«Reddit has some sort of power over Valve». An interview with Sheever
- So how come you started playing computer games in general?
- If I think back to computer games that I played in the past… At some point, we got a proper computer from playing games from some of our neighbours. So there was some console type of things and I was too young to understand what it was, it was some weird mother goose games. The first games I remember properly and the game I myself chose to play were Snipes, Prince of Persia, those types of games. But it was very casual, so actually I didn’t play large amount of my time until World of Warcraft. Just like many others I got addicted, I had a lot of fun and it wasn’t really bad at first. At that point we only had a single computer in the family and I had to share it with three other siblings. Basically, you only get an hour and then it’s time for someone else.
So, once we got Warcraft III and the original Dota was developed, one hour was enough to play a game of Dota for example. So that was the time when I got in touch with these two games and this is how I got into World of Warcraft. I started playing Dota from a fairly young age. I can’t remember when we got a desk computer, but it was very long time ago.
- And when did you actually started streaming?
- I got a lot of friends in online thanks to World of Warcraft. And when The Elder Scrolls V: Scyrim was released on 11 of November 2011 (11.11.2011) – that’s when I started streaming because I was among the first who had the game and my friend were curios what the game looked like. My computer wasn’t great so I streamed at the lowest possible quality. But it was the first game I streamed.
This was also very close to stop playing World of Warcraft so I went from playing 6 to 7 nights a week to no playing at all. At that time I had a full-time job…
- What did you do?
- I was a junior account manager in sales. Basically, I was selling hard drives, memory RAMs and so. I was selling it by thousands to other businesses. So you buy something, add 25 cents, and sell it to different companies. I was only playing in the evenings. I went from playing full time World of Warcraft to two weeks of Skyrim – and then I got my Dota 2 Beta key. So Skyrim fell off and I focused on Dota 2. And since I already had the experience of streaming, I started doing it in Dota.
- What did your parents, friends and siblings think about your passion especially when you were a kid?
- In fact I have a younger sister who was playing more computer games than I did, so in my family she was mostly known for playing a lot. I had the same, and this intervention was also to finish my studies. I started playing a lot when I was already living on my own, so it at first it wasn’t noticed that much. When I started streaming I still had my job and my parents were fine with it. Some when I played WoW I had some sort of intervention from my friends when they asked if they could come to have a coffee and started the discussion that I was playing too much computed games, asking if I was ok. I was at the end of my studies at the moment. In fact, towards the end you get this like “I don’t want it to end, what happens later?” and so they delay that moment. I had the same and these kinds of interventions were also to finish my studies as well.
But when I had a job and played in the evenings, nobody really cared that much. But at some point, I lost my job and that’s when I started commentating more and tried to find out if I could make a living on that. My job was pretty good, I had some savings so it could last a little while so I could at least try out if I could do anything with that. Some of my friends thought that financially I wouldn’t be able to do that. Those who were not gamers themselves only saw me playing computer games and nothing behind it. They didn’t really know what was going on and what was really happening.
My parents were always supportive. I lost my job in May 2012 and at that point I was already casting for Gosugamers. So three weeks before TI2 they decided to send me there as an interviewer. So my parents we like “Wow! They are going to send you to Seattle? You don’t have to pay anything? Well, that’s interesting!”. My dad is all about new markets and new worlds so he was all into it. So they were all very supportive. As for my friends, It took them a little longer to get on board and to realize that this is actually something I can do for living, a job of some sort.
- Esports requires a lot of time to get there and to sacrifice something, for example personal life, friends, etc. How did you come through all of this?
- Some things did change in my life. I think last year I missed two weddings of my good friends. Still I went into esports comparatively late, I have already had the period when I was a full-time student behind, I went into a lot of parties, made a lot of friends. I still have plenty of them, but I don’t meet them as often as I normally would have. I sacrificed some friendships, someone I'd normally hang out with once a week or maybe multiple times a week, I now barely see once a month, maybe even once in six months. Yes, I definitely sacrificed a part of my social life on the one hand, but on the other - I got some others in return in esports. The community in Dota 2, the talents for the events is a group of friends on its own, everybody is really friendly towards each other. It’s not like it didn’t get anything in return.
- How do you feel as a female caster? Is Dota 2 still a men’s world?
- It is. Esports in general is men’s world. Still we recently saw a girl in a new Dota team with Xiao8, the roster looks promising and they may even qualify for their first LAN. If they do, it will be the first professional Dota2 tournament with a female player competing.
In the past gaming was something only nerds did, basically girls didn’t do that at all. Now it’s becoming less and less the segment only guys doing. Girls realize that they can chose esport and go in for it. But this process for sure will take a lot of time. If you think about all the guys trying to make a career, trying to break through into competitive esport and there is such a small percentage that makes it. And if you compare it to the amount of women trying and if you take the same small percentage, then there is no wonder there are few to none female in competitive esport.
Still there are some – Scarlett in Starcraft II, I believe there was a girl in League of Legends in LCS at some point, there is more and more, but it will take some time.
- Do you have any sort of special treatment as a woman in esport? The male players are also changing and instead of shouting “Aaaa, gril” they at least know how to behave.
- This is a tricky one. Maybe at the start of my carrier I had, but right now due to my status in Dota 2 community people are accepting me as a part of the group. They treat me as a colleague - not as a female colleague, not just as a woman. Maybe some people who are watching streams – yes, they still objectify very much, but in terms of my colleagues – they just don’t.
- I just can’t avoid this question but did Henrik (AdmiralBulldog) treat you like a colleague in your streams? To tell you the truth, I really miss your joint streams.
It’s been a while. It was a lot of fun at some point. It was right before he won TI3, we played a lot together before and after the win, but then something changed…
- Maybe you inspired him to win TI3?
- Haha maybe I should get part of his prize :P
- Hasn’t he shared it yet?
- We just kinda grew apart. Unfortunately, it happens sometimes. He is a very successful streamer, he doesn’t need me to boost his viewers number. We are very different people as well. At that point he treat me as a colleague. He didn’t use to be big on streaming, he was focused on esport more, but when it came to streaming, he asked me like “Hey, how do you reward subscribers?” and some other stuff. When he first started streaming, I had more experience with that.
- And what was the most awkward moment over these last five years since you are in the business?
- It’s quite hard to identify one. My first interview was with SingSing when he kept on saying “masterbait”. For some reason, it’s not the most awkward moment even though if you look at that interview – it’s awkward. Still I can’t recall a moment when I really felt awkward.
- Ok, what was the most rewarding then?
- A lot of it blends together for me, like TI5. If you ask me to pick a specific moment from TI5 that I like most, I’d probably say it’s one of the games but I wouldn’t remember personally how I felt. I remember a moment from TI6 where I was watching DC won a match against Evil Geniuses. For me it was very emotional moment as well. I remember a moment from TI4 where I took over the host role from James as they wanted him to take a rest before working for ESPN. And I was asked to host a segment. I can’t remember if it was a bo3 series or a single match, but there was a moment when a camera span out from the crowd to the stage, to the panel which was then standing in the middle of the arena – that was the moment when I was so nervous I have never been in my entire life. You know, most of these moments come down to TIs.
- You mentioned SingSing who has the Netherlands passport, there is Thijs in Hearthstone, but the amount of esport players in your country just can’t be compared to a neighbor Denmark with a wide list of tier-1 CS:GO and Dota players. What makes this difference?
- SexyBamboe as well. I wish I knew the answer. I think there are couple of points. First, and that’s why Sweden is also doing well – it’s dark in the winter time. It’s too cold to go outside. In the Netherlands kids basically hear “play outside, don’t play computer games” and it’s not a common thing to allow your kid to play as much as people in Sweden and Denmark allow them to do. Overall I think this might be the reason why the Netherlands is slightly behind…
- Okay, it’s very far behind. Maybe I say it with some hope that one day the Netherlands will do better, but I’m not sure if this will ever happen. It’s not as commonly accepted to play computer games as much as you need in order to make a successful career in esports. I’m not sure it will go away any time soon.
We are still focused on what we are really good at. We are good in speed skating, we are not so good in football as we used to be, but still it’s much more popular. If only we had a good Dota 2 team, people would be more focused. We have a lot of great ice skaters, they do really well every year, every Olympics – we are good in that so we follow that. I remember when in TI4 Cloud 9 did relatively well and SingSing was playing there, Dota 2 got media attention. “Oh, there is a Dutch player in this multimillion Dota 2 tournament”, they got article and so. But last year’s TI had 22-23 million dollar prize pool and I don’t know if it was somehow covered in the Netherlands: there was no Dutch players so it was not so interesting. It kinda works both ways.
- As for interviews – what was the most memorable one you did? And whom you’d like to do an interview with?
- It was the one I did at Dota 2 Asian Championship in 2015 with Dendi. At that time Na’Vi were doing okayish, but not great. It was a 20-minute interview when he really opened up, regards what he thought about the community and how he dealt with community lash. I think I was able to give him the platform to speak in a proper way and to describe his feelings.
I really like talking to people, especially with those who have something to say. I don’t like to drag the information out of people, even though those people can also be very interesting. It can be a challenge, maybe I’d be the one who can make the first good interview with this person, but in general I like to give people an opportunity to say what they want to say.
I think I’d like to interview Puppey about all these Team Secret things. I think this would be a good opportunity for him perhaps.
- They need at least to qualify to a tournament where you will work.
- I think he will. He is still one of the best captains around.
- In general, working as a host and a commentator – is that what you wanted to do?
- I grew up not having a lot of plans for the future. I had no idea what I wanted to become. I studied something very generic, commercial and economics: you could go marketing, sales and make your life in business and do ok. So I didn’t really know what I wanted to become and I didn’t even think about casting or hosting at that moment these positions didn’t even exist. I was a very shy person and in that regards I’d never wanted to be in front of camera. Obviously, I grew out of that. But in general it would never have been something I would have chosen as a kid to do for a living, even something I would have thought I could do. I always did it because I like it: once I started make enough money to call it a job, so if you will this is some sort of overgrown hobby, but never a conscious career choice.
- How did Twitch and Reddit community influenced you as a streamer and commentator? Does it simplify your job as you can easily gain information as quickly as possible or it puts some stress as they put emphasis on any kind of mistake a commentator or host make?
- That’s a really good question. I think Reddit even has some sort of power over Valve, sometimes Valve may listen to the community there, even a little bit more than they should. It’s an interesting thing and discuss, because from a host prospective or a commentator prospective I used to read Twitch chat when I was commentating, after I was done with the commentating I opened Reddit to check what’s new, if anybody said something about me? Is it positive? Is it negative? Can I do something about negative part? I stopped doing that not so long ago actually. As for Twitch chat – I stopped reading it long time ago. Because…
- Because of “salty corn”, “fired” and this type of things?
- I think I stopped reading Twitch chat the moment I started working on camera, because Twitch chat does objectify a lot. It terms of Reddit it’s less of this regard.
- You mean less offensive?
- Yes! This type of comments would be downgraded while the other type of criticism stays. I used to check Reddit and I could always find a negative comment from a single person out of thousand or thousands. If I’m really curious I might still check it, I know that some commentators are still doing it every time and I don’t think it’s a good way. By doing that we give Reddit the power that they have right now.
As a host, sometimes Reddit makes my life easier! You can see that some host read Reddit too much and you may notice it since he discusses exactly the topics from it. I try not to do that. But sometimes topics are good. I remember in Dreamleague, where you could always do this funny types of things thanks to a half an hour pregame show. During first 15 minutes, basically me, SirActionSlacks, ODPixel and Draskyl or Godz easily talk about anything we want. Sometimes you may find interesting topics that can be discussed, that’s fresh, and you make a tiny talk show Dota 2 related unless we had some sort of adventure in the weekend – than we would talk about it.
- My Russian colleagues said that in Moscow at Epicenter you were given a t-shirt “I love Stud Anal” which related to Dota 2 Studio of Analytics. Do you wear it?
- Ha, I don’t wear it.
- But why?
- I don’t wear many t-shirts in general. It has nothing to do with what’s printed on it, I still have it. I saw it at a signing session, and I was asked to sign it. I had never seen it before, and mentioned it on the panel. I was then gifted a shirt while on the panel.
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