Heroes of the Storm

Dreadnaught: “I miss the challenge of not knowing what’s going to happen over the next 20 minutes of my life”

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Not too long ago, Wade “Dreadnaught” Penfold was gracing the screens of fans of Heroes of the Storm across the globe. His last Heroes stream featured then-MVP Black edge out Fnatic to win a $1 million prize pool tournament at Blizzcon.

In the few months since, an announcement from Blizzard was made that Dreadnaught would be casting Phase 2 of the Heroes Global Championship. He’s been quiet on social media and people have been searching for what he has planned and what he has been up to.

I was able to catch up with Dreadnaught to find out where he has been, what he misses about casting, whether NA has closed the gap between EU and a message he has for his loyal supporters.



The last we saw from you, aside from a personal Twitch stream, was when you casted the HGC Grand Finals at BlizzCon back in November. What’s really been going on in your life the last few months?

To be honest, not anything exciting. A lot of it has been just taking time off for the first time in a long while since I started playing and being involved in Heroes of the Storm.

There have been a couple other things in my life. Recently, I just became single so I’ve been dealing with adjustments to losing a major relationship. Generally speaking, it has been finding time for myself and adjusting to ending a three-year relationship which has been eye-opening.


You’ve been very private to the general public about what’s been going on, but there’s something you have decided to share which is your weight loss. Why did you decide to share something so personal and this internal battle that people deal with?

To be honest, I can’t hide it. I can’t sit there and be like ‘Nah, my life is exactly the same as it used to be.’ That being said, it goes past that. Because I can’t hide it, people ask me about it. The second reason, through social media and people I saw at BlizzCon, is that people seem to really want to know what happened. How did I make that happen? Everyone wants to be able to get that kind of perspective.


"To look at me as a respectable or authentic source to be able to learn these things, it’s just not true. I’m just a kid trying to win a video game."



I’m not an expert. I love to share my perspective on some of the things I’ve gone through to have success, but to look at me as a respectable or authentic source to be able to learn these things, it’s just not true. I’m just a kid trying to win a video game. And, yeah, I got a gym membership but that doesn’t make me an expert. I hate to break it to everybody: if you truly want to lose weight you gotta go to the gym and you gotta diet a little bit. That’s it. It’s not a secret.




How much Heroes have you watched during the last few weeks since HGC kicked off?

I’ve actually taken more time off to make sure I don’t watch HGC for the first time in a long time. It’s honestly the first time in my life. It’s been in order to avoid burnout. It was a serious problem for me last year and going up towards the end of last year I felt like if you even look at my commentary you can see I hit this ‘I need a moment.’

Going from a professional player and having those 8 to 12 hour days and then moving into commentary where there’s a lot of studying involved, there’s very little downtime to ask yourself ‘Is there anything else happening in the rest of the world outside of competitive Heroes of the Storm?’ I’ve been making sure I get that so when I do shift my energy towards HGC, it’s going to be my best form.


Since you said that you’ve been distancing yourself to not experience burnout, how do you stay up to date in what’s been going on within the regions, teams, compositions when you haven’t been in touch with the scene?


The easiest way to look at that would be that I know I’m going to be starting my section of HGC and I’m going to have to get into studying HGC. Without a doubt, the first thing you gotta do is literally just go breakdown patch notes from beginning to end to see what’s adjusted within the meta.

You have to then watch each region as it moves through the timeline and patch notes so that you can effectively evaluate what is the justification of the specific pick in the slot it is in. If you don’t correlate that with the patch notes, you’re going to miss out on the true justification of the pick.

Often times I think people think it’s blindly thrown out there but if you truly keep track of the adjustments of the game and the nerfs that come in and the priority of the character you can quickly pick up on what is the real reason this character is being picked in this slot.

The next major steps are drafts, any statistics, looking towards narratives/storylines and trying to build the players.

 

"It’s pretty tough to sit back and watch HGC. It’s actually a lot harder than I thought it would be."

 

From what you’ve seen thus far, how would you describe the current HGC landscape in terms of the different regions?

I would say that North America relative to the rest of the world has had the biggest changes in HGC 2018 so far. Europe is still an extremely respectable region that is going to internationally, maybe not necessarily win, but at least put up some good games against everyone else in the world. Korea is a beast of its own right now to where it is extremely different to be able to evaluate and China, as always, is the hardest region to access in the world but I have no reason to assume that there’s no major upswing.

I feel that North America is the only one, that if you were to move the pawns in the position of power and growth...it has moved enough to where it’s a little closer to competitive.

That being said, I don’t know how long that’s going to uphold. I feel like we have had a temporary swing with the roster adjustments that occurred. We’ve had a lot of honeymoon phases with super teams before the bumps and bruises come in. I’m really excited to see what happens after this first major set of LANs, especially for North America.


What would you say, from your experience, is the reason why North America struggles in LAN environments compared to EU?

Generally speaking, it feels like we’re seconds behind and being seconds behind 20 decisions in a row add up to way too much to be able to deal with. It makes it look a lot worse than it actually is, especially from an average viewer’s perspective. A game can get out of control but it really is just half-second decisions consistently throughout the entirety of a game that adds up to a really, really poor situation. When you look at how much worse we are than other teams, it’s not as drastic as most people make it out to be at first.

▲ Dreadnaught during the 2016 America's regional finals.


With Western Clash coming up in a couple weeks, give me an over or under five maps that North American can take from Europe in the entire tournament.

You know what -- I think they can do it.

That might be a smidge too optimistic. The biggest justification for that would be, for the first time, we’ve seen some of the adjustments within the top-end rosters of Europe. Obviously, we saw that within NA too but the better region making equal adjustments to the weaker region is only going to benefit the weaker region. In theory, we gain a bit there.

Then with the adjustments of the format of the tournament makes me a lot more optimistic --  we won’t have that ‘can NA take a map? question. It’s insane to think that wouldn’t happen, the question is just that ‘how much?’ and I think that five is definitely doable.

 

"Every comment on the internet cannot be the reason why I raise the question of whether I can do my job."


What have you felt watching JHow and Gillyweed cast thus far? What has that experience been like as a bystander while your peers are casting and you’re a bit disconnected?

Honestly? Envy. It reminds me of all the things I’m missing out on, especially a lot of the positives of the job. It’s always fun to be able to hang out with those guys. It just makes me that much more eager to get back up on the mic.

When I watch them live on Twitch is makes me feel the same things they are [feeling]. It’s pretty tough to sit back and watch HGC. It’s actually a lot harder than I thought it would be.


I thought it would be this ‘I get a different perspective, I can be a part of chat and get the full viewer experience,’ it is very much not the case. It’s bad enough that I’ve been to the studio multiple times and I’m not even working.


What do you miss most about casting if you can point to one thing in particular?

Beyond the fact that I just adore great competitive video games in general, I miss the challenge of not knowing what’s going to happen over the next 20 minutes of my life within a game. Also realizing it’s not a script that I can project what’s going to happen. I just have to be able to analyze and evaluate and try to convey the drama that’s going to unfold accurately and effectively to the audience. Something about that challenge is really, really satisfying to me.

There’s something about that feeling -- ‘this is going to get wild and you only get one shot.’ Everybody is only going to know whatever I said on that recording for the rest of the history of the internet in that moment. That’s terrifying but that’s empowering.


On the other side of the spectrum, what do you not miss about casting?

Feedback from viewers, that’s hands-down the easiest. The one guy who tunes in and catches a negative moment and writes that not very useful comment from a reader’s perspective. I wonder, 'How can I use this and improve off that?'

That person who sees a clip and says, 'You squeaked here. I didn’t like it and now I’m going to say mean things on the internet.' Without a doubt, that’s the hardest part of this job.

It’s not the feedback but understand that I, in order to be able to grow and get better, I need that from them but, at the same time, I have to have a shield and a sense of ego that I have to build up to a level to where I can’t let that rip me apart. Every comment on the internet cannot be the reason why I raise the question of whether I can do my job.Walking that line of trying to remain the humble man I wish to say I can be and also the strong, confident commentator I need to be to do my job.


When I made it public that I was planning on speaking with you, the feedback I received was quite different than past interviews in terms of the community's concern over how you’re doing, what’s been going on in your life, etc. Is there anything you want to say to your fans as we wrap up?

Thank you. I am absolutely nothing without each and every one of those people who sit there and think I’m worth listening to. The amount of support that I feel like I receive personally for the lack of consistency within my product, my social media presence, and everything, it is mind-blowing to me sometimes. I sit there and genuinely have moments where I go -- 'why do people think that somehow whatever I have to say is worth sitting around this long for?’

It just blows my mind and I’m at the point where I’ve stopped questioning it.



Do you ever feel like you’re not doing enough in return?

Absolutely, every single day and it’s probably the second hardest part of this job. Number one is toeing that line with my ego. How big does it need to be? How do I put up that defensive shield -- to not go insane over every comment that’s written while also not becoming this terrible inflated human being? I never want to be that guy.

The second is that with every piece of content you’re putting out, and if it’s successful at all, they’ll want more and they’re all going to have a lot of different desires. You realize you need them to be able to do what you do and you go out of your way to try pleasing every one of them. You realize in order to do that you’re going to have to make some people mad and not give them what they want. It’s just really hard to feel like ‘what good are you to them?’ I could go on for hours about this subject and what it does to your mind.

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    level 1 Felipe_Duarte

    Dreadgod love your work. Great interview. Looking foward to see you casting again <3
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