Brian "BSJ" Canavan sat down with Esports Heaven for an interview. BSJ talks about his struggling professional career, his priority on streaming as a stable source of income, his career as a broadcasting talent and more.
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Hey BSJ. Let's get straight to the first topic - your pro career. You haven't played as a pro for a few months now since ROONS. Tell us what is happening on that front? Is it fair to say you've been struggling in this phase of your career?
I haven’t had as much success as I would have liked as a competitor. I think it is very tough to be a streamer, coach, and player at the same time. I decided to take a break from burn out this season and will be looking to see what happens for next season.
Does the lack of chances as a pro make you feel like giving up or retiring from competitive gaming? Also, what reasons do you attribute to the lack of success in competitive gaming?
I haven't necessarily given up on competitive gaming. The reliability of the income just isn't there and can be quite stressful. I fortunately have a steady, reliable income from streaming.
However, streaming does make it difficult to be successful, almost every player in competitive does not want to play on a team with someone who consistently streams.
So playing competitive is a big sacrifice for me financially unless I am making it to big tournaments.
Going back to the first question, have you ever thought of giving one of them up to focus on the other?
Yeah, I have begun to prioritize streaming with potential to take an opportunity as a competitor. It used to be the other way around.
Why do the players not want to play with someone who consistently streams?
There is a stigma around streaming and being competitive being mutually exclusive. Also, concern of revealing strategies, playstyle, and favorite heroes.
Oh I see. You're doing well as a caster/analyst. You're a constant at BTS events, casting TI8 last year and KL Major in the beginning of this year's DPC season, the recently held TI9 regional qualifiers as well as The Summit 10 as well. Have you ever considered taking up this side of the job on a permanent basis?
I personally like the idea of streaming as a primary source of income. I am my own boss, make my own hours, and can work as much or as little as I see fit. I very much enjoy casting and being an analyst but I would only be good as an analyst if my skill level in the game remains high. Therefore, I have to be playing a ton of Dota anyways. I prefer to keep that as a nice addition to what I do, not what I do permanently.
Fair enough. Where do you see yourself post TI9?
After TI I will be looking to play with a team but otherwise I will stick to streaming/casting events that I am invited to.
Speaking of TI, this year's prize pool has crossed $30 million and is expected to reach $35 million. The prize pool is growing this year at a faster pace as compared to last. Your thoughts?
I think the event being in China has probably made the prize pool go up. A large portion of Dota players are from that region especially the ones that spend money on the compendium.
I think the prize pool growing yet player base not growing shows that Dota is becoming a spectator sport. I know many people who tune into my channel and watch professional Dota that used to love playing and now simply watch.
Dota is incredibly stressful and difficult to keep up with the meta and skill level. It is becoming more and more popular to simply enjoy watching good Dota rather than trying to be good.
The discrepancy from tier 1 to tier 2/3 Dota in terms of payouts is accentuated by TI and makes it more demotivating to the average player to want to go pro.
That brings me to my next question. There is a growing concern amongst players and talents alike regarding TI having such a massive prize pool as compared to other events -- DPC contracted as well as third party events combined that constitute 1/4th of the prize money. This leaves tier 2/3 players in a lurch and offer them no incentives whatsoever to have a sustainable career. Do you agree and why?
Yes, I agree. Mainstream professional sports and even a lot of esports are salary based with bonuses based on performance. As of now, Dota is almost entirely performance based. You can go from making hundreds of thousands of dollars to virtually nothing based on 1 series in a qualifier for TI. This is a large reason why I prioritize streaming over competitive.
What can the remedy for such a situation be? Also, I suppose Twitch pay outs are way less as compared to the streaming platforms in China owing to its monopoly in this area. Ever considered streaming on one of those platforms?
I personally think Valve would have to sacrifice a portion of the TI prize pool and dump it into the tier2/3 scene.
Sadly, I call it a sacrifice because watching tier 2/3 dota compared to tier 1 is just lame for most viewers. It is like watching Lebron James, or the 20th place team in the NBA. I personally don't see how the situation is fixed without a sacrifice from Valve but I do not believe it will happen because there is no financial incentive for them. I would have a hard time convincing myself that they should.
I would never stream on Chinese platforms because no one that is Chinese would want to watch me. Twitch payouts are perfectly fine with me.
Alright then, let's move on to the current meta. Tell us briefly what you like and dislike in the current patch/meta?
I like that most heroes are viable and that the pace of the games are really fast. I do not like how much most carry heroes have been nerfed making winning the safe-lane near impossible without tri-laning or getting cute with lane setups. I also strongly dislike creep cutting in general.
The other day while we were casually speaking you mentioned that there are eight teams that have the ability to win a TI. What I'd like is for you to shorten that list a bit and pick the top 4 that have the chance to lift the Aegis.
Liquid, Secret, Vici, and LGD.
Now pick one out of the 4.
Why Liquid and not others? What about OG?
OG hasn’t proven consistent success. I think Liquid looks better with W33 as a fit and all of his best heroes are meta right now.
What do you think of the Matu kick? Was it fair?
Fair is irrelevant. The rules are the rules until they are changed. If someone has a problem with the kick, don't address liquid, address the system.
Alright, tell us what you expect from TI9 from a general/broader perspective?
I expect similar to what happened last year for the meta. Three or four surprise heroes that were hardly seen before the event that become first pick first ban and shape the entire meta of the tournament. I also expect to see some amazing Dota because we always do at TI and this is a well balanced meta.
That's a wrap BSJ. Give a shout-out in the classic BSJ style. You know what I'm talking about!
Keep it PMA, keep it BSJ, promocode BSJ, etc
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Headline image courtesy: BeyondTheSummit