// This interview was held in German language and was translated for you into English.
Snowholmes: Hello Khaldor. Thank you for taking time for us.
Khaldor: Well, no problem!
Snowholmes: How did you become a caster?
Khaldor: Well, I’d like to be lazy and give you the link to the FAQ-Video. But, basically I’ve been involved in the Warcraft 3 scene, mainly at warcraft.de. First, I was an admin on the forums and later on, I got promoted to webmaster. I managed the page and also got my own Warcraft 3 team. Amongst other things I was part of the tournament organization.
At that time everything was based on audio, meaning we had nothing like Twitch or Hitbox with 50.000 streams running at the same time. It was more about some kind of coverage for tournaments with one audio transmission every 2-3 weeks. This is like listening to a soccer match live on the radio today. So people were hyped about these coverages because it was something special.
One day the caster was unable to attend and the big question came up: Who could do that cast? We made big announcements, so we couldn’t simply cancel it. Thus, I said, “if anybody tells me how to set up the programs and what I need I’ll give it a try”. Then we did the setup via telephone.
I didn’t know if I was online or not. The tournament had already begun and was in it’s first round. I still remember that I pushed the “start” button and my first sentence was, “I don’t know if anyone can hear me, but I will continue anyway.”
That was the first cast. The viewers liked it and more and more people asked, “hey, would you like to” and “could you do another cast”. And so I kept casting the tournaments. That’s the story.
Snowholmes: And then you switched to Starcraft 2…
Khaldor: Correct. But this happened much later. I think about 8 or 9 years in fact. I started casting when I went to school, doing my graduation and kept commentating during my studies. After finishing my studies I went to Australia for one year. This was the time when the Starcraft 2 Beta started.
We already knew that we were going to host a page about Starcraft. I started playing the beta in Australia, but since I had no internet connection of my own, I was unable to comment any casts.
Back in Germany I said to myself: “Okay, let’s try this esports stuff for one year full time and see if this is my kind of work and entertainment.“
Well, I was aware of the fact that I wouldn’t have the same amount of money I’d have if I had worked at an average job I could have gotten with my studies diploma. This is why I restricted myself to one year. Then I started working at Freaks4U as a project manager and also as a caster. Also, I switched from German to English at Starcraft.
Snowholmes: There was this one stream where the English cast malfunctioned and all the viewers came to your channel.
Khaldor: Right. Well, it didn’t malfunction. I was told that it just sucked. At that time my viewer numbers grew and suddenly I had like 10.000 viewers. Especially at the beginning of Starcraft this was absolutely amazing for a German stream.
At some point, someone told me, “watch out, the English stream seems to be pretty awful and someone posted on TeamLiquid that there is that German guy, totally going nuts at the games. And now all eyes are on you.”
When I heard that I thought: “Well, it’s a German stream but I could explain some things and what’s going on in English during the breaks. Everyone in the chat went crazy: “Whaaat? He can speak English?!”
That was the point where people asked me to try casting in English. I tried this 1-2 months but wasn’t sure about it at the beginning. But the viewers liked it and so I completely switched to English.
Shortly after, an offer – or let’s say an announcement – appeared in which South Korea was looking for casters. I applied and a couple of weeks later I was already there.
Snowholmes: You’ve been in Korea a bit longer than estimated before you returned to Germany in 2014.
Exactly. The initial plan was to stay for about 3 months in Korea. Well, all in all i stayed for about 3 years because they liked working with me. But after those 3 years I made a cut. I always knew that I won’t stay in Korea my whole life. And the departure was kind of in time because Heroes of the Storm got released, which I played a lot.
Moving back to Germany my plan was to establish my own channels in many areas. Mainly YouTube and Twitch to be less dependant on any organization.
It made no sense to build up a Starcraft 2 Youtube channel, because the market was already saturated. With this new game (HEROES), right there was the chance of being part of it right from the beginning, besides the fact that it was incredibly fun for me to play it. So this was just another logical step.
Snowholmes: How was the change to Heroes of the Storm exactly?
Khaldor: The change happened as follows: At the beginning I made casts for both of them. I casted offline events with Starcraft but focused on Heroes during online events. It also so happened that “Legacy of the Void” was released in 2015 and the decision had to be made if I keep casting both together and if this can be done with a quality I’d be comfortable with.
Both, Heroes as well as Starcraft, are two technically very challenging games, at least when we are talking about the expertise of the commentator. Building up this expertise in “Legacy of the Void” additionally to Heroes simply wouldn’t have worked out for me. It wouldn’t have been possible to keep a level of quality Id‘ have been happy with.
So I had to make this decision and because I already had made a name for myself as an analytical caster and also acquired the expertise, it made more sense to stick with Heroes and leave Starcraft 2 with the end of the “Heart of the Swarm”.
Snowholmes: You already mentioned that you need a lot of expertise as a caster. What needs specific attention?
Khaldor: It’s depends on whether you are casting alone or with another caster. At the moment I’m casting alone, especially during online tournaments. The reason is simple: casting with another person is pretty difficult. Most of the caster duos currently present in this game are casting from the same location. There are always some problems coming up when you’re trying to cast online.
When casting alone, you have to do both roles. On the one hand you need to have the expertise to do the cast, on the other hand you should be able to entertain the people as otherwise it will get boring for them.
Another very important thing is that you need to take care of the observing. In my humble opinion, casting alone is one of the most difficult things you can do because you need to master that split between:
- I have to entertain my viewers
- I have to inform them and show the expertise
- I also need to take care of the whole production
Being at an offline event together with a whole team of production staff members and a second caster is different from that. You have to be able to pass the ball to a second caster and vice versa. You need to develop some kind of synergy with the co-caster and this is something that usually doesn’t develop over night. It needs time.
Snowholmes: What’s your hardware setup for the casting?
Khaldor: Uhm, at least it wasn’t cheap. The new setup is pretty amazing.
Snowholmes: So you don’t use a single workstation?
Khaldor: No, I’ve got 2 PCs. The second one delivers a cleanfeed to other casters who are casting in different languages so they are also able to commentate and won’t have to re-stream another stream where they will have to mute the comments of the other caster. It’s also for video editing, the actual stream runs via the first PC at the moment.
Snowholmes: So you made it some kind of task for you to provide a cleanfeed to others in order to make proper casts of their own?
Khaldor: I really do care about helping the scene to grow and don’t have a problem at all with investing time and money to do so. I want Heroes to become huge, really huge. And the game is making good progress so far.
Our biggest problem is the following: since Heroes is using the Starcraft 2 engine, observer slots are limited to 2. Due to this it’s very difficult for other observers from different countries to enter the lobby and have a stream of their own. Usually you have one or even two english speaking caster who fill in both slots. But if I can provide a cleanfeed I can help them observing the whole match. It’s even easier because they don’t need to do the camera work as it’s done by me. So the other casters can provide a stream to their viewers with only in-game sounds. Otherwise they would have to mute all the sounds only to mute the caster.
Snowholmes: How many working hours do you put in per week, taking Heroes and video editing together?
Khaldor: Phew, erm.. Let’s try it per day. Taking together Heroes, talking to people, organizing, casting and video editing I spend 10 hours per day easily. And that’s the minimum. When I am at home, I’m always involved with the PC somehow, like talking with people about upcoming tournaments etc. It’s far from sitting in front of the PC, doing the cast and that’s it. You have to prepare so many things. You are talking to the different organizations, they want some statistics. Optimal setting is that you are involved enough in the organization of a tournament that you can give them some feedback, for example “watch out guys, we have to change this or that because there are some problems with the rules, let’s work that out.” A new patch is coming up, so decisions need to be made like allowing a new map or a new hero. There is always some trouble with teams which has to be solved quickly. You have to cast, edit the videos, cut them and put them on Youtube, create thumbnails with Photoshop and other small tasks. They all add up and consume a lot of time and workload most of the people just don’t recognize due to lack of transparency.
You just see some guy casting and a video appearing on Youtube later, but it’s much more that this.
Additionally, I have to actually play the game. I spend around 3 hours per day on playing the game on my own. Exceptions are made by hardcore days with 2 or 3 tournaments per day. Then there is just no time for gaming but usually I try to get my 2 or 3 hours of gaming to keep up. My main account has around 3,000 games and I have another one on the NA server with a similarly huge number of games and two smurfs. It just takes a lot of time to stick with the meta. Then you are talking to the players and watch some scrimms, this is also a part of being a caster. When a tournament ends I jump right into the next scrimms and have a look how they practice and with which heroes and tactics they are currently working on. This helps a lot with keeping up with the teams and their changes, but of course I’m not allowed to talk about this. Otherwise I wouldn’t be allowed to join their scrimms anymore. I’m buddy with most of the pro teams and usually they don’t mind having me as an observer in the game.
Snowholmes: Besides the fact that this is your fulltime job, what makes you stick to Heroes? Why didn’t you stick to Starcraft or went to DotA?
Khaldor: Well, I played Dota 2 for some time before I started with Heroes. DotA had some things I didn’t like much, but so does Heroes. I wouldn’t say that the game is perfect or there is no more space for improvement. At the moment there is a lot of discussion about the matchmaking and other things. But in fact since the day I received my alpha access for Heroes I haven’t spent a single minute on DotA.
Heroes of the Storm nearly erased anything annoying me in DotA. Finally I don’t have to agonize through a 40 minute game whilst knowing that the game is lost since the draft. It’s just a lot of action, there is no long laning phase, you get straight into the action and it’s just much more fun.
Snowholmes: What do you think Blizzard should do to improve Heroes even further?
Khaldor: The possibilities of improving Heroes are nearly endless. I really like the idea of the arena mode. But Blizzard needs to put some effort into making the game more interesting to the competitive scene. Criticism for hero league has been gigantic for a long time. Changes have to be made, and soon! The matchmaking needs a huge improvement as well as the ranking system. The grandmaster league that has already been announced needs to be implemented. Besides that, the new heroes are doing pretty well. You could change a lot, especially about the observer part to ease up the work of the casters. This in turn would benefit the viewers and so on.
There could be some improvements for the client like voice chat for the players. This is crucial in my opinion. Heroes is a game which is extremely dependant on team coordination, so a voice chat is just a must have. Well, as always, there will be people abusing the tool, but that’s what the mute button is for.
Snowholmes: You are going to cast the Enter the Storm and also the EU qualifier. Are we going to see you in Katowice?
Khaldor: No clue.
Snowholmes: Too bad. So you got no invitation by Blizzard yet?
Khaldor: No. But I’m pretty sure that Blizzard hasn’t made any final decision yet.
Snowholmes: Despite the fact that no decision has been made yet, do you want to attend Katowice?
Khaldor: Do I want to? Sure! Will I? That’s another topic.
Snowholmes: Fingers crossed! Thanks again for your time, it was very interesting! Hope to see you soon in the Nexus.
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