Interview with Rachel 'Seltzer' Quirico
Tue 3rd Jul 2012 - 7:07pm
When she isn't running around on the hottest eSport-floors in the eSports-world, she's editing footage and playing League of Legends. I had a chat with CyberSportsNetworks Rachel Quirico, because for once I guess the interviewer can get interviewed.
Hello Rachel and welcome to this Team Dignitas interview!
Seltzer: Thanks for deciding to interview me! I'm usually on the other side of things, so it's nice to change it up a bit.
Where did you grow up?
Seltzer: I grew up across the highway from Trevor "TorcH" Housten, in central New Jersey and I've spent my whole life there.
Did you have any former education in journalism before venturing on to CyberSportsNetwork?
Seltzer: No, I've had no formal journalism training. I majored in Psychology at university and spent a lot of my time writing when I was younger, but most of my interviewing skills come from my four years of practice with my friend Jason and his old business Noob Tube.
Seltzer: I first got interested in esports back in 2005-2006 when Trevor/TorcH and I would go to trade shows and play walk-up tournaments for prizes. That evolved into practicing for trade-show tourneys, which led to forming our own competitive Team Fortress 2 team.
As a player, attending LAN events and winning (albeit small) tournaments, I fell in love with competitive gaming. I would walk to the student center in the snow for a better connection for practice, I'd try and encourage other girls from my clan, PMS, to compete with me, and I made a ton of friends and traveled more than I ever thought I would.
Esports gave me some great opportunities and now I'm invested in growing esports so more and more gamers can have the fun and the experiences and the excitement that I had. Gaming, unlike traditional sports, allows for all kinds of people (old, young, disabled, homebound, otherwise unaccomplished) to excel at something and to be rewarded for it.
And I want to make the opportunities available on a mainstream scale.
Did you ever play/watch Brood War during that time? If not, what got you interested in StarCraft 2?
Seltzer: I saw a bit of Brood War in my time. TorcH would occasionally fill me in on ProLeague and OSL rankings (he's a big Bisu fan) and WCG often ran tournaments in nearby NYC at the Samsung Experience. I was more wrapped up in playing Warcraft 3 though and all my attention was on Moon.
Once Starcraft 2 was announced though, not a day went by without Trevor mentioning it longingly. He scored a beta key off PMS Clan leader (and now TwitchTV rep) Amber Dalton, plunged into competition headfirst, and washed up somewhere on the shores of South Korea where he remains, off and on, to this day. If I had any hope of maintaining my relationship, I had to learn Starcraft 2, so I watched over his shoulder and eventually followed him out to Seoul to start my coverage career.
But as for Brood War, I've since enjoyed many Proleague matches at the special invitation of the former team, WeMade Fox (Moon's team! Full circle!).
What does your family think of your work?
Seltzer: My parents were wary at first of my involvement in esports, but at the time I competing and all they knew was that I would sit in the kitchen for hours yelling at my computer and cursing. "Are you talking to other people?" my mom was fond of asking.
In 2009 though, Trevor qualified at a WCG National tournament in a cell phone game (Wise Star 2) and won a trip to the finals in Chengdu, China. My parents were blown away.
When I was selected to compete on WCG Ultimate Gamer (season 2, not the one with iNcontroL) the next year, my mom was sold on the idea and has since proudly dubbed herself an "esports mom." She hosts the gamers who crash at my house and mom-manages my wardrobe and airport shuttling with gusto. Her perspective (as well as my dad's practicality) have really helped me tailor my media to a broad audience.
Best event you've been to, and what made it the best?
Seltzer: It's hard to choose a best event. I've been to a number of esports tournaments and trade shows and most of left great impressions because of one feature or another.
WCG 2009 in Chengdu, China was eye-opening. It was my first global esports tournament, aside from the severely under-attended ESWC 2008 at NVision. I was shocked to see players from China and Korea swarmed by fans the minute they set foot on the showfloor. "They treated gamers like rock stars," was how SirScoots put it when we discussed the event afterwards.
Lone Star Clash this past March in Texas was another incredible event for me, especially as the Lone host. It was supposed to be a small college tournament, run by a club, with a couple invited pros...or so I thought. What the TeSPA students (and a few insiders from CSN and Twitch) were able to accomplish that weekend still retroactively blows my mind. The stream was incredible, the players were happy, the spectators were happier, and everyone involved came away with a good experience. As someone who believes the future of esports is the college demographic, I was so, so psyched to see the quality and success Lone Star achieved, and I'm excited to see what universitiy esports fans accomplish next academic year.
Do you have any time for StarCraft? How high have you "climbed the ladder"?
Seltzer: I am TERRIBLE at Starcraft 2. There's no way around it. I tried, and I studied, and then once I hit the 'Find Match' button I get so anxious I forget my hotkeys... It's a mess.
But this is why I find Starcraft 2 to be such a perfect spectator sport. I admire professionals for their ability to do what I cannot. I cannot take my snowboard down a halfpipe, I cannot keep time on the drums, and I cannot do anything more exciting with a mass of Stalkers than blink them all at once. It's quite sad, I know, but then I turn on a stream or a tournament and...I can watch other people do it, and I can be amazed at what they accomplish, and I appreciate all the hard work that goes into honing a skill that I could never grasp.
I am, however, fantastic at League of Legends. And, to a degree, Call of Duty.
How do you prepare yourself before a video?
Seltzer: My interview process is pretty organic. Going into an event, I make a wishlist of people I'd like to talk to based on their recent results and stories and seek them out. Oftentimes, managers bring their players to me for whatever exposure I can offer them. I have great relationships with players and teams, especially the Korean ones, that enables me to play fast and loose with the interview-grabbing. Everything is done based on comfort and availability.
The goal of my interviews is to highlight the players and make them appear likable and marketable, so I aim to draw out their personalities and connect them to their fans. I like to keep up with current achievements of players, and I do my best, but there are lots of great journalists out there covering the same ground, so I have to mix it up a bit. As a result, my interviews can get a little weird (Stephano and Anna?) or a little silly (so many Mini Clips!) but it's worth it when viewers comment with, "What a cool guy! I never knew! Now I'm definitely a fan."
On a regular weekend-long MLG (for example), how long would you work on the videos you do? Do you have any time off to just enjoy the show?
Seltzer: One thing many people might not know about CSN's interviews is that it's a one-woman show. I do the questions, the editing, and the promotion, so a weekend's worth of content means another week or two of work for me. I'm not the fastest or the best, and one day maybe I'll start handing off chunks of the job to more qualified editors, but for now it keeps me close to the material.
It seems every event I attend, I get to spend less and less time actually watching the games. For me, the typical MLG or IPL is on-camera time, hunting interviews, and meetings all day, then choosing between socializing and meager sleep in the evenings. Maybe in the future 4-day events will catch on, and I can space out my work better, but until then, I might have to find myself a steward: a lot like an intern, but also capable of polishing my armor and feeding the ravens.
Have you always been this happy when shooting? Or in other words, have you always wanted to be "in front" of a camera, or did that just pop up one day?
Seltzer: Despite what baby-video evidence my parents may have to the contrary, I never really had a desire to be in front of the camera. What I did and do have is a whole lot of passion about stuff. Whatever my message, be it, "Anime is the greatest form of entertainment on earth!" or, "We are only buying organic milk!" ...it got out there. Now I'm invested in 'sharing the gospel of esports' as it were and my target audience is a bit bigger than my family or my high school.
I think once we find a palatable way to serve up esports to the mainstream media, the culture will take off, and I think I can help things along by being a positive, welcoming, and helpful esports personality. And by being a chick. People will debate it to no end, but the mainstream loves chicks. So put down my controller...I got in better shape and bleached my hair and learned some make-up...I bought some dresses and heels (even though you HATE THEM, esports!)...I learned to stop being a sweaty, nervous wreck who forgets her name on stage...and I got in front of the camera.
Consequently, I love it! I love my job and every moment of it...but I never once thought I'd be an on-camera personality before I got a camera in 2010 and I never thought I'd host a stage til NASL season 1 finals!
And finally, before I wrap this up, where do you think we'll be seeing you next?
Seltzer: I never know where I'll be next but I always put up new videos at youtube.com/CyberSportsNetwork once I get there! If I'm lucky, you might see some content from Korea or Europe this summer, but there's lots of exciting esports stuff going on near home with MLG's NYC arenas, Quakecon and PAX too! I highly suggest following me @SeltzerPlease if you have questions, want esports updates and photos from events, or have a strong interest in first-world white girl problems/Pokémon/cat pictures.