Interview with LD from Dota Commentaries
Fri 28th Sep 2012 - 8:58pm
Recently I have had the privelege to interview David 'LD' Gorman one of the biggest caster's in the dota 2 scene. Just by talking to LD I could tell that he is really a swell guy and I am very happy for his success in the dota community!
LD works for Dota Commentaries, a very well known website where people go to watch professional games as well as talk in forums and watch the dota show. In this interview we get to know LD better all while asking him dota related questions. By request from LD here is his autobiography AboutLD
So how long have you been playing dota now?
LD: About 7-8 years; I've been playing since shortly after I graduated high school in 2004.
How long has it been now that you’ve been casting games? What was it like slowly coming up in the dota scene and getting to where you are today?
LD: I cast my first game in January of this year, so about 9 months ago. I took a few breaks here and there, the longest being for about a month, but I've only really been serious about casting for the past 6-7 months or so. So all in all I'd say, practically speaking, I've been casting for about half a year now.
To be honest, I wouldn't really say I came up slowly, because until the beginning of this year, I never looked at DOTA as anything more than a casual pastime. I've been playing for a long time, but I only followed the competitive scene in a serious way since shortly before the first International. I watched a handful of competitive games way back in 6.38b, but then I just went back to pubbing and never really looked back until fairly recently.
I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who want to also become casters like you, if you could give them any word of advice what would you say to these people?
LD: The best advice I can give you is something Day9 said in his dailies, and I feel it holds true not only for casting / being involved in esports but really for life in general.
If you want to become a caster, just start casting. Don't ask people if they would be interested in your casting, don't try to gauge if you have the "right voice" or "correct level of knowledge", just do it. Some people are naturals, but for the most the best way to learn will be by simply investing lots of time and energy
Make sure you are having fun, because if you're not, you won't be motivated to stick with it, and frankly the rewards outside of personal fulfillment in casting are mostly non-existent. Sure, the top few casters may be able to make a decent living off of it, but nobody is getting rich off of casting Dota 2. But as long as you love what you do, you'll be motivated to work hard and constantly strive to get better.
Talent is a factor, but in my opinion most people who are successful in casting or really any area of life get where they are because they work harder than everyone else.
What’s your favorite type of hero to play? Do you usually find yourself carrying in pub games?
LD: I'm not much of a support player. I normally prefer playing carries or strong solo mids, especially in pub games. If I ever do play support, I'll usually be that guy who's not buying wards, building a midas on CM, and generally being as useless as possible. Not having large piles of gold at all times is anathema to me :P.
That being said, although I don't particularly enjoy it myself, I really respect those who do it and do it well. Playing a good support is probably the most challenging and underappreciated art in Dota 2.
What is your current dota schedule like? What are you working on these days?
LD: Currently, things are a bit slow as far as casting Dota 2 goes. I recently was fortunate enough to cast the September GEST (a SEA Dota 1 tournament) with GoDz, and I have to say I think it's the most fun I've ever had casting any event. The bulk of the viewers are Pinoys, and if you've never watched a stream whose chat is filled with Pinoys before, you haven't lived a full life yet! They are absolutely crazy (in the best way possible) and by far the most passionate Dota fans in the world. Plus, the players are insanely aggressive and constantly talk trash at each other in all chat the entire game -- what's not to love?!
Hopefully there will be more events for me to cast in the future, but for the moment things are slow. I'll probably do replay casts for my youtube channel while I wait for things to pick back up.
Aside from casting, I'm working on a few other projects. A couple months ago I started a humorous collaboration with Pyrion Flax called "A Fascinating Journey Inside the Mind of PyrionFlax", where we both basically watch his games and laugh at his mistakes and talk about what he could have done better. So far it's been really well received, and we're planning to start cranking episodes of it out much more regularly now that the TI2 craziness has calmed down.
There's also the Dota Show, which is a project Luminous and I have been doing for about the last 10 weeks or so. We have a variety of segments, ranging from a trivia night on Sundays to a series of more educational segments on Monday - Thursday. I host Trivia Sundays with him and also do Larry's Lab, which is an in-depth hero focused segment, and Dota 101, which is a series designed to help newer players who know the basics but want to take their games to the next level.
So you and Lumi are obviously very popular together (for those of you that don’t know Lumi is another big caster in the dota scene) How long have you two been friends for? Do you enjoying casting with him?
LD: I first spoke to Luminous back in March. I messaged him on Youtube and asked him for feedback on some of my commentaries. I had actually messaged quite a few more prominent casters in the community looking for advice/feedback, but Luminous was the only person who responded to me. He was gracious and gave me some really useful tips on how to improve. Soon after that, DotaCommentaries announced they were accepting applications for new casters, and I decided I might as well apply. I didn't expect to be accepted, but I guess Luminous saw something in me and decided to give me an interview.
I have to say, as much as I love Luminous, he's a horrible salesman. He spent the majority of the 'interview' telling me that he wanted me to join DC but that there would almost certainly be better opportunities for me elsewhere with other organizations such as GosuGamers.net and JoinDota. But I loved Lumi's commentaries, and it was my dream to get to co-cast with him, so I brushed aside his objections and ended up joining DC anyway.
I love casting with Lumi. Sometimes he can be a little cranky, especially if he's casting at 4 AM in the morning, but once the game gets going, all that disappears and what's left is a deep and abiding passion for the game. Seriously, if someone can make warding sound exciting, they REALLY love Dota.
So many teams disbanded after the international, Moscow 5, Absolute Legends, mTw, Darer as well. What are your feelings about this? Are you upset to see this happen or do you think this is the kind of thing that is sort of necessary in order to keep the dota scene fresh?
LD: You know, it's funny. Part of me wants to go crack some skulls and knock some sense into the players when I hear rumors that one of my favorite teams might be making roster changes. (Complexity and Tong Fu, I'm looking at you!) But ultimately Dota is a team game, and as a team game, individual skill alone isn't usually enough.
The best teams aren't those with the largest collection of the most individually talented players; they're the teams who believe in each other, trust their drafter / in-game leader, and play as one. If people aren't happy, or if there are any doubts in anyone's mind about a team, that team is bound to fail. Sometimes internal differences can be worked out, but in many cases, once there's a seed of a doubt, the damage is done, and the only solution is to go for a fresh start and hope things work out better the next time around.
It seems like a lot of different teams have different play styles, some teams think farming up is the best choice and other teams like to try and get a push strat going and get an early advantage. What style of play do you think is most efficient in pro games?
LD: I don't think there's any one "best" style in Dota. A style that is extremely effective against one type of play might be utterly ineffective against another. It's not just about which style is best, it's about choosing one that suits your team's strengths and punishes your opponent's weaknesses and then executing it as well as you possibly can. But if I had to choose a style... well, the Chinese are just so damn efficient :).
So at the international you were one of the main casters of the event. What was that like and what was your international experience like in general?
LD: As soon as I walked into the main auditorium of Benaroya Hall, I was terrified. It's absolutely massive, cavernous really. My public speaking experience prior to the event was limited to the following: giving a speech in front of my 9th grade class when running for class president, and performing as a secondary actor in a few school musicals / plays.
By the way, funny/sad story #1: I was so nervous giving that election speech that my hands, which were holding the speech on a piece of paper, were shaking the entire time. The unfortunate thing is that I was standing close enough to my classmates that everyone could see, and the entire auditorium was choking back laughter for the majority of the speech. I wouldn't quite say scarred for life, but man, that was traumatic :P.
Funny/sad story #2: I am an absolutely awful singer. One day after a rehearsal, the director was really frustrated because everyone was out of tune during practice. I came up to her and said, "Mrs. Haynes, I think I'm the one who's messing up the harmony of the chorus. Can you help me fix my singing?" She asked me to perform a small section of the chorus, took one look at me, and told me I was tone deaf, that there was no fixing my voice, and that the best thing I could do for the sake of the play was to mouth the words without actually singing.
Anyway, we had a dry run at the venue the day before the event, and that really helped calm my nerves. When we opened the event the following day, I was completely relaxed. Go figure. I still can't explain it to this day.
Overall, the event was amazing. I was completely honored and humbled by the opportunity to cast at such a prestigious event. The production quality was out of this world, the passion of the fans was incredible and really as good as at any sporting event I've ever been to (and I'm from Philadelphia, a town which has many flaws and is generally reviled around the country, but if we have one thing going for us, it is borderline unhealthy obsession with our local sports teams!)
So you saw iG take the international live with your own two eyes, what do you remember from this exact moment? Was there anything particularly special about the players reactions or perhaps the crowds reaction that really caught your eye?
LD: Chuan. Chuan is the heart and soul of that iG team. Every time they get a kill, he was jumping out of his chair, screaming and exhorting the crowd to cheer for them. Actually, a funny story about them: Chuan is huge. I didn't realize how tall he was until I met him at the event. I'm 6'0", and he easily towers over me. After Na'Vi took down iG in Game 2 of the Winner's Bracket, I ran backstage to grab more hot water and run to the bathroom (I messed up my voice pretty badly by yelling too much during the group stages, so I was constantly chugging hot water the entire event to try to soothe my throat).
On my way to the bathroom, I stumbled across iG in the hall, and Chuan was absolutely livid. Not only is Chuan big, but his teammates are mostly quite small; Ferrari in particular is tiny. He towers over them physically, and while I couldn't understand a word he was saying, he was ripping them a new one pretty good, almost like he was a drill sergeant at boot camp.
They ended up losing that series, but man oh man, that guy is an amazing emotional leader for that iG squad. Ferrari and Zhou may get all the hype and may be the most mechanically gifted players on the team, but Chuan is their emotional center. There's no way in hell they win TI2 if he's not in that booth, urging his team on all weekend long.
Right before the International Valve came out with a spectator form for dota 2 and I think this attracted a lot of non dota players to the dota scene. I saw on youtube and a few forums that people who formerly did not know anything about dota were saying that they were highly impressed with the dota community and the reactions of the crowds at the international that now they too wanted to join in on dota. My question to you is what do you see being the future of dota? Do you see it getting bigger then it already is?
LD: Dota 2 will definitely get bigger than it already is. As far as I'm concerned, Valve is doing the best job out of any company in the world of supporting the esports scene behind its game. I don't agree with every decision they make, but the beauty of Valve is that they won't punish you for disagreeing with them, they'll invite you to criticize their decisions, explain why you do, and then (most importantly) propose an alternative / solution for how they could do it better.
They are always focused on finding ways to improve the user experience, grow the community, and make the game as good as it can possibly be. Frankly, the Dota community should consider itself blessed and lucky beyond measure that it's Valve who's developing Dota 2, because if you look at some of the other companies who are involved in making similar games (S2, Riot, Blizzard, etc), they are much more interested in the financial end of things than they are in listening to the community's feedback and building the best possible competitive title that they can.
Ok so we're just about done here LD is there anything you wanna say to your fans or anyone else?
LD: Shoutout to Lemons for introducing me to Luminous's youtube channel. Shoutout Luminous for taking a chance on me when nobody else would. Shoutout to Bruno (or the Stat Man as you all know him now); you are a massive pain in the ass, but your practical advice is almost always on point. If it wasn't for you two, I wouldn't be where I was today. Huge thanks to Finol, Icefrog, Matt, Andrew, ttocs, Zoid, Eric Tams, Robin, Eul and the rest of the Valve team for taking care of me while I was in Seattle and for giving me the opportunity/ privilege to cast at TI2.
Finally, and most importantly, shoutout to the community for their passion for Dota and for all the support they've shown me and for all the constructive criticism they've given me along the way. Whatever failings I might have, I can promise you guys that I will never stop working to improve myself as a caster, as a player, as a community member, and perhaps most importantly, as a human being. And of course, I would be remiss if I didn't take the time to say thanks to my family. I love you guys, you're the best! Last but not least, thanks for taking the time to interview me, Nika!