Slingshot’s Blake Bottril caught up with Counter-Strike caster Matthew “Sadokist” Trivett last month to talk about his start as a caster, how he and HenryG became a duo and the importance of versatility.
Blake Bottrill: You and Henry recently started DroptheBombTV and you debuted with a lot of b-roll and documentary style footage. How long did that take to enter into production before you started the show?
Matthew “Sadokist” Trivett: Oddly enough, that’s the impressive part. The production level we have is extremely well put together and it was done in a week. Tom doesn’t sleep. There is so much more we want to do, I want to be like, “Oh, let’s do a little teaser today or let’s pre-record the intro to the show so we can queue up our topics or get bumpers in with the players saying ‘Hey it’s Drop(theBombTV).” We don’t even have time because Tom is flat out. The first week, the ENCE piece was filmed at the start of August. It was actually during the player break but that wasn’t a Tier 1 event so it was allowed to go through. We filmed them and he had two weeks to work on that while we created the infrastructure for the stream and get our graphics on board. A lot of it was pretty last minute. We spent forever doing the budget and getting sponsors and then we just had to go! It was a scramble for the first show. We filmed the Semmler and Lekr0 pieces in the same week. The Semmler one was put out in a week’s time, Lekr0 piece was the next week, but it was done in case we wanted to queue it up or Fnatic said, “We want you to push this now.” What was after that? We did a week with no feature and then we did Asian Counter-Strike as the last one, and that was incredible. That one was actually in response to the fact that we wanted to do Na’Vi and we are still trying to do Na’Vi but they got knocked out of (Starseries) too early and a lot of the guys scattered. They had other obligations or they left early and it didn’t seem timely. So Tom, on his feet, was like, “Hang on, the Asians are here and they’re doing good.” He did an awesome job with that one.
BB: Whose brainchild was it initially? You or Henry or was it a collective thing?
MT: I think it was collective. We kind of joked about it because we had delays during the streams and we would just try and fill it. We all talked about it and Henry and I joked around and were like, “Yo we can do this for real.” I used to have a podcast with Vulcan that went under with the budget freeze and m0e trying to be a player with Echo Fox at the time and I always said I would like to bring that back and a lot of were asking if I was ever going to do that again? I was just so busy that I thought it wasn’t possible. Then when Henry started showing interest we jokingly said, “Let’s see what we can do.” Henry just approached a guy one day and asked if he would invest into something like this and he said yes. So we thought, people will, let’s go see what we can do and that’s how it all came to be.
BB: You guys got lucky on the timing of the show as it came right in the player break. You got to just sit and cast Pro League. That doesn’t happen very often in Counter-Strike anymore. Are you looking to fit in more blocks of episodes or is it going to be more sporadic going forward?
MT: We did do it strategically to try and launch within the player break because we knew we would have time to set up. We also knew that people would be craving a little more content where they had a little bit of a void for two and a half weeks. During the break I was home and we couldn’t have done it. We were separate and we didn’t want to do Skype calls. That was a strategic setup. Moving forward with Season 2 we are again trying to schedule it around that to make sure it is a stint of time when we are going to be all in the same place. I think moving forward that is exactly what we are going to do. The hard part is scheduling it on a set time every week on the same time. If it is a five day event we usually travel Monday or Tuesday and Tuesday is the night we wanted. You just can’t plan in there. It is going to be shuffled around within the week, but we want to do it weekly, and we want to do it as a block, and we want to make sure we are putting up something interesting every week.
BB: Counter-Strike has had a number of iconic caster duos form, obviously you and Henry being one of them. In traditional sports the broadcasters tend to congregate based on geography. What brought you and Henry together?
MT: Necessity. What happened was originally my casting duo plan was going to be Moses. We were working a little bit together at ESEA, I had worked with ddk at X-Games but after that happened, ddk was already with Bardolph and he was back overseas, Moses and I were in North America and we went different ways. I made an agreement with Twitch to get some support to help get me events around the world. It wasn’t anything official, but it helped me get out there a little more. Moses elected to stay homebound with ESL and we got split up and torn apart a lot. I ended up with PGL and Tobiwan, which was a short-term thing and we tripped over each other. It was obvious we weren’t a duo. But then the next season came around and Tobi was busy and they wanted to use me again and they asked me who I wanted to work with. I don’t really know anyone, but let’s get someone more analytical, and Henry had just done Valencia, a Gfinity and I think one other in that time but I’m not 100 percent sure. He basically was on the radar of new people and PGL, Fifflaren and I think specifically Trance from Twitch all collectively went, “Hang on. Let’s try them as a duo.” We just sat down and started working with it. I thought it was just going to be one season, and about halfway through the season we realized that this was all right and we just went with it.
BB: As a fellow Canadian I can sense your pride for World Cup Hockey (throughout September). Do you have any traditional sports broadcasters that you look up to?
MT: Ah man, I never remember his name. Bob Cole is one of them for the NHL, but the CBC guy. Jim Hughson! I think Jim Hughson, the one thing with him is that he has very good tonal range, he is very good with undulation and he is very good at slow pacing. That is something in esports that people don’t realize, that you can use silence to build tension as well because it gives you more room to build into. If you’re going fast at the beginning you leave yourself very little to go. If you use slow pacing, in hockey for example you could say, “Chara. Over to Weber. Back to Chara. Shot on net.” Or you could say, “Chara over to Weber and back to Chara!” That creates two different levels of excitement, and he is very good at understanding that and keeping it simplistic. The one thing that I find sometimes is that he does get a little bit repetitive, but he is so good and so formulated in the way that he does it that you don’t notice it. He is someone I feel is very very good and then my all-time No. 1 announcer I think of any sport ever to exist, despite his mistakes, because he put his personality into it he was genuinely interested in what he was doing is Murray Walker from Formula 1. That is in my opinion the best sportscaster you potentially ever see. He is just so contagious. You can just tell his affection for racing. He is very cool.
BB: Do you have a dream location for an event at all?
MT: I think Montreal needs something big. I think there is potential in Montreal, it’s a big-event city. People are usually into that sort of thing, they are willing to be a little more outgoing and go to see stuff like that. There is a reason the fanfare for the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL is so big.
BB: They were the first Canadians to adopt UFC as well.
MT: Yeah, exactly! I think Montreal (is best for an event) if it was going to go to Canada, and that is my personal sentiment. But if I was to do an event anywhere in the world right now, I want to see more in Asia for big stuff. I think a Shanghai or a Beijing. The trouble there is the censorship for Twitch, they have to pipe it out. They will do it but it’s a little more complicated. Seoul, (South) Korea was very fun, but in being there for the minor, which is a smaller event, it’s not ready for a big-scale event yet. I know there is plans and everyone is expecting Asia to make a push in 2017. For that reason, logistics within the game and having the Asians on board if 2017 turns out to be the year of Asia I’m all on board, I’m 100% with it. Somewhere in Asia or Montreal.
BB: It got alluded to on Twitter that you guys and the RoomOnFire guys were going to do some upcoming Overwatch content.
MT: That’s just a troll! Yeah, so we were joking around and I said on the show, “Oh we’re glad that us dropping the bomb set the room on fire.” We were joking around with it. We are all friends. It’s two separate projects. RoomOnFire is a little more of a house of talent. Henry and I just didn’t see the need. We were already too busy, so we wanted to stay on our own, but there is no bad blood. We are friends, so we were joking around while we were out and Moses said we should just meme everyone and get the community all excited and see if we could make a Reddit thread or whatever. And then the big joke right now because Anders and Semmler are doing Overwatch, there are some people that are all right with it. I think it’s great and good for them. Everyone was trolling about it so that was us trolling the community. We were just having some fun.
BB: Obviously Anders just got back from doing ELEAGUE stuff. Do you think it is important to be multi-talented as a caster in esports?
MT: Yes. Absolutely. We are still in the early stages of the growth of esports in terms of the large auditoriums and arenas and money and Twitch viewership. There is a chance that some of that will slow the pace of game development because developers will want to build a legacy, developers are going to realize that there is money involved in all of this and that is also promotion for the game on a casual level. Twitch has become an advertising method in itself in that sense for games not just for product. Because of that, we don’t know how long games are going to have a life for. Obviously, League of Legends has been around for a while, Dota has been around for a while, Counter-Strike has been around for a while. We are getting to the point where we are long in the life of some of those games. Overwatch just showed up. I don’t know that Overwatch will ever be as big as Counter-Strike, but you never know. I wouldn’t have said Counter-Strike was going to be as big as it is until the whole skin thing, and it reinvented the interest and betting and yada-yada. I guess where I’m going with that is I think it is very important because we don’t know where we could be in three years, and having the ability to be multi-talented, to put yourself in another game and to have a good technical understanding of just casting in general to do so is super important. At the same time as well I think it is important to do multiple roles. I’m very fortunate, much like Machine, where I can cast and I’ve done some hosting and I can host and I can do interviews, which is a going to buy me some space in some other games potentially as well. I could switch to a desk probably easier than I could switch to in-game and understanding mechanics. I think it is super important if we want to make a long career out of this, longer than the game itself it is inevitable that something is going to change, we need to be able to adapt like that. I commend Anders and Semmler for taking the step over to Overwatch.
Photos by Adela Sznajder/DreamHack