Brax: “If the right opportunity comes up, why would I refuse?”

KarY 2018-06-17 10:05:15
  Braxton ‘Brax’ Paulson is one of the few intriguing personalities I’ve come across in the North American Dota 2 circuit. He has had a formidable career as a pro-gamer and has the experience to back it up. He’s best remembered for playing under the banner of LGD.International, Na’Vi.USA and Quantic Gaming. He has also assumed the mantle of a coach and provided much needed insights at Digital Chaos. He’s someone who is always looking to contribute to the community in one way or the other. Today, he is a successful talent at Moonduck studio and believes in sharing his knowledge with his co-casters and the community. He’s cheerful, charming and weird in his own gentle way. We had the opportunity to sit down with him for an interview where he is glad to discuss about the new DPC season; it's pros and cons, removal of invite system — which he finds odd, multi-team ownership at Valve events, qualifier slot allocations for different regions, The International 2018 - amongst many other things. Greetings Braxton. How are you doing? I am doing quite well! I'm in a happy place mentally and it's been a long time since I've felt that way. The International 2018 qualifiers are upon us and as expected, BTS and Moonduck are flying in a fantastic line up of talented casters and analysts that includes you. How did this plan come to fruition? I was not included in the discussion, but I assume it was probably an intense, heated conversation regarding dietary options. What can we, the viewers, expect over the course of the qualifiers? Any surprises in store for us? People can expect the best coverage of course! As for surprises, people will just have to wait and see! Let's shift our focus towards the new DPC season. For starters, there'll be no direct invites for Majors and Minors. Every team will have to prove their mettle in order to qualify. Kindly share your thoughts. Removing invites seems a bit odd, especially for the teams that would consistently place near the top. Teams that sit at the top all year round may find this process tedious and I’'m curious to see how it shapes the numbers of invites for each region (ie: CIS with 1 slot for ideally VP every time). Obviously this would be bad; however, it aims to keep teams on their toes instead of getting complacent due to being invited to qualifiers I guess. I don't really see the upside of having 0 invites. I guess if an underdog happened to qualify over the expected winner it could be exciting. Roster lock has been removed, the number of DPC events in a calendar year has halved, Majors and Minors have been paired up. Tell us the pros and cons on this particular point. Certain orgs are going to get the spots to host Minors/Majors and it's hard to say how different it's going to be in terms of format. Teams want better formats, but that costs a lot more money since it takes longer for everything to be played out; hopefully a happy medium or that goal is reached. It would be pretty cool if the Minors somehow fed into the Majors. It's hard to give a pro/con list to future changes because we only really know the format. We have no idea how it's actually going to work. Another change accompanying the announcement is of multiple team ownership. In the immortal words of ODPixel: "Multi team ownership nerfed", how do you think this rule is going to affect the scene, especially, orgs such as Vici Gaming, LGD and Invictus Gaming that house more than one team in DotA 2? Do you agree with this change in rule? It makes sense to not allow multiple ownership and it's obviously going to impact the current teams on a side that the public will probably never see. I don't think it really changes anything we'll see besides maybe some branding. It's not like orgs command their players to recruit x because their boss thinks he'll be the right fit for the team. According to me, the best part is that every team participating in Minors and Majors will receive DPC points. However, do you think this change will bring adequate focus on tier 2/3 teams trying to make their mark on to the scene, especially via Minors? Unless there is some sort of restriction where teams playing in Majors can't play Minors, there's no hope for the tier 2 scene. These people spend countless hours playing and trying to get better than their competitors and only a very small percentage of them ever make something of it. The only real way a tier 2 team leaves a mark on the scene is when they transition to being a team that consistently makes it to events by basically becoming a tier 1 team. How are tournament organizers going to convince sponsors to invest in Minors as the possibility of well established teams with a huge fan following may not participate (assuming they've already qualified)? What incentives do the sponsors have? If the big name teams don't participate in Minors, which I don't think will happen unless they simply can't due to some rule or other obligation, then they probably won't be able to secure these larger sponsors unless some previous agreement was already made. For sponsors, it's quite simple: big names = more viewers. Na’Vi has quite a dedicated fanbase and they always attract large numbers no matter their results. So yeah, they probably can't attract larger sponsors if their plans for Minors is to only have tier 2/3 teams. There has been a lot of debate on the allocated qualifier slots for various regions for TI8. Whilst CIS, SA and EU has only received 1 slot each, NA and SEA have received more, especially NA having 3 slots. Has there been a fair allocation of slots for regions? TI is about having the best teams from each region included. It's no surprise that if OpTic had qualified to TI through DPC points then there would be 2 na spots. Valve wants the best teams at TI and it doesn't matter where they come from as long as all regions are represented. This is quite a polarizing topic and if you look at results, player history and branding, imagine if there were 2 NA and 2 EU qualifiers. It would most likely be between OptTic/VGJ.storm/EG for NA and who really knows for Europe. Obviously I'm from NA so I must be biased, but if you break it down, you have a newly shaped OG that has been a shadow of their former self for the past year and then another stack with a lifetime expectancy of the TI Qualifiers. The real region that got screw was SEA between Fnatic and TNC. The qualifiers look stacked. Which region is going to be the most competitive in your view? NA and SEA look like the most competitive regions. In NA, you have your expected teams to qualify being OpTic and VGJ.Storm, then you've got EG—a team with high hopes—and other teams in the mix who also have a chance to take the spot such as CoL/Immortals and I'm probably forgetting others. SEA has always been a region where teams sort of creep up into qualifying for these events. I would describe the region as a place with many high skilled players with a severe lack of leadership. People are mechanically skilled but their macro and perhaps discipline are lacking. Moving on, Facebook recently launched its own gaming video hub in order to compete with Twitch. In your opinion, will it be a threat to Twitch in the long run? Why? Healthy competition is always better than a monopoly! This interview is almost over; please bear with me a little longer. Who is your favourite caster, panelist/analyst, host and why? Shaneomad, Shaneomad, and Shaneomad. He just brings a smile to my face and whenever I see him on the screen, it feels like I'm just hanging out with a friend. Have you received an invite to cast at TI8? Confidential. Willing to provide insight for a healthy donation. Traditional sports team are slowly venturing into esports. Give us your opinion on how this can be beneficial to the scene in different scenarios? More players in the market is better for everyone. Are you going to ever go pro again? If the right opportunity comes up, then how could I refuse? Last but not the least, who will take home the Aegis of Champions this year? Will it be China's year again or otherwise? I would say Liquid/VP/LGD are probably top 3. Liquid’s going for 2 years in a row! That's about it. Thank you for your time and patience. Anything you'd like to add before we sign off? Thanks for this interview and all the busy people out there taking their time to read my ramblings.   Die-hard Dota 2 lover at heart. Reading and writing are not just hobbies; they're my life. Family man, ardent esports follower and a boring personality. If you would like to know more about my work, you can follow me at KarY. Image Credits: Valve, Redbull

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