Everyone’s favorite Dota 2 co-host and analyst Jake “SirActionSlacks” Kanner talked about running Dota events, his coworkers, how to improve the viewing experience for the fans and much more.
Right after the conclusion of DreamLeague Season 11, where the Chinese Vici Gaming triumphed, bringing home $350,000 dollars, everyone was discussing the format of this particular event. For one, DreamLeague became known as a more relaxed, “fun” event, even considering its massive prize pool of $1 million dollars and its Valve Major status.
In a lengthy interview with the Russian esports coverage site cybersport, in his usual manner, SirActionSlacks struggled to keep a straight face and give a serious answer. In the end, it resulted in a funny, albeit interesting and informative read.
How are you? How do you like the tournament?
Well! DreamLeague is always great. It seems to me that since last season the tournament has grown a lot. That year it was also a major, but this time the scale increased significantly. I like the direction of this championship, its relaxed atmosphere, as well as the cool “DotA”, which is shown by the teams.
Would you like this format to adhere to more tournaments? Or let DreamLeague differ from everyone?
I think DreamLeague has its own unique image. Many tournaments are trying to copy this style, but I am not a supporter of this — in Dota 2 it’s not necessary to do everything the same way.
DreamLeague has been working in this format for a long time, but I do not think that now every tournament should be so relaxed. This unusual style looks even brighter when it is surrounded by major tournaments. Sometimes, on the contrary, I want to see more professionalism. <…>
But is this the right decision – to give the tournament major status? Maybe it was worth taking it outside the DPC?
Oh no, it definitely has no place in the DPC! Any tournament in which I participate in coverage is super-unprofessional. Take it away! This should not be in the official season! (Laughs)
[But in fact] it certainly has a place in the DPC. Because guess what? This is still a Dota 2 tournament. DreamLeague has been around for nine seasons! <…>
There are people who love Dota 2 for the fact that it has a lot of room for complex, in-depth analytics. Many professionals like to talk about it, go into dry details. But guess what? It is still a video game! It is full of people who want to have fun and spam memes! And they deserve to have their interests defended too.
A couple of years ago you played Omniknight and clicked skills with the mouse. Now you are sitting in a major as an analyst. Do you think this job suits you? Are you comfortable in this role?
Well, actually, I still click on the skills with the mouse. I do not use hotkeys because they were invented by cowards. It’s like heavy armor in anime. On the day when I decide to put the hot keys, I will be the best in the world!
But seriously, analytics is a very difficult word. Technically, I am not an analyst, but a “co-host,” which means I can talk … nonsense! You must not … listen to me!
But in general, if you watch a lot of DotA, then you start to sort it out a bit. No doubt, I am not the smartest or even the most qualified person for this job, but they still called me. I’m not complaining!
How do you work with AdmiralBulldog?
I hate him. God, how I hate him. He is a terrible person. You will not believe what terrible things he says behind the scenes. He constantly repeats: “I hate my fans, I hate this game, I love League of Legends”. The contemptible little man.
It actually sounds a lot like him. Once I talked with him for an hour.
That’s it! He is very creepy! Dastardly, vile creature! He needs to stop! At any price!
And is Sheever the same?
Of course! Sheever is the most toxic, hateful person I’ve ever met.
Are there any good people in this tournament? Only MATUMBAMAN?
Yes, Matumba is a true darling. Very cute boy. Today he brought me a cake just for being cute.
Sorry, I’m kidding. All of them are wonderful people and have always been like this. And this is terrible! Dota 2 stage needs a villain — a real bastard. So that he would go on the stage in a coat and criticize everyone. But we don’t have that — everyone loves each other, loves our game, respects the fans … It’s so boring! But nothing can be done.
But in Dota 2, the situation is still better than in most games. For example, we have ArsZeeqq, who openly says: “We have destroyed our opponent, the game was easy.” I can not imagine that someone from other disciplines could afford this.
Well yes. Because they are boring! Because they can’t be themselves — Blizzard makes you say what you need. Therefore, everyone has to be so correct, forgetting who we really are – gamers! And these are not originally the most politically correct people in the world. Sometimes we flame, sometimes we have fun. And guess what? That is why we are so successful now. Therefore, Dota 2 is the best discipline in eSports – it really understands who its audience is.
Yes, sometimes we have very strange characters. But guess what? In fact, we are all strange, because we are all gamers.
Can you say that is why you chose DotA?
“Chose DotA ?!” I did not choose Dota, brother.
Did “DotA” choose you?
Exactly. Once I was a very handsome guy. I didn’t have bald patches, I was attractive, I lived a full life, I earned money … But then “DotA” ruined everything!
And there is something beautiful in its own way. Because it was then that I became who I always wanted to be in the shower … Techies spammer.
Are you happy about this?
Absolutely. Now I devote every day to spoiling someone’s games, to incorrectly analyzing matches and spreading madness and sadness around me. In the end, it is precisely for this that we live – in order to beat out as many people as possible before we go to the pearly gates.
It really looks like DotA! What would you like to do next? Seriously, are you tired of what you are doing now?
(Laughs) I have a very strange character. When I feel that I have succeeded in something, I immediately lose interest in it. It seems to me that in life it is important to constantly look for new obstacles, overcome them and thus gain valuable experience.
Specifically, at DreamLeague, I find it very interesting, because usually I am not invited to the studio by analysts — there are plenty of wonderful and talented people there. Yes, here I am having fun. In addition, I like to organize tournaments — soon there will be our Midas Mode, which we will try to conduct in the LAN format. And I am always looking for new tasks!
Last year I worked a lot behind the scenes of TI — filmed content, entertained the audience. It gives me great pleasure. Therefore, my future lies more in the organization of tournaments. It seems to me very interesting, this is my serious answer.
Do you want to say that we can lose you in the role of co-host and participant of the broadcasts?
I really hope for it! I’ve been waiting for someone to replace me for so long! (Turns to the camera) Guys, what I’m doing is not at all difficult. In fact, it is very easy. Why no one comes to my place? I need a replacement! I have been waiting for you for a long time! We already have a new TobiWan — this is ODPixel. LizZard becomes the new Merlini. Maybe, finally, someone will take the torch from me? You are welcome! Start shooting the content, please! I want to leave!
What qualities should a person have to successfully take your place?
Generally any! I constantly see the hate on the reddit and on Twitter about how I annoy everyone and have to leave. So, you can literally arrange it — just replace me! I really hope that one day someone will come up to me and say: “I watched your broadcast. You made a mistake in all predictions, your analysis of games is at the level of 2 thousand MMR, and therefore I decided to take your place. ” You are welcome! Where are you, you tryhard with 6 thousand MMR? Come here and set me free! I feel like a genie from Aladdin — I want to be free!
Half a year ago, you said otherwise. Then you said that you have to work very hard …
(Interrupts)It was a complete lie! (Laughs) But seriously, my work certainly requires certain investments. First of all, it takes a lot of time. But I cannot say that it is hard for me to do it, because I really love what I do.
So everyone who sincerely loves their work can say so. Yes it’s hard. But this is still a party! This is the best job in the world! I do not know, I would be happy to share it with anyone. So get out and follow the dream! Do not think that you are not good enough, just do it. Even if you fail, you will get great pleasure in the process.
In spite of everything, people see in you a person who just goes on stage and has fun. Can you show us some backstage work by Slacks?
Works? (Laughs) It will be difficult! Actually, a lot … well, not a lot, but decently time is spent on preparation. If only because I need to understand a little about what I am talking about. I need to feel a passion for the game, really love it, love the fans …
It is important to understand that my work never ends. Someone arrives at the office by nine in the morning, sits until 5:00 pm and goes home to spend time with the family and relax. I can not afford this. When I wake up, I immediately go to work and do not stop thinking about it until I fall asleep. I need to constantly check social networks, answer letters, communicate with my personal manager, with agency staff … with everyone!
Of course, it is exhausting. But besides this, you need to do some sort of remake, prepare for the broadcast. If you want to succeed, then you have to do the same. Especially if you want to take my place — in my case, everything looks like I’m not preparing for anything at all.
But at the same time, it’s just memes. They are not so difficult to understand, so everything is great.
I suspect that it may be difficult for you to work with individual players, because they are not too open.
What are you talking about? They are gamers, it’s very simple for me — we are alike. I have never met a professional Dota player who I wouldn’t like. We are very similar. I told this to people at TI when I explained why I like this tournament so much.
Every time I meet someone on TI, I have something to talk to them about. This is impossible anywhere else in the world. Because I know perfectly well who we are — the players of DotA. We are very different from any other group of gamers.
We love being punished. We love the pain that Dota 2 entails. We like to reach those heights that at first seem impossible. So I really have not met a single player who I would not like. Not even a single caster! Because in the end, we all sit in the same boat. Except Sheever, of course. She is a devil.
And besides AdmiralBulldog?
And besides him, yes. Horrible people. Just kidding. They are the best. Some of my closest friends. Probably … (laughs)
Which of the players did you enjoy working with?
I like those guys who know how to have fun, but at the same time know how to play Dota …
(Laughs) Yes! Really yes! I am constantly asked what this guy is behind the scenes. Does he turn into a stern rude? Of course not! Even those players who seem very tough on the outside, remain gamers inside.
The nicest guys on stage are all sorts of Arteezy , Fly , n0tail . But even Cr1t- or s4 – those who seem calm and serious are actually very cool backstage. They will always say hello to you and smile broadly. I have never met someone who in communication would be unpleasant! Not counting the Bulldog. Just kidding!
In the CIS, a dispute recently arose about whether casters can criticize the actions of players. Do you think analysts — not specifically you — have the right to say: “This player screwed up”?
Of course. In this case, most likely, they will be wrong, because the players understand DotA at a level that analysts can never achieve. On the other hand, if you, being an analyst, are not able to distinguish a mistake from a correct action, then you should reconsider your choice of profession.
It is our job to communicate to the audience what, how and why the players do. As my dad said, what matters is not what you said, but how you said it. So it all depends on you.
You can say, “Oh, what a terrible choice of artifact” And you can choose this option: “This is a very unusual choice of subject in this match, I do not know why the player decided to collect it. Instead, you could select items A, B, or C. ”
The first option, of course, is much simpler, but is this the best option? Probably not. Because so the viewer does not receive any additional information. What can the phrase “this player made a mistake” do? Its author simply does a poor job.
But actually, I’m from America, baby, and our first amendment reads: “Say whatever the hell you want!” Yes!
How do you choose the tournaments in which you will work?
Usually, I just desperately beg the organizers to hire me and send them letters, and sometimes blackmailing photos — I use all means. Sir, I’m not the most valuable employee. In fact, my presence has discounted many tournaments. So now I’m just crawling up plainly to THAT.