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StarCraft 211 years agoRadoslav "Nydra" Kolev

Kaelaris: "This younger talent coming through WCS Europe shows the scene has such good depth"

NAME: James "Kaelaris" Carrol
COUNTRY: United Kingdom United Kingdom


With every WCS circuit on a break until next week, we hop on the internet to conduct a few interviews. For this one in particular, we make use one of our older editors, KOKOStern, who buddied up with ESL caster James "Kaelaris" Carrol during WCS Season 2 finals and now sits down for a chat with him.
How did Carrol feel casting from the grand stage at Gamescom? Did he expect the tournament to develop as it did? What are his thoughts on the upcoming WCS Europe games and how much attention does he pay to the competition on the other side of the Atlantic ocean? Can the Chinese effectively battle the Koreans at WCS America and should they get a circuit of their own? And, finally, as which superhero would Kaelaris dress if he was to attend NY Comic Con? 

The interview was conducted by Eyal "KOKOStern" ?Stern via e-mail on September 19th.


You recently cast arguably the biggest event in your career, namely the Season 2 finals. Feeling good?

It was a lot of fun, I have to say. It was even more fun considering I had an opportunity to go around the entirety of Gamescom on the days before the event itself. I didn't get that opportunity last year around and since I'm a huge nerd it was nice to see other games as well. Other than that though, yeah the games were crazy good and it was a pleasure to cast them, as well as cast with people that I haven't for a while, like Artosis and Rotti. 

Sum up in five words your Season 2 finals experience.

Awesome games, loved the stage.

Koelnmesse was filled to bursting this year, did you expect such a high viewership turnaround?

Well since I was at Gamescom last year, I kind of had a good feeling of how packed it would be. Last year it was difficult to get to the bathroom right next to us, and this year was no different. Staff toilets would have been nice, haha, but you cannot have everything. 

Let’s take a few minutes to reflect on the tournament. A good point to start is before even a single game was played. When you saw the groups, who did you predict to reach the playoffs and win the whole tournament?

Well I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t expecting INnoVation to clean sweep the tournament with little trouble. But, at the same time, even before he was on SlayerS, on NEX, I’ve been a hipster TaeJa fan forever. I remember casting him ages ago with DoA for the Clash of the Houses tournament, realizing then again that he was a special player. I had secret hopes of him taking the whole Season 2 but we know now how that ended.

? Photo: ESL

I always have high hopes for Scarlett as she’s one of my favourite players right now"

And then the matches unfolded and you went “Oh, shit”, right?

Pretty much, in a more polite way, of course, since I was on stream haha. That NaNiwa series vs INnoVation that ToD and I cast was the one that I was going crazy over on the first day. From then on, it was all down to Scarlett for bossing it up and then finally Bomber for looking very strong in the final. 

Did you expect the foreigners to do as well as they did, considering the Season 1 finals were all Korean from the playoffs on?

I always have high hopes for Scarlett as she’s one of my favorite players right now. Similarly, I have a reasonable amount of trust as well in NaNiwa when he plays, basically because just like Scarlett, he works and practices extremely hard to achieve his goals. Scarlett’s run in particular is really impressive, and I’m very happy to see that she’ll be playing in Season 3 now as well, after that being up for discussion previously. 
Last time we talked to you was at IEM WC and you hadn’t started casting WCS than so weekend-long tournaments was your primary focus. How different is the experience of commentating something like WCS and, say, IEM or DreamHack? 

Whilst weekend tournaments hold a special place in my heart that won’t go away, the WCS experience is indeed a far different monster to prepare for as well as execute. Continuity in broadcast schedule is something I value greatly, as it’s much easier to focus down on matchups etc. With that being said, the preparation knowing which player will play which is awesome, and I really mean awesome. Of course, at a weekend tournament, on the fly, I can check head-to-head past records etc. But knowing days in advance who will play allows us to get really specific with those past matches, how their styles match up and if #MINDGAMES will be a factor! 

During WCS Europe, you not only cooperated with people like ToD, Apollo and RedEye but also with MC the weatherman. That must’ve been cool?

The BossToss does what the BossToss wants! Can’t stop him. I wonder if people thought that was planned...

Are you keeping him as forecaster for Season 3 or are you having someone else? MVP sounds like someone who’d know his stuff.

Well generally we’ve just used Apollo and ToD to do so. I cannot really speak too much on who is there in Season 3 though, otherwise I’ll get shot by ReDeYe *laughs*

[Editor's note: As of today, we know that ESL have invited Grubby and iNcontroL to be part of the crew, acting as caster and host, respectively]

Kaelaris (left) with ToD. Photo: ESL

On a more serious note, WCS Europe Ro32 just ended and the foreigners are just a little bit more than the Koreans, in 10-to-6 ratio. How many do you reckon will live till the playoffs?

Let’s be brutally honest, in a live setting all six Koreans have a really good shot of advancing on to the Ro8. Because of the distribution over the groups we guarantee ourselves at least 2 foreigners in the Ro8, however I see the potential for one or two upsets in the later groups. In Group A, I can see Happy and StarDust, Group B MC and VortiX. For Group C it's ForGG and I really want to say Genius but I don’t know his offline form, I assume it’s good but Nerchio is also back on the rise. Group D is MMA and duckdeok but I really have high hopes for the rising StarBuck, he’s very happy about having two Protoss in his group. As for dealing with MMA, he wants to utilize some “Special Tactics”.

Some community members think that this might be Happy’s season, his 4-0 in a group of duckdeok, TLO and SaSe was quite impressive.

I would love to see it. Happy is insanely consistent at (sadly) dropping out just before glory. It’s an achievement in itself to always get that far, but just having that end goal barely out of reach each time. It’s got to be extremely frustrating for the guy. With LucifroN and Kas out, Happy is truly the new mainstay for aspiring European Terrans to look up to. Achieving victory against all these strong Korean Protoss as well as Zerg Terran killers like VortiX, that’s a massive challenge.

What of the other foreigners? We see some very new faces for such a level of competition as Starbuck and Showtime really surprised a lot of people.

Yeah StarBuck and ShoWTimE are really two of the big standouts to break in and do well up until now. It’s really awesome to see for me personally because I’ve cast both of them so much a while back in weekly cups, GO4SC2s and such. Achieving Ro16 in itself is a great step for both of those guys and moving forwards they’re both super hungry for it. This younger talent coming through is great to see, as it shows that the European scene has such good depth. It’s something people overlook a lot of the time when there’s constant negativity on reddit etc. 

As for the more established foreigners, I’m backing VortiX and Nerchio to try and steal some of those higher spots. VortiX and Nerchio looks really good during the Ro32 so perhaps they’ll be able to make it happen once again.

Europe had two different champions for the previous two season. Will it get a third, who would that be or are we in for a duckdeok back-to-back triumphs?

I think this season will be far harder for duckdeok than the previous one, that’s for sure. Whilst a back-to-back would actually be ridiculously cool, MMA is in prime position to just charge straight through the competition and earn a trophy that he’s been craving for over a year now. His last win was Iron Squid I believe, which was absolutely ages ago. But now, there’s a very real possibility that he’s back, a Terran resurrected from an earlier life in StarCraft2 history. Very very exciting to witness this if it becomes reality.

Photo: ESL

ne reason why the Chinese and SEA players really like IEM is that we end up visiting their regions and give them opportunities where others just cannot"

I want to turn gaze to the West for a little while and take a look at WCS NA. The Ro32 is almost halfway through and all the foreigners that played their matches are out. Is there any hope for the non-Koreans this season, excluding the usual suspects like Scarlett?

Because of the time zone and their broadcasts usually being in-between our Ro32 casts - meaning I need to sleep to be rested - it’s always a little difficult for me to catch WCS NA. I try and catch as many VODs as I can but there’s only so much time in the day with everything else I’m doing.

I will go to the obvious and say MajOr or HuK have a good shot of advancing over Top in Group E. Having seen Top briefly play against Shuttle during IEM Shanghai, I would say there’s a shot of that, although I guess you could consider him a foreigner as well. Other than that, it’s going to be really tough for them.

How do you appraise the strength of China? Can they become a nation worthy of challenging Korea in this region?

Personally, I’ve never really bought into the Jimcredible hype train. I enjoy watching them play but I think that’s purely based on the fact that their styles are similar, but with small quirks about them that make them distinctly different (bit of a paradox but, whatever, it's hard to explain). There’s certainly strength there but I don’t yet consider it to be anything beyond the realms of foreigners reaching for the highest spots. 

In retrospect, can we say Blizzard’s decision to keep the circuits open was a good idea since it allowed players like Jim, Top and MacSed to come out of their region and show their skills to the world?

It’s certainly nice to see the likes of Jim, Top and MacSed representing, you could also include mOOnGLaDe and Tilea in this category too as they’ve been a main staple of the WCS NA for a good while. It’s hard for the SEA and mid Asian countries to participate and we rarely get to even see into their world. This is actually one reason why the Chinese and SEA players really like IEM, as we end up visiting their regions and giving them opportunities where others just cannot. The perfect example of that is IEM Singapore last year as well as the upcoming one. Getting to see the Australians from time to time for me is a treat, as they're like brothers from the other side of the world. 

Should China eventually get a WCS of its own, once more time and developing is put into the system?

I’ll begin answering this with the following: I don’t think my opinion is the be-all-and-end-all answer as there’s probably a million logistical reasons for doing it different ways or the way we’re already doing it. However, my answer to this would be: The season finals or Blizzcon don’t really feel right now like a truly global thing.

What do I mean by that? Well, I don’t know too much about football but if we compare it to that I think there are national leagues and then if you do well in those, there’s Champions league, right? Again, I know nothing about football, but I like that idea, the opportunity for having local competition and then the champions of that local competition to all fight each other in something bigger (like a Season finals). Of course, being an eSport, we’re not limited by the confines of standard sport. We have the mighty Internet to cross those boundaries, so you can look at it so many ways. 

Apart from the WCS, you’ll be casting IEM New York in October during the days of NY Comic Con. We know that 2 Europeans, 3 Americans and 2 Asians will be attending through qualifiers, but we don’t know as which comic book character you will be dressed. So? And by the way, weigh your answer carefully since we will forward this to Carmac, we know he’s a fan of bets.

Hah, oh jeez. Well, fully enough despite being a massive nerd, I've never really delved too much into the comic world. If I had to pick one I think I’d have to go with... erm... err... Damn it all superheroes have muscles... I don’t have muscles.. (incoming “do you even lift” tweets) Screw it - Thor! I just need a little longer hair, which I actually had for a while in Finland, rocking that Scandinavian look.

Some final words before we think of another way to embarrass you on stage for the sake of community’s giggles?

Well thanks for the interview, fellas, always fun. Big thanks to ESL as always for being my home for this past year and a half, as well as shoutout to my mum and dad (since I always used to just shout out my mum, my dad wanted on also so there we go). They’re both very supportive despite us not getting to see each other so much. My mum even figured out Twitter! 

Correction on September 21st, 00:20 CET: Carrol alerted us for a small mistake he had made typing his answers regading getting "bought into the Jimcredible hype train" when he actually meant the opposite. The interview has been corrected to reflect Carrol's actual statement.

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