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Meet the manager: Team Blaze

Heroes Stephen “CrazySteve” Martinez

Team Blaze, a team that many would consider to be the image of a North American success story, has grown into fan favorites for their unique drafting, skilled roster, and humble beginnings. For Patrick “ShadowSmile” Smiley, team owner and manager, Blaze’s recent qualification for the Los Angeles Spring Regional marks a milestone of growth.

Most know the players, but less know about the people that work behind the spotlight. The effort, devotion, and time it takes to grow a team into the caliber of Team Blaze is an impressive accomplishment. GosuGamers got a hold of ShadowSmile and asked him about the challenges of managing and growing a Heroes of the Storm team.

What inspired you to start Team Blaze over joining an existing team? Why did you choose Heroes of the Storm over other games?

Team Blaze originally was a collegiate team that I built and started at UT Arlington. After Heroes of the Dorm and my eventual graduation, I decided to separate the Team Blaze brand from the collegiate scene and bring it into the Professional space. With my prior experience working in other professional organizations, I felt that I could not only succeed with Team Blaze but one day surpass those teams. Team Blaze is an organization built on trust and respect and with a dream to become the best in North America.

I chose Heroes of the Storm due to UT Arlington’s success in the Heroes of the Dorm event with my starter players (Eugene ‘Yuuj’ Tseng and Richard ‘Kladeous’ Tran). I placed Yuuj as captain and trusted him to make the best decisions regarding the players he brought into the organization.

What do you do as a manager, describe your day-to-day tasks. How many hours do you normally put into Team Blaze? Do you do anything other than manage Team Blaze?

I not only work to grow Team Blaze as an organization, but I also manage the Heroes of the Storm team. A typical day to day could consist of scheduling scrims, working on content creation for the team, running the twitter, talking meta with our analyst ‘Gummibear’, talking with the players, and sitting in on comms during scrims at night to analyze communication weaknesses.

I make my players shine, and allow them to focus on the game. Overall around 30-40 hours a week.

Running Team Blaze is basically its own job, it's growing both an organization and a team in a symbiotic relationship. For every 2-3 hours a day I spend working with the players, I spend an equal amount of time in the background growing both the brand and the team. Any content that is released by Team Blaze, the graphics, the website, the Twitter, everything is all done by me. I make my players shine, and allow them to focus on the game. Overall around 30-40 hours a week.

Other than manage Team Blaze? I work full time for CitiGroup. Thankfully my schedule allows me to work from 6:00 AM -2:30 PM. I come home, siesta until 5-6 PM, eat dinner, then work with Team Blaze. I sit in on scrims/banter while I work on other things. On the rare occasion, I’ll get to go out with friends/family and leave the team to their crazy antics.

What was the most stressful event/ time for you as a manager?

Probably after failing to Qualify for Blizzcon in 2015. The mentality of the team was very toxic and some players were just not conducive to the growth of the team. The addition of Marty ‘Batterry’ Nivinski from Coach to starter was very stressful, as his play was not up to par at the time. However, ‘Batterry’ brought fresh blood to the team and an attitude and drive to better himself as a player and work to bring his game to the next level. It was definitely a large risk that paid off, as Batterry is an invaluable member of the team now.

With the recent qualification for Spring, you must be incredibly proud of your Team. Looking back, how do you see the growth from an amateur team to spring finals contender? Where do you see Team Blaze heading in the future?

Team Blaze swept King Of Blades: Alpha 2-0 for their spot in Los Angeles

The growth was inevitable with the caliber of players we had. Team Blaze has always been innovative in its play and it was exciting to find us winning. Though we have had some lull periods, we continue to grow and become better. I honestly wasn’t prepared for the team to explode and get as good as they did as fast as they did.  In the future, I hope to see Team Blaze in Korea to show the rest of the world the power of Gazlowe.

If there was one team in the scene you could consider your rivals, who would it be? Any friendly smack-talk for them?

I don’t know if we have any real “Rivals” per se. I know some players don’t like our innovative play style. All I can say to that is if you lose to it and cannot react appropriately, get good.

If there was any advice you would give to would-be managers, what would it be?

You represent your team. You may never see the light of the battlefield but it’s your job to make them shine in the darkest of days. Build yourself as an individual and utilize those skills and tools to grow your team.

Team Blaze will compete against the best teams in North America in the Los Angeles Spring Regional later this month.  Huge thanks to Patrick “ShadowSmile” Smiley for his comments and insight, you can follow Patrick on twitter here, and Team Blaze here

Follow us on Twitter @GosuGamersHots for more Heroes of the Storm esports news.

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Stephen “CrazySteve” Martinez
Stephen dove into Heroes in the early Alpha and spent over two years as a manager for teams in Heroes of the Storm. You can follow Stephen on twitter at @HotsCrazySteve

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