“Starcraft has still one of the most dedicated communities out there!”
Hi Guys, this is the translation / transcript of the Audio/Video-Interview I did with Dennis “Take” Gehlen from TakeTV
(Well known for Homestory Cup, Seatstory Cup etc.).
I tried to stay true to the original German.
Obviously for reading purposes I arranged and shortened some of the answers.
Please support Dennis and TakeTV here:
There you will find all other social media also
(Copyright of all pictures with TakeTV)
Hi Dennis and welcome! We talked a bit before we started the recording and you told me, that you guys are quite busy, GAMESCOM is coming up and also other projects.
I would like to take a quick look back – Homestory Cup!
I have to say it was one of my favorites of the last years, very good games, very good casting.
Are you also satisfied?
Absolutely! Sure, there is a lot of talk about the “daed game” and that Starcraft is getting smaller, and yes, it is maybe not where it was a couple of years back, but there is still a big “core community” with great people – spectators, fans, and players.
And that is what I like, the players that still play are cool people, also the commentators – you get that vibe at such an event, there is a lot of good vibes and fun and that's what you get at Homestory Cup again and again.
We don't want to loose that and that is really nice to see it.
Starcraft has still one of the most dedicated communities out there!
And it was really good that you completed the fundraiser!
1:33 – 2:18
Yeah I mean that was just crazy! Sorry but that was just crazy. Obviously we thought we could achieve something already, but we never thought we could finish it at the event already!
We wanted to start the Fundraiser at the Event because we knew there will be the people that want to support Homestory Cup but we another event, the Penthouse Party, where the last time we collected 10 000 Euros. So we thought over time and over a couple of events we would get the money eventually, but that the people “go crazy” and “escalate” like that, we never ever, really, never, thought that they would go bonkers like that in 30 minutes. It was really really impressive!
2:19 - 2:42
Yeah I also participated! And with great pleasure! If I could have, I would have given even more, it was really cool!
I think its fair to say that you deliver something that nobody delivers and we as community want to continue that!
Glad to hear that!
I would like to follow up there – You guys for me are authentic – you as a person and you guys as a business – Where is the point where you would say – I wouldn't do that? That's not good?
So we are talking about something where we would say – we don't identify ourselfs with this project?
Yeah for example!
Well its not easy to say, the case has to be there and than its depends on a lot of gut feeling.
You learn over time, we tried different things where we know would say we would not like to do them again. We would probably reconsider a lot of things.
For example – we did some Counterstrike Events in the past, and we never participated in the gambling with the skins, because we felt that is not a good thing, we heard a lot of things “behind the curtains”, that it is not handled well.
So if there is the fear that there is some form of “cheating” then the line is crossed obviously.
Of course we are a business, so we do stuff that we maybe don't do with the same motivation as other projects, but for everybody it has to make sense what we stand for.
When I start for example to take Youporn as a sponsor, that would not be possible for me, I couldnt do that, also because of our younger viewer base. Maybe at first it would be funny, but it just doesnt make sense.
Also the “Deutsche Bahn” (German Railway). But that is more personal and has to do with older ramblings of me on my stream and bad experiences. Its more of a joke of course.
How much are you the boss there?
Well that's out of the question – If something like that comes up, than I just decide. There is no room for discussions about certain things. – if its a “no go”, its a “no go”.
So, regarding the community of TakeTV – You have a very strong community around TakeTV, namely the “Ultras”, a lot of passionate people, even one with a Tattoo – That is something that is very positive, for example when you look at the fundraiser –
But how does it feel for you, to have such dedicated fans? Doesn't it sometimes feel uncomfortable?
Yeah the guy with the Tattoo even lives here in Krefeld now, just around the corner!
Well uncomfortable, maybe in the first moment. You think: are you serious now?
But if you get to know the people behind it -when you realize that they are good people, that are relaxed, that you can drink a beer with – than it gets cool – people that call our community and their passion their “hobby”, that identify themselves with what we are doing and they want to show that somehow.
I m a big football/soccer fan, and there you see the same phenomenon – I was at a game now on the weekend, Dortmund vs Bayern, where you meet hardcore / ultra fans that dont even have one tatoo, they have the whole arm full of that, they dont miss a game, the house looks like Dortmund.
There you can see, the bigger something like that grows, the more extreme it can get, that people are willing to do things like that.
At the beginning I was even thinking that the Tattoo wasnt real. So in the first step its weird, but in the second step you are happy, that you realize you created something that people can identify with and have fun with.
How strongly do you separate private life and business? I know its a tricky question, but because you started in your living room and developed your business from there – I still have these pictures in front of my eyes how you sit in front of your computer, getting angry at playing Terran and now you are sitting here as somebody that evolved over all these years. Where is the line?
Well the line is very very thin at least – We moved to a new complex, nearly 2000 square-meters, but I still live above the studio like before, the Penthouse Party is still in my new apartment.
So its really not easy, because its all so close together and you always reachable. Sometimes you wish for some more privacy of course.
But my friends, my family, they are all integrated in this, so its not easy.
I dont see that it will change in the next two to three years, but Im over 30 now, at some point I would like to have a family, so the lines and the separation has to be more strict probably at some point in the future. But at this point in time its such a big part of me, that it somehow has to be part of my private life as well.
Victor Goosen from TeamLiquid once said in an Interview with Redbull (2015) that it took them quite long to see that to survive as a business, you cant only have Starcraft 2 – How do you see that?
Yes, as an eSports-business you have to know that the market is changing and how. The streaming and gaming market is always changing very quickly. If you want to develop and keep working with partners, you have to keep up.
Im a big fan of Starcraft, besides Warcraft its the game that I can identify the most with.
But as a business that doesn't only stream and commentate, but also does a ton of other projects like video edits and other productions, you have to be flexible.
And its not a bad thing for me! I want to grow myself, I want to get to know other games, other companies, and there its more than just Blizzard. Its a big difference working with Blizzard or Ubisoft, or totally different companies.
And that's how you grow as person and business. Starcraft alone, as we all know, is not growing, its shrinking, so you can't rely on that.
My interest is also my team, I want to keep them employed and keep things going!
You have to think in the interest of the team, not only yourself! Over time that got much more into my focus, so sometimes I take projects on that maybe don't invoke the biggest passion, but sometimes I have to say “yes”.
You stated now two times that you think that Starcraft is shrinking, or at least stagnating. How do you see Starcraft 2 in Germany? Community and Industry?
Yes in Germany you have to say that it is shrinking, partners are not so willing anymore to invest much into the market, that as in impact on the viewers numbers. But also the numbers are shrinking in general not only because of that.
Yeah I think also the player base is stagnating in Germany. HeroMarine was sitting on your sofa since he was 13 or 14, but I cant see a lot of active players that really want and can compete on highest level. Socke sometimes pops up, but not really, also Lambo, but in general its not many.
Are you seeing any up and coming german players at this point in time?
(Benjamin: I didnt mention Showtime and TLO because I count them as “big” or “established” pros lots of love to them )
Its not easy, because you don't have that much motivation from outside. You cant easily finance yourself anymore, because teams are not paying good salaries anymore. And that's the issue, if you really want to be on competitive level, you have to commit fully. That's really difficult in Germany.
We already have this issue in Germany of telling young people to take a year of and not go directly into studies or something like that.
Germany is quite expensive, if you are living alone, you need around 900 – 1000 Euros (netto) to at least survive, and there is not enough support – you have a Dreamhack, you have WCS, but that's it.
How realistic is it, that one of the Germans wins it and takes some prize money home? So you have to think about it. That's why people go to other games and what makes it so difficult to find new talent!
And somehow I think its connected to our culture...
For sure! Germans are conservative, gaming is still regarded critically. We love security, we want something without to much risks.
The Americans invest in all type of things and fail maybe more, but get sometimes crazy good stuff out of it.
We Germans done like that – When there is risk involved, we say “the numbers are not right” or “the return is not happening quickly enough”.
Did you ever study or learn something in the area of business?
No, after school I went to GIGA (an old German TV Show about Computers and Games) and did my Internship there, and worked for ESL that owned GIGA at that time, and after that I started my own business.
A lot of my skills are “learning by doing” - You develop over time, at some point you get a tax guy, but I also learned a lot from my parents that always had their own business. You have to be curious, you have to want to learn. That's how you grow.
My girlfriend studied Business and sometimes its funny because I know a lot of stuff a bit better, because she learned it in theory but never used it, and then I say to her: “that will work like that and that” and she sometimes responses with “Well I will check my books for that”.
I went to a “Wirtschaftsgymnasium” (School with business focus”) but I would really question if that helped me or not.
What game will be still going in the next years? Will it be CS, or Dota, or something completely different?
A new title that will come, and that makes sense, Blizzard cant go wrong with that!
From the existing titles:
I think strategy games will always be a part of it.
The shooters will be there, like Dota and LoL. Some dilution is taking place, but I think they will still be around.
What is an up and coming game it seems, is PUBG. Earlier this day it was at Number One at Twitch, when I was checking there.
It seems to be growing, there is a big event at the Gamescom with over 300.000 Euros planned, we are also planning something there.
FIFA is also a title that is more accessible through Ultimate Team and other things, that makes a lot of sense for the partners and sponsors.
There is always the possibility of a new title coming into the market obviously, but these are the titles that I feel have some sustainability at the moment.
How do you see Esports in Germany in 2030? Will we be bigger than Soccer?
No way! For that 2030 is to soon. The Generations are not changing quickly enough.
There will be growth, there will be more of everything, more money, more people. Young and old watching together.
But 2030 is way to far away to give any realistic predictions!
Maybe we will have more established leagues, like once a week in a stadium – not the big ones, but the smaller ones, that we use for Ice-Hockey or Handball, with 3000 – 10.000 people capacity – watching the top matches of the week. A lot is possible and maybe a reality than. And the online audiences obviously, that are so important.
Yes, that is the important point. The transition to that medium also. That the established sports and media keeps underestimating. We`ll see! And TakeTV in the middle of it all?
Hopefully! We will be part of it, yes.
We obviously developed in a slightly different direction, we still have our own events like Seatstory, Homestory and Takeover.
But we also do a lot of service delivery behind the scenes at this point in time, for example we will continue the production of the last 8 WCS Days.
We love to do that.
Realistically I don't see us at the top events all the time, like the big stadium events, but in general I see us as part of a lot of productions.
I think we have built up a lot of technical expertise and that expertise attracts the customers. The people love to buy that expertise.
For sure, at least for me as a long time viewer I feel that you grew immensely in the quality of your work over the last years!
You (as Dennis), expect for Starcraft and Warcraft 4, is there a game were you would like to do more?
Only Warcraft 4!
As a child I played a lot of games, but in my personal development I tend to stick to one game and I just love Strategy Games. So when Warcraft 4 comes out or Starcraft 3, I would love to invest some time in that and would probably cut some work time to play more of that games!
And with TakeTV? PUBG?
FIFA – We did some work for Schalke and Wolfsburg (German Soccer Teams) – We also did some work with Redbull in Pro Evolution Soccer – But there is still way more that we could do!
We are nearing the end of our interview now – just for your information – So is there a partner that you would love to work with that you didn't until now?
I would love to work with Gillette!
So the thing is, I have to shave regularly and I always buy myself a stack of razor blades. So the last for ages and then suddenly there are none! And I nearly always forget to buy new ones on time!
So I keep shaving with old razor blades until finally on Friday my girlfriend bought me new ones.
I keep thinking, we are such a male domain – such a partner would make so much sense! I would advertise them with all honesty and passion, because I also prefer Gillette over other brands!
So that's my personal preference, so if anybody listening this has contacts, please let me know! (and no, we are not partners yet!)
I would love to work with soccer clubs, especially with Dortmund because I m a fan. Like, advise them how to approach the market.
I would be so happy to have some new partners coming in, partners that take a kind of risk, because I see there is so much potential, partners that make sense in a way, even some “dry” ones.
What I for example keep thinking is – insurances – we are targeting a group of people, young people, that are not reached anymore by normal adverts or media. But they are growing up and need that but I see that a lot of them don't care. But it makes so much sense to have certain insurances!
Its important and somehow these companies have to reach these young generations. Even Banks or similar companies!
Obviously we would have to make a careful assessment of what we would be selling, but I feel we could really help young people to make good decisions that they would maybe nowadays not make!
I love that you are sharing these thoughts with us. I find that so fascinating, how you grew as a team and business, that's why I keep asking these questions. I have a totally different background, I'm a Reverend / Pastor. But its so fascinating for me how the E-Sports industry is growing and developing so fast these last couple of years.
There is so much potential and its somehow for me interesting that the traditional structures are struggling to incorporate that into their systems. I wish you that you can continue your work like that!
So of to some lighter stuff for closing out – your people call you “Boss” sometimes, especially Naruto on stream. So there is this saying that the more successful you get, the more people tend to say “yes”.
Who gives you some “contra” at TakeTV?
Very interesting point! We try to work with very little hierarchy, but the bigger you get, the more you need of that, at least at some point.
When ten or twelve people are discussing endlessly, at some point somebody as to say: “that how we do it now!”
We discuss a lot of things as group and also the bigger topics, important decisions. Theoretically I could have a veto I guess, but it is not really necessary at this point in time.
But its interesting, there is this phenomenon that you get people that tend to say more “yes”, maybe because they are afraid of the consequences or hope for some leverage, more money or whatever.
But in general I can say that I m quite happy with our set up at this point in time. The people working here say what they think and its not always my ideas that get through. A healthy discussion is the one thing that brings the best results.
Do you still find the time for gaming just for fun?
To be honest, not really. The thing is, I have so much gaming at work – I prefer to spend my little free time with other things. Its not that I don't like or want to game, but because I have to prioritize certain things over gaming. Girlfriend, Family, Friends – I played really a lot, in my peak times I was sometimes gaming around 16 hours a day if I felt like it, more than anybody around me.
But I got a Beta-Key for SC:R and I will definitely check that out, also because I will present it at the Gamescom.
In general I also have to say that I need the time to recover and use the time for family and friends, for example my Granny. I don't want to regret things later just because I didn't prioritize right.
Jealous about the Beta-Key! So, last question:
You play Terran in SC2 – What Unit would you like to be?
I would have to say: the Marine – With Stim you are quick, there is a lot of hit and run and with good micro you can achieve a lot!
Well okay I would probably miss a medivac or a medic. But in general its good unit, even better in groups!
Thank you so much for your time and your honest answers! I hope you had a good time! Any last shout outs or comments?
Thank you for the nice interview!
For everybody watching and listening: stay strong, enjoy Starcraft and support this amazing game and this amazing community!