Roll20 Esports Interview Series: The Boss

Heroes of the Storm, like all esports, has a unique equalizing effect. Pro players have access to the exact same characters and in-game tools as anyone. To the untrained eye, a Varian, Chromie, or Medivh looks exactly the same in a quick match as they do on the Blizzcon stage. That said, what makes the HGC truly special is the group of hard-working, passionate gamers fighting for the right to keep pursuing their dreams. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at the men on the other side of the screen. It’s time for you to really get to know the Roll20 Esports Heroes of the Storm team. Check out previous interviews at the end of this article.


Last week we finished up the last of the last of our player interviews. Today, we’ll be continuing the series by talking to one of the founders of Roll20, and the face of the company in the Heroes community. Nolan T. Jones and I had a chat about the origins of Roll20 as a company, the founders’ affinity for Blizzard games, and the esports org’s goals at Blizzcon. To change things up, we did today’s article as more of a Q&A session rather than a standard profile. Let me know how you feel about the change in format in this week’s Reddit thread or on Twitter. Now, on to the interview!

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Can you tell us a bit about your history in gaming?

Nolan: Personally, I’ve been playing games as long as I can remember. My parents had an original Nintendo Entertainment System, and I started there. Played computer games since they installed via floppy disk. My partners in Roll20, Richard Zayas and Riley Dutton, are also both lifetime players, and my earliest memories with both of them include video games. Fun story: Riley initially was wary of Richard because on my recommendation Riley loaned Richard a copy of the original Fable, and Richard took a little too long to return it.

In a twist that would surprise a great many Roll20 users, we really didn’t start playing tabletop games until college.

How did you get involved with Roll20.net?

Nolan: Two years after college I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and Richard to the Washington DC area– both of us following our spouses’ careers– while Riley stayed in Kansas where we had all gone to school. Fast forward a few years later and all three of us were losing touch. I started playing some D&D with a local group and wished I had a way to do it online with my other friends. Riley had a pretty elegant solution to gameplay in-browser, and I thought we could launch it via Kickstarter. Our 2012 Kickstarter was successful far beyond our initial ask, and from that point on the three of us worked together to build the company into what it is today.

Image uploaded from iOS

L to R: Richard Zayas, Riley Dutton, and Nolan T. Jones at the opening of the opening of the Roll20 Esports Lounge on August 31, 2017 in the Student Union at the University of Kansas. The Union asked Roll20 to help establish the space before Roll20 had even moved into esports.

In a fun note for Blizzard fans, our actual company name is The Orr Group, LLC., named after our World of WarCraft guild, the <House of Orr>. Much love to oldschool Andorhal.

What is your role within the company?

Nolan: Initially I did a lot of community management and branding, while Riley did all of the programming, and Richard handled the finances and intangibles (and a head’s up to anyone starting a new business– there are a LOT of intangibles).

As of this year, Riley and Richard have stepped back from the day-to-day of Roll20, but I’m the Managing Partner of the company. I would say my biggest contributions to the platform currently are finding new hires and guiding expansion.

Who’s your favorite hero in Heroes of the Storm?

Nolan: ETC by a hair (with Tyrande a close second). Tanking is probably the role I’m best at, and ETC was the first character that helped me understand positioning in the game.

Why was Heroes of the Storm the launching point for Roll20 Esports?

Nolan: It’s a game the three of us know, understand, love, and wanted to share with our company employees and community-at-large. When Heroes of the Storm first launched, I had sworn that I was done with Blizzard games (burnt out from the WoW cross-server swap in the middle of a Grand Marshall grind and high-tier arena play, and disappointed-beyond-reason that the story of StarCraft II was not Raynor out for revenge against Kerrigan for killing Fenix). Richard convinced me to give it a shot, and I’ve become the biggest fan of the game– closing in on 4,000 matches played.

As I’ll say to anyone who listens, I think Dustin Browder’s original inspirations coming out of basketball coaching legend John Wooden’s book “On Leadership” really set Heroes apart from other team games. It was because of that team-based emphasis that I felt this could be an esport that properly represented the camaraderie of the Roll20 roleplaying community in a competitive environment.

 

What made Team 8 the right team to partner with to start Roll20 Esports?

Nolan: They were continuously underestimated, and I liked that about them from the start. What really made them THE team for us was that they were holding out to get properly compensated by a sponsor. That’s a core Roll20 business belief; as creators of a platform and content, we think payment is important, and knowing that this team was aware that they had worth was appealing. Particularly as Blizzard had done so much this year to help put money into the scene with the HGC format, it seemed like the right time to step in and be a part of that process.

So to other teams still looking for an organization, you’d say it’s important to understand your own value?

Nolan: Absolutely. Don’t over-estimate it, but negotiate a value, and then expect your organization to follow through. This situation coming to light in regards to Playing Ducks is disgusting; the fact that the players aren’t being paid is sadly not completely abnormal– which is why players may need unions and the like going forward to help quickly expose organizations looking to take advantage of their playing rosters.

What is your favorite part about owning an esports team?

Nolan: I enjoy supporting the overall community, honestly. I probably take it too seriously for as corny a concept as it is, but I like the idea that I’m helping to contribute joy to players and viewers. Roll20 is a gaming company, and I really believe that means we are supposed to be having some fun.

I’ll also say that the Roll20® in-game stuff still blows me away– that’s a logo made by a good friend of mine that represents a thing I made with two of my best friends and came to represent a whole fantastic community full of folks… and now it’s in the crossover mash-up of these Blizzard games that my friends and I have loved for decades.

 

 

 

 

What does it mean to you to have your team headed to a world championship in its first year of existence?

Nolan: I would have honestly felt that this roster underachieved if we weren’t going to BlizzCon in one of the automatic North America spots. These guys are very talented; when they lose, it is often because they collapse on themselves.

The bigger question is how we can capitalize on this opportunity. Can this roster clean up and elevate their play to its max, and how far does that take us?

Would you say that your goal for the team this year is to win BlizzCon?

Nolan: To give a very honest-but-John-Wooden answer, my goal is for us to play our best. There’s a degree to which I’d be disappointed with winning the whole damn thing if the other great teams sputter and our play is sloppy. What I want is for all five guys to be able to look at their performance at the end of the week and know they did their best to prepare, and then played to the best of their ability. I’ve won and lost a lot of very competitive basketball games over the years, and the result is not what matters the most to me– it’s always the feeling that my teammates and I pushed ourselves to our limits.

Any sidebets planned at BlizzCon with the owners of other teams?

Nolan: I’ve only gotten to talk briefly with two other sponsors in HGC. As such, I’m really just excited to meet folks from some of the other organizations and make relationships.

What should Heroes of the Storm fans know about the Roll20 app if they’re interested in checking it out?

Nolan: Roll20.net is the number one way to play tabletop games online and if you, like me, grew up with computer roleplaying games, let me tell you that tabletop roleplaying games allow a whole new level of freedom that you will cherish. If you’ve ever been frustrated that your imagination seemed trapped by the limitations of a game’s programming– that the dialogue options didn’t have what you wanted to say, or you couldn’t go beyond a certain wall– then you will really, really enjoy what games like Dungeons & Dragons have to offer.

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What’s your favorite class in D&D and why (bonus nerd points for specific edition)?

Nolan: I’m frequently a rogue. My favorite character I’ve ever played was a 4th Edition D&D Dragonborn brawny rogue.

Since you mentioned it (and personally 4th is my favorite edition, Warlord for life) I’ll ask: what’s your take on 4th edition as compared to the other editions of DnD?

Nolan: I think that 4th Edition is a great introduction for people who are coming from video games– Final Fantasy, World of WarCraft— where min-maxing and tactical planning are key. I personally adore it, and hope that it will eventually have the same sort of “Open Gaming” licensing permissions we’ve seen for 3rd and 5th editions.

Is there a specific game or edition you’d recommend to newer tabletop gamers investigating the platform?

Nolan: There is not, because there are so many different games that supply so many different experiences. My advice is to not end up paralyzed by trying to decide what game to try first, but instead simply try and find a group of people that seem like fun and play! Then you can start to refine what parts of tabletop are most appealing to you in the long run.

Anything else you’d like to say to your team’s fans?

Nolan: Thank you. For the outpouring of social media support, the Twitch bits cheering / in-game-item-repping, your excitement about jersey, and onward.

This process of introducing and intermingling fans-of-a-roleplaying-platform and fans-of-an-esports-team has been overall really gratifying. If I might, though, make an ask of our venn diagram of a following: help each other out. Let’s make certain as the Roll20 community expands that we remain known as the folks who will help bring more people into their hobbies and make more friends along the way.


Thank you so much to Nolan for taking the time for this interview, and to Roll20 for the opportunity to chat with these awesome players. As we roll on towards Blizzcon, stay tuned for more HOTS coverage and Roll20 content!

Want to show your support for Roll20? Head to the R2E shop and pickup an official Roll20 Esports jersey! 

 

Check out our previous interviews:

Prismaticism

Buds

Justing

Goku

Glaurung

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Roll20 Esports Interview Series: Glaurung

Heroes of the Storm, like all esports, has a unique equalizing effect. Pro players have access to the exact same characters and in-game tools as anyone. To the untrained eye, a Varian, Chromie, or Medivh looks exactly the same in a quick match as they do on the Blizzcon stage. That said, what makes the HGC truly special is the group of hard-working, passionate gamers fighting for the right to keep pursuing their dreams. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at the men on the other side of the screen. It’s time for you to really get to know the Roll20 Esports Heroes of the Storm team. Check out previous interviews at the end of this article.


 

We’ve arrived at the final player interview in our series. Don’t worry though, we have more Roll20 content coming down the pipeline! Today, it’s time for the captain to share his thoughts. Glaurung has been interviewed and discussed more than any other member of the team, so I’ve attempted to give you something new, a slightly different perspective on Roll20’s most tenured pro.

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Focus and Pursuit

Glau’s history in competitive HOTS has been well-documented.  Prior to Heroes, he had never really pursued a competitive career. He explained that while he had always enjoyed competition and loved gaming, throughout most of his life the focus had remained on school. “I was studying physics and computer science,” said Glaurung. However, as esports rose in popularity, the career of a professional gamer started to sound much more appealing. Eventually, he left his studies behind to focus completely on becoming a pro player in Heroes of the Storm. At this point, Glau admitted that he has no clue what his life would be like if his pursuit of this dream had not worked out.

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Initially, qualifying for the HGC wasn’t really about becoming a champion. “I wasn’t too happy about my last team’s performance at Blizzcon,” he explained. Rather than sign with an established team guaranteed to lock in an HGC slot, Glau instead chose to join Chu8 in building a team focused on having fun, and not taking the pro scene too seriously. Once the team qualified, however, the call to compete proved too strong. “Qualifying for HGC made the previous years’ worth of time investment worth it.” The rest, of course, is history. The team shattered all expectations, and is now the North American first seed as Glaurung returns to the Blizzcon stage once again.

Transitions

When Roll20 made its first roster change, many analysts were concerned how the addition of Goku would affect the team captain’s play. The two share similar hero pools, and some suggested that there might be struggles over who gets to play trademark heroes like Zeratul. “It took time to adjust, but we’ve been able to make it work,” said Glaurung. Focusing Goku as the team’s offlane specialist has provided much-needed clarity in their gameplay and draft strategy.

The draft was another key piece of the new roster’s success. Originially, Glaurung had been the team’s primary shotcaller as well as the lead drafter. Now, he has taken a back seat in the draft, with Justing taking the lead and others providing support. “It allows me to focus more on shotcalling.

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Glaurung’s prowess as a shotcaller has been lauded by plenty of outlets (myself included). He mentioned that “this team dynamic is good for me as a shotcaller. Everyone is really good at feeding relevant information as well as navigating through small side skirmishes.”

Friendship and Free Time

Although most of his time is spent practicing and preparing, Glau has a personal passion that he stays committed to during the season. “I love to rock climb,” he said. “There’s a rock climbing gym near my house that I go to multiple times a week.”

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In our interview with Buds, I had jokingly asked how the team might fare in a zombie apocalypse. Buds was quick to call out Glaurung specifically as the team member who would doom the rest of the group. “I would probably get bitten and end up biting everyone else to convert them,” Glaurung admitted. However, he did say that his reasons for doing so would extend beyond a mere hunger for brains. “Being a zombie is probably pretty lonely. That said, ever the captain looking out for his team, Glaurung did mention a clear plan of action for the team to survive an apocalyptic scenario. “Everyone can just set up camp at Justing’s ranch in Wisconsin!

 

Throughout the interview, Glau kept his answers concise and focused. In keeping with that, his message to all the team’s fans and followers was simple and clear:

Thanks for believing!

Thank you so much to Glaurung for taking the time for this interview, and to Roll20 for the opportunity to chat with these awesome players. Be sure to follow him on Twitter, and keep an eye on Roll20 Esports (and, you know, me) for our last player interview in this series.

Want to show your support for Roll20? Head to the R2E shop and pickup an official Roll20 Esports jersey! 

 

Check out our previous interviews:

Prismaticism

Buds

Justing

Goku

Roll20 Esports Interview Series: Goku

Heroes of the Storm, like all esports, has a unique equalizing effect. Pro players have access to the exact same characters and in-game tools as anyone. To the untrained eye, a Varian, Chromie, or Medivh looks exactly the same in a quick match as they do on the Blizzcon stage. That said, what makes the HGC truly special is the group of hard-working, passionate gamers fighting for the right to keep pursuing their dreams. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at the men on the other side of the screen. It’s time for you to really get to know the Roll20 Esports Heroes of the Storm team. Check out previous interviews at the end of this article.


goku

This week we turn our attention to the newest member of the team. Holding down the solo lane, Goku joined the Roll20 roster following the Mid Season Brawl. Today he’ll share some insight into that transition, his goals as a professional player, and the shocking, totally unexpected origin of where the name “Goku” originated.

Like many top level HOTS players, Goku began his competitive MOBA career in League of Legends. However, his tournament experience extends beyond the genre. Before committing himself to Heroes, Goku could be found at local fighting game tournaments competing in Marvel vs Capcom 3 (fielding a team of Spiderman / Dr. Doom / Dante). However, no game pulled him in quite like Heroes of the Storm. “I really never [loved] a game compared to how much love I put into Heroes of the Storm,” he explained.”

Ever Forward

That love for the game has given Goku some very clear goals as an HGC pro. Simply put, he wants to be the very best. He noted that qualifying for the HGC gave him the security to keep playing the game long enough to “leave my mark [on] Heroes of the Storm history.” For Goku, victory isn’t enough–he wants to be remembered.

My greatest goal that I’m chasing is to become a legend in Heroes of the Storm…and continue that legacy until I feel like I did all I can do in the Heroes of the Storm esports scene. And in the end, just be a player that can be admired, or a role model for other players that share the same role as I.”

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While those goals may seem lofty, Goku isn’t sitting around waiting for them to happen. “I put a lot of practice and research into my heroes.” He added, “Recently, I have been working out. It’s a great stress relief and I’m not working out to the point where it affects my gameplay…besides working out I usually do some research into other regions.”

To realize his dreams, Goku has put everything else on hold. He explained that he left college and a degree in Business Finance  in order to pursue a professional career in HOTS. “At that time I was putting a decent amount of my time into Heroes of the Storm and I realized it affected my studies a lot. It took me a while to realize why it was affecting my studies, but I fell in love with Heroes of the Storm and [decided to] try my best to get into Heroes esports. Luckily…my family has given my a lot of support since the beginning and are continuing to do so, I couldn’t have asked for a better family.” Goku did add that he plans to finish his degree when his HOTS career comes to an end (hopefully many years from now).

Recently, Goku received a bit of flack for some comments he made in a post-game interview, but he explained that this too was part of his process. “I can understand my recent interview has me viewed as being very cocky, but I never allow that pride to blind me. When I [made] those statements it was to make myself only work harder to set up a bar that may seem unrealistic, but I want to give the enemy team more than my all…to give them something that can be terrifying.” He did admit, “of course, I need to work on my interviews…so it doesn’t come out as rash.”

Goku Has Joined the Party

goku

In the first split of the HGC, Roll20 Esports shocked the North American scene by surpassing all expectations. In a move that surprised many, the team chose to make a roster change, trading YoDa to Superstars in exchange for Goku. It took some time for the transition to fully pay off, but Goku noted that the team seems to have found a strong formula with the new roster.

One of the biggest challenges initially was trying to find our identity, which in relative terms meant finding our strength within the meta. It was decided…that I would be getting the solo lane unless we used niche picks like Abathur.” For example, Goku explained, “…if we were to pick Illidan we’d make Prismaticism go on the secondary support and make Glau main range, so everyone would slightly shift roles so that I can keep the solo lane.” 

The team continues to evolve this strategy as they work their way towards Blizzcon. “Our biggest change has been our drafting style. Justing leads the draft while everyone else puts in a lot of input.”

Anime Names and Fan Support

Now, I’m sure you’ve all been itching to discover where the name “Goku” comes from. While it shouldn’t surprise anyone, he did share something interesting about his connection to the handle. “Well, my name is obviously based off the main character in Dragon Ball…but it actually isn’t my favorite animated series. It certainly had the most impact on my life [at] a very young age, but my actual favorite anime series in terms of story is Berserk.”

To close, Goku could not be more appreciative of the team’s fans.

“To all the Roll20 supporters–thank you so much. I know it’s hard to convey that in words, but one day I’ll repay the things you guys have done for us. The cheering and the Twitter support, every time I see it, it gives me the strength to not just keep working hard, but to also ascend and improve and become even stronger than who I was before. So in the end, thank you guys for the support.”


Thank you so much to Goku for taking the time for this interview, and to Roll20 for the opportunity to chat with these awesome players. Be sure to follow him on Twitter, and keep an eye on Roll20 Esports (and, you know, me) for our last player interview in this series.

Want to show your support for Roll20? Head to the R2E shop and pickup an official Roll20 Esports jersey! 

 

Check out our previous interviews:

Prismaticism

Buds

Justing

Roll20 Esports Interview Series: Justing

Maciej Kołek - Fotograf

Heroes of the Storm, like all esports, has a unique equalizing effect. Pro players have access to the exact same characters and in-game tools as anyone. To the untrained eye, a Varian, Chromie, or Medivh looks exactly the same in a quick match as they do on the Blizzcon stage. That said, what makes the HGC truly special is the group of hard-working, passionate gamers fighting for the right to keep pursuing their dreams. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at the men on the other side of the screen. It’s time for you to really get to know the Roll20 Esports Heroes of the Storm team. Check out previous interviews at the end of this article.


Last week, Blizzard took their turn driving the Roll20 interview train. Now we’re back with our regularly scheduled programming. Today the squad’s front man is taking his turn in the spotlight. Warrior main Justing opens up about his journey into the pro scene, his friendship with Buds, and some tips on trading cryptocurrencies.

Heartbreak and Friendship

Justing got a taste of competitive gaming in League of Legends, but never pursued a pro career until he found Heroes of the Storm. What began as a search for direction ultimately led him to forgo college in pursuit of a spot on a pro Heroes team. “Out of high school I was trying a couple things to figure out what I wanted to do for a living and also at the time I was in a relationship,” he said. “The stress from not knowing what I was doing ultimately led to me getting dumped and then I basically just used HOTS as a means to avoid thinking about it. After doing nothing but playing HOTS for a couple months I realized I had gotten pretty good and decided to try and go pro with Buds, so we made an amateur team in October 2015 and now we’re here.”

TM8_JustingThe friendship between support and warrior began on a 7th-grade soccer team. According to Justing, their relationship has a direct correlation to their success in the Nexus. “We’ve played a lot of team games together (League of Legends, WoW, soccer) so we have a lot of synergy playing together. I am more vocal than he is but if I say I need help he doesn’t have to say anything I’ll just get a [Divine Shield] or cleanse or whatever I need and I just come to expect it. When we played games together in the past we could both be silent and play off of each other really well. I’m also a lot more critical of his play than I would be of someone else because I know him so well–I know I won’t offend him and I want us to improve.”

Although he’s always had the support of a close friend, some family members took longer to get on board with Justing’s career choice. “When I first told my parents this was the career I wanted to pursue my dad was fairly optimistic, my mom thought I was just being lazy, and my aunts and uncles kept asking why don’t I just go to college. Now that I’m on a top NA team, my mom watches all of my games. Whenever I win a big match I’ll get texts from some family members congratulating me and the same aunts and uncles think it’s ‘so cool!’ that I get paid to play video games. 

 

Leading From the Front

Justing plays a crucial leadership role within the R2E roster. He explained that he is the team’s lead drafter (though he made a point to mention the assistance that Goku and Prismaticism provide in draft prep). In game, he is constantly communicating, “calling enemy rotations/information feeding, calling for engages/disengages, giving general ideas of what our composition wants to do so everyone can make the best decisions, and in teamfights I try to make sure we are manipulating our space properly as a team.”

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Justing has long been considered an elite warrior in the Heroes community, and he attributes much of that success to his experience communicating with his teammates. “…I think the tank’s communication is the most important on the team so that gives me an advantage.” He added, “this meta also caters to tanks as the solo engage in most cases with aggressive tanks, comparatively the tank skill mattered less when we had defensive tanks with allies’ gust/sunder engage for example.”

 Sell High

With his commitment to personal growth, Justing leaves very little time for personal Team8-Justing.jpghobbies. However, he did share one rather unique passion–trading cryptocurrencies. “Trading was one of the things I tried out of high school because I love the technical analysis of charts,” he explained, “I could look at them all day.” Cryptocurrencies have come a long way since the early days of Bitcoin, but don’t go to Justing looking for a share of his riches.

“…unfortunately I sold my cryptocurrency stack when I started pursuing professional HOTS so I’m not a millionaire, but that’s okay because money is easy to come by but you can’t buy a Blizzcon win. I am currently long in TWTR and casually trading cryptos.” He added, “buy TWTR.”

Parting Thoughts

Before closing, Justing had a few final thoughts for his fans and aspiring pros. First, he explained the lack of a consistent streaming schedule. “I don’t actually hate streaming I just think there are better ways to get practice than in Hero League and I value improving at the game over other things right now.”

He elaborated on what those other things are for any players considering pursuing a competitive career. “If you want to be a professional player the best thing to do is make or get on an amateur team [because] scrims against other teams with voice comms are insurmountably more valuable than Hero League, the competitive game is MUCH different than Hero League. Also watch your replays and be critical of your mistakes. Watching professional play can also help.”

To his fans, Justing said “Just thank you for all the support, my favorite thing to do is watching the replays and watching chat when I do something good and reading all the kind words on twitter, I really appreciate it.”

Finally, he had a parting message for all his HGC opponents.

No :cheese: plz, we’re :clap: not :clap: mice :clap:

No_cheese_2


Thank you so much to Justing for taking the time for this interview, and to Roll20 for the opportunity to chat with these awesome players. Be sure to follow him on Twitter, and keep an eye on Roll20 Esports (and, you know, me) for upcoming interviews with the rest of the team.

Want to show your support for Roll20? Head to the R2E shop and pickup an official Roll20 Esports jersey! 

 

Check out our previous interviews:

Prismaticism

Buds

Roll20 Esports Interview Series: Buds

20170610_DH_FelixFrank_-1277

Heroes of the Storm, like all esports, has a unique equalizing effect. Pro players have access to the exact same characters and in-game tools as anyone. To the untrained eye, a Varian, Chromie, or Medivh looks exactly the same in a quick match as they do on the Blizzcon stage. That said, what makes the HGC truly special is the group of hard-working, passionate gamers fighting for the right to keep pursuing their dreams. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at the men on the other side of the screen. It’s time for you to really get to know the Roll20 Esports Heroes of the Storm team. Check out previous interviews at the end of this article.


Today we continue our series with Roll20’s support player, Buds. A promising young player in 2016, Buds’ star has rapidly risen with his team’s success in the HGC. He’ll offer insight into how the team builds their unique compositions, his experience competing with Dyrus, and how Roll20 would fare in a zombie apocalypse.

Suddenly Support

Buds first appeared at the top of the competitive HOTS scene on Team Name Change alongside his longtime friend Justing. However, if Roll20 fans go back and watch some of TNC’s matches, they won’t be able to find Buds in the support role. Instead, his original role in Heroes was that of a ranged/flex player. Leading up to the initial HGC qualifiers, TNC disbanded and the players scattered to various rosters within the NA scene. Buds, however, was determined to find a roster that would allow him to keep playing with Justing.

20170614_DH_HermanCaroan-05713.jpg“We jumped on and off a lot of teams…” he explained, “but couldn’t really find anything we liked.” A few weeks before the qualifiers began, the pair received word that Chu8 was putting a team together with Glaurung for the HGC. The roster specifically needed a tank main and a support. Justing reached out to Glaurung and requested a tryout for himself and Buds. With only a few days before their tryout, Buds had to transition to a brand new role.

“Before I even knew about joining a team as a support, I was talking with Justin on how I wanted to make the swap to playing support,” said Buds. “The transition was really smooth and worked out quite well because about a week later Glau’s team was looking for the support and tank, so I just spammed games on support and watched some pro matches and just tried to learn the basics of each support hero I could.”

It took a few weeks to iron out the kinks, but eventually Buds and crew qualified for the HGC. “Sounds silly, but [it meant] pretty much everything. For the longest time I have wanted to be professional at a game and qualifying for the HGC finally feels like I’ve accomplished that.” Becoming a pro gamer also helped Bud’s family understand his chosen profession. “My family has always been supportive with whatever I choose to do. My dad was skeptical at first, but when HGC started he got into it right away. I actually saw him browsing the heroes subreddit the other day.” He added,  “my parents and my brother pull up the stream and watch almost every weekend, it’s pretty sweet how supportive they are about it”

Making it Work

Although newer to the support role, Buds has plenty of insight to share on how his team works specific healers into their team compositions. Roll20 has become infamous for their unique comps, and each has a suite of supports that pair perfectly with that gameplan. He explained, “when we do the Medivh/Diablo, we like to have Malfurion with it because the Diablo flip into Malf root is good [before level] 10… They also have ults that synergize really well like Leyline, Apoc, and Twilight Dream [which have] really good wombo potential.”

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We saw the team unveil a few compositions last week which included HOTS’ latest warrior, Garrosh, but Buds has more ideas in store for the hero. “Another easy combo would just be Garrosh, Uther, and Nazeebo.  The Garrosh throw into Uther stun is just an easy combo to execute, then throw a zombie wall over it.”

Being a pro isn’t all theorycrafting and HGC matches. Buds’ new career has provided several unique opportunities, including the chance to travel the world. “The coolest thing I’ve gotten to do so far would probably be the traveling. Being able to travel around the US and to Europe to play is pretty crazy. On top of that, traveling to somewhere I’ve never been to play on LAN is awesome. The best part of being a pro is playing on stage.”

Buds is also the only support in the HGC to have healed for a former professional League of Legends NA champion. At the end of HGC Phase 1, Roll20 (Team 8 at the time) invited former Team Solomid star, Dyrus, to participate in an official match. For Buds, it was a surreal experience.

It was pretty awesome to be able to play some games and just chat with the legendary Dyrone. I remember watching him play way back in the LCS, which was the first esport I’ve ever watched, and thinking how awesome being a pro gamer would be. I never would have thought that i would be playing scrims and a competitive match with him. We got to show him the competitive side of the game which he told us he enjoyed a lot, he also just liked the game in general. He was surprisingly good at the few heroes he could play and did really well in the HGC match against No Tomorrow…hitting insane tongues [on Dehaka]. He was a really friendly and laid back guy, I had a blast playing with him.”

The Man Behind the Heals

Roll20 is a team known for its synergy, but Buds is not sure that would translate outside TM8_Buds (1)of esports. For example, he thinks the team would fair rather poorly in a zombie apocalypse. “We would be looking for supplies and come across a pack of zombies and Glaurung would do something that he likes to do in scrims, be super aggressive and be like ‘I’m testing limits!’ [Then he] gets infected and doesn’t tell us, turns into a zombie and bites us all.”

Buds sees his role on the team as a support both in game and in team communication. His position requires him to “be friendly, try to have good communication, staying positive and keeping morale up, trying my best in game and always looking to improve my play to better the team.” 

He is appreciative of everyone who supports Roll20, wanting to thank everyone who has cheered for the team and supports them. “We’ll do our best and try to make NA proud,” he said.

In closing, Buds had one last thought to share with his fans who want to get to know him a bit better.

“Not much else to know about me besides I really like cereal.”


Thank you so much to Buds for taking the time for this interview, and to Roll20 for the opportunity to chat with these awesome players. Be sure to follow him on Twitter, and keep an eye on Roll20 Esports (and, you know, me) for upcoming interviews with the rest of the team.

Want to show your support for Roll20? Head to the R2E shop and pickup an official Roll20 Esports jersey! 

 

Check out our previous interviews:

Prismaticism

Roll20 Esports Interview Series: Prismaticism

Roll20-Esports_LG-LightBG-256pxToday I get to finally unveil something that’s been in the works for a few weeks now. In collaboration with Roll20, I’ll be doing a series of interviews with each member of the Roll20 Esports HOTS team. Each article in this series was paid for and approved by Roll20. Go check them out if you want to play tabletop games online. With that disclaimer out of the way, content!!

Screenshot2017-08-16_20_21_04 (1) (2)

Heroes of the Storm, like all esports, has a unique equalizing effect. Pro players have access to the exact same characters and in-game tools as anyone. To the untrained eye, a Varian, Chromie, or Medivh looks exactly the same in a quick match as they do on the Blizzcon stage. That said, what makes the HGC truly special is the group of hard-working, passionate gamers fighting for the right to keep pursuing their dreams. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a closer look at the men on the other side of the screen. It’s time for you to really get to know the Roll20 Esports Heroes of the Storm team.

Today, we begin our series with the team’s most flexible member, Kyle “Prismaticism” Belaiche. Whether blowing away enemies on Chromie, chasing down kills with Genji, or hiding in a bush soaking waves as Abathur, Prismat has been a critical piece of the team’s success. In our conversation, he shared his journey to the R2E roster, his mom’s thoughts on his career choice, and explained his fight against performance anxiety.

 

The Path to Pro

 

Heroes of the Storm has been Prismat’s first experience with high level competitive gaming, but he carries the drive of an old school veteran. Had the HGC not worked out, he said he would likely still be chasing the goal of being a pro gamer in another game. Fortunately for this squad, the road for Prismat lead to the HGC and Roll20, though it was a bumpy road along the way.

His notable competitive career began with current teammates Buds and Justing on Team Name Change. From there, he was recruited during the 2016 season by former world champions K1pro and KingCaffeine to join Denial Esports. This would also be the roster to introduce Prismat to his future captain, Glaurung. During the season, Denial made a roster change replacing Prismat with K1 and Caff’s former teammate, iDream. From there, he was picked up by the team that would become Superstars. This was a promising team expected to qualify for the newly-minted Heroes Global Championship, but the team struggled a bit early on, failing to qualify in the first wave. Looking to make a change, the team chose to remove Prismaticism from the roster.

 

TM8_P (1) (1)This was understandably a disappointment for Prismat. “I got a bit depressed and stopped playing HOTS entirely, instead playing Overwatch, hitting top 500 as a Mercy one-trick,” he said. However, Prismat’s career as an Overwatch pro was not to be as his old teammates would soon need his help again. In the final HGC qualifier, a team lead by popular streamer Chu8 managed to earn one of the final spots. The roster was filled with promising talent, but its leader had other goals in mind.

On an episode of Town Hall Heroes, chu8 made it clear that he wasn’t interested in working hard to compete in the HGC, preferring to focus on his streaming career. His teammates, however, had aspirations of competing at the highest level. Chu8 would ultimately step down from the team just before the season began, leaving the newly coined Team 8 in need of a flex player. “They messaged me if I wanted to try out,” Prismaticism explained, “and I ended up joining the team.”

 

The World Warrior

 

TM8_P white cropHaving worked with most of the roster in the past, Prismaticism immediately fit in with Team 8, and the roster found instant success. He noted that there was a different atmosphere to this roster than his previous teams. “They are much stronger mechanically and more dedicated to competing in HGC as a full time job.” To Prismat, this spot on the Team 8 roster meant an opportunity to prove himself as a top level player after a comparatively disappointing 2016.

The team’s success allowed Prismat the chance to do what he describes as one of the coolest parts of the pro gaming career–travel. “I got to travel to other countries and meet other pro players and casters, and got to see people from other games such as Reynad, Eloise, and ThatsAdmirable.” He explained that his international experience also helped his family understand the world of esports a bit better. “They weren’t confident in it at first,” he said, “but once I started travelling to events they understood and became very proud of it.” His mother added that “it was a learning curve to understand such an uncommon career and learn about esports.”

 

A Gamer at Heart

 

For Prismaticism, it seems pro gaming was his destiny. When asked about his hobbies outside of HOTS, he listed watching other esports tournaments, and playing other games such as Gwent and Runescape. When asked about alternate career options, he simply mentioned other games he’d be pursuing as a pro player such as Overwatch and Gwent.

However, the journey to realize his dream has not been without its share of personal struggles. During most of his competitive career, Prismat has been battling against severe anxiety. “When I played on Pool Plato Some Tangoes I would actually throw up at the start of every scrim block.” He notedthat he was able to battle through his practice nerves, but when TNC qualified for LAN events, the anxiety returned in full force. “When I started going to events with [Team Name Change] I would throw up at least once per LAN.”

Fortunately, Roll20’s flex player has continued fighting hard against these anxiety attacks, and has made great strides. “When I joined Team 8, with the help of therapy and medication I was able to go through the entire Western Clash without throwing up or anxiety affecting my performance.”

Today, Prismat has proven himself as a crucial member of the Roll20 roster. He explained that he assists Justing with the team’s draft preparation, and operates as a secondary shotcaller as needed. Both in gameplanning and playmaking, Prismaticism is a bright young star in the HOTS scene, and we expect him to keep shining even brighter.


Thank you so much to Prismaticism for taking the time for this interview, and to Roll20 for the opportunity to chat with these awesome players. Be sure to follow him on Twitter, and keep an eye on Roll20 Esports (and, you know, me) for upcoming interviews with the rest of the team. When you drop by Prismat’s Twitter, he’d love it if you sent him any pictures of your pets. He especially loves cats.

Want to show your support for Roll20? Head to the R2E shop and pickup an official Roll20 Esports jersey!