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" MacKenzie is the one who wore Toronto Maple Leaf's jersey in the home arena of the Vancouver Canucks during The International 2018 in Vancouver, Canada. He's the guy who keeps on posting cute pictures of his little toddler all over his Twitter and someone who deeply loves Dota 2.
Trent is one of those up and coming casters trying to make a lasting impression in this industry and has so far managed to do just that. In this interview, Trent talks about his humble beginnings, his casting experience on the biggest stage in Dota 2, about his co-caster Lyrical
, recently concluded ESL One Hamburg, upcoming Kuala Lumpur Major and more.
Hey Trent. Let's begin by talking about your first TI. How was the experience in attending TI8 and that too get the opportunity to cast on the mainstage at your very first event?
It was something I had never really thought would happen when I first got into casting. I imagined getting invited to any LANs throughout the year as being this massive goal, and really the peak I would reach. Then suddenly things started taking off, LAN after LAN, and it was truly amazing to get the invite to TI.
At first I thought it would just be Group Stages, and I was so excited for that! Then I found out I would get to panel a little, which sounded awesome! Lastly I realized I was going to be casting on the actual main stage at TI. It's hard to describe the emotion because it really is something I had dreamed about as this impossible goal.
I think the energy from the crowd really helped to calm me down. The worst part for me was the very first cast before any real action had happened. The arena is quiet, with fans all anticipating that first taste of action and it felt a little empty, like I was the only noise in the arena so you think that every person is judging your every syllable. I remember feeling like I was talking in slow motion.
But then the first kills happen, the energy of the crowd roars out, and it made me settle down, just realizing that we were all there to watch the most beautiful game there is.
As we all know, TI was held in Canada and interestingly enough there are only a handful of Canadians embracing the game. Being a Canadian, do you think TI8 helped in garnering enough attention in your country?
I think TI8 certainly grabbed some attention here. I found several articles popping up in Canadian outlets commenting on the prize-pool of the event and how it was selling out such a large arena to tourists from around the world. I was also pleasantly surprised to see so many Canadians at the actual event itself!
In my head leading up to the tournament I imagined it being mostly Americans who would just the small leap from Seattle over the border and come fill Roger's Arena just like they do Key Arena. To my surprise though there were plenty of Canadians, which I quickly realized when they all boo'd the Toronto Maple Leafs jersey.
Hopefully it will lead to more DOTA events in Canada!
Man .. you wore a Toronto Maple Leaf's jersey in the home arena of the Vancouver Canucks! I'm sure you're a pretty big hockey fan, but that was a pretty solid and a gutsy move! What was that all about? And of course you'd get all the boo's! (smiles)
I've been a big hockey fan since I was a little kid. I grew up in a very rural area without any arenas or rinks, so I didn't play myself. The TV in my room only had the three channels you could get with the little antenna on the back of the television. Thankfully there was still plenty of hockey on those three channels to keep me going!
Although the Maple Leafs have always been my favourite team, I do collect jerseys of my favourite players no matter what team they played for. Much like in DOTA I think it's important to appreciate when someone is truly masterful at the game, even if they don't play for your team. One of those jerseys actually is a Vancouver jersey for Luongo, who was one of the best goalies to ever play there. Leading up to TI I was excited to get some love from the crowd and wear my Vancouver jersey on stream.
But the day I was leaving the hotel with the Luongo jersey I stopped and thought, "Well I could get one decent cheer for this jersey... or I could go all in with my fresh Tavares Leafs jersey and see how that goes..." So off to the arena I went with my Leafs jersey haha.
As I said, that was ballsy yet effective. Anyway, you've come a long way from casting in-house leagues, splitting the viewership and competing with Lyrical to casting alongside him on the main stage at TI8. How did this team up come into effect?
O man the good old days of wishing that damn Lyrical guy would go to bed and let me have those sweet 40 DotaTV listeners all to myself hahaha.
Although we didn't cast together much in the past year, Lyrical and I grinded a ton of DOTA casts together about 2 years ago. We were both on the cusp of getting to a LAN and felt that getting ourselves out there as much as possible was the best way to achieve that. We were also both just leaving our jobs to dive fully into DOTA after doing the balancing act with a real job for a while to see if the casts would be viable.
I think it really helped that we were both leaving absolutely soul crushing jobs because it made us appreciate getting paid to do something that we love so much. That drive of never wanting to go back to a job you hate pushed us both and I think we were both striving to sharpen our skills in every department of casting at the time.
My next question is simple. How does a man with a B.A in Geography get into casting? Sure you hated your job and are lucky to make it in this cut throat industry, however, didn't you get any other opportunities that made it compelling for you to consider or at least weigh the pros and cons with esports casting?
Although I had some opportunities out of school with my degree, they all required me to move away from Nova Scotia, and therefore my now wife, which was something I was not willing to do. We both wanted to stay close to family and we both really love Nova Scotia so when she found a great career in our city as we both graduated it made it an easy decision for me to stay too and just look for opportunities at home.
The job hunt was not an easy one though. My degree is definitely one that usually leads into more years of education, with either a focus on Urban Planning or Geographic Information Systems, however I was not particularly keen on going into more years of education at the time, as these also would have required me to relocate from where my wife was working. Around this time I had just begun to get my feet wet in casting too, so I was starting to consider the idea of making some side money off it.
In order to continue a pursuit of casting I took a job that I could work at from home, doing sales support for an online retailer. It wasn't too bad because it was all inbound, so at least the people genuinely wanted to buy the product, but I really loathed the push to sell them something more expensive, something they didn't really need etc. I was definitely not a good salesman haha, I just couldn't bring myself to up-sell some people.
Part of me did wish to continue my studies for sure, I really enjoyed my education subjects about cities, culture, and cartography. But honestly the opportunities did start coming quickly in terms of long hours for online casts, and it paid very well since there was such an insane number of qualifiers at the time. I was able to leave my job with the online sales because I was making more with DOTA in shorter hours.
Speaking of which, congratulations on having Trent Jr. : ) In what ways does the baby make ya'll both go crazy?
Having a baby is certainly the adventure everyone makes it out to be. No matter how much material and research you do leading up to it, there is just so much to take in all at once. In an instant your life truly changes forever.
Thankfully most of the conversations in Moonduck content have to do with poop already so having a baby fit right into that culture. The baby's bowel movements are the main subject of conversation for the first 6 months or so haha.
In terms of driving one crazy, we are definitely very lucky with Clifford. He has a very even temper, and usually if he is upset it can be quickly fixed with a change, or a feed.
However sometimes a baby just needs to cry, and that's probably what drives us the craziest. "SPEAK TO ME BABY, TELL ME HOW TO MAKE YOU HAPPY!" It would be very convenient if they could talk haha.
Haha that's something you wouldn't want to trade for anything in the world. Moving on, you'll be attending ESL One Hamburg and Kuala Lumpur Major within the next month. How are you prepping for it? What different might we, the viewers, get to see from you? Anything exciting that might take place which you'd perhaps like to hint at?
In terms of preparation I'm just doing my usual thing, watching DOTA nonstop. I've always wanted to bring props for the panel, but having to take it in luggage makes it rather difficult. I'm personally excited for Eri Neeman being at ESL Hamburg because I want the long rumoured billiards match between him and Redeye to finally happen!
They are both excellent at it so I think we need a proper casting of it like we had with the giant sized Jenga in Genting.
Summarize your ESL One Hamburg experience in brief. How was it being on the panel with Redeye and others?
ESL Hamburg was a wonderful time. The group stage had some great matches and that continued into the main stage with the pinnacle of that crazy rapier game from Nisha. With such great matches it makes it easy to have a fun time on the panel. You could also tell that Redeye was very in sync with our producer Vlad which really helps improve the flow of the show. In fact all of the behind the scenes handling was incredible at ESL.
From player/talent lounges, early talent schedules (a rarity in the scene, it's nice to know what you're actually doing the day before let alone the whole week ahead!), and even a pinball machine, we really had it all. This makes the rest of our jobs very easy as we can just focus on the games and with everyone in such high spirits it keeps the panel very bubbly and talkative.
My personal favourite from the talent perspective of this event was definitely Purge with his weatherman segment. Felt like he really wanted to show what was missing since we last had it and Purge completely slayed it. He dove into the minutia of such key moments in the game, absolutely loved it!
Your next destination is the Kuala Lumpur Major. What can we expect from Trent at the first Major?
I can't wait for the major! I'm currently going through the replays of the minor to spot some trends and see what will carry over with the team that makes it to the big show in Malaysia. I'm looking forward to casting with Zyori again since we haven't done an event together since the SuperMajor. In terms of personal improvement I'm hoping to get a better handle on Arc Warden games and when the hero seems like he would be strong. He still feels like a mysterious hero that few teams have committed to experimenting with.
Have you ever visited Malaysia? What do you plan to do if you get the free time in the meantime?
I have had the pleasure of visiting Malaysia once before for ESL Genting. For that event we spent the group stage in KL and then moved to the Genting resort on the mountain for the main event. I would like to see the BattleArena LAN center that I have heard about from Zyori if I get some free time! I hear several teams are currently boot-camping there and it sounds like a very modern LAN cafe.
Which teams are you expecting to be top 4? According to you, who is most likely to win the trophy?
My top 4 as of now would be:
(two LAN wins and all practiced up).
(even with a disappointing 3rd/4th at the PVP LAN you can't count out TI runner ups).
(This is the team I was most excited for out of the roster shuffles. Feels like they have the top players in the region on their respective positions).
(Personal bias for my boy Jack).
I would say the most likely team to win the trophy is Secret. With their consistent performance post TI it would be disrespectful to really give the odds to anyone else
What do you expect in the coming season from the perspective of a talent?
In the coming season I'm expecting a very busy schedule as talent. There are numerous tournaments popping up to fill the gaps the shrinking DPC events left behind and everyone is fighting for their piece of the pie. I'm optimistic that it is a good year for all talent as there are plenty of events and we seem to be hearing about them a bit earlier than in the past. Hopefully this means people can align their schedules to actually have some time off and not feel compelled to need to work every event in case no more are coming down the line.
Alright, that's a wrap. Anything you'd like to say?
I'd just like to thank all the supporters I have had over the years. I get a lot of messages on Reddit and twitter from people who genuinely enjoy my work and that makes me feel amazing! Sometimes the ease of access to talents and players can often result in people lobbing insults and negativity without really thinking about how it impacts us. The positive messages help to balance it out so I appreciate all that I receive! If you'd like to hear more from me you can check out the Trent and Zyori podcast on the Moonduck YouTube or Twitch.
If you would like to know more about my work, you can follow me at KarY.
Images courtesy: Trent Twitter, Moonduck