Today ladies and gentlemen we have something special to celebrate.
A very long overdue interview with the one and only League of Legends and Overwatch caster, streamer, host, Mario-thon runner, poet, with an insatiable gadget and tech addiction, who enjoys long walks in the mountains while sipping on long island iced tea and munching on fried ice cream for lunch.
From Denver Colorado, the man forever on the left side of your screen of some of the most recent Overwatch broadcasts:
That’s right, you had the name from the title of the post.
— I know you are a very busy man looking after the two men children ZP and Hex in between running the Overwatch Contenders season zero so thank you very much for your time today.
Thank you for having me, Hex and ZP basically take care of themselves these days so I’m mostly just happy to be here.
— So most people reading this now, recognise you as the host for Carbon series and the Overwatch contenders, but few will know that this all started back in 2010 when you were a Sports Announcer correct?
Yeah, I started by announcing for local sports events for high school and college basketball and football. It wasn’t actually play-by-play but it connected my love for sports and the voice gifted to me by my dad. He actually was the one who referred me to my first announcing gigs for sports.
— Quickly following that you joined Apple as a trainer in one of their outlets in Colorado. Now I’m guessing this was your first job? How in the world did you land Apple as your first job?
Well, I worked several other small jobs before that for sure but actually my job at Apple is an interesting story. I was always VERY against Apple for the same reasons a lot of PC people are, I won’t go into details, but a friend of mine worked at Apple and tried for over a year to get me to work there. I was in school at the time and needed a decent job and I finally caved in and turns out it is a great place to work. In fact, they were always, and are still very supportive of my esports goals.
— Is this where the tech addiction comes from? Or have you always been into gadgets and gizmos?
I have always loved tech. I have dabbled in Audio and video even before my esports career. I got my first coding book when I was maybe 10 and made my first website with it with all of my favourite pokemon on it. Actually, the CEO of Carbon Entertainment and myself went to school for computer engineering together which is part of how we later reconnected to start Carbon.
— Your main focus was obviously League of Legends back then, what drew you into LoL?
I started playing League of Legends at about 5AM after an all night Starcraft Broodwar LAN party I threw at my house. About a year later I watched the Season 2 World Finals on twitch and thought to myself “I could do that” which launched my esports career.
— While on the topic of LoL what are your thoughts on the end of IEM events? And the Rift Rivals ?
I haven’t been as in tune with the LoL scene since diving into Overwatch but from a very high level I think when tier 2 events start dropping off it highlights the importance of infrastructure underneath the pro League. Right now without developer intervention many tournament organizers aren’t getting very much out of tier 2 events, including collegiate events. It is an area that will have to change over the next few years if esports is going to continue to grow which is also why I am excited to work more with Blizzard because it seems they are very much focused on the long term.
— Getting back to you, in 2013 you became the Clutch Gaming Arena Head Shout-caster can you tell us a little bit about that?
I decided to get into esports toward the end of 2012 when I started doing research and practising with capture cards and microphones and xsplit. In December I contacted the Denver Esports org which was actually started by the owners of Clutch which opened in January of 2013. For their launch I helped them by casting their first League of Legends tournament. Over the following 2-3 years I casted about a tournament a month for them. We even had MonteCristo come by for an event that I streamed where I met him and even got to cast a pick-up game with him. By the way, Clutch Gaming arena is where the team Colorado Clutch came from for those who remember the beginning of Overwatch Esports.
— Oh, you had to experience MonteCristo first hand back then…
Did that experience make the dream a reality for you or did Monte crush all of your hopes and make you regret every minute of the everlasting nightmare?
Ha, meeting and casting with Monte only confirmed my goals in the space. It also showed me another level of casting that I had never experienced as, up to that point, I had only ever casted with whoever volunteered to cast from the local community. Monte has always been supportive albeit very realistic when it comes to achieving goals in the esports space. I am not very easily crushed when it comes to someone promoting work ethic and action orientedness.
— I’m guessing this is where you harnessed most of your skill set, your trade-craft if you will in esports tournament management and broadcasting?
Indeed it was.I was an actor in high school which helped get me on the right path with speaking but I got a lot of practice at Clutch as well as from a variety of online and collegiate events that needed casters. Actually, a few people I have casted with during this time are Achillios who is now over at OGN and Caster Dom or Caster Sata, I actually don’t know 100% what he goes by these days. Outside of this I was actually a preacher and public speaker for various events.
— A couple more years pass and at the tail end of 2015 you become Chief Broadcast Officer at Carbon entertainment.
A venture co-founded by two Web designers Yulong Yang and He Chen. How did that come about? And can you tell us a bit about the company too?
As I mentioned before Yulong and myself went to school together years prior. Yulong and He visited me while I was working a local League of Legends broadcast at ClutchCon and a few weeks later Yulong contacted me to explore some ideas he had in the gaming and esports space. Months later we were on track with working toward what is now Carbon Entertainment. This was really where esports turned from being a passion based hobby into being a true job for me.
— You guys started out with a League event in 2016 but I’ll get straight onto the Overwatch Carbon Masters. Was that your first time casting 8 hours in one go? Must have been intense?
Image courtesy of : carbonentertainment.com
I have casted for plenty of 12 hour streams not to mention international events that went through the night due to time zone changes. Overwatch Carbon Masters was definitely taxing, especially since I hadn’t actually casted regularly for over a year leading up to it. Every event has its own difficulty but generally the adrenaline and excitement get me through.
— Now here we are in 2017, It’s been quite a year so for you and the awesome people over at Carbon to say the least.
There was a special visit to the Blizzard HQ in February, that must have been amazing. How did that come about and what did you take away from the visit?
Image courtesy of : blizzard.com
Well actually we happened to be in LA for a conference and we visited Blizzard HQ while we were in the area. We mostly just got to know some of the people who are pushing Overwatch esports forward and it reaffirmed the faith I have in their vision for the future. They didn’t give me any super secret info though which of course is what fanboys like myself always want.
— Where you already engaging in discussions about contenders at this point?
We had been emailing back and forth because they wanted to be a resource for Overwatch Carbon Series.
Image courtesy of : carbonentertainment.com
— So straight after that, you hang up the casting gloves and move over to host for the Overwatch Carbon Series where Left Guy was born. Who do we have to thank for that alias by the way?
Image courtesy of : twitch.tv/carbonentertainment
Boy, that is a great question. Middle guy was a meme from NGE and I guess I just engendered similar sentiments sitting on the left side of the desk for my first attempt at hosting. Twitch chat did the rest.
— Now I know that people have suggested dropping the alias Gillfrost for Leftguy and make it official but apparently that isn’t going to happen just yet?
I have thought of it but gillfrost has been my identity since I was probably about 13 so I don’t think I will be giving that up.
— Even if Slasher said:
As much as I revere Slasher, I am going to stick to it.
— The Carbon series was the first time meeting both ZP and Hex in person. How did you guys get along? Any anecdotes to share?
It is super fun, anytime I can be around people who are passionate about quality esports I will have a good enough time but even beyond that we got along very well. Something about us to know is that we are not afraid to speak our minds which honestly can be off-putting to some but is integral to moving esports forward and we are all on the same page when it comes to that.
— The Carbon series was an incredible event where you guys, the whole team, put on a fantastic show. Was that the tipping point to making it your full time job or was there something else that made you quit Apple and go full time at Carbon?
I always told Yulong and Carbon that it would take a lot to take me away from Apple, mostly due to the benefits and stability. The OCS was the tipping point in multiple ways for me. It was the first event where working at Apple truly made it impossible to do the things I really wanted to do with Carbon. I was working during the day and casting at night and doing other prep work all in between and it left no time for me to hone my skill and really manage the growth of Carbon so I decided it was time.
— So onto the Overwatch Contenders. What is your role exactly?
Image courtesy of : overwatchcontenders.com
That is a great question, I still don’t really know a title for myself. Basically I am generally responsible for bringing Blizzard’s vision to life with the entire production. Luckily we have a lot of really good people to make me look good. Obviously my secondary role would be on air talent as desk host.
— Well from what I’ve seen it looks incredibly promising. I wish you all good luck and hope you have as much a blast making the contenders than we have playing or watching it.
Thank you so much, we are continuing to learn and grow and I just hope we can put something into the Overwatch ecosystem that enriches the community. With that said, I want everyone to know that I LOVE receiving feedback so if anyone has ideas for how to make Contenders better just let me know.
— Before I let you to get back to business I’ve got a couple more questions for you, but this time it’s rapid fire:
Least favourite type of music?
One of them: Perelandra
Early bird or night owl?
Cowboys or aliens?
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Cats or Dogs?
Skittles or Starbursts?
Starbursts I suppose
Skydive or bungee jump?
Pharah or Mercy?
Junkrat or Roadhog?
Soldier or McAimless?
Pineapple on pizza?
— Any last words or forever hold your peace?
I just want to say thanks to the Overwatch Esports community. That is pretty general for sure, but I’m really grateful for how accepting and positive everyone has been.
— Thanks for your time Left guy, really appreciate it.
Same goes for you guys reading this, I hope you enjoyed and found this interesting.
I had a blast doing this and will endeavour to do more of the same.
Let me know who you think I should interview next in the comments below.
Now if you want to follow Left guy and what he is up to, he has promised to be a lot more active on social media :
My name is SmeG and you can catch more of me over here: https://twitter.com/_SmeG_Ldn