Tim “Trikslyr” Frazier has come a long way from growing up in Missouri where video games were taboo, being a nerd wasn’t embraced and pool halls were the place for action. The former Heroes of the Dorm and Brawl with the Blues commentator has gone through highs and lows to reach his spot as EU HGC caster for the second year in a row.
Sheer luck didn’t land Trikslyr behind the casting desk, just good old-fashioned hard work and making connections in the industry during a stint working at Blizzard.
Trikslyr took time between business meetings and streaming to sit down and speak with me about his journey so far. We spoke about what it's like dealing with nerves while casting, growing up in the midwest and who, if anyone, can stop Team Dignitas and EU come tournament time.
Talk to me about the decision to leave Blizzard back in the day to get into casting
It was a bit of a risky thing going from this beloved company that took great care of me and had adoring people that I loved being around and making a decision to stop working for them and go freelance. If there’s something I’ve learned in the last eight years I’ve been doing esports on-and-off, it’s that you have to chase things. You have to jump in pants-on, pants-off. It doesn’t matter, you just gotta go.
Eventually, after me and my girlfriend talked about it, she said ‘Hey, just do it, we got this. We got a full year to decide if it’s going to work out or not, I was working hard on the side and it ended up working out. I’m very happy where I’m at and I would’ve regretted not going for it.
In hindsight, the decision had a positive outcome. What was your backup plan if casting didn’t work out?
I left on good terms with Blizzard, at least I think so. So if things fell flat then, hopefully, I could go back there. I am also working on growing my stream brand a lot and I knew I could stream Heroes of the Storm if I wanted to. I want to be a variety streamer eventually because I like entertaining people. I started out playing super multi-player based games and wanting to be competitive but I’m starting to get old and fragile when it comes to video games.
Lately, I’ve started enjoying single player experiences so eventually I want to go down that route as well. If I’m able to monetize that, and I think I can, then I can keep that going otherwise I will have to go back to a desk job as a backup plan if I can’t entertain people.
How did you initially become an HGC caster and find that available opportunity?
Things lined up really well. I had been pushing to cast a lot since I used to cast Starcraft back in the day and I really enjoyed casting. I eventually started working for IPL and I had finally reached my make-it-or-break-it moment when, sadly, IPL just went under within three months of me being there. I never got to be a full-time caster and I had been dying to.
Eventually, Blizzard took in IPL and gave people jobs. I got lucky and landed on Heroes of the Storm and Community Management is where I went but, during all that, my heart lied in entertaining and doing stuff where I could be on a screen and help people grow. I kept pushing for it internally and eventually, the opportunity for HGC came up and I said, ‘Listen. Give me an interview, I want an interview’. With some help from people inside, I got that interview.
I honestly didn’t think I was going to get it. There are so many talented people in the scene and I’m just this guy who plays Murky for a living on stream for fun.
"While I’m willing to accept feedback from people, you have to say ‘No, I’m firm on this and stand strong."
Once you were given the opportunity, was there a specific moment to where you felt like you finally “made it” and were not just the “new guy”?
2017 Mid Season Brawl, casting the Grand Finals. Blizzard gave me an opportunity and they were like, ‘Alright, we have these amazing casters that have done Grand Finals before, Khaldor’s been out there before, it’s time for you to have a chance.’
I got to cast with Khaldor. Going into it, an hour before, I’ve never felt so many nerves in my life. I was listening to Eminem since I was on an Eminem kick at the time after Dreadnaught suggested it to me. I was alone in a corner, quiet, by myself and Dread came over to me and said ‘You got this. Just go kill it, man’, and that was very helpful when it came from him.
We went up and casted and you could tell I was reserved at the beginning but once the first team fight happened, we killed it. Khaldor and I really hit our stride. Since that moment, all I’ve wanted is to cast Blizzcon and be in those big moments.
What was your initial reaction when you found out Khaldor would be your co-host for HGC
Shocking. It’s Khaldor!
He’ll be the first one to admit that sometimes people have the wrong impression of him because he’s a bit vocal on things that he enjoys and doesn’t enjoy, but I think we hit our stride really quickly. Once I figured out that he was just honest about anything and everything, if you ever have a problem with him he’s willing to have a conversation with you. We blossomed a really cool friendship and I consider Khaldor a really good friend of mine that I can hit up about anything because he isn’t shy or bashful.
What’s a valuable lesson you’ve learned from working with Khaldor for so long?
I learned to accept feedback and to ignore feedback. When I first started casting, I would read everything about ‘I hate Trikslyr’s casting,’ ‘I love his casting,’ ‘this guy has a lisp,’ and I took too much to heart and Khaldor helped me anchor myself. While I’m willing to accept feedback from people, you have to say ‘No, I’m firm on this and stand strong’ and he’s helped me stay grounded due to his past experiences.
"I went and bought 12 power chords and hid them all around my house."
It’s funny how yourself (Missouri), JHow (Kentucky) and GIllyweed (Kansas) are all from the midwest of the United States and have become HGC casters. Is there something in the water out there that churns out casting abilities?
Day9 and Tasteless as well, they live 20 minutes from me which is funny. It empowers us a little bit. We find our nerdiness in the midwest and there’s no one to share it with. When I was playing video games back home everyone I talked to was like, ‘Cool you’re playing video games. Wanna go outside and drink some beer? Do you wanna go play pool?’ and I’m like ‘No, I don’t. I wanna work on my Halo BR skills.’
Eventually, it came to the point where I wanted to leave this place. I wanted to go to the east or west coast where people are talking about games and esports is becoming a thing. I think it taught us drive and how to be our own person and go explore the world.
Were your parents very conservative as well in your approach to video games and dismissive of the opportunity of it ever leading to a full-time career?
My parents hated video gaming. I used to have my Xbox that I would play Halo 2 or Halo 3 on and they would steal my power chords so I went and bought 12 power chords and hid them all around my house. When they went to work or out, I would be able to play because of how frowned upon it was to be a nerd.
Do you remember their reaction when you told them you were moving out to California to pursue a career in the industry?
Their reaction was standard to any parent. The moment you start being successful they cheer you on (even if) they don’t understand it. My parents to this day think I am just playing video games every day for a living. They think I pick up a Super Nintendo controller and somehow am getting paid for it. I’m glad they’re supportive but they have no clue what’s going on.
As we transition from your past to the present, how would you describe the current makeup of the EU region you cast compared to pre-season HGC expectations?
I feel like I’m casting the best region in the world. I know Korea has had their strides and won Blizzcon but EU has so much depth and love towards how they play the game -- I thoroughly enjoy casting them. I love how the European pros approach the game.
It’s hard to look at Zealots vs Fnatic and think: these teams are on the opposite side of the spectrum in the standings, but yet Zealots get a win. Each team has to bring their A-game each week or you can drop games.
The top two teams, Dignitas and Fnatic, appear to be making mince-meat out of the rest of the competition thus far with Dignitas yet to drop a map. How close are they in reality to one another?
It’s tough to say. Initial reactions are that Dignitas is playing far better than most of the teams in Europe. It’s a wonder at how good they are. Fnatic is in the midst of this rebuilding stage where they are trying to get their new players into the mix with how they are trying to run. Dignitas seems to have gotten the better end of the trade, for now.
It’s also exciting to see this weekend, as this is the first time they’re matching up against each other in HGC. We get to find out if Dignitas is that good. Are they going to remain undefeated or is Fnatic, who has always been a rival to Dig? Will they be able to snag a couple of wins or the entire map series? I personally think Dignitas is going to win but the question is ‘will it be a 3-0 or 3-1?’ based off of how matches have gone the past couple weeks.
You’re not seeing a world in which this series goes to five games?
Personally, no. I actually think Dig has it. I love the guys at Fnatic but when you compare how clean Dig is playing and how dominant they have been versus what we’ve seen from Fnatic, Dig has it.”
Who has been your HGC EU MVP thus far through the first stage of play?
The answer can only be one player, Snitch. Snitch has been stellar and he’s been improving since 2017 when he started really hitting his stride. He continues to impress. He is now bolstered by an incredible top lane in Wubby, he has POILK to back him up. Snitch is an absolute god right now.
I’m actually just excited to see when we’ll have Dignitas clashing against Korea. I wanna see if he’s still that strong because right now the kid seems unstoppable. He’s shutting people down.
Personally, I thought you may have said POILK given how much of an impact his addition has made thus far but Snitch has really come into his own and solidified the captain’s role with Bakery stepping away before the season started.
That’s the thing about Dignitas though. You can say good things about everyone on their roster. Zaelia switches to Support and just makes it look flawless. In fact, he’s making plays on a role that is typically passive. JayPL is one of the quietest but strongest Warriors you have in Europe. You have POILK, who is an All-Star in of himself but when he has Wubby and Snitch next to him he looks tame in comparison which is crazy!
Are you going to go out on a limb to say that EU will be hoisting a Blizzcon trophy come this fall and make their mark as the dominant region?
Right now I would argue if we had a Blizzcon in four or five weeks, I could see EU winning even with Tempest on their streak of being gods.
Call me an EU fanboy. I’m just on-board with them. I love the players, I love the teams and I want them to succeed. So even if it’s a little on the biased-side, I want them to succeed and will pick them any day.
Recently, I spoke with JHow and he made the statement that three teams in NA will be able to hold their own with EU at the Western Clash next month. Response?
I think Team Freedom would be the only one to have a chance in the current state. I don’t even think Tempo Storm would match up well with Europe and they’ve been strong lately. I welcome it and hope they do as competition is great, but there’s too much chaos in NA from week-in to week-out on different games. I feel that EU would sniff that out and shut it down. They would douse the flames.
To get you off on a question I received from users on /r/heroesofthestorm/, what advice would you give to someone who aspires to be a caster?
Just do it. Everyone wants shortcuts and they want to be able to be a streamer, just turn on the stream and get hundreds of viewers. They want to be a caster and suddenly be casting Blizzcon. No one’s going to give you that opportunity. You have to step up and make the opportunity yourself.
Look at Gillyweed, for example. She spent two years doing Starcraft community content and finally found a couple of patches where she was able to do some casts. People saw that she was really, really great and they let her grow to what she has become.
It took me three years of off-and-on casting while working a full-time job just to get a chance to cast at an MLG beta stream. You have to do the work.
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