesterday. Can you walk us through what happened?

There was like a big talk I think, in the day. It was already decided, I don’t think that the talk changed any opinions. I wasn’t there for most of the talk. I mostly heard of the talk after, but the other four were there. It was kinda decided before, so I just walked in and they kinda just told me that, to cut it short, you’re being replaced.

Unfortunately, this is the second time that you’re being removed from a team with Eternalenvy, is there some kind of a synergy issue? Or do you think the issue is something else?

I don’t know if I’d say it was a synergy issue. I thought I would fit the way he’d like to play kind of. He likes to be the one to win the game. He likes to be this really strong hero, I am so strong that I am going to win this game. I felt the way I played, made it easy for him to play that way.

But, I feel like he didn’t enjoy playing with me. I don’t know the reasoning. It wasn’t only his decision on either team, to my understanding. It was a full team decision. For this one, the remaining team also made the decision, to not play with me. So I don’t think that it should be fully blamed on him or he should get the only hate on the team or whatever.

You kinda hinted on the panel, saying that you spoke about this before coming to the event. Would you like to elaborate on that?

I don’t want to elaborate too much, but basically it was brought up to us that this roster shuffle was going to happen before coming to this event and then we ended up not doing it and we were kind of told that this wouldn’t happen until post-major.

So we were kind of told, going into this, that it was all over. You guys are good.

Read the full interview of Gunnar on

If you would like to know more about my work, you can follow me at KarY.

You can head over to our Dota 2 hub for more content.

Headline image:  Afkgaming

EternalEnvy speaks on Team Team, DPC, TI9 and more


Esports Heaven in partnership with Afkgaming is proud to bring live coverage from ESL One Mumbai 2019 to our viewers. We got a hold of Jacky “EternalEnvy” Mao in a candid conversation where he sheds light on few things.

He speaks about Team Team, current DPC format, TI9 and China, ESL One Mumbai and more. You can find the excerpt from the interview below:

So you’ve attended five TIs so far, but you haven’t won one yet. Has your passion declined, ever so slightly? Or are you getting even more passionate or desperate to win a TI.

The passion has definitely declined. It’s more wavy than before. Like before, there were no waves.

It doesn’t really decline. You just know more about the game. You know more about people. So before you don’t know shit. So you just like assume that you just get better and win everything. Like fuck it.

But once you get better you realize that there’s a lot more like teamwork oriented stuff. It’s about the right fit and the right synergy and things get annoying. You can choose to ignore it, but eventually, you give in.

Do you prefer the older DPC format then?

I’d prefer this format if there was no money. I feel like they just reduced the amount of tournaments and I don’t like the format in terms of like qualifiers. I think the fact that you have qualifiers right after the major is ridiculous.

What do you feel about TI9 in China?

I don’t like it… I don’t know, I think it’s fine, I think it can be a good thing. Right now, there’s just too much drama. There are too many problems, too many VISA problems, too many country problems. Just way too many annoying problems.

Can you elaborate on that?

I mean there’s the Kuku incident, there’s a bunch of weird drama. I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel safe.

Read the full interview on

If you would like to know more about my work, you can follow me at KarY.

You can head over to our Dota 2 hub for more content.

Headline image:  Afkgaming

Letters for the Future Fan – Team Dignitas


Dear fan of the future,

I am unsure who is dominating the esports ecosystem when you read this, or who is quickly climbing the rungs of the competitive ladder, but I write to you today about a team, player, or organization that is long past your time. Something that is timeless in their story and their purpose. Something that dared you to challenge your perception of the current landscape of League of Legends. These are my letters from the past to help educate people on where the community has come from and to act as a Rolodex of info on just who these teams were so that their legacy might continue to live on through you, the reader.

Six years seems so wrong.

This strong sense of nostalgia warps and bends time in ways you would expect. The memory is distant but so familiar. It feels like only a year or two ago I mistakenly had watched as Team Dignitas and Team Curse played their infamous match at MLG Raleigh in 2012.

Team Dignitas were a cornerstone of League of Legend’s history. A building block that helped to craft and launch hundreds of narratives that the league now rests on. They might not be currently in the LCS, but their story will always be entangled with League of Legends.

Through the pointed peaks and disappointing valleys, this is the story of Team Dignitas.

Founded on September 9, 2003 as a fusion of the Battlefield 1942 clans Sweden Kompanix and Legion Condor, Team Dignitas went from an amateur group of esports athletes looking to chase a dream to multi-game title contenders. This narrative is best supported by their berth into League of Legends.

Team Dignitas entered the space with the roster of Rock Solid in September of 2011. The roster included Joedat “Voyboy” Esfahani, Joshua “Jatt” Leesman, William “scarra” Li, Michael “Imaqtpie” Santana, and Patrick “L0CUST” Miller. At the time, the team had a handful of solid top four placings at a number of ESL Go4LoL online tournaments as well as a top-four placing at the NESL Premier League Season 1.



Team Dignitas found success early in League of Legends. Through 2011 until about the LCS era, the team was competitive, stacking multiple top three placings at prestigious events such as MLG Providence 2011, IEM Season 6 Kiev, IPL 4 Las Vegas, and MLG 2012 Spring Championships, to name a few. The LCS era saw the team suffer a dip in performance.

For roughly three seasons, Team Dignitas would be labeled as a solid middle of the road team. However, two outliers tarnish that reputation. At the 2015 Spring split the team finished at 9th place with only 6 map wins to their name and during the 2016 Spring split, Team Dignitas finished at a harrowing 10th place, only being able to secure 4 map wins. Outside of these exceptions, Dignitas were a contender for playoffs and averaged about a 4-5th place finished in the regular season of a majority of the seasons they played. They wouldn’t make deep runs, but they were solid staples of the North American League of Legends space.

After failing to qualify for the 2016 Summer split, Dignitas transferred their North American Challenger Series seed to Apex Gaming. After Apex Gaming finished the split in seventh place, both Dignitas and Apex were acquired by the Philadelphia 76ers in September. The two teams would merge and play under the Dignitas banner.

This marked a continuation of traditional sports investment into the League of Legends space. Some notable investments include Rick Fox’s involvement and ownership over Echo Fox, the Houston Rockets investing into Clutch Gaming, FlyQuest is headed by the co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Golden Guardians are a sub-sect of the NBA team, the Golden State Warriors.

However, putting their demons in the past, this spring split would be a fair return to form for the veteran team.



During the 2017 Spring split, the team would manage a 50% win/loss ratio going 9-9 and placing 6th overall, which qualified them for playoffs. Facing Phoenix1 in the quarterfinals, Team Dignitas would fall 0-3 and would exit the playoffs at 5-6th place.

The 2017 Summer split began on a high note which saw Team Dignitas win four straight games against Team Envy, TSM, Phoenix1, and Echo Fox. Overall the team would end the split at 5th place with an 11-7 record. The Summer playoffs went well for Team Dignitas as they coasted over Cloud 9 in the quarterfinals, but failed to beat TSM in the semi-finals. Dignitas would take home 4th place after losing the 3-4th place match to CLG, 3-0.

During the 2017 Season NA LCS Regional Finals—which is a tournament that was used to determine the last seed for North Amerca when it came to the World Championships—Team Dignitas drew FlyQuest during the first round and were quickly dispatched by the young team, 0-3. Ultimately, this would be the last time we saw the Team Dignitas banner hung in an LCS sanctioned event as they were not apart of the chosen few who would receive nods for franchising. However, recent developments might change that.

According to a report published by ESPN, the parent company of both Team Dignitas and the Philadelphia 76ers have come to an agreement to acquire a majority stake in the League of Legends team, Clutch Gaming. The report goes on to say that Clutch Gaming will be rebranded to Dignitas later this year, more than likely after the 2019 League of Legends World Championship.

For the first time in nearly two years, Team Dignitas may, in fact, grace the LCS stage once again.


Clad with a new logo and a familiar color scheme, Dignitas will be looking to recapture their previous glory as a contender. And while the Dignitas brand is not currently with us, their legend lives on within the memories of their fans and the resumes of some of their most notable alumni.

Beloved by the masses, Michael “Imaqtpie” Santana left Team Dignitas after three years of service as their AD carry in October of 2014. He then went on to have a massively successful streaming career. Like some of the other Dignitas veteran’s Imaqtpie has also played for Delta Fox and the Meme Steam Team.

Danny “Shiphtur” Le played for Dignitas for two years. After the team transferred its challenger seed to Apex Gaming, Shiphtur left the team. Since then he’s played alongside some of his former teammates in Delta Fox and the Meme Stream Team.

Many know Joshua “Jatt” Leesman as a beloved color commentator and analyst on the North American broadcast desk, but he actually had a small stint as a professional player with Team Dignitas in 2011. In 2019 Jatt retired from the broadcast team and is now working with the balance team at Riot Games.

You might know him for his stellar Katarina play or bringing AP Soraka to mid-lane, but William “scarra” Li’s name is synonymous with Team Dignitas. Scarra played for the team for nearly three years and transitioned to coaching the team for a brief stint in 2014. He joined Counter Logic Gaming in October of 2014 as the team’s head coach. He stepped down from the position in April of 2015. Since then you can find him on his personal stream or with, a content creation house featuring some of’s biggest personalities.

Former top laner Noh “Gamsu” Yeong-jin joined the European team, Fnatic, in 2015 and found marginal success with the team throughout the year. However, Gamsu retired from League of Legends in 2016 to pursue a career in Overwatch. He participated in the Overwatch League as a part of the Boston Uprising during the inaugural season and was sold to the Shanghai Dragons for season two.

After stepping down from Team Dignitas in 2015, Alberto “Crumbz” Rengifo moved on to play on teams such as Misfits NA, Team Dragon Knights, and both coached and played for Apex Pride. He then transitioned into a fixture on the NA LCS broadcast team as well as working as an analyst for the Overwatch League during its first season.

After only playing one split for Dignitas in 2014, Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya, joined the North American staple team, Counter Logic Gaming, and has been there ever since. At CLG he has two playoff championships to his name, the North American LCS 2015 Summer playoffs as well as the 2016 Spring playoffs.

After his December 2012 suspension from the league, Christian “IWDominate” Rivera, played for teams like Team Curse and Team Liquid. During both stints, he would assist each team’s academy roster and act for a substitute player if the need arose. IWDominate stepped away from the competitive scene in July of 2016 and is now a streamer for Team Liquid.

Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer join Team Dignitas in March of 2014 and only served a few months with the team as a substitute. Since his time with Dignitas, Goldenglue has played under the banner of many different organizations. Team Coast, compLexity, Frank Fang Gaming, Team 8, Immortals, Ember, Echo Fox, Team Liquid and Cloud 9 are the teams that took an interest in the young mid-laner after his departure from Team Dignitas.


More in this series:

Joseph “Volamel” Franco has followed esports since the MLGs of 2006. He started out primarily following Starcraft 2, Halo 3, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. He has transitioned from viewer to journalist and writes freelance primarily about Overwatch and League of Legends. If you would follow his thoughts you can follow him at @Volamel.

Images courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr and Riot Games.



The Challenges of Creating a Competitive Roster: League of Legends vs Overwatch (feat. Achilios, Crumbz and DoA)

Since the beginning of the competitive scene in League of Legends we’ve seen multiple players’ careers dwindle with several more players replacing them, often times with greater skill. There are many challenges teams face when incorporating a new player into their roster; whether it’s importing a player from another region, which then brings on the issue of language barriers, culture clash and regional gameplay nuance, or simply finding native talent, which can be a difficult and grueling task due to having to weed through the many names on the ladder rankings. While LoL does have a problem juggling the difficulties in creating a competitive team roster, OWL (Overwatch League) has similar or even greater woes.


Tariffs on Imports

LoL previously had implemented rules to fight the heavy use of imports in both EU and NA with the introduction of the import rule in 2015, which allows teams to have a maximum of two players from another region compete in one that is not their own (e.g. a LPL player playing in NA LCS). This rule was created after the famous LMQ team, which consisted of a full Chinese roster, moved the entire team to compete in the NA LCS. As for Overwatch, a rule like this does not exist, except for in their Academy system, otherwise known as Contenders. This has brought on the problem of heavy importation, to the point where, as it stands for the Stage 2 of OWL (Overwatch League), Spitfire, New York Excelsior, Toronto Defiant, Vancouver Titans, and Seoul Dynasty have all not only 1 or 2 Koreans on their roster, but the entire starting lineups are Korean; that’s 25% of teams in the entire league have a full Korean starting lineup. OWL may be the alternate universe of LoL without the import rule.

The highest level of competition shouldn’t be shied away from, as Crumbz, former OWL analyst, former pro player of Team Dignitas in LoL, and now current analyst for LoL esports broadcast, describes one positive aspect for OW importation. He states, “the benefit OW has is that they’ve brought talent from overseas to play solo queue, and that’s going to help a ton. You get to scrim with these guys all the time as opposed to having to meet them at an international event”. So, to some extent we can at least appreciate the fact that an influx of players—both in OW and LoL—to the solo queue ladder can help the region improve their amateur talent and provide a better practice environment. This is similar to when LoL pros go to boot camp in South Korea. While yes, the solo queue in South Korea. is regarded as superior for ping, player strength and player base size, the influx of pros from every region onto the ladder makes it the best possible ladder it can be, which is a great advantage that OW has in their competitive scene before geolocation arrives. Adversely, this point could be argued due to the existence of the Overwatch APEX league—Korea’s premier OW tournament series— being a rival to the OWL, but it was discontinued for the 2018 season and replaced with Contenders Korea. Now as it stands, LoL in both NA and EU do not have the best professional leagues, nor do they have the best solo queue ladder (especially NA), whereas OW in NA at least has the best professional league to supplement their ladder system with an influx of good players. But not all teams are concerned with simply being competitive, as there are inherent marketing purposes which make avoiding imports worthwhile.

There is a constant struggle for teams to decide if they would rather have a more marketable team or a team which is going to win them championships. Achillios, former commentator for OGN LoL, OW APEX league and now current commentator for the OWL, comments on the situation of marketing. “From a marketing perspective, it’s almost better to go for a roster that does have western talent if you are a western representative or organization. Obviously if you’re in China, getting eastern players makes the most sense. Paris I guess is the example I’m going for, if you look at their main roster, it instilled so much hope in the fans and they got so much backing, especially from the French crowd off of that because they were like, “you know what, we’re not going to be one of those teams that picks a lot of Koreans and goes for the full 6 Korean roster”.

The idea of either balancing out a team with some Western talent or in the case of OW, securing a cultural identity for a specific team brand—especially since they will be geolocated soon—is an important step in marketing and maximizing advertisement revenue, which is a necessity to keep a team afloat. As Immortals CEO Noah Winston had said previously in 2017 during an episode of Esports Salon with Thorin, “Huni has one of the best personalities that a pro player can have. He speaks great English, is incredibly entertaining and still was not getting the type of engagement that I would expect to see.[…] I think it’s really hard to bridge that gap a lot of the time, especially when there are paths of less resistance. If I have the choice to root for Flame, who doesn’t speak a ton of English, but is super friendly and has a great personality, or I have the choice to root for Hauntzer, who I share more of a cultural background with, it’s not an easy choice but it is a lot easier for me to connect to the one that shares a cultural background with me”.

Crumbz speaks on the subject of importing and driving fan engagement and region locking playing a role. “While you have a different kind of people and they have very interesting stories, we’re not typically exposed to that kind of culture. So, how do you drive a non-esports audience to be interested or even an esports audience to be interested in players [with] which they have no natural connections with? They’re not from the same place, they don’t speak the same language, hell they might not even play the same game. How do you make those connections? At the end of the day you want to entertain the fans. Is the only source of entertainment that these people can provide for the audience the quality of gameplay? That’s my biggest concern with that. I have no problems with, “do you want to win. This is a pretty strong team, go for it”, but it’s then about, how do you drive the brand of this team? How do you drive engagement?”

These are all questions that go through every team owner’s head when discussing rosters and how they can balance their team in terms of profitability and talent. There needs to be a way for fans to connect with a player outside of the game. Even Bjergsen, leading up to his game against Team Liquid in the 2019 Spring Split finals, admitted that he cares about being viewed as a great player, “because i’ve never really been known for my personality or charisma[…] I’ve just been known for being a competitor and being really serious about my craft”. If a player feels as though they cannot express their personality properly, and they are not as fortunate to be as gifted as a player like Bjergsen (few are), there’s little reason to enjoy that player and be excited to watch them play. Although, just because someone can be profitable temporarily and have a great base of talent, there is still the fear that they can cause turbulence within the team environment if their personality simply doesn’t fit in that type of setting. The trepidation of knowing if a promising talent will easily merge into a professional team setting is that their online representation isn’t entirely indicative of their personality, largely because that must be extrapolated through the chat system.

Toxicity and Voice Chat

As toxicity goes hand-in-hand with communication, the conversation usually steers towards the ability to voice chat. There are generally three camps to this topic: One, voice chat would increase toxicity, two, it might actually reduce it due to creating a more human connection with the other player through speech rather than writing. And three, the hypothetical that there would be overall increased team coordination and also might have the possibility to get more talent from solo queue other than for gameplay reasons; OW and LoL differ in the communication aspect.

In the context of voice comms, helping get talent that teams might of otherwise not have found, Crumbz had the opinion that OW comms might be an effective way to, “maybe find the diamonds in the rough, but probably not. I highly doubt voice comms have much of an impact because you’re going to be changing the comms significantly when you become a team anyways. So, if you hear someone tryharding in comms in solo queue, bless their heart for putting that out there, it’s rough out there to make calls in that situation because no one is going to realistically listen or at least listen to the extent that one would hope for”. While it would be rare to find a player which can shotcall in solo queue, the main purpose should not be to find a savant of the game, but to get a feel for the person behind the screen.

The strong benefit of having voice chat would be to understand which players have a strong voice in the game which can more easily be translated to pro play. The quality of comms in solo queue shouldn’t be entirely judged upon for the ideas or strategy within them, but rather it should be studied as a reflection of personality, which is more easily exemplified through voice. Speech has the ability to show more nuance with qualities such as tone and inflection. With the usage of voice chat, it serves as a preliminary force in determining if a player is a culture fit to any number of pro teams. Voice chat also has the obvious advantage of alleviating the cumbersome task of writing while making intricate plays. It is also noteworthy that the average person types 40 WPM (words per minute) whereas speech for radio is found to be best paced anywhere between 160-180 WPM, and coupled with the obvious advantage of still being able to use the keyboard for commands rather than writing. So while you may not find the next Cloud9 Hai of solo queue, you may more readily find a quality player with an enjoyable personality, a critical trait in developing a roster with long lasting chemistry. While human qualities are important in making a solid roster, knowing the play style tendencies of each player and how they can play as a unit is paramount.

There is no team without identifying how you are going to create a roster and understanding the roles you’re looking to fill for your roster, which may be an even greater grievance OW suffers from with their inability to have predetermined role selection.

role selection

Role Selection

Role selection has been available for LoL since Season 6 whereas OW still doesn’t support the function. Many LoL players have not experienced the mayhem that was pick order and dodgy chat tactics of calling a role first with lag or computer hardware factoring differently for each user, or blatant lying, saying that it never appeared in chat for them. With how hectic the early days of LoL were, you can find similar experiences with OW and their frustration of not getting their preferred role of DPS or assassin, which appear to be the only two roles in existence to the layman.

The main problem with role selection is the support role. In both OW and LoL it is the least played role, but the added benefit of role selection is it would allow for teams to get talent a bit more easily due to a consistency in players being able to get their preferred role. Crumbz adds to this topic about the support role in OW being problematic. “I think the problem is that there’s not enough diversity in the sub-categories that they have which would let players want to be a support or a tank because they aren’t contributing to the overall gameplay that they want, which is eliminating the enemy”.

The main concern for role selection in a game like OW compared to LoL is that, while it may help scouting talent, OW may not have the raw player base numbers in order to sustain a similar model.

In 2016, Polygon reported the monthly LoL user base at 100 million, whereas in 2018 a report by Dotesports had OW at a total player base of 40 million. The only reason Riot could even consider doing this without queue times jumping through the roof is because there is a large enough player base to fill in all roles, but they’ve also had to make their autofill function more aggressive at times to fill the support role, which also helped keep queue times moderately low. However if OW were to implement something similar they would need a far more aggressive algorithm for a game with a smaller player base.

Ultimately role selection isn’t possible for OW due to their player base and although it would benefit the pro scene by allowing them to have the ability to have more dedicated practice, it would come at the price of the player base. Montecristo’s sentiment that role lock would closer align pro play with casual play is an added bonus, as we have also seen Riot change things in their own game by making the meta align more with casual play by removing lane swaps. Blizzard seems to have held off on dictating their meta to such a large capacity as having role locks, and Achilios reiterates this sentiment because he thinks it “detracts from the original plan for [OW], which is, there’s a bunch of heroes [and] you can change on the fly”, and it certainly goes against the LoL standpoint that our role select system is simply a moniker, not a hard enforcement of champions that you are able to play. If that weren’t the case we probably wouldn’t be seeing Hecrim in the top lane.


Past your Prime

We still have several legends that have a solid career in LoL, from Doublelift to Bjergsen, Xmithie to sOAZ, there are some that still exist from the days of old, but with new talent being ushered in, the older players are taking a backseat. The timeline of LoL is extensive enough that we are able to witness new legends clash against old ones, and DoA, former caster of OGN LoL and APEX league and current caster for the OWL, expounds upon the topic of OWL pacing faster than LoL in developing new talent. “LoL existed for years before any sort of true professional esports scene existed. The game was released in 2009 and the first World Championship wasn’t until 2011. Champions Korea, which is arguably the first true long-term consistent competition didn’t start until January 2012. The LCS was 2013. Overwatch League came a lot faster after the game’s release with much more immediate support for players. That’s not a criticism of LoL, but more a reality of the esports industry at the times each game’s scene really launched. So yes, Overwatch is developing talent quicker, but more because of industry growth than characteristics of either game”.

One example of the lengths that OW teams are willing to go to in regards to finding talent is team RunAway, as Achilios notes, “RunAway with their new roster [which] showed how important it is to go through multiple people in the ladder to see if they mesh with the squad, to see if they really can perform in a scrim environment. I think it’s more difficult to do that with LoL, or at least that teams don’t go as in-depth as RunAway did in regards to scouting talent. I think the quoted number is 295 players that they went through”. When there’s a willingness to go through that many players to form a roster, the best remedy to finding talent may in fact just be hard work and resilience in searching for these players.


Balance in All Things

OW and LoL have many similarities in what it takes to create a world class roster. OWL seems to have larger problems lurking in the background, with a heavy emphasis on importing players to the ever looming geolocation which is about to take place in 2020, which will add even greater problems in getting talent to their rosters, as Crumbz says, “teams have yet to move or localize in OWL, so I feel until that happens they’re not really going to know what the issues are because every single team is now going to have a world of trouble behind them. It’s one thing to play in the NBA and you switch teams and go from Cleveland to Los Angeles, that’s not such a bad move, but a lot of players avoid going to other countries or teams because of tax issues. So for example, the Toronto Raptors being a Canadian team, less people want to go to that because you have to deal with doubling down on your taxes”. So not only does OWL have the problem of getting local talent, but with money being factored into the decision of moving to a particular team because of their geolocation, we could see a great shift in how willing players are to moving from country to country, but that is another large topic for another time.

OWL has many more problems that are spawned from their franchise system, to playerbase limitations, to marketing aspects that all circle back to player acquisition. While we can point towards faults in the LoL competitive scene, the sheer size along with a competitive league system which circumvents geolocation, and the import limitation, all play a part in keeping the LoL scene in a healthy state which drives engagement from both the casual and competitive scenes. Above all, the competitive scene and the integrity required to witness the highest level of play must also be balanced by monetary means. So from this side of the fence, the grass seems fine over here.


Izento has been a writer for the LoL scene since Season 7, and has been playing the game since Season 1. Follow him on Twitter at @ggIzento for more League content.

All quotes of Achilios, Crumbz and DoA were recorded early March 2019

To hear more from the Overwatch side of this, check out Volamel’s article

Images courtesy of LoL Esports

For more LoL content, check out our LoL section

Major Differences Between Team Building in Esports (feat. Achilios, DoA, and Crumbz)


This is a collaborative piece focusing more on Overwatch. For a League of Legend’s focused viewpoint, click here.

As the new kid on the proverbial esports block, Overwatch has lessons to learn. To help contextualize where the game is headed when we talk about player scouting, a direct comparison can be made to League of Legends. Both have heavy South Korean influence, scouting patterns have been mimicked one another, to a degree, and both are popular on a global scale, but the departures come when we look how long the title has been injected into the zeitgeist of esports fans.

Competitive Overwatch has not been around for very long, but longer than the number of seasons the Overwatch League has had thus far. Technically speaking, Overwatch has had events since late in 2015, but real parity did not materialize until early-to-mid-2016, putting the esport at around three years old. This gives Overwatch enough time to conceptualize axioms, but when it comes to realizing those ideals, that’s where we have a problem.

This begs the question; how much of an impact does the age of the esports title have in its scouting? Esports Heaven spoke with three different experts in both fields to gauge how the scouting has differed between League of Legends and Overwatch.

A veteran of the esports space, former caster for OnGameNet and current Overwatch League commentator, Erik “Doa” Lonnquist, had a short but poignant answer. “It certainly does have an impact […],” Doa said, “[…] in that, by this point, coaches should be well aware of what makes a good Overwatch player in general and what characteristics they might need in certain roles they’re filling on their squads.”

“When an esport first kicks off, a team has to learn what to look for and I think, for the most part, that has been fleshed out in Overwatch,” Overwatch League commentator Seth “Achilios” King said. “Certainly, in the beginning, it might not have been. This is a game, much like League of Legends, [that] does evolve quite drastically. I think it’s a little more drastic than League of Legends, especially when the meta shifts. If a team is good right now, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be good down the line when it comes to Stage 2 or when a major meta shift happens or something like that.” He explained that this volatility could be the main culprit in why players like Pine or Saybyeolbe, two flagship talents for the New York Excelsior, don’t see much playtime anymore.


“In regards to finding players that are flexible and can play in any circumstance, that’s still being worked on, but I think that it’s gotten significantly better,” Achilios said. “You take a look at some of the big names, back in the inception of Overwatch, names that kind of exploded onto the scene, they either aren’t really around anymore or they aren’t seeing play anymore because they can’t hold up. I think teams are looking to avoid that situation nowadays.” That same sentiment has been echoed by a number of Overwatch League coaches, one being Atlanta Reign’s head coach, Brad “Sephy” Rajani. So much so that he popularized the term “meta agnostic” to help define which players or teams find success in as many metagames as possible, rather than focusing on just one.

Alberto “Crumbz” Rengifo, a former analyst for the Overwatch League and currently an analyst for the League of Legends Championship Series broadcast, took the question in a different direction. “[The age of Overwatch is] huge because since the scene is so new, you’ve yet to see what long term issues happen when you integrate players in a certain way or what sustainability looks like.”

“The comparison I have to that is League of Legends where some teams realize that ‘we can’t just import Koreans every year, we need to start developing homegrown talent because that’s what’s going to be the better long term play for us.’ Teams have yet to move or localize in the Overwatch League, so I feel until that happens they’re not really going to know what the issues are, because every single team is now going to have a world of trouble behind them.”

For transparency’s sake, the Overwatch League will be featuring “Homestead Weekend Events” for their 2019 season. This will have the Dallas Fuel, the Atlanta Reign and the Los Angeles Valiant hosting home games through Stages 2-4 of the 2019 season. Full global travel will begin during Overwatch League Season 3 set to take place during 2020. This gives teams a small sample of what is to be expected of them and the pressure that they might face, much to Crumbz’s point, coming into the full-scale travel schedule of the 2020 season. However, it’s not only the age of the esport that can shape how teams are built. There can be rigid rules set in place dictating who you can and cannot sign.

Other esports tournaments and leagues like the League of Legends Championship Series and the Starcraft 2 World Championship Series all have some form of region locking put in place to help foster domestic talent. For example, in the League of Legends Championship Series teams are limited to three imported players for any one organization. This rule also includes a clause that only allows two imported players on any one given team, this does not seem to exclude academy teams. A team could have: two import players on their main roster, with one on their academy or one import player on their main roster, with two imported players on their academy team. Seeing how the Overwatch League does not have any form of region locking, this undoubtedly has affected the way organizations have built their teams.


45% of the inaugural season of the Overwatch League was comprised of South Korean talent whereas in the second season this number has only increased. Currently, 57% of the teams in the Overwatch League are comprised of South Korean talent. This high demand for South Korean talent unintentionally could be driving some teams to pursue and increase scouting efforts for Western talent.

Teams like the Houston Outlaws, the Boston Uprising, and the Paris Eternal all have been actively investing in western talent with varying degrees of success. “I think the teams that are avoiding Korean talent are doing it very deliberately, [like] Paris, but most teams are just looking for the best players and right now, [and] the majority of those players come from Korea,” Doa said. “That’s probably going to be the case for now, but not forever.”

Achilios gave another nod to the Paris Eternal explaining, “ […] if you look at their main roster, it instilled so much hope in the fans and they got so much backing, especially from the French crowd off of that because they were like, ‘you know what, we’re not going to be one of those teams that picks a lot of Koreans and goes for the full six Korean roster.’ People really like seeing that.” This regional focus is a multi-faceted idea. Not only are you providing very tangible marketing opportunities, but it shows that region that there is a clear path into the league. For example, the European Overwatch Contenders scene does not have as many resources as some of their counterparts. This compounds the meaning the Paris Eternal’s focus on European talent as well as their established academy team, the Eternal Academy.

“We’ve already seen multiple organizations, NYXL, Spitfire, Vancouver, [and] Toronto now, that have just adopted the idea of picking up full Korean rosters, players that have already been tested on LAN and either have championship or playoff experience under their belt,” Achilios said. “They knew when these players were coming in that they’re used to playing under an audience, maybe a little bit shook up like we saw Ivy in Toronto’s first series but then he really stepped up his play. It’s really good to be able to grab a team that has that much experience already.”

“I think there are benefits to both sides,” Achilios said. “I think it’s really easy to say that, ‘ok these guys have played together in Korea and we can get all six of them right now and then we have a roster with synergy’, but I think there’s some depth in your strategy and play and marketing if you go after western talent. The Koreans are already so good at the game and have been the best for a while, since EnVy won Season 1, after that it’s just been Korean dominance.”

Crumbz chimed in with a reference back to the concept of geolocation and how that plays into marketing. “The region locking is reminiscent in what happened in Starcraft where people were concerned that the Koreans were the best players,” Crumbz said. “So they hired all the best Korean players and the leagues suddenly became ran by Korean players. I don’t think that’s going to happen in the Overwatch League, but my biggest concern has been, how do you drive fan engagement at that point?”

“They’re not from the same place, they don’t speak the same language, hell they might not even play the same game. How do you make those connections? At the end of the day, you want to entertain the fans. Is the only source of entertainment that these people can provide for this audience the quality of gameplay? That’s my biggest concern with that. I have no problems with, ‘do you want to win? This is a pretty strong team, go for it’, but it’s then about, how do you drive the brand of this team? How do you drive engagement? Some leagues are figuring it out but I think you would really have to adopt what Korean shows are like in order to really capture the players that these teams have. They have all sorts of irreverent shows and I think that’s where a lot of these players would really shine.”

Joseph “Volamel” Franco has followed esports since the MLGs of 2006. He started out primarily following Starcraft 2, Halo 3, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. He has transitioned from viewer to journalist and writes freelance primarily about Overwatch and League of Legends. If you would like to know more or follow his thoughts on esports you can follow him at @Volamel.

Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.

Tweets of the Week ft. donation drives, weaponized hand warmers, and cosplay?


Stage 2 of Overwatch League’s second season well underway and while things have not been too crazy in terms of results, the community just keeps swinging with some of the spiciest tweets I’ve seen in a while. In this weeks batch, we’ve got Bren and Sideshow doing a bit of cosplay, weaponized hand warmers and a whole lot of shade being thrown.


These are your tweets of the week for the week of April 8th.

Donation Drive

Flame jokingly posed a challenge to competitive subreddit; make an Overwatch League team based on upvotes alone. I’m just saying, there was a collegiate team in a certain someone’s power rankings not too long ago–can’t be too hard.



Storm Rising?


Oh…this isn’t an HD Remake of Red Orchestra? Well now, that’s a shame. I suppose lore is cool.



Weapons of Mass Induction


It’s official, hand warmers have officially been weaponized. Poko of the Philadelphia Fusion has been charged with three counts of assault with a deadly heating object.





Bren and Sideshow are up to there usual antics–this time it includes possible leg waxing and pleated skirts. Won’t speak for everyone, but I’m glad to have the wonder twins back in action.



The Collective


This is what happens when you poke the bear. P.S: this tweet also ended up on Reddit.





Note to self: stay on hexagram’s good side to avoid being charbroiled on social media.





Danny Lim? A black turtle neck, a fanny pack, and some gold chains. Gaining the blueprints to an amazing and memorable moment? Priceless.



Grandma’s Love


No banter here. Just some wholesome content to brighten your day.




Pot Meet Kettle


This tweet is straight fire, but seeing how it also comes from a team that boasts an unsuccessful mixed roster–makes it even funnier.



GM’s Gone Wild


Pretty lame to hear that players are allegedly getting toasted in Twitch chat by Overwatch League general managers. Don’t they have emails to read?


Danog: “I still remember my first hero. I played Brewmaster and kept running under towers because I under-estimated how much damage they’d do. I think I finished with 1 kill and 20 deaths!”


Esports Heaven caught up with Matt “Danog” Joyce, an up and coming broadcaster hailing from Australia. I came to know about him when ESL roped him to be a caster at ESL One Mumbai slated to begin next week.

In this interview, Danog talks about his humble beginnings, his foray into broadcasting, expectations of him from this career and much more.

Hey Danog. Kindly introduce yourself to our readers.

Hi everyone! My name’s Matt, but I go by the shoutcaster name Danog. I’m an Aussie caster for Dota 2, having enjoyed being a part of the Dota community since 2006.

That’s a long time to be a part of the community. How did you get introduced to Dota?

It was actually through my guild in World of Warcraft at the time. One of the guys just said “Hey, let’s play some Dota”, and so I tagged along.

I still remember my first hero. I played Brewmaster and kept running under towers because I under-estimated how much damage they’d do. I think I finished with 1 kill and 20 deaths!

Nice way to start playing the game. Tell us a bit about yourself. Your life growing up, studies, etc.

Growing up, I moved around a fair bit for my Dad’s work. I’ve lived in lots of countries around the world; Australia, Canada, England, South Africa. For my studies, I have a Master’s degree in genetic counselling.

Why did you decide to venture into esports when you’ve a Master’s degree in genetic counselling?

I’m a very competitive person. Anything that I get into, I want to win, or I want to watch people playing and strategizing to win. Shows like Survivor, The Genius, and Society Game are my favourite. Esports fits in perfectly with this, because it combines my love of gaming with my competitive spirit.

Interesting. When did you know that being a broadcaster was your calling? Which events have you cast before in the Australian scene?

I’ve always enjoyed sharing my opinion on topics that I’m passionate about. Before getting into casting Dota, I hosted many years of Dota-related viewings (TI, DAC, and Major pubstomps in Australia).

I also had a radio show talking about Australian sports, and I co-hosted the most popular Fantasy Football show in Australia for many years.

In terms of events that I’ve cast, I’ve been part of the ESL ANZ Championships since its inception. This year, I’ve also come on board with CyberGamer / LetsPlayLive for their Dota 2 championships, and have continued my relationship casting for WESG Oceania / Asia Pacific.

Throughout the years, I have also had stints with the AEF (Australian Esports Federation), and the Asian Dota 2 League, and had the opportunity to cast on the official Australian Epicenter channel for Epicenter XL.

I was also part of the AMD Dota 2 Pro Series last year, which saw OG and Mineski come down to Australia to play off against the best of Australia, as well as a few promising SEA and Chinese teams.

On top of this, I’m always around casting qualifiers for Minors, Majors, and everything in between.

Your next stop is ESL One Mumbai. This will be your first big event with an org that is into hosting tournaments on a large scale. How were you approached for the event? Also, how does it feel?

I was reached out to by a member of ESL’s global team, who was impressed with my work to date. It’s very important to be active on Twitter, have your DMs open, and list your best email address on your profile!

With how I’m feeling, to be honest, I keep checking the Liquipedia page to make sure I’m not imagining things. It’s surreal to see my name next to some of the top tier talent in the world.

Haha that’s wonderful. According to you, what do you bring to the table as a caster? How are you different from others?

I feel like my type of analysis is based off a support mentality. It’s constantly looking around the map, seeing how the ‘macro’ decisions can impact on the overall outcome of games. I feel like I’m pretty good at predicting drafts as well, so hopefully there will be a prediction scoreboard for the analysts at the event!

Hm .. interesting. In terms of caster, where do you set your goals for the upcoming year?

I’m really grateful for the opportunity that ESL has given me at ESL One Mumbai, and I want to grab onto the chance with both hands. I would love to be able to attend ESL One Birmingham as a talent as well, and I’m holding out hope that an upcoming Minor or Major will have a spot for me in the near future.

I’m also looking to be a part of the returning World Cyber Games, as well as the second iterations of the PVP Esports Championships & AMD Pro Series. There may be a few hidden events on the horizon as well that haven’t been announced yet.

If anybody from Valve is reading this, I’ll keep my schedule open for TI as well!

I hope you get invited to a lot more events. Do you’ve anyone in esports who supported/guided you in this industry?

Thanks! I’d like to give a shoutout and big thanks to everybody at ESL Australia who’s given me guidance and support throughout my time in the broadcasting and esports scene.

Also a special shoutout to my local co-casters CNC, Daredevil Dan, and Woglet, and the Dotaroo community on Facebook! If you’re an Aussie / NZ Dota player, make sure you join up!

Who do you think will lift the ESL One Mumbai trophy?

There are lots of really close teams, so it’s hard to call. If I have to pick a team then it’d be between TnC and Keen Gaming.

Alright that’s a wrap. Anything you’d like to say?

I’d like to say thanks again to ESL for giving me this opportunity, and I hope the community enjoys what I have to offer. I’m looking forward to it!

Follow Matt on Twitter here.

If you would like to know more about my work, you can follow me at KarY.

You can head over to our Dota 2 hub for more content.

Headline image courtesy: ESL

Eri Neeman: “For as long as I am wanted, I am grateful and happy to host for the Dota community and for esports in general. I have played Dota. It’s a f***ing hard game”


Esports Heaven caught up with Eri Neeman, the charismatic host at ESL events as well as the creative mind behind the famed Macho Man contest that grabbed the eyeballs of our community.

In this interview, Eri speaks of a variety of topics such as his humble beginnings, his foray into Dota 2, his suggestions to newcomers willing to take the plunge in the industry, macho man contest as well as how fitness is much needed in today’s world.

Take a read!

Hi Eri. Kindly introduce yourself to our readers.

Hi, my name is Eri Neeman. I’m a Host. I love to entertain people and I love memes. 🙂

Who introduced you to the world of gaming? Which games did you first play or rather got you addicted to this industry?

The very first time I played a game was a Father’s friend of mine. It was double dragon on the Famicom. I was always into gaming. I actually had a show on it here in the Philippines called MOG TV. It had a similar format as Attack of the Show or X Play if you remember those shows. 🙂

My very first intro to esports was back in 2013 for this event called MSi Beat it organised by Mineski Events. This was the first time I saw competitive Dota and casting live.

One thing I fondly remember was instantly connecting to the audience. I believe anyone who grew up playing games can connect easily. That was most likely the case for this event.

I had a great time hosting it and seeing professional players come in as a special guest and compete with the local community was nice to see. Everything built up and followed after that. Always thankful to Mineski (now MET Events) for bringing me into this industry. 🙂

When did you decide to pursue esports as a way of career? I’m pretty sure you must have had other jobs before you decide to go full in!

I am actually very active in two industries. Esports and Life Events (Socials). Both are industries I love and enjoy.

I have been a Host for about 12 years. I decided to really go all in on hosting and not anything else (I used to do TV, Acting and Radio) 3 to 4 years ago. Like full on. Nothing else. Just a Host. I believed I needed focus at that time to really get to a certain level.

Then here we are. It worked out. 🙂

I vividly remember the Macho Man contest at MSI Beat IT 2013. If I’m not mistaken, that was your first venture in Dota 2? Were you the one who came up with that idea?

Hahaha, you’re right. That was where it was born. I actually came up with that idea on the spot in that event. We needed to kill some time and I thought that would be a fun thing to do. It was. Hahaha. I still remember how the crowd responded. Good times.

Macho Man contest was well received and rightly so was a recurring theme in the next few tournaments. How did you feel that this particular contest just exploded in terms of entertainment and popularity?

I tell you now bro. I never thought it would have blown up the way it did. It blew my mind. After it hit it’s highest point at ESL One Manila back in 2016 I thought that was it. Then I get a call from ESL that they want to continue the game for ESL One Frankfurt 2016 just a few months after.

It had a trailer and all. In front of thousands of people at the Commerzbank Arena. That was simply a wow moment for me. Esports and Dota has brought me all over the world. I would have never thought of it. I’m very grateful. 🙂

According to Liquipedia, you weren’t familiar with DotA or Dota 2 as you’ve never played the game before. Yet you decided to venture into hosting a Dota 2 tournament. How difficult was it to get a grasp of the game, the community, etc when you practically knew nothing about the game? What did you do to overcome such a hurdle?

Well first thing I wanted to do was be upfront about it.I remember the first thing I said at the very beginning of hosting the GMPGL back in 2013, “Hey guys, I don’t play Dota, but I’ll school you in Street Fighter 4.

“Why did I do that? I wanted to be open and honest.

A Host is about connecting with the audience. If I pretended to know about the game, then that would get in the way of me connecting with them as that would be dishonest.

Plus, I feel the community would have been more annoyed with someone pretending to know about their game than someone who chose to be honest to them. I personally would have been if I were a fan of the game.

Just be honest. Don’t pretend. You can always learn about the game as you go along. That’s a fun journey in itself. In terms of overcoming it, I knew I was being hired for my skills as a host. I may have no years in playing Dota, but I have years of experience as a host and as an entertainer. That was what I was bringing into the table.

There is this longstanding discussion in the industry over the years. Just because you love games, doesn’t mean you’ll get a job in the esports/gaming industry.

Your love and passion for something doesn’t get you the job. Skills do. You get hired for a particular skill.

If an interviewer asks you, “Why should we hire you?” You say, “I love gaming and esports. To the core of my bones I do.”

That won’t get you the job. The collective love of something builds community, but collective skills is what builds an industry.

We have the love and passion. So much of it. It’s wonderful. But to continue to build this industry forward, we need that same group of passionate people to have a particular set of skills.I continue to improve my skills as a host and entertainer.

For as long as I am wanted, I am grateful and happy to host for the Dota community and for esports in general. I have played Dota. It’s a f***ing hard game. Hahaha. But I know more about it now than I did years ago. I can follow the games now compared to before.

But I don’t think I would have gotten here if I didn’t have my skills as a Host.

Later on, you were recruited to host ESL One Manila in 2016. How did you end up landing this gig?

Mineski suggested I be a Host. ESL gave me a shot. I will always be grateful to Mineski for that. That opened so many doors. Thank you Roro and Lon for that opportunity.

I’m also very thankful to ESL for giving me a shot. I’ve had the pleasure of working with them from then till the present and have built friendships with the wonderful people there.

Thankfully you’ve become a staple in the hosting category at ESL One events following your success at ESL One Manila and Frankfurt 2016. To what or whom do you attribute this success?

Years of grinding and just trying to get good as a Host and entertainer. I was hosting since I was 17. I did radio, acting, stand-up comedy, comedic writing and improv over the years. All have helped in being the kind of performer and entertainer I am now.

I was ready to take on an opportunity because I paid my dues to get to a particular level. There are no shortcuts. You have to get the time in. You simply can’t get experience. That takes years.

Even if you manage to take advantage of opportunity by being at the right place at the right time and managed to get into an industry, how will you sustain it? You have to constantly deliver. If you don’t, then they’ll get someone who can.

I worked hard. Paid my dues. I failed for years and pushed on. That’s why I’m here. I’m so grateful. It’s incredibly fulfilling.

This question might appear simple but is tricky in nature. Which events do you like hosting the most? ESL, Manila Masters, MPGL or Galaxy Battles II?

I enjoy hosting events. Period. 🙂

I love hosting for and entertaining people. All those events were extremely memorable and had their highlights that I’ll always remember.

GMPGL is where the global Dota community got an idea of how the Philippine scene was. That pushed the industry forward. I had a great time doing all the segments for that event. I still remember the laughs and reactions of the crowd. 🙂

ESL One Manila was our first international tournament. That was an extremely big deal for our country. Everyone felt the love of the Philippine community those days. It put us on the map. The Manila Major followed after that. Then that’s when it was echoed that Filipinos are the best fans in Dota. That was wonderful.

The Macho Man and all the fun moments in between will be something I’d always remember. I worked with an international production. Saw how they did it. So how international talent did it. It was a great thing to experience.

Manila Masters was the first big event with international teams where it was all majorly produced by local production Mineski. To be able to scale an event of that magnitude was a huge step forward for us in the industry.

The Battle of the Rages and all the other segments were a hit. Except for “The Hype Off’ That could have been so much better. That was the most time I worked on producing segments. Two months leading up to the event. I asked Roro (Mineski CEO) if I can have a team to put together segments/content for the event. He gave me a shot and his trust. We delivered. That was awesome.

Galaxy Battles 2 had so much going against it and so many challenges. But the team decided to push on and we managed to turn it around and end on a high note.

We got to meme the Shanghai Major and they were open to poke fun at themselves. I remember some guys having tears after all of that. We all gave each other hugs. Those were the bright moments I remember from what was suppose to be a dark dot in the Philippine esports industry. We pushed on and never gave up.

I love events. All events are unique with special moments to remember. 🙂

What are your views on the five teams that pulled out of ESL One Mumbai scheduled to begin next week?

It is what it is. But I’d rather focus on the eight teams that are flying in and set to give their best for the Indian fans.

The talent as well (myself included) are extremely excited to experience the passion of the esports community which we’ve heard so much about.

Lets move on to hosting. Can you give some tips to other aspiring talents trying out to become hosts?

You have to get good. First and foremost. If you aren’t good enough, then people who are will get the job over you. Look at the best in the industry and make it a goal to get to that level. That would give you the highest chances of success.

I took up improv and stand-up comedy to get particularly good as a host. I attribute those two things for my particular style as a host.

But nothing beats stage time. Nothing. You need experience. You need to be comfortable onstage. When you are comfortable that’s when you can start to be authentic.

The best ones for me are the most authentic talents. In all aspects of entertainment. You connect to those who are authentic. Not to those who are fake or are trying to be someone they are not.

Once you are good enough. That’s when you start putting yourself out there. Build a talent profile. Build a website. Build a talent reel. Show those that provide jobs why they should hire you. Make it easy for them to see your work. Reach out to organizers and producers. Have a professional profile and send it to them.

It’s not enough to be the best anymore in this world. People are constantly putting themselves out there. You have to put yourself out there. Even if you are the best, but if no one knows about you, how will you get hired?

Get good. Be professional. Put yourself out there.

Work hard. Work smart. Love and enjoy what you do because when you fail (and you will) it’s that love and passion that will drive you to get up and push forward.

Surround yourself with good and positive people. Do it one day at a time. Embrace failure. It won’t happen overnight. But do all of that and be honest with yourself and the people around you, you will get there. 🙂

Judging by your Twitter posts, you’ve become a fitness freak, hitting the gym regularly and maintaining your health. This is one area the general gamer seems to neglect. How important is health for gaming according to you?

It’s so important. Before when I was overweight (230lbs at my heaviest) I was getting sick most of the time. My knees and back started hurting more. I was hyper-acidic. I remember breathing heavy after moving around the stage after a certain while for events. It got in the way of doing my job properly.

I have a family now. I have a wonderful life. I want to live long. So I decided to get healthy. I feel great now. I feel strong. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself.

Gaming is sedentary but I’m happy to see Pros incorporating fitness to their training. It does make a difference. Dexterity, mental toughness, reaction times, hand eye coordination, you’d be able to perform better within those aspects if you were healthy and physically fit.

It doesn’t necessarily guarantee a win, but it will give you a competitive edge.
I believe over the years that stereotype of gamers not being fit will fade. It already has. Gamers are getting extremely fit. More now than how it was years ago. The more mainstream we get, the more responsible I believe we will be in that regard.

Did you get a chance to beat Redeye at pool/snookers yet?

Sigh… not yet. We just haven’t had the time to do it. It’s about the show and the work when we do events. So we really need to allot extra time to be able to have that match. We will definitely have it though. 🙂

Eri isn’t your real first name, is it? Tell us your real name : )

Ari is my real name. It means reproductive organs here in the Philippines. That’s why I changed it to Eri. Highschool was hard. Hahahaha…ha…haha..ha (cries in a corner)

Alright. That’s a wrap. Anything you’d like to say before we sign off?

To the Dota community, thank you so much for taking me in and accepting me. You’ve given me wonderful experiences I will always remember. I am so grateful for that. I am here and will be happy to give my best to entertain everyone for as long as you want me. 🙂

If you would like to know more about my work, you can follow me at KarY.

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Headline image courtesy: ESL