I have been conducting a research lately around esports
and have therefore had the chance to interview some (familiar) faces of esports in search for a better understanding of the phenomenon. At the start of it all, I made clear to my interviewees that their responses were not at first hand meant for wide publishing. However, now that I'm done with using the data, with their agreement
, I have the possibility to release it as a series of interviews that can be, in my opinion, an interesting read for many people. So, here it is.
You will notice that the core questions are the same for every interview minus some more personal or situational questions that I thought were relevant given the context or the very own experience of my interviewee. The interviews are raw, I haven't edited them so if there is any mispells or weird sentences, don't be freaked out.
esports definition, esports origins, women in esports, the sport debate, new technologies, esports audience, esports prospects, upcoming challenges...
Today, I will be releasing the #3 interview notes with Kevin "Strenx" Baeza
. The interview did not need translating, as it was done in english by Strenx leself.
Tell me a bit about yourself, what is your personal approach and your own experience of esports ?
Good morning ! My own experience about esport was quite different from the other actually. In esports, I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I had to fight everyday in order to prove my innoncence. To summarise briefly, I was known as a cheater against my will. I couldn't prove it, so I had to wait 4 years on a tournament to show them wrong. You can see my history through this article : https://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/15ox...ro_gaming/
My personal approach of esports would combined years of experience of hard work and never give up, such as sport in fact.
What is esports actually ? How do we define it ?
I have made a research thesis about it. As far as I remember, I had a research to make about the difference between sport and esports. What is sport ? It's an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.
From this sentence, one word stands in my mind. This word is "physical". From different books, I have come to understand several facts. For the counter strike players, their vision acuity were as fast as the worlds best ping-pong players. Moreover, after several hours of practice, they felt exhausted, mentally and physically. I've been to the Philippines once for MSI, and I saw an ex fnatic player (Sen) playing Starcraft 2. He played so hard that his fingers were bleeding. It was quite impressive to be honest. From a business standpoint, it has also the same caracteristics. Indeed, you have sponsors who put money into it, even when the sponsor has nothing to do with esport (Hello youporn).
I digress briefly, sometimes sponsors such as youporn could be a huge progress for impressive gamers that did nothing else good than playing a game. I've seen so many good players being so confident but acting like a "Silver I" in front of girls. Youporn is the future.
In conclusion, I would define esports as a renewal of what we've always known with 2 important words : passion and competition.
How does one actually make a living out of esport ? Not just the competition aspect but more generally around video games as a whole ?
From an objective perspective, it's very uncommon to make a living out of esports, unless you are famous or you compete at the top on the most famous games (League of Legends, Counter strike GO). Otherwise, it's a lot about streaming, you create a personnality, and people either like or hate you. You do not really need to be good as long as you are funny and you provide contents.
To be honest, it is good to see this kind of effort, but it seems that it is easier to win money from gaming (not esports) now. People tend to act cocky because they made a name and they think they made it by their own, it's not. They always forget that they are what they are thanks to everyone.
If I could make an aside again, I wish I could bring a lot of viewers in order to get a lot of donations. Why is that, you're gonna ask ? From my experience, I always wanted to do something. I stand sometimes as a volunteer on a techno party in order to give free food to people who do not have the chance to have it. You dance, you pay your ticket and you bring 3-4 foodstuff. I was so happy and amazed to see that everyone was part of it and you could have in one night more than 200 boxes worth of food. So here was my idea, each week, I would make a donation day in order to gather all the money possible to buy everything I can for them and make a video out of it (If the donators want it or not).
Esports is huge and you can win a LOT of money from it, so it's good to use your reputation from it. Don't be like the 3% multi billionar. Btw don't give to the romanians, they piss me off (I'm joking).
How have the constant evolution of new technologies and faster internet helped esport grow to such an extent ?
15 Years ago, it was impossible to play on good conditions unless you were on an offline event. Nowadays, internet has improved so much. You can actually fight against any countries without a huge disadvantage. Sponsors can see the potential of any players, and they can afford everything he wanted in order to compete.
How do you see esports in the future, say 5-10-20 years from now or even further ?
I am pretty sure that espots will be considered as a sport everywhere in 10 years. Back in the days, you couldn't think that France would be about to consider esports as a sport. But this dream is happening.
I'm just afraid that esports is about to be a money pump (if it were not already done). World is all about money, and I'm expecting huge taxes on the competition in the future. The funniest thing is that if you remain optimistic, it can be good. Why ? Because the country can have an improvement if it's about preparation of a recovery or restructuring plan thanks to esports. (Countries are so indebted). Nonetheless, world is shit so they would put all these taxes in order to give more comfort to the politicians, and we will still be the pawns, as always.
What about potential new technologies yet to come, such as virtual reality ? How do you think these would find their place into esport and video games in general ?
Everything in its own time. In my opinion, that would be sad to put sport on a virtual reality. Esports belongs to the computer at his own way. If you start to remove the authenticity of sport, it would be a disaster.
A lot of recent studies have shown that contrary to before, more and more women play video games, albeit arguably different type of games or usage of them. But what about esports ? How do they fit in ?
That's a question of "embarassment" and without sounding like a macho man girls have understood that. And what's sad is that there's a lot of bad faith from them. To summarize, they pretend to say that they're there because they're strong. But the truth is that those who will make it will always be the ones that are pretty or those who hang out with male stars of the moment. Welcome to this shitty world.
Those who really deserve the attention and the "esports celebrity" status are rarely the ones who get their deserved praise. I saw that fact on a documentary on TV some time ago where the reporters were following the girls from Millenium. They were supposed to follow the Millenium girls but when they were interviewing girls in the pool they were interviewing the swedish girls instead. I'll let you guess why. They claim for equal rights but they do not respect it in the first place
How far do you think esports can go in terms of viewership and mainstream recognition ? Could esports be one day as popular and common as, say, a tennis grand Slam or a football/soccer world cup ?
You just need to watch League of legends final to see that esport can be as popular and common as basket or other games. During the S3, more than 32 millions people were watching the finals. It's 3 times more than France-Ukraine during the Euro qualification. The problem is that the old generation do not become habitual of esports. It's all about standpoints and perspectives.
It will never be as famous as football in my opinion, but there is no doubt that esports will play an important part on this matter.
What are the main obstacles and barriers that could prevent esports from growing even more ? What are the challenges still lying up ahead ?
Some countries such as France have a hard time to consider video games as a good thing or as a world progress. There is improvement, but still not enough. I guess some countries need to improve slowly but surely, step by step
Have you had any bad experience(s) while beeing a professional player ?
I've been a professional player for 1 year and half only. I define a professional player as someone who makes a living out of it. I just can't understand someone saying that he's professional gamer when he lives with his parents and earns 400e max/month.
Anyways, even if I had very strange stories in my gaming career, it always ends positively. I've learnt many things in life thanks to esports. (Promises, trust, business). In my opinion, all these mistakes that I could make is a good experience that I can share to the youngers. At least, they won't do the same shit !
Have you got any plans for the future in esports for yourself ?
I'm planning to try overwatch and practice a lot. But I'm getting old and I studied a lot so I could have an important job. At the moment, I was accepted into a big company in order to be a wealth management advisor (I've never worked into a mayonnese factory, but I commend its people who made this rumour).
Anyways, I'm going to practice and do my best in order to do something good in this game.
Name the three things that you love the most about/in esports, and the three things you hate/dislike the most.
From at least 5 years of experience in esports (maybe more), there is two things I love in esports : Competition and meeting new people that can be your friends in the future (Hi alex, hi maciej, hi sebastian). I do not really need to explain why it was such an intense experience in my life because you can understand that you don't have words to describe it.
But I can describe what I dislike the most in esports, because I was like this myself (Maybe not that much but I was sometimes doing it on purpose and I had fun doing it).
What I dislike the most is the "arrogance ignorance" (I created this term my self). I've started to see it from Shootmania and especially Overwatch. Nowadays, being very good in a game (new games) is very easier than it was. You do not really need to have a specific huge talent to be the best. If you practice h24 every day, you can reach the top. In itself, it's good because it gives motivation and there is more competition.
Because of it, people tend to be cocky, uberconfident, and they look at you like you were a piece of shit because they feel stronger than you. They will never question themselves because they think they are over anyone. They forgot that they never reached the top in their own game. Now they can, so they want to act this way in order to have all the recognition they never had in the past. It it what I blame because I realised it too late that it's sad to act like this. It's useless and you won't gain anything from it. If you could use this uberconfidence somewhere else, it would be so great. I'm sure I bring at least 4 uberconfident guys into a party, they won't even say one single word to a girl because they won't have anything else than "I have a very good mouse and pad". You pieces of milk (Ok I troll a bit, but you know me now :)).
But what I like in esports, and what I like in sports is something that you can't reach, even if you tried hard. (If you can reach it, it's good and you were lucky to born this way). Let me give you an example, Tennis. You could tryhard and practice since you were 3 years old without drinking, without smoking. In the end, you did good, you are one of the best players in your country, you are a professionnal player and you managed to qualify to the Roland Garros cup. Now you have to play against Nadal (the guy you followed all your life). You pracced so much to beat him and you did everything to be in your best conditions. In the end you lose 6-1 6-2 6-0. Frustrating isn't it? You try again, it's the same. I don't say to give up, never give up.
But you know, there are players you can't reach, no matter how hard you try, these guys have something we don't and that's why they are loved. Having the dream of being one day like him is beautiful. In games (except for some), this dream is too easy to reach, you only have one way. It's same for Quake, I've never seen one guy playing quake live for so long and managed to be at the very top. You can do everything you want, you won't reach Cypher or Rapha level. Same for Usain bolt. It's realistic and you can disagree with me.
Could you explain to us how do you think France regarding esports as a sport is a good thing ? If there are any pros and cons about this decision, what are they ?
In the beginning, I was not really fan of it for several reason. It is a fact, but esports is a temporary thing. Moreover, you could invest 24h/24 in a game to win maximum 1000 dollars per month without any studies or a prospect of future. All these things could be a problem. Now, you have stream, you can have contacts and you can actually have a job after playing a game. France is not that stupid (contrary to the clichι), they know that esports is an increasing market, so they would have a greater interest in operating on this.
What would you say to a teenager who wants to become an esports world superstar today ?
To listen to the older, we know this thing, we were like you, you are not different. Do your dream, but do not forget your life goals. Gaming is a lot of sacrifices, it is also a passion, but do not sacrify everything for it (That's why I don't agree with fatal1ty). If you really want it and you know that this game can make you go further, stop your studies for 1 year. But one thing, never forget your life career and ask yourself the right questions. Don't be stubborn, listen to the others, and be less arrogant than any other, because we are all arrogant. Some are more than others (I know what I'm talking about).
Don't be a dick with people who want to learn, you didn't make yourself by your own. Try to reach your goal, believe in yourself and accept that you can lose, as long as you understand your mistakes and be better than him in the future. Acting this way is always something that will grant you in the future
I've seen so many person sacrifying all their life in order to be good in a game. For what? Not being the best and win max 600e/month ?. What are your goals in the future? CS:GO starts to be good, but does training h24 to win 1100k/month is worth it? That's why I said, ask yourself the good questions. You always need a plan B, always.
What would you say to a younger Strenx. Would you do it all the same over again or would you have done things differently now that you are older and more mature ?
In kiev against cooller, I would look at this strenx and tell him to check the screen before starting, like cooller did. So at this moment, I would know the timings and win this moment smile emoticon.
More seriously, I would tell him to not care about everything. Trying to stay calm and to stop to prove that you can be someone +50-0, it is useless and you don't win anything from it. If there is a kid who wanna act like a dick, ignore him. It's hard to win an argument against a smart guy, but impossible to win against a stupid one.
I would tell him to have not stop quake for 1 year and play zotac over and over, so nobody would see evil win this much. Moreover, I would tell him to act less arrogant in the past and to stop focusing so much on the others. I really needed a coach I think, my biggest enemy was myself.