Esports Heaven caught up with Benjamin "Bkop" Kopilow for an interview where he discusses on a wide array of topics. He talks about his life, his ambitions, why he loves to grind cast the Chinese scene -- to name a few.
Hey Bkop. Kindly introduce yourself to our readers.
Hey everyone my name is Benjamin Kopilow you probably know me as Bkop and have seen me in twitch chat rooting for every Chinese Dota team there is (GO ENERGY PACEMAKER!).
I am an up and coming caster doing everything I can to make it to the next step to provide you guys with the most enjoyable casts I can so you can enjoy watching Dota even more than I do.
You're one of the up and coming casters in the scene having casted joinDOTA League, H-Cup and DPL -- to name a few. Kindly tell us what made you decide to get into casting especially Dota 2?
Well back a few years ago I was home again going to school nearby because I was coming out of remission with my Crohn’s disease forcing me to come back from school in Florida to start going to school near home so I could be with family and closer to my gastroenterologist.
I was spending more and more time watching competitive Dota and just getting myself immersed within the Dota scene.
I was able to spend so much time watching Dota because I was getting too sick and really in too much pain to want to go out so I spent that time watching games and trying to catch all the details of the games and break it down in my head.
I don’t really know what went through my head to make me want to cast but I saw a post on Reddit asking for anyone to cast a small captains draft league and I just replied and said sure!
It was twice a week and a bo5 final that went on for like SIX HOURS! I was so bad then, I didn’t know anything I didn’t know how to hype I was just speaking loud nothings. (https://youtu.be/mReh9R1HnqM
From there I asked to cover some JoinDota league which I still have old index cards with info for with some familiar names on them which is really cool.
After that I started covering Chinese Dota on my own channel cause I wasn’t sleeping because of the pain from my Crohn’s so I would just cast on my channel because it took me out of my world and put me into something exciting something where I could just forget about my Crohn’s for a couple hours.
It’s still one of the major reasons I’ll stay up and just cast random Chinese Dota, I just want to escape for a while.
Your first big break came when you were selected to cast WESG during EU/CIS Regional final in Barcelona following Galaxy Battles II before being flown to Moscow to cast Epicenter after winning the competition. Describe your experiences at all the three lan events.
Well first was WESG, I still remember getting the Skype message inviting me to that event. I was at my bowling league on a Thursday and we were in the middle of game two and I was just putting the finishing touches on a 210 game when I got a notification from GoDz just saying “would you be interested in going to WESG EU LAN at the end of November?”
I replied immediately “100%” didn’t even think, didn’t know where it was didn’t realize I was missing Thanksgiving just said yes. It was such a cool first step into this new LAN casting world because WESG was such a laid back event.
All the players were there having a good time playing Dota and representing their respective nations and there was some great Dota during that event (https://youtu.be/jWU-adi8a9E
It was nice having this new experience really meant a lot to me. Getting my makeup done, being on camera was cool where I got to show off my new suits, and working with some great people (GrandGrant, Gareth, Lumi, Tonya, Udovenko).
I finally felt like there was something to show for all the work leading up to that point and I could make my parents proud of me which felt amazing as they watched my casts at Thanksgiving it felt amazing to have them feel proud of me.
After WESG came Galaxy Battles which really came together because of some crazy factors especially the fact that it lost its Major title and a majority of the talent dropped out of the event.
I had asked in early December if the talent was picked and I was told yea they were set so I set my sights on just getting better with my time and working my flaws.
However, it was like 2am on the 16th of January and I got a message saying they needed someone to come to Galaxy Battles and this time around I wasn’t just like yea 100% with all the news going around.
I woke up my Dad asked him what I should do what the game plan was because I would have to leave in under 24 hours and do over 24 hours of traveling. We discussed it at 2am agreed why not just go and I told them sent the info I needed and I was off to Manila the next day! (Shoutout to Cathay Pacific I had a great flight #notsponsored) I got there and it was completely different than WESG.
This event had a crowd and we were in the biggest arena in SEA (I think). This time around I worked with people I had never met before and they were just as nice as can be! Being on panel for the first and only time up to this point was great too. This event had so much energy like I couldn’t hear myself think or speak or anything I just felt this wave of passion from the crowd that then built up in me and used to cast as best I could.
I learned so much from this event met amazing people and I just knew I wanted to continue to work even harder to make the next step.
Most recently was Epicenter and that was a long road to get to. It started with the casting contest which I thought I didn’t even get to the second round on but ended up getting through the phase one open qualifiers and worked my hardest in the closed qualifiers to end up getting picked and going to Moscow.
Epicenter was different compared to the other two earlier and was a whole new experience too. My first DPC event and major and I was excited to show what I had to give and what I worked so hard on with all my time.
The group stage was a challenge but a learning experience for me as I was paired up with Killerpigeon and we had to work out being two play by play casters trying to give the full experience to the viewer.
I think with each day we got better at feeling where to input ourselves and I have KP to thank for that. This event I made so many friends, friends I still talk to on a daily basis and that is one of the best things about these events is the friends made.
For the playoffs I was paired with GoDz and I think we did so well with the two games we got and I wish we got to do even more!
With how this event went and how the tournament organizers helped me out and let me have that chance I hope I get to go back to Moscow and work the next Epicenter to be even better this time around.
Did you get paid for Galaxy Battles II?
Yea I got paid for Galaxy Battles it was a great time.
How is it to work for Beyond The Summit? Do you work full time over there? Who approached you from BTS to land you up with gigs?
Freelancing for Beyond the Summit is nice but I always would love to do more for them than just qualifiers.
I ended up starting to work for BTS because I was covering early seasons of H-Cup and DPL on my channel and Blaze came over to watch and asked if I would want to cover these Chinese games on their channel.
It felt great to get a shot over on Beyond the Summit and I continue to work hard to hold on to this opportunity and do as much as I can to make the viewers enjoy the games I cover over there.
You've been grinding casts in the Chinese scene at god awful hours from USA. What makes you cast the Chinese scene?
The reason I cast Chinese Dota so much is because I don’t sleep much and I use my time covering it like I said earlier to escape from the pain of my Crohn’s most nights as well as I use the casts to learn the scene and grow as a caster.
Other than that its a scene that doesn’t get much English coverage and is heavily neglected by the west to the point where I think not many people really know the teams and players coming up into the scene.
In my opinion the Chinese scene has the most depth and there is really so much you can learn by even just watching small Chinese tournaments that involved tier 1 and tier 2 teams.
Speaking of which, tell us few things about the Chinese scene that the general community might be unaware of?
I think a lot of people don’t realize the depth of the Chinese scene with just how many players and teams are just a small step away from making a LAN.
I would say there are like 10 teams maybe more that can make a LAN event from China: LGD, VG, Aster, EHOME, Keen Gaming are towards the top but also on the edge are Team Root, iG, Newbee MGB, RNG, Serenity, and DBG.
wouldn’t be too surprised to see a couple of these teams reconfigure and become even stronger and shock us at TI but that's a stretch and a hot take I would love to see.
What is your aim in this industry? How far do you want to go?
My aim is make it to the top! I want to take the next step as a caster and start to find myself on the talent list for more events! I wouldn’t mind doing more than casting at events either.
Go to events and cast, interview, panel, etc, I’ve got enough energy to work at over 100% for an entire event and I just want that chance to show what I’ve got and to be more involved as I know I have what it takes.
How tough has it been for you to survive in this scene where casters are rarely given a chance due to the game already being at its peak in terms of talent?
It has definitely been a struggle at times especially in my time since Epicenter. I truthfully thought coming out of that event that I was moving upwards and I was ready for it but things have stalled to a complete standstill and I have no one to blame but myself.
I think it’s a mixture of a lot of things and it some ways I haven’t helped myself and I have turned Tournament organizers off by some of the things I say which I am working on and getting better at.
I really wish I could show what I have to give to Tournament Organizers and that they would bring me on to events because I know I have a lot to offer, more than just hype in my casting my extensive knowledge for multiple scenes too.
I am willing to work as hard as I can but sometimes it's hard to get the attention needed to be picked for an event in such a saturated scene.
Who has helped in encouraging you in this field?
There have been two people who have continued to help me and motivate me when I have needed it.
First person is my brother Alex he has told me to fight for this as much as I can. Whenever I find myself in a slump he tells me if I want it to keep fighting for it. He comes from a background of being on television and being a sports reporter so he knows more than anyway what it takes to grind and stay persistent. I would love to work in Esports with my brother I could definitely see him being an interviewer as he has so much experience and is very professional.
Second is MoFarah. After meeting at Epicenter and losing to him so many times in Fifa (which by the way isn't fair when I play J-League against EPL) we became good friends and he has listened to me vent and always has my back.
He is just one of the nicest guy I have met within the scene and he will always try to help me out when I ask. Honestly I’m not sure if I would have the mental fortitude without the two of them.
Who is your mentor/s and why?
I wouldn’t really say I have anyone mentoring me but I do have a couple of casters who inspire me. Capitalist is one of those guys, he works so hard and in many different roles too: Casting in both roles (PbP & Analyst), paneling, and he has hosted from time to time.
Redeye is another guy who inspires me mainly because of his work ethic. He works so much, works so hard and he is always trying to provide the viewer with the best experience he can, something I only hope to one day be able to as well as he does.
Finally, and only finally because really I draw inspiration from basically everyone in the scene in one way or another, is ODPixel, I work hard to one day be able to put myself on the big stage like he does and produce the kind of hype he does as well. Honestly there are so many people within the casting scene and even just within all of Esports that inspire me.
Anything you'd like to say before we wrap this interview up?
Hopefully looking forward I continue to get even better at casting and produce a cast that Tournament Organizers are willing to take a chance on. Want to say thanks to my fan you know who you are!
Finally I will continue to work at over 100% and give every cast everything I've got and more, I know I have what it takes I know I am ready for the next step I am just waiting for the next step and a knock at the door.
Thanks everyone see you soon!
If you would like to know more about my work, you can follow me at KarY.
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Headline image courtesy: Bkop Twitter