Jaycie "Gillyweed" Gluck is a Heroes of the Storm caster for North America's Heroes Global Championship. Gilly is one of the hardest working personalities in HotS and brings that passion to every cast, and her knowledge of hero talents is unrivaled. Our NA correspondent Curt "inimical" Moyer had the pleasure of chatting with Gillyweed between HGC weekends about NA HotS, the Mid-Season Brawl, getting started in esports, and even a little about Deep Space 9.
I'm on my second time through Deep Space 9 and I know you're a fan of the show, so before we get into the HotS chat, who's your favorite DS9 character and why?
It’s funny, I watched Voyager first, and it had characters I loved and hated, but I never had any characters in DS9 that I loved or hated as much as Voyager. They were all really solid, but none that I loved as much as the Doctor, Seven, or Janeway. Quark, Bashir, and Major Kira were some of my favorites in DS9.
You've come a long way since casting the Chinese scene and amateur games, and at this point you've been at a ton of HotS events. Which has been your favorite event as a caster? As a spectator (doesn't have to be HotS related)?
As a spectator, my favorite is still the first Heroes of the Dorm. That was such a special event. As a caster, my favorites have been both BlizzCons I’ve been a part of (it’s BlizzCon!), the Spring Global Championship because I got to commentate in Korea, and the recent Mid-Season Brawl, because the meta was enjoyable, the crowd was incredible, and the stories were a dream come true.
I was reading an interview you had done awhile back. The question of getting started in esports has certainly come up on various platforms, but a lot of people simply don't know where to begin. Can you talk about one or two of the very early things you were doing and how that specific experience got the ball rolling?
If you’re interested in becoming a personality, streaming is a great way to get started building a following, helping you with camera presence, and building up the type of personality you want to be. Creating YouTube content is along the same lines but doesn’t allow you to be as immediate in responses with followers. For commentary specifically, I actually started by commentating some of my own games until I felt comfortable to commentate live for Heroes Hype. There are many replays available now through means such as MasterLeague.net, so you don’t even have to cringe at your own gameplay!
What kind of things did you struggle with as a caster early on and what did you do to correct them? Is there something you still think you struggle with?
All commentators struggle with crutch words—"indeed", anyone?). Learning to identify them mid-cast and quickly call up synonyms helps a lot. That’s a constant battle. Pacing is another one that I’m always trying to remember to work on.
Let's talk about the Mid-Season Brawl. The tournament production and casting was excellent but I'm still trying to make my mind up about the results. There's no question Fnatic deserved a global championship, but Korea did not look 100%. What's your take on Korea right now?
Korea came into the event with a pretty stale meta (L5 was one of the only teams still running Ragnaros), and there was a lot of talk about them not practicing possibly as much as they had for other events. I feel like the result shouldn’t be extremely surprising. Fnatic beat MVP Black at BlizzCon, and matches between L5 and MVP Black in HGC 2017 haven’t felt like the same caliber of play. Our Korean region definitely seems to be going through some transition period, but I don’t think that should at all take away from the growth of Fnatic, Dignitas, or the European region in general. After getting two more strong teams into HGC through the Crucible and having Team Liquid show up at the start of Phase 2, the region is the most competitive, and that should result in the highest level of play.
How about eStar? You and I have been talking about eStar since 2015, and it seemed like with CE out of MSB because of visa issues and their dominant performance in the group stage, eStar was poised for the finals. But they didn't show up in the bracket stage. What exactly happened? Any super secret insight you can offer?
I would agree that the eStar we saw at the live event didn’t seem to be the same eStar as the group stage, whether it was an off-day in play or a change-up in drafting. But I also think the break between the two stages allowed teams to figure out where the strengths of eStar were and either take away some of the necessities of their comps (think Fnatic vs eStar, when eStar were allowed to have Valla but not Illidan, or vice versa) or not let them play the game they wanted.
Now let's focus on the region you cast: North America. The gap between Tempo Storm and Roll20 seems to be non-existent...I'd probably even give Roll20 the edge now after finishing higher than TS at the Western Clash and MSB. Would you agree or do you think Tempo is still the best team in NA?
Tempo is clearly implementing a lot of changes that are making them struggle at the beginning of Phase 2 between the warrior changes and a more aggressive style. However, as much as Tempo fans might look at these matches in a bubble and be scared for the fate of Tempo, I still have faith that these changes are going to be best for them in the long run. It may be wishful thinking on my part, but this team has been consistent for far too long in the region to believe otherwise after just a couple of weeks.
NA also had a crazy amount of roster changes before Phase 2 and it looks like most of what we knew from Phase 1 can be totally thrown out the window. What do you think was the smartest NA swap was and why?
Tempo Storm, because they didn’t roster swap (Kappa). Actually, I was really happy with most of the changes teams made in the swap period. Obviously the changes that No Tomorrow made were huge—the difference between the start of Phase 1 and 2 is massive. And although I was sad to see Khroen off GFE, bringing on a duo with amazing synergy together as well as with one of the players already on the squad seems now like a no-brainer.
NA has struggled internationally since 2015...what do the other regions have on NA? What do you think NA can do to improve?
For a long time, Korea had consistency in rosters (specifically, MVP Black, and TNL until they broke up) and practice methods that enabled them to be the dominant region. The European region has had both of those elements for a while now, and look where they stand. Europe also has a big player base, which helps—their HGC is the most competitive. I don’t want to immediately say roster swaps are a negative, because in Korea new teams formed and were able to become instant global champions. And Dignitas has made several calculated swaps while maintaining their consistency in the past. But they also have had high quality practice partners that force them to improve quickly as a team. We’re getting there! We already have the consistency of competition that the HGC format brings. I think once we get more closely skilled teams that have been together for a while (enough to be less focused on creating initial synergy), who are forced to fight for their spots at the top of the region and punish the mistakes of their practice partners, we’ll get there.
What exactly is happening in North America? We see GFE at the obvious top then both Superstars and No Tomorrow looked like top tier teams on Sunday's (7/2/17) matches. No Tomorrow actually beat Tempo Storm, which was completely insane. Is it the roster swaps? Is it some strange post-MSB crippling effect to Tempo and Roll20?
I think it’s too early to say, but is probably "E: All of the above (and more)". We don’t know what’s happening with teams and personalities behind the scenes. But we can assume that everything the teams do, from roster swaps to role changes, is done with the intention of being the best and going to the LAN events. I’m excited to see how the rest of the phase plays out.
Can you talk about how you prep for each week in HGC or how you prep for an event. I think it's easy to look at casting and say "Hey, these guys just go up there and be funny and say things that are right—pretty easy!" but I know you, and all the casters, put a ton of work in, so I'm just curious what your process is.
Prepping for HGC each week and prepping for events are two different processes. Both require good note-taking and keeping up with game and patch knowledge. For HGC, it’s about using the notes I take to keep my team sheets up to date. These include things like hero pools with win rates, drafts/draft analysis, gameplay observations, story points, etc. Also, Dread and I talk about what things we want to talk about at the start of each series based on previous series. Preparing for events involves a lot more intensive study because you’re now incorporating anywhere from four to eight different regional metas—so, hours of VoD review and draft analysis. For the Mid-Season Brawl, I did this for more than a week straight, 8+hours a day. All of this is separate from casting practice, VoD review, personal development, etc.
I know you're big into Harry Potter, but when you find yourself not prepping for HGC or traveling to a LAN do you have something you're currently reading?
I finished the last book I was reading (Dark Matter—not the same as the TV show, really good science fiction book) about a month ago and didn’t start another because of the Mid-Season Brawl. I’ve been more into listening to podcasts and reading comics lately...I’ve been keeping up with the Walking Dead, Saga, Revival, and Outcast as of late.
Do you see yourself in esports in 10 years and if so what would you like to be doing?
I honestly don’t know! When I started in esports, my goal was to become a caster. I’ve now commentated live events, events in other countries, and BlizzCon (twice!). I since haven’t set any goals, except that I want to keep doing what I love as long as I love it, and as long as I have the desire to actively improve at it each time I do it.