Justin "Clever" Groot: What was the casting experience like in Dallas compared to the other venues?
iNcontroL: My casting experience in Dallas was surreal. I have done big events before like Dreamhack but I knew that MLG had a special place in my heart as a North American event. Being on that stage and having fun with some of the best casters around was a really exciting experience. Unlike previous MLG tournaments, where I attended as a player, this time around it was stress-free and I got to watch almost all of the games, which made it an educational experience as well.
What were your thoughts, as a caster and a player, on Startale.Life’s victory in Dallas?
iNcontroL: Life was the best player that weekend and that is no small thing. He bested a field of players that was pretty terrifying, but saying he "bested" it isn't even really telling the whole story.. he demolished it! In most of the series he played he was the clear favorite. Really the only close series was him vs. Last, but even in that series Last had to come from behind in score but also in the way the games played out. Such a dominating performance for the young zerg!
Which series over the weekend sticks out most to you, and why?
iNcontroL: Selfishly, the series I will always remember from that weekend will be Goswser vs. Bomber. Using seeker missiles to destroy a potentially game-winning army? That game 3 that had non-stop action for over an hour? Was absolutely stunning. Not to mention it was one of if not the most competitive foreigner vs. Korean match of the weekend, which always tugs at my heartstrings. Outside of the games themselves I had a really good time with Totalbiscuit and I felt we had natural synergy that made the cast a real enjoyable experience. Whenever you cast to a large audience one of the only points of stress I feel is that of being entertaining. You don't want to feel like you aren't doing your job or that you are wasting an opportunity and I never felt that with Totalbiscuit. He has the natural voice and experience of a trained broadcaster that allows you to focus on what you do and for me that is analysis and being kinda funny sometimes. That all came together while we were fortunate enough to witness an amazing series.
Let’s say you could pick any two players to compete in a best of seven that you would cast. Which two players would you pick, and why?
iNcontroL: That is a great question. I would probably pick someone like Rain or Parting because they are two of the best Protoss at the moment and I would have them play either a Leenock or a Flash. I feel both those players play an exciting aggressive brand of Starcraft which can create some of the more iconic and fun games we all enjoy. Hard to narrow it down to just 2 so I cheated a bit!
You’ve casted plenty of tournaments, with a wide variety of co-casters. Which tournament was your favorite? Why?
iNcontroL: For me I still have the fondest memories of doing a few of the Dreamhacks that I have. Staying at the GDStudio and hanging out with my friends that I don't get to see that often and goofing around is a pretty tough bonus to beat. The events themselves take place in Sweden and I can honestly say if I didn't feel like saying this was unpatriotic or something I'd say it more but DAMN do I love Sweden. It's beautiful, the people are nice and it has that country feeling while still not going too far into the boonies. I loved this past weekend at MLG and I can say that I think that was the most positive feedback I've ever been given, but Dreamhack as a trip and a job just has too much going for it.
Out of everyone you’ve ever casted with, who is your favorite co-caster, and why?
iNcontroL: For me the answer is simple: DjWheat. He has that experienced/trained broadcaster quality where he can take anything in stride, he knows when/where to handoff and he can sense how to jive with a caster. He is one of the easiest people imaginable to work with because he is THE chameleon, while you simply need to do what you can to not get outshined too terribly! Beyond that he has something that I think makes for a truly special broadcaster: passion. Be it real sports or eSports, you can tell when someone actually cares about what they are discussing and he has that. When I cast with Marcus I get to be funny but he also helps show off my analytic side and that makes me a better caster.
What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to co-casters?
iNcontroL: It is hard to say because there is a way to go about everything that is only good for a cast. For instance, I could say "when they talk over me" but sometimes both myself and my co-caster are SO into the broadcast we do that naturally and that never seems annoying. I could also say "when they disagree with me" but again I find myself saying if I am casting with Apollo and he disagrees with something I think it's really cool for the broadcast because it adds a layer of intrigue... as long as nobody gets butthurt it can be a good thing for the cast. I guess at the end of the day my only pet-peeve would be having to cast with someone that isn't into it. Maybe they are upset/frustrated at something or just too tired. It happens to us all but we as casters need to perform so we can do our job!
What’s the most important trait of a successful shoutcaster?
iNcontroL: In my opinion the most important trait is being entertaining. I know that is a word that has popped up a lot as I type out these answers but I honestly feel like it is the most important concept for a caster. We have analytic guys, we have guys with great radio voices, we have individuals with years of experience and so on but what really makes the caster is their ability to engage the audience and make what they are doing more enjoyable because of how they do it. You could be the most knowledgeable caster on the planet but if you don't have a way of conveying that in an entertaining fashion on some level then you are just a book (which can be entertaining but probably not for a broadcast!). I try and be entertaining by melding my humor with my knowledge of the game but more importantly I purposely try to have fun with my audience and my co-commentator. I find that makes for the best experience for everyone involved.
Being a caster can be exhausting, especially when you do it for an entire weekend at a major tournament like MLG. Do you find it a challenge to maintain your energy throughout an entire tournament? How do you deal with the exhaustion? Do you have any preparation rituals that you can share?
iNcontroL: This is actually really true. I can't help but feel a bit like a weirdo agreeing to the concept of "talking about video games can get exhausting!" but being "on-call" and performing for 12-14 hour days can do that to a person. I haven't always done the best job at this but it's really important to eat healthy throughout the duration of the gig. That doesn't mean calorie counting it just means eating food that will sustain your energy level for hours on end as opposed to a quick sugar high. That said I will splurge and go for a Monster or two if I am crashing anyways! As far as rituals or anything like that? No. I do know that Day9 is a huge promoter of honey and tea as a throat saver but I know of nothing else
Casters sometimes get flak for not knowing enough about StarCraft II strategy. How good at the game do you think somebody has to be to be a successful analyst of strategy?
iNcontroL: Well being good at the game and knowing enough to be of use as a commentator are two separate things. Obviously it helps to be a more high level player of the game but it is not a requirement. As a caster I feel you have a responsibility to take the game seriously as if it is your job (because it is). That means doing research which could be as simple as playing the game frequently or at the very least watching lots of streams. I think the perfect embodiment of this is Apollo. He actually works as hard as you can to be the best commentator. This means he plays at a fairly high level, he watches plenty of streams, he is on SC2 related talk shows and he takes notes to help him retain all this information. This hard work pays off! He is widely regarded as the #1 or #2 commentator and certainly one of the most knowledgeable. For me personally playing this game every day for 5+ hours and watching streams another 5 hours or so is my research. It just so happens I would do that if nobody paid me or cared!
How does casting Heart of the Swarm compare to casting Wings of Liberty?
iNcontroL: Casting WoL had its own charm in the sense that at the tail end of that era the game was fairly predictable so it was kind of easy to cast because everyone had their 3-4 things they did per match up but that was it. In HotS each game is an exciting expression of new strategies or even if it's a more common strategy at least for now it is fresh and unique. In general though I love HotS for how it promotes aggression and more difficult level of gameplay Utilizing all the new units and strategies requires more micro/multitasking than we ever saw in WoL.
How does playing Heart of the Swarm compare to playing Wings of Liberty?
iNcontroL: Well as a Protoss this is where I would lean on your shoulder and cry about how hard we had it in WoL. HotS seems so exciting, fresh and new, I don't really have much to compare. In HotS I feel like the limiting factor is YOU the player where as in WoL at certain points I felt like the game did grossly favor one race or had blaring issues with being an entertaining game in general. HotS I have no reservations in saying is the best game on the planet.
Have you gotten a chance to play the Heart of the Swarm campaign yet? What do you think of it?
iNcontroL: Wish I could tell you I have. I am too busy playing the ladder and trying to get better at this game!