MacMate sits down with Esports Heaven for an interview and discusses about his life growing up, foray into esports, his broadcasting gigs in CS:GO and Valorant, problems faced by Australian casters and more.
Hey Geordie. How is it going? Tell us about your life growing up.
Yeah mate, not bad. I currently have a bit of a cough I’m trying to shake before work kicks up again. Growing up for me was pretty normal. I lived on the south coast of New South Wales in a small beach town called Shoalhaven Heads.
I played a lot of sport, did pretty well at school and got into video production as a hobby from the age of 15. As per many a 90’s kid, my love for competitive gaming started with Mario Kart 64 and Super Smash Bros against my friends.
I didn’t have a computer capable of running any ‘esports’ titles until the second half of 2011 while I was in my first year at University Of Wollongong, and even then after I downloaded CS:S I thought it was a stupid game because the bullets didn’t go where my crosshair was aiming.
What inspired you to get into a casting role? Did you delve into anything else relating to your field before you arrived at your destination, like casting, playing competitively yourself, etc.?
I guess the congested NBN (Internet) in Australia was my reason for getting into casting. I was playing competitively but got kicked from my team after my Internet would spike to 100-150ms ping from the hours of 6pm-11pm.
I ended up casting a few of my mates CyberGamer Amateur and CyberGamer Main games for a laugh, just taking the piss out of what they were doing. Everyone that was watching seemed to enjoy it so I decided to keep on casting as my internet showed no signs of improving.
From there I just grinded out thousands of games of CGA - CGP, ESEA Open/MDL, played a season of competitive in between, came 2nd in one of ESEA’s caster challenge and just kept on climbing the rungs and focusing on improvement.
You’re primarily into commentating CS:GO games, however, you are also giving Valorant a try. Is it difficult to find a solid ground in the CS commentating landscape careerwise due to which branching out to Valorant seemed like a logical option?
Valorant is great but there has been little to no opportunities for casting it consistently locally or internationally because every man and his dog is trying to jump on the bandwagon.
The CS landscape for us last year ended up working out in our favour because we were able to pick up a lot of international B streams and cast some S tier CSGO so we were very fortunate in that regard, this year I’m hoping we get that same opportunity again.
Why go with Valorant and not any other title? What’s so special about the game?
I am always looking to improve my casting and a great way to challenge and push yourself is by learning to cast different games. Valorant is an easy fit due to the similarities between it and CSGO.
I have previously casted some other titles including Rocket League and WarCraft 3, I’ve also always wanted to cast PUBG, Overwatch, LOL, Fortnite and Smash Bros Melee but the stars haven’t aligned for me on those.
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What kind of issues plague the CS:GO scene that makes it extremely difficult for talents to find a solid footing in the game? Is it the oversaturation of talents -- established and upcomers alike -- which poses a challenge?
Personally I see the main issue is being a talent from Australia. The cost and logistics to get us overseas just seems to be more daunting for TO’s than flying talent from EU or NA.
I wouldn’t say the top end is oversaturated at all, everyone that is performing at the top level is there for a reason and has put in just as much work on themselves and on improvement as the next person.
I am really hoping to get overseas to a big event at least once in the next couple of years, here’s hoping the world can rid itself of Covid soon to make that dream more likely to become a reality.
How does Valorant address the above mentioned issue besides being a new game with fresh opportunities up for grabs?
Well it doesn’t really, I have seen that the top of the Valorant talent scene is way more oversaturated with talent coming from every different background. If anything, maybe Riot are more willing to get Oceanic talent out of OCE as we’ve seen from them before with LOL, but with the VCT having region locked talent, maybe I’m wrong with that assumption.
Even domestically the TO’s are all undercutting one another and now talent is getting offered extremely low rates to cast what should be an international level tournament.
If anything, Valorant has managed to take esports back a few years here in Australia and I REALLY hope that changes as the year progresses.
Speaking of which, name one major difference between CS:GO and Valorant that you like and dislike along with stating the reason.
One major thing I like about Valorant is the smaller count of rounds. It definitely makes the viewing experience easier to digest as well as shortening the game times allowing Best of 3’s/5’s to happen over a shorter period of time.
One major dislike is the lack of a demo/review system in Valorant. This is definitely hindering teams from progressing at a faster rate along with the scene, the community and the talent.
So much knowledge is hidden in these games and currently only being able to watch VOD’s back means that so much information is missed when trying to review or watch back these past matches.
Even just from a content perspective, right now people can’t go back and grab util lineups, great plays or entertaining moments. I’m sure this can’t be too far away though, right Riot?
CS:GO is an established esports with a rich legacy to boast of along with an explosive yet inflated valuation, at least according to me while Valorant is the new kid on the block that has seen a flurry of pro players -- primarily from CSGO -- make the switch, and is looking to establish a legacy of its own. I’d like to know your thoughts on this topic!
I think that was always naturally going to happen. Players that have always been on the edge of making it professional but just can’t make the jump across who obviously have a world of experience and talent are going to flourish in a new game like Valorant. With support from Riot as well it always seems like its going to be a safe bet if you can get to the top of the scene.
Also for players like steel, brax and azk able to get a second wind after the IBP ordeal, it’s a fresh start. Yes the CSGO scene will suffer from losing these experienced players but the next generation now has a lot of room for growth too.
How would you rate your career so far in terms of events that you’ve casted over the past 2 years? Are you making any progress at a rapid rate or there’s tons to improve on yet?
I can not complain with how far I’ve come over the last 2 years, I’ve worked a lot of amazing events and worked alongside all the top talent that Australia has to offer and in that period I have improved many aspects of myself as an on-screen personality.
That being said there’s always room for improvement. I’m extremely comfortable on camera and I don’t have any problem with embarrassing myself or acting up if there’s room for it in the show.
However I still have yet to work a stadium event and I’m honestly very nervous for when and if that day comes, I’m an entertainer at heart and would love to see what I can do in front of a live audience that large.
What is that one unique aspect that you bring to the table while casting, and the sole reason as to why TO’s should hire you?
Energy, fun, always trying to keep a good atmosphere while on and off the camera. I spin a good yarn too if anyone ever wants to chat.
We’re just about a year into the “COVID world” of esports, how has that affected your broadcasting opportunities?
As mentioned earlier on, with Covid hitting last year we were fortunately able to continue broadcasts from the studio which allowed us to be the B stream on some big events including ESL One Cologne and EPL Season 12 for EU/NA.
This year I’m worried we might not get as much work as it looks like all international broadcasts are going to be in the new ESL studio I’ve seen teased on twitter. I guess we just have to wait and see what happens.
I’ve asked this question to a lot of folks over the years from the OCEANIC region, and I’ll be asking you as well. We seldom see players and talents making it to the big stage in esports across various games. What exactly might be the reason for this type of ceiling that’s not allowing people to blossom? Is it due to the culture, infrastructure, minimal government support, or any other reason?
Timezone, distance from the rest of the esports world, a lack of personal branding of the individuals that could have made it, in the end it’s all excuses. If you’re good enough to make it overseas and you have the willpower, you’ll make it overseas.
I think to make it you have to look for that one opportunity and be open to moving internationally, you can’t work overseas on a consistent basis from this country unless the circumstances allow you to work online forever.
A good example of this is Spunj creating his brand while putting in the work and doing player interviews, being a likeable/controversial personality. Once he ended his playing career he was instantly looking for opportunities as talent and when the opportunity arose to move overseas and play in the big leagues he took it.
Alright mate, that’s a wrap. Anything you’d like to say before we sign off?
Thanks for the interview Karan, I hope some more people now have an insight into the man that is Mac. A big shout out to my love Jess for supporting me while I live in this world of esports. I love you Mum, I love you Dad, thanks for everything while I was on this long tedious grind. To any aspiring casters out there, keep on improving in every aspect you can, take your opportunities but also push for better rates so you don’t undercut those around you. We’re all out here just trying to pay the bills. Here’s to a good year in 2021. Stay safe and stay hydrated everyone <3
You can follow me @Karyb4u.
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Image credits: MacMate Twitter