Although the Chongqing Major is behind us, we are not ready yet to let go of the amazing games we witnessed, the good memories and we surely want to remember all the nice surprises we had with this second Major of the 2018-2019 Dota Pro circuit.
One of those nice surprises is Richard Cambel who despite being at his first ever Dota 2 event, he delivered a great show and from a stranger, he grew into the fans hearts over the night. His fresh approach, joyful attitude and unique style intrigued us, so in between the group stage in Chongqing and the main event, we got to sit and talk to him to find out more about his previous experience with esports and how he got to do a Dota 2 event.
Hi Rich, most of the people know you from World of Warcraft and Call of Duty so, I’d like to start this interview by asking how did you get to Dota 2 and how did you get to host the Chongqing Major?
Hey, it’s actually kind of a crazy story. I think it was something like two or three years ago I came to the World of Warcraft and I ended up in Kiev working with StarLadder. After that event, Vlad (Vladyslav Udovenko), who is a big part of this event as well, said: “hey we liked working with you, can you do other games?” And the thing is I could do Hearthstone too so they had me in Kiev for a HS event as well. After that, I went and worked a lot of COD, as you said, and one day I had Vlad contacting me again asking, “hey do you have any shows going on because we have a Dota 2 tournament” so, this is how I basically got here.
The tough question: did you actually play Dota at all?
I played Dota quite a bit in the past, of course as a casual player. Never been very good at Dota, but I always have been someone who watches pretty much every esports and I am that kind of a guy who might not watch all of the Minors, but usually makes it for the Majors and always watches the TI. But, when I started to get myself ready for this event, in particular, I didn’t play any Dota at all.
Being an analyst for an event is something very different but as a host, playing the game is not super time-efficient if you don’t have a lot of time. If you have all the time in the world, yes, it’s ideal. To get ready for this I mostly focused on watching all the other analyst and try to get a feel for them and even that is hard, to get the room temperature, you know. For example, I watched a lot of Black’s talk but then you sit down next to him and it will always be different than what you expect. So, the first two days are always kind of that growing experience where you really get to know everyone and usually, when I’m in situations like this, I’m trying to play really cool and really quiet, trying to observe everything.
Yeah, I’ve obviously, watched the entire group stage, and like most of the viewers out there, at first, I was like, “ok… what is he doing there?” Then, as the event went on, you started to get the connection going on with your panel.
Yes, yes I realize how it might have looked. It’s like a weird thing. When I host, I don’t want to do mistakes, especially when I’m doing something for the first time ever like I’m doing Dota 2 now, because it seems like super-disrespectful if you just show up and you are like “wow..uhhh…,” and you say something absolutely idiotic. I really don’t like when new people sit down and pretend like they’ve been in the scene forever. I find that super fake and annoying and I will never do that. So, yes, I was that guy who tried to get a feel of everything in the group stages, and I didn’t hide it. Having an event going on for more than a week it’s actually really nice because now I know all the guys. I got the chance to actually sit down with the teams and know them, share their stories and I feel incredibly prepared and excited to go into the main event now. To be perfectly honest, the group stage was kind of scary.
Most of the Dota 2 folks might not know you at all, but your WoW experience is pretty impressive, you actually got to host at BlizzCon a few times so, please walk me through your starting days, how did you step into the hosting/casting territory in esports?
It was kind of an accident. I’ve always been someone who watches esports, who plays games, but I never been like “oh, I wanna do this for a living.” I actually wanted to do games for a really long time so, I went to game design school in New York. And once I graduated I was planning to get my Masters degree in game design, but I needed a job during the summer, in between. So, I looked for jobs and Major League Gaming (MLG) was hiring someone behind the camera and I was like “sure I’ll do some work behind the camera.” Then, like a week in, Chris Puckett, who is an incredibly good host, and now a very good friend of mine, was getting married and he needed someone to fill in for him. That was my start.
I hosted and commentated Rocket League with Ben Bowe (Benson) who is another fantastic caster. I learned a lot from him. From there on I kept doing different games but WoW was kind of my focus at that time. When WoW came to MLG I begged and begged and begged and ultimately I got a trial and Vlad had me come to Kiev and I think I’ve done two or three BlizzCons at this point. Then I’ve done Call of Duty Worlds. I’ve got to do a lot of things. I’m very lucky, very fortunate. I don’t think at any point in my life did I think I would get to do Dota and as someone who is in this industry, you watch something like TI, like these Majors, and of course you want to do it, but to get to actually do it, I’m telling you, it’s pretty crazy, I still can’t believe I’m here.
You’re here now, and funny thing, you get to work with someone who you actually met a few years back. I’m talking about Nahaz who was at MLG New Orleans in 2015.
Yes, I didn’t actually realize this until I worked with Nahaz on the desk here, but that was actually my first-ever esports event that I worked at. It was a Dota 2, Call of Duty, Super Smash Brothers and Smite event. I was working on the Smite stage which was right next to the Dota stage, so I got to watch Dota all day. It was awesome and I remember I thought that Nahaz was so awesome at his job, but I had no idea whatsoever that he was at his first event. I was a huge Fear fanboy and I wanted a picture with him really bad and I got it. That was such a cool event. I think I got to briefly meet Nahaz and Capitalist there, I met Arteezy too and yeah, that was my first-ever esports event and it was so cool.
And a few years later you get to host a Dota 2 Major where all these players you met back then and wanted a picture with are now playing, and you have to talk about their games. That’s a pretty cool story.
Yeah, it’s totally crazy. What’s great about being at these events is that you get to meet all these players, see the human side of them, get to know them as a person, and then you try to bring that side to the viewers because everybody is playing the game, everybody knows or sees what the mechanical skill is, but it’s hard to get a feel for who is this human that I enjoy watching so much and that I’m a fan of.
I would say that you are always pleasantly surprised when you get to meet people in esports. I’ve done a shit load of games by now and I’ve never got to a tournament where I would say “these dudes are just assholes”. With every esports event, I feel like I just make more friends. To me, that’s the best thing about esports and I just can’t get over it. You brought up the 2015 event which wasn’t even that long time ago. It’s just a few years back. I wasn’t even casting yet. It was probably one year after that when I started casting. And now, it’s the very beginning of 2019 and we are here, doing this, it’s absolutely amazing, really. It’s weird how many things I get to do. Last year I think I averaged five flights a week. I was casting Call of Duty, I would stream all night, get on an airplane, sleep on the airplane, cast HoZ in Vegas, live stream there, get back on a plane, wake up off the plane, cast Call of Duty, do my podcast, then Friday I would fly back to NY, take care of everything, fly back Sunday to cast World of Warcraft. So, yeah, that was my schedule and it really made time fly by. It doesn’t feel like 2015 was years ago. It’ weird, as I said.
So, is this your first time in China?
Actually, the other time I was in China was in 2017 when again I worked with StarLadder and Vlad. I was commentating the Hearthstone competition for WESG.
Well, that’s weird to me, because I was there too, but for Dota. So we might have crossed paths at the breakfast or something.
Well, that was another event where people might have been like “wait, what, who is this dude?” But Vlad, who for some reason has so much trust in me, invited me to that just as he did for this one. Honestly, when he called and asked me “do you want to do this event?” I was like “hell, yeah, but wait, where is Redeye, where is Machine?” and he was “don’t worry about it, we want to work with you, are you ready to get roasted, though?” And the thing is you got to think about that every time you do a game for the first time. But actually, I discovered that Dota has the nicest community.
Really, did you just say that?
Yeah! I mean everyone says that Twitch chat is vicious, that Reddit people are vicious, but I don’t read Reddit and the chat just cracks me. I’m like an eight-year-old when I read the chat. It doesn’t matter who they make fun of, I always think it’s funny. I discovered that Lacoste is a little bit like me. Every time Lacoste makes a joke on the desk, he opens up Twitch chat on his phone and waits to see how chat reacts.
You just mentioned the great hosts, Redeye, Machine, who are now for a while in the Dota 2 scene as well, and the community loves them truly. Did you feel any kind of pressure coming to host this Major knowing that people might ask just like you asked Vlad, “wait, what? where are these guys?”
I don’t know how to explain right what I felt before coming to the event. My first reaction when I accepted this job was to reach out to Machine and ask him for some advice but I ultimately didn’t do it. You do feel a bit of pressure, though. Nobody wants to get compared to Redeye or Machine. They are so good! I would watch an event that they are hosting just for the pure joy of seeing them. They are so good but they are also so different than me. So, If I would try to do what Redeye does, I would just be a bad version of him. He is so incredibly well structured, he is the most professional person you can ever get and that’s just not my strength. I don’t think it’s my strength at all.
So for me at this event, I just don’t want to look completely stupid. Maybe, just a little bit stupid it’s fine because that’s fun for the chat. I just want to make sure that everybody else on the desk looks really good. And you just think how you are going to do that. If you ever think you put someone on the spot with a question that they are not ready for or bad questions, if you are not able to steer the ship when something goes wrong, those are the moments that feel really bad and it means you are not doing your hosting job right. Knowing when it’s a good time to talk something that’s not game related is super important for my style. It’s a weird job, but I love it.
What games do you play when you have some free time?
Right before I started to prepare for this event one of my friends was like “yo, you need to play Path of Exile right now,” and oh my God, it’s so good. I have a few plans with my friends about this game, but I’m not sure I can talk about them just yet.
Well, I’m looking forward to seeing what’s that about, I’m a PoE enthusiast as well, always having Zizaran’s streams on the second monitor. We are reaching the end of our interview and I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk to us today, and I hope we get to talk more in the future at another Dota 2 event.
Thank you for having me, it’s been nice to talk to you and yeah, looking forward to what 2019 has for me!
More content from the Chongqing Major:
– YapzOr Winner’s Interview: “I was randomly looking at the heroes and their talents and I just saw Luna”
– ArsZeeqq: “RodjER is feeding too much”
– Kyle: “I built teams my whole career, I’m over it. I don’t have it in me anymore”
– ASD: “We are here to learn”
– Fy: “We practiced with Fnatic and the results were pretty even”
– Fade: “We didn’t make any serious mistakes”
– Black^: “I thought of it as a joke build for pub games, but now people are using it at the Major”
– MidOne: “There is no way we are going to relax until TI is over”
– Faith_bian: “The competition should be about the skill instead of luck”
– Players’ Thoughts After BO1 Elimination Matches at The Chongqing Major
– Mars by Forward Gaming
– Mars by EHOME