Basskip sat down with Esports Heaven on his grit with casting and discussing what else he brings to the table on broadcast.
Interview conducted by KarY
Hey Cameron! Introduce yourself to our readers
Hey KarY! Glad we could finally hammer out a time to do this interview. I'm Basskip, a freelance Dota caster probably best known for covering SEA/Chinese Dota.
Tell us a bit more about yourself.
Oh boy, you've really opened up a can of worms on that one. I'm originally from Johannesburg in South Africa, but because of my father's work I've lived all over the world including Indonesia, the U.S., the Philippines, Peru, Chile before finally ending up in Australia - where I've been for most of my adult life. If anyone is wondering where my American accent comes from, it's from going to international schools in all those places. I have a younger brother, but he's into LoL more than he's into dota so we won't talk too much about him. I have a degree in Software Engineering, and I'm currently looking for a bit of software development work on the side, if anyone reading this is hiring!
I've known you for quite a while and to those who don't know, you've been around the scene for nearly a decade now. Yet, you call yourself a freelancer. Why so?
Yeah I've been playing since 2007, and casting since 2012 - though the casting was only a hobby for a long time while I was still studying. I think you'd be surprised how many Dota casters would still consider themselves freelance! Studios hiring people full-time as casters these days isn't really much of a thing so I feel like it's the best way to describe what I do.
Interesting. Why aren't studios hiring people as full time casters?
I won't claim to be an expert on the business side of esports, but I imagine at the end of the day it comes down to it just not making financial sense, at least in the Dota space. It's expensive to relocate people and most organizers only host a handful of Dota events a year, which means it's more logical to just hire talent on a per-event basis.
On that note, is it fair to say that you've been struggling to come to the spotlight as a top caster? For example, your lack of attendance at major LAN events. What reasons would you attribute towards this situation?
I'd like to think I've made steady progress, but it's definitely not easy breaking into the top tiers of Dota casting. You're right that I do a lot of remote broadcasting compared to my appearances at LANs. We have so many amazing talent in the dota scene that you really have to be on top of your game to make the cut for the bigger events.
I think I suffer a little bit from being a jack of all trades but master of none when it comes to casting - in my opinion my play by play is technically solid, but isn't going to compete with the raw hype of someone like ODPixel or Tobi. By the same token, I like to think as someone that's been following the game for such a long time my analysis is good but it isn't going to reach the same depths as someone who has played the game at its highest level. Living in Australia probably isn't doing me any favours either! All I can do is just keep on improving and try and find my niche; it would be amazing to work some DPC events one day.
Related: Interview with David ‘GoDz’ Parker: “…A lot of semi-professional athletes […] are not able to financially support themselves from their craft alone.”
According to you, in which area would you like to improve the most?
Tough question! The first thing that comes to mind is being a better storyteller, I think that's what really sets the best casters in our scene apart from the rest. As someone who got into casting because of people like Tobi and LD the way that they're able to build a cohesive story around every teamfight, game, series and tournament really is something special.
Many are of the opinion that the Dota casting scene is oversaturated; that makes it difficult to make the cut unless you have something out of the ordinary in you like ODPixel and Tobi. Similarly to tier 2/3 scenes, Dota casting is also facing the heat due to more casters giving up or looking for opportunities elsewhere since the income source is very scarce. Is that a sign of worry?
I don't think it's a problem that the Dota casting scene is competitive. If anything, it's great for the fans that we have the depth of talent that we do. As a caster, I do think the casting scene struggles somewhat with the same all-or-nothing nature that players experience when it comes to TI. For many talents, whether or not you're invited to TI determines the success or failure of your Dota season, and can ripple on into the next season of minor/major invites.
What can the remedy be for such a situation?
I'm really not sure. It would be nice to see Valve going back to something similar to what they did at TI4 - inviting a big chunk of the casting community, even if they then only have some of them working the group stage and not the main event.
Let me ask you, what do you bring to the table as a caster as compared to others?
I like to think my mechanics knowledge is up there! Beyond that I tell myself being able to do panel, play by play, analysis and observing is a good thing - it definitely came in handy at Space Hub last year.
Where do you see yourself in 2020 in this scene?
It's always uncertain, but I'll probably still be grinding away on the minor/major regional qualifiers and other remote coverage. Last year I set the goal of making it back to the TI qualifier hub - this year I'd like to do the same and hopefully get a crack at a DPC LAN event.
What do you think of the current Australian Dota scene and why it is fumbling time and again to make a mark onto the scene?
I think the Australian Dota scene is actually stronger and more organized than it's ever been, but the problem will always be how strong it is relative to SEA. To compete on the international scale as an Australian team you would have to be able to win the SEA qualifier for an event, and SEA as a region has only gotten stronger and stronger in recent years. The challenge of winning a SEA qualifier as an Aussie squad is made even more difficult by the ping disadvantage Aussies face when playing on SEA servers.
What do you think about the regional leagues introduced by Valve for next season?
I'm really excited about the regional leagues! It seems like exactly what people have been asking for in terms of Valve supporting the scene as a whole and providing an avenue for up and coming players to make their way into the upper echelons of the game. I think it will really be a big hit with fans, having super consistent Dota to watch for a big chunk of the year. There's always been a bit of a problem with the major qualifiers that there's just too many games at once for anyone to watch all of it.
However, I do also think that there are a lot of questions when it comes to the organization / broadcasting side of things. As someone who has consistently done coverage of the Major qualifiers since they started, I'm a little sad to see that there may no longer be an opportunity to do that as a remote broadcaster. Like I said earlier studios just aren't really a big thing in Dota these days, so it will be interesting to see how organiZers and talent will have to adjust to the new structure. It also remains to be seen if the gaps in the schedule will be enough for 3rd party tournament organiZers to run events.
Alright Cameron, that's a wrap. Anything you'd like to say before we sign off?
If anyone has any feedback for me I'd appreciate them hitting me up on social media. Other than that, thanks for having me!
Follow the interviewer on Twitter at @Karyb4u.