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MSI Pro Talk #1: Pro Dota 2 Caster TobiWan Recap - Part 2

WRITTEN BY Shrek

Posted on May 26 2015


We are back with the second part of the first episode of MSI Pro Talk with Soe 'Soembie' Gschwind and Toby 'TobiWan' Dawson. We left off the first part with the pair discussing what a typical day looks like for Toby. If you have not checked out the first part of the discussion, make sure you do so by clicking here.

In the second half of the discussion, Soe and Toby discuss the possibility of another Defense hosted by JoinDOTA, as well as what it takes in Toby's mind to make a perfect event. The pair also discuss some eSports history from Toby's perspective as he touches on old-school eSports in Australia and South East Asia.

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Soe:

A lot of people are wondering if we are going to host our own tournaments again - will there ever be a JoinDOTA event - like The Defense?

TobiWan:

I have been trying to get The Defense to come back for a very long time. We moved away from holding our own tournaments primarily because we wanted to try a different model. Where we would work with other groups and do their tournaments. So, we want to become more of a production studio as opposed to a tournament organizer group. Because a lot of groups do a lot of everything, but they don't do one thing really well. So we try to just one thing well but we realized we lost a part of ourselves doing that. We've been trying to bring it back, hopefully soon we will be coming back, but until it's announced obviously...

Soe:

Do you rather like attending your own event, or are you blissfully happy with doing whoever's events?

TobiWan:

I'm actually very blissfully happy with attending any major event. As long as the production is good and the tournament quality is wonderful, then I'm really happy travelling around doing whatever. At the same time, it's really nice to say something is your own, and that something your own is successful. And that's a big thing too.

Soe:

What does it need in your opinion to make an event successful?

TobiWan:

An event successful? The games you can't control at all. If the teams give fantastic games, then fantastic. If the teams give us amazing games, then you have to focus on everything else. And one of the things is the interaction between the talent and production. The second part is everything that goes to the viewer - the viewer experience. I know James Lampkin was talking about ESL 1 Frankfurt coming up, and he's trying to make it more like a big show kind of thing like balloon animals and have archery on one side. Doing things like this so people feel like it is an event they attended, as opposed to they just came and sat down and looked at a big screen for a while. It is really interacting with them. And then online, create that level of interest that makes people watch the show and think I want to come back and watch this show again because of the show, and not just because of the games.  And when you can combine the two together, that's when you can have a really great event.

Soe:

What was the best one in those regards?

TobiWan:

I don't think anyone has 100% nailed it yet. ESL One Frankfurt was definitely up there. Like that was an awesome crowd atmosphere, working with the ESL production team is always amazing, because those guys are the most professional in eSports. And the casting team and the analysts we had there were really awesome too.

At the same time, it's almost been a year since then, and like a lot of people have developed as talent on camera as well. Like recently we did the MLG Proleague LAN finals. That was also new for me as well, because I felt we clicked more as a team, giving the coverage over. And if we had that combination with ESL One Frankfurt, and they were slightly differently setup, and there were some audio issues, and starvation issues - I was hungry the entire day, and the days were very very long. If we could work out that, then ESL One Frankfurt could be one of the greatest, which I know will surprise a lot of people as it wasn't The International. But yeah, there was a lot of things The International could learn from other tournament organizers.

Soe:

How many hours a day do you actually play DotA?

TobiWan:

Ummm...I can go three weeks without playing a single game. And then I can have a week where I play like 70-80 hours.

Soe:

What was the most embarrassing thing you have ever done during a cast?

TobiWan:

I've actually fallen asleep during a cast, but I didn't stop casting...this was back when I had to work 40 hours, and I was doing 50-55 hours a week when I was in retail. And then I would come home and commentate throughout the night. Then maybe I would get 1-2 hours sleep and then go to work. So these games in Europe which I would cast from Australia were like a 3am start time. So it was really really bad starting times, and then they would be massively delayed. And then the game would eventually begin, and I'm so tired my eyes were closing. So I would close my one eye so it could sleep, and use the other to just succeed.

And then I fell asleep, but I kept commentating. And I looked at the VOD, and everything went to auto-pilot. I didn't even notice. When I woke up I just woke up and had that big snap of "I know I was asleep - I don't know how long I was asleep for, and I have no idea what the hell I just said" so I thought "how do I recover from this one" So I just went over everything I probably just said and actually break this game down from the initial basics and started again from that point. Just a restart of the cast almost.

[caption id="attachment_12011" align="aligncenter" width="900"] TobiWan & Soe[/caption]

 

Soe:

What is the greatest thing about being a caster?

TobiWan:

Doing what I love. That's really what it comes down to. Every day when you wake up in the morning you don't have to worry about how long I've got to be at the office, I just go in and I do it. It's nice. At the same time, you still have to give it the respect work should have. But yeah, it's a very fun and happy life.

Soe:

When you first started casting, did you have a partner in crime? Or have you been all by yourself?

TobiWan:

Actually I did. Actually I had three of them in fact. When we first started casting, there were four of us, which started our own little casting group called UOT. The worst name in possible history. It was for CoD and UO. So yeah, there were four of us that did it. The bigger group in Australia didn't want to cast our tournament, so we said screw it, we will do it ourselves.

Soe:

What is the hardest part of being a caster?

TobiWan:

A lot of it didn't feel tough. A lot of it just felt like a lot of work, a lot of time that you had to put into it. Everything just kind of happened anyway for me. I've heard people say "ah yeah it's really difficult, I've gotta work so hard at doing this" but maybe the worst thing I have is stop saying these filler words like there are certain words and you say once, and then repeat 20 times in the space in 10 minutes. You have filler words like umm ahh, etc, and this fills the gap before the words you actually want to say and when you do that and it keeps happening all the time, yeah its really sort of bad, and that's sort of the worst thing when I commentate.

Soe:

How do you feel about the majors system?

TobiWan:

I actually started touching on this last night on my own stream. And, the simple thing is I want to know more details about it. The majors system could be wonderful. In CSGO I kind of like the fact there isn't just one point of the year that isn't just the major point of the year and everything falls to the side. In DotA, in a lot of peoples' minds only exists for a qualifier for TI and TI itself. So about one month out of 12 months is an effective period of the year. And the majors system is a way of fixing that. Because then you have a lot of highlights throughout the year, and every three months there is a big thing to keep the interest up and the momentum of the scene moving forward. So we don't just have TI, nothing for a month, because then all of your hard work and marketing and hype you've got doesn't exist in the competitive community. It will be there for the regular community because people will see DotA and want to play DotA. And that's it.

But it doesn't help us to try and reach a new audience for broadcasters. So that's where it needs to be a little bit different. I want to see more details on it, I really want to see more details on it. How this team shuffle works, who runs the majors, what's actually considered to be a major, and if there is a way to qualify into the majors. Like what's the system for this, is there top 4 go to the next major? Is there a minor tour? Which gives people a way to step up. Is there a way the community can build up from scratch and move up and move up and move up?

That's what I would like to see. At this point Valve has said "we are running three majors, and one TI" that's all the information we have so far. It's nothing to go on.

Soe:

Why did you decide to get more involved with CS:GO?

TobiWan:

I did PGL CCS tour, they actually had four online portions for the online qualifiers, and I did 3 of these. And I did the LAN finals. And that's it, that's all I did with CS:GO. There was some stuff with StarLadder when I was working with them, but that was, I am there in the morning, hooked into the main stage and I want to turn on the stream in any way, and I was just having fun with CS:GO, it was nothing serious it was just me having a bit of a chin wag.

Soe:

Is that something you would like to continue in the future?

TobiWan:

I would love. I would love to do more FPS's. Not just shooters in general. My old game is a piece of crap now, because of marketing and stuff. If CoD came back with promod I would probably cast it. If I came back it would have to be at a good level in the scene. But CSGO is the best shooter with the most amount of potential out there right now. It's an old-school game, it's something which I relate to. It felt very natural to cast it again. but I don't want to cast anymore CSGO until I've got more time to learn the game and really focus on learning the game more.

Soe:

What is your pet peeve when you are streaming?

TobiWan:

One of the most frustrating things for me and the thing that will always throw me off is whenever I'm actually having issues we have issues with the gear. I get really annoyed if we are dropping frames and I don't know why we are dropping frames. Or if people in the chat are saying everything is lagging and I don't know why. Or if my audio sounds right, but they say it sounds horrible. Those kinds of things probably annoy me more than anything else.

It's difficult because it twinges a nerve, so I get really angry. But yeah I just try to laugh it off as much as possible.

Soe:

Do you have any sort of rituals before you start a cast?

TobiWan:

Ummmm....I had a couple of songs I used to sing before I'd go on the stage. No I don't really have any real rituals, I like to listen to pump-up music. It depends on my mood. I am very eclectic when it comes to my music tastes, I don't stick to one type of music. So one day I might be in the mood for rock, one day I might be in the mood for a whole bunch of instrumental stuff. Or I just want to listen to trash pop. I'll go from one to the next, it really just depends on my mood.

Soe:

Have you ever been recognized on the streets?

TobiWan:

It happens every now and then. When I was in Romania recently, I was just sitting outside one of the cafes and having some dinner with some friends. People walking by asking "can we have a picture with you?" When we are just sitting on the street so you get recognized then.

It's happened a few times in Berlin, it actually happened just a week ago in Berlin. But its pretty rare.

Soe:

How do you manage to maintain energy levels during long casting sessions?

TobiWan:

It's difficult. Most of the time I just feed off the game. If the game is good, the energy levels will always be up. If the game is bad you have to push yourself a lot harder. The worst thing for an OG caster is when the DotA is being played poorly. Because then you get frustrated, you don't fake it. I refuse to fake it. I will never give false hype that I don't feel myself. But at the same time I try to remove more negativity I feel it...I try to make it so the glass is half full as opposed half empty.

If its reaching the point of moronicness the easiest thing I do is move into an educational cast so like, down to the very very basics. "You buy a ward, you place it on the cliff-side, because it is difficult to see, they are all melee heroes, they can't actually de-ward the damn thing. This is why you should be doing this"

I go into that kind of level.

Soe:

Can you actually watch games without launching into caster mode? Or have you lost the ability to just "sit back and relax"?

TobiWan:

I know when I'm sitting there with other people talking about the game, it's pretty much cast mode. Because that is what casting is - to an extent. I find it really difficult not to analyze. Not the game itself, because I'm still going to do that anyway, but the production and the casters themselves. I find that really hard to turn off. And it's kind of bad, because it means I can't just sit down and enjoy a broadcast. There are actually few people where I can just sit there and get lost in what they are saying. Which is what makes a great caster. Like if you could just sit there and enjoy it for the sake of enjoying it, that is a top notch play-by-play caster or someone just dropping knowledge bombs.  Your brain is focused on this, it's not focused on everything else. That's the perfect combination of casters out there, and there are very few in the world out there that can do that for me.

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We would like to extend a big thank you to TobiWan for joining us for our premiere episode, as well as our excellent host, Soe for hosting the discussion, as well as you, the fans, for contributing your questions and tuning in and watching!

[caption id="attachment_11999" align="aligncenter" width="900"]MSI Dragon Mascot MSI Dragon Mascot[/caption]

We would like to remind you all that you can catch the next episode via a live-stream where you can watch the discussion unfold, submit your own questions, and have the chance to win some amazing prizes such as the Z97A Gaming 6 motherboard, or MSI Dragon Plushy toys. Thank you for reading, and we look forward to having you tune into the next edition of MSI Pro Talk!

Do not forget to follow us HERE so you can catch the latest MSI Pro Talk updates as well as updates about other fun stuff going on here at MSI!

MSI Pro Talk 1 Recap Video

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