Dreadnaught at Katowice Pt. 1: "I have a very biased point of view on what makes a good caster"
Fresh off of casting his first offline event at the NA Spring Regionals, caster Wade "Dreadnaught" Penfold had little time to rest before he immediately flew to Katowice, Poland to also cast the EU Spring Regionals. Getting the opportunity to cast not one, but TWO major regional tournaments is something most people only dream of. During a lunch break before the Spring Regional matches started, Dread quickly finished his pizza and talked to us about his transition from pro player to caster, the logic behind casting, the state of the regions, and much much more.
How are you? You must be having one of the busiest weeks and a half of your life!
I don’t know if I would say it’s the busiest of my life but definitely it’s on the upper hand of the busy scale. But i mean it’s good, being busy is never a bad thing.
This event is very different from the NA event for a lot of different reasons. With EU vs. NA you may know more about NA and here there will actually be a crowd which there wasn’t in NA. Was there anything you were more excited about on your way here?
Absolutely. I dreamed to do the foreign scene more so than the NA. It’s mainly because, number one it shows the demand for maybe your skill but then it’s also because I really enjoy traveling. Outside of the traveling, the number one thing would be the live audience for me. I’m really excited for that. Working with European casters is something that I really look forward to.
If anything, I’m interested in the development of the European meta in the middle of this tournament. But, that pulls away from me, just because of how packed my schedule has been with how late I was notified because I was filling in for Grubby. I don’t feel like I got to get the research that I would put in as a standard to myself.
I can't say that I’m going to come in here and feel like my experience will make me a very good analyst here. But, whether or not I’m at the point where I can determine the strategy and the approach to the game for every team individually to the level I hold myself to? I feel like I’m not there. So,that's more of a downside but it's not something I feel like is detrimental.
So you would be okay going to Korea as well?
Absolutely! God tier dream. I beg to go to Korea!
Why did you decide to move from playing to casting?
I’ve stated multiple times, but it felt much like something that was no longer worth risking my happiness for [playing competitive].
Honestly I just love the game and the community, doing things for it whenever I can as long as it involves education and pushing my own knowledge of the game.
My reasoning for moving into casting was mainly just because people told me that they felt like I would be good at it and I was like, ‘sure let’s give it a shot’. Honestly I just love the game and the community, doing things for it whenever I can as long as it involves education and pushing my own knowledge of the game. I really do enjoy it and have a good time casting, especially analytical casting is kind of a perfect fit.
Did you watch Grubby as an example?
No. I don’t use very many people as examples when it comes to studying casting it’s something I want to work more on. Casting preferences is such a weird subjective thing that if i asked you to tell me who your best caster is and I learn to cast like them then it's like even if you clone them perfect you'll never be the same so it’s like one of those things that using them as a frame of reference is very difficult to pick which ones. But even if you manage to pick one it’s not that it will always help you directly. I never looked at Grubby directly, at least when it came to Heroes. I didn’t use any of the Heroes casters actually as a sample except for Artosis. Korean casts as a whole I used, but not Europe or NA.
Casters from other games then?
A little bit here and there, yeah. It was mainly I would just walk up to people who are into casting and say ‘who’s the best caster in the world’ and they would tell me and then I would watch it.
A lot of it comes down to the esports that I did watch I never enjoyed the guy who told me things I already knew. I always wanted the guy who made me the better person after watching.
Then I would ask why and they would give me the reason and I would take what I thought was valuable from it and try to implement a little bit of my own. A lot of it comes down to the esports that I did watch I never enjoyed the guy who told me things I already knew. I always wanted the guy who made me the better person after watching. So that’s where I’ve taken my own goals, obviously I don’t execute it perfectly. I’m definitely young with it and looking to improve. I get annoyed when I don’t feel like I hold myself to my own standard.
What do you enjoy most about casting?
I like really good games. I like knowing that I’m watching debatably some of the best teams in the world. But then not only that, but that I am the guy who gets to be the medium that lets you know the severity of the decision making that they’re making and why they’re better than you. I like being that medium, that translator, if you will, I find that really appealing.
Do you think there’s not enough of that in heroes currently?
I have a very biased point of view on what makes a good caster but that doesn't make me right by any means and I do think there should be a little bit more analysis in the entire scene. I don't think that the casters that exist need to be the ones that transition to it because there is extreme value in the play-by-play caster. Even though it's something I’ll never aspire to be, it doesn't take away from the value they have. I’ll never push to be it but it doesn't take away from the fact that my role is equally as important or even less important because my target demographic is far smaller than theirs is.
It’s a little unfair because I feel like people put way too much heavy scaling on the two. Imagine putting me in front of the audience at Heroes of the Dorm. That would be literally the worst decision they could ever do, unless they make vast adjustments. People are like ‘we need more people like Dread’ but if you put me in front of that audience I would do nothing positive for the game. There's a time and a place for every style of casting but people have a really skewed point of view on it.
Do you think that Heroes will stay in the more casual fan base for a long time?
No. I think it will always have a casual fan base and it will always be appealed to, but I don't think that the fan base will remain only casual. Heroes of the Dorm has its own target market and it’s nowhere near what other events are. The other events appeal to all of esports enthusiasts of any kind I don't feel like Heroes is debatably more casual than any other when it comes to the viewer base. Maybe the game and the people that get into the game, but when it comes to the esports level it's equivalent to others.
Last weekend you casted your first offline event. What did you think of that experience?
It was easier than I thought it would be. Once I got passed the nerves I realized if I walk into a room where I know competitive gaming is going to go down in a serious level and I'm going to be involved in it I always get adrenaline no matter what role I fill. I absolutely love it. It was fantastic being able to be next to your co-caster.
If I walk into a room where I know competitive gaming is going to go down in a serious level and I'm going to be involved in it I always get adrenaline no matter what role I fill. I absolutely love it.
I never realized how valuable that would be and it was a great learning experience. I think being next to my co-caster and picking up on body language it would bring enthusiasm and excitement to the game, to not be in my room and out of my traditional setting just made it that more appealing.
Part of the reason you're here is your experience as a player and I think part of what makes good players is living around other good players, living and breathing Heroes. Do you miss being around pro players 24/7?
Yeah. I miss just having somebody to constantly back ideas and concepts off of. More than anything my competitive drive is just so strong that anytime I see competitive HotS, I just get so sad that I’m not a part of it.
What would it take for you to go back to playing competitively?
That's a very good question. One that I don’t even think I have the answer to.
Grubby has stated that his plan is for maybe to eventually start a team, would you be down for joining Grubby on a team?
I would be willing to give it a shot as long as all the variables are there there’s no reason I would say no to him. I would give it a shot.
So you don’t know what would take you back but there’s a chance you will perhaps go back to the scene?
I feel like people blew it out of proportion when I decided to step down and instantly move to the word ‘retire’. Just because I didn’t have the intent to play, doesn't mean that I would never be willing to. But at the same time don't suddenly think you're going to see Dreadnaught show up with a new team any time soon.
No Chair League?
I might dabble in Chair League for fulfilling that competitive desire, but not because I’m like building my new team and starting from scratch.
Speaking of building a team do you think you would have a lot of freedom to build your own team if you would ever go back to playing? Maybe get a big org to support you?
That’s a good question. If I was to ever play again I have no idea. I think this is why the idea of me playing again is really difficult because it would either be the only way it would be appealing enough for me to go back is if I didn't feel like I had to have the work to start from scratch again because it takes a lot of time and effort. But at the same time if I was to join a different group at some point, unless things were perfect which is rare, that it would be I would have such a minority point of view and easily be influenced. You’re the new guy you don't have much control or influence on things that would make me not want to stay. It's one of those weird balances. I have no idea what I would do honestly at all.
I’ve watched some of your streams of the SEL. You always say “either I lead or i’m very passive”. Do you think that would be a problem if you would ever join a team?
I would like to say no. I’m definitely not flawless. I’m not a person that needs to be in the lead but i do need to trust and respect whoever is leading. I don’t feel like that's impossible by any means but it takes a level headed person honesty is a huge thing. So it’s an option but it’s one of those things where naturally when I get a taste of leadership I instantly go into full leadership mode. I don’t do it to be a dick it’s just a personality flaw. That’s why in SEL I don’t take that lead because it’s like i would be like ‘okay this is poor and this is poor and this is poor’ and it’s just a pick up game, just play the game and have some fun. But I always try to make sure not to convey my flaws to hurt other people.
You aren’t in the house anymore but do you try to have these discussions like this with other pro players?
Not as much as I would like to but at the same time I wasn’t being too serious about casting, so I wasn’t pushing to have conversations with pro players like that but as I realize I kind of enjoy the casting perspective more and more I would take it more seriously and pushing in towards discussing.
I don’t have to try to think about the meta for an hour it’s something that like just happens.
Like all my views and my decision making on the game is literally from since I left to where I am not only my own individual analysis. None of it is actually pro's point of views telling me what we think is good it’s just my own intricate understanding of like what the NA scene was and has been. But as time goes on I think it will get a little bit more difficult and I will be able to kind of work on that relationship with other teams that make it kind of accent and help me out. But I don’t think I’ll ever be too dependent on them just because I feel like as long as you have a solid understanding of the game and the foundation and the evolution process, which I feel like I have experienced, it will be a little bit easier than for most people. Especially because I have an over thinking mind about it. I don’t have to try to think about the meta for an hour it’s something that like just happens.
Do you still learn things when you watch?
Absolutely. There’s moments where when I do get to get in on scrims or when I get to watch new matches I learn a lot of new things. Especially the prioritization of heroes and picks/ban phase order.
Kind of try to interpret the data without holding it as absolute law, you can always gain something from everything from all regions.
You can single handedly look at the statistics of Super League one season as long as it's on one patch and the data isn't that skewed. You can just look at that and understand what their meta is especially if you get to see the pick/ban order. Then you can hone in on what is good and bad. honestly I don’t feel like it's just gotta be like general analysis. As long as you can apply critical thinking. Kind of try to interpret the data without holding it as absolute law, you can always gain something from everything from all regions. Even the regions that are considered less valuable like Australia would be prime example. I don’t think they’re going to come in and take Worlds but it can be something they can learn from.
Speaking of stats do you know DtheHunter? Do you check out his stats? Do you think teams should do that?
Yes. I don’t think I can speak on the behalf of other teams but I can tell you that logging stats and win rates and trying to approach the game from more of a statistical point of view, I don't think it's foreign to many teams. So I think more teams should do it. It wouldn't hurt. It does take a lot of time and whether or not that time is worth it is a whole nother story.
You don't think that will be the edge that will bring higher team win rates?
I think it is, but whether or not they will is a different story because the amount of time that they already dedicate to the game alone. Having a 6th member that can interpret that kind of data at that level of play and how fast it changes is usually not worth the time. If you have your actual roster doing it it pulls away from the things they should actually be doing to where it's not beneficial. So it's like, it would be good but whether or not it would stick it’s like idealism versus realism.
We had such a great time talking with Dreadnaught, we had to split the interview into two parts! Part two of this interview can be found here.
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