It’s difficult to tell the history of Blizzard esports without mentioning Jaycie “Gillyweed” Gluck. From her roots creating Starcraft community content to co-hosting Eye of the Storm after the closed-alpha for Heroes of the Storm was released and then casting the Heroes Global Championship at Blizzcon this past November, she’s done it all.
Recently, Gillyweed decided to sit down with me to chat about North America’s chances at Western Clash, her farm life upbringing and what drives her to work as hard as she does.
What gets you out of the bed each morning to work and improve, other than a paycheck, when you’ve seemingly accomplished everything there is as a Heroes of the Storm caster?
It’s the love of the game and scene that gets me out of the bed in the morning. The work that I put in is all of the work that I think is necessary to make sure that I am putting on the best performance and that I’m doing justice to the awesome game and the amazing players that we have on our teams.
JHow recently told me that you are the hardest working individual in esports. Where does your drive for success come from?
My drive comes from a few different places. There’s the personal drive I’ve always had as I’ve always been a very driven person. I’ve always been a perfectionist and, anything I set my mind to, I try to devote 100 percent of my energy to that. It’s always been me.
The other part of it is what I mentioned earlier, it’s what the scene deserves of me. We have an awesome game, awesome community and awesome players so it deserves that drive and push.
I feel extra drive as a woman in esports because I want to be a good representative and a possible role model to women who want to get into esports.
Outside of yourself, is there a person who pushes you the hardest to be excellent?
I have a couple of people actually. My husband took a chance on me quitting a job to pursue a career in esports so his support and guidance is always welcome. I wanted to do well to make him proud. To the same effect, my family, my parents, my brothers but he really supported me when I didn’t have to so, for me, that’s always been someone to make proud.
"The coolest thing about NA is that we’re obviously more competitive this year and that we have eight teams who are capable taking games off top teams and are showing direct improvement."
I have this friend, Adam, who watches everything that I commentate. He is the person who will go through comments for me on Reddit and parse through the feedback that he feels is constructive and good for me. He helps me maintain my goals for casting so making him proud too is an additional thing for me that is important.
How has your family taken to your success within the scene?
My family has all been extremely supportive. One of my brothers watches everything I cast and he will text me afterwards and be like “Wow, I can’t believe that team lost or won.” He always sends me a text which makes this fun and means a lot to me.
My other brother watches my events. I’ve had a lot of my family come to my events. My mom watches a lot of what I cast too and that means a lot because my brothers were into gaming and they got me into it but my mom, while she has always been a nerd, didn’t grow up in gaming. It’s definitely outside of what she understands but she is still willing to watch me commentate and always enjoys it.
Even my dad and his side of the family, they’re farmers, so it’s really not what they understand at all. They’re supportive to where anything I post on Facebook, which is how I keep in touch with my family, they’re always excited for me. They really loved when I did Heroes of the Dorm on ESPN as that was something they could watch and access and they had a little viewing party.
With your dad’s side of the family involved in the farming scene, did you grow up in that environment as well?
Yeah, I grew up on a farm and, around when I was going to middle school, we moved into town. But, still, my dad owned the farm so I was on it often. Life very much revolved around farming within that community and it’s very much different than where I live now.
Do you have any cool talents that people don’t know about such as the ability to shuck corn quickly or milk a cow?
I never really got that involved within the daily aspects you would think growing up on a farm, which is strange but I did weigh trucks during harvest in the summer. It was a good way to make money and you had to work crazy hours, like 16 hour days for two weeks straight to get the harvesting done. I can work for a long time and maybe that’s what helped me in my line of work now.
Is there a difference between Jaycie and Gillyweed? If so, how would you describe it?
Yes. Trying to explain a persona for casting is difficult in that, it’s not a completely different person. Gillyweed has certain aspects of Jaycie but certain ones are amplified for the camera. People who know me personally have an easier time noticing the differences. There are certain things for Jaycie that aren’t seen, such as downtime.
When I’m on camera I’m pretty high-energy and excited -- sometimes when people meet me at events, especially ones that I’ve been to or worked at before, they are surprised when I’m at a more normal energy. It’s not that excited Gillyweed style energy they see on camera. I’ve gotten a lot of “Are you tired? You look tired.” and I’m like “I’m fine, I’m normal Jaycie right now” and I can get really excited in normal life as that’s still me but a different part of me.
How easy/difficult was it developing that rapport with JHow this season and where it is at now?
I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how fast the rapport is developing. It’s a process. It takes time to create ‘The Duo’ and I think one of the more noticeable places we’ve had a hurdle to overcome is in humor/banter, we clearly have very different knowledge bases. Sports is a good example, as we tried to incorporate sports references for Super Bowl Sunday and it was just not happening for me.
"I couldn’t look at him or I was going to laugh for five minutes straight."
When it comes to improvisational humor, it’s all about your knowledge bases and we have quite different ones as well as senses of humor. This past weekend, we’ve been improving a lot, getting into our flow and making the other person laugh -- that’s important when developing a duo.
We had one moment where he sort of misspoke and I had to hit my ‘cough button’ because there was no way I wasn’t going to bust-out laughing unless I gave myself a few seconds so I couldn’t look at him or I was going to laugh for five minutes straight. It’s been great.
How close would you say North American has gotten to closing the gap with their European rivals since you first joined HGC?
It’s a lot closer than when we started HGC last year. You can even see it when you watch the two HGC Western Clashes together we’ve had the last few years. We didn’t take a single game at the first Western Clash. Second Western Clash, we almost took a series and we did take several games. I think during this year’s Clash, you’re going to see series taken but there’s a difference in Europe right now between ‘Dignitas Europe’ and ‘everyone else Europe.’
I don’t think that anybody is good enough right now to be able to beat Dig if they are playing as they’re currently playing and show up the way they did at GCWC, but I do believe that NA teams are going to see some series being taken.
Trikslyr told me that Team Freedom is the only team in NA that could even compete with Europe at Western Clash, what do you say?
I think that’s interesting. I agree from a macro-sense Freedom is out of their mind and if they improve a lot at Boot Camp I think they will be super strong come Clash time. I think people are discounting other teams.
I think a lot of people look at Tempo Storm’s name and see a team that doesn’t show up at LANs but this is a completely different iteration of a team so I don’t think you can say that for sure about them. You’re going to have to wait and see how they perform. I think that they could surprise people with their drafting.
Team Twelve has been going through a lot, they’re further along in development than most people think because they had GCWC together so they are already far along in going through their rocky periods. Remember, they almost beat Fnatic at GCWC. They had those games, they had that Cursed game so if they can work out that last hurdle of closing out games they could do something.
Have there been any pleasant surprises in NA this season or has everything gone according to pre-season expectations?
I’m so pleasantly surprised by every team. Last year, it felt like there were a lot of teams that we heard from them that they were trying but we never really got to see those improvements manifest for them. That has to be so frustrating to be working on things and not be able to see that happen. After this past weekend’s games we’ve seen direct improvement by each of these teams over the last few weeks.
SpaceStation Gaming upset Freedom which is ridiculous, they were so strong in that series. Simplicity, they are starting to work out a lot of things and that was a big hole for me because I know those guys and what they’re capable of. LFM is coming into their own and their upset of Gale Force. HeroesHearth has been an awesome surprise.
The coolest thing about NA is that we’re obviously more competitive this year and that we have eight teams who are capable taking games off top teams and are showing direct improvement.
Who has been your North American MVP thus far in the HGC season?
Only one player? Man, that’s tough. I’m going to take a couple of teams and who I would give it to on that team and narrow it down from there. Freedom, I think it would be nazmas. He drafts for the team, had to role swap and is playing his role really well, he’s high up there, although Lutano has been great too.
Tempo I feel like Psalm or Cattlepillar has been a huge highlight. Cattle switching over to tank and playing how he has been is insane, he’s clean with his play and that’s a huge swap. Psalm is Psalm. He’s the carry, he’s the Carry-gan.
I think it’s going to be between those two teams. They’re the ones hovering near the top. Oh man, but to pick between them ... lets say nazmas. It’s the role swap, playing it well, playing it flexibly. Generally, when you see someone switch to that role they stick to a few heroes for a long time, because that solo lane is hard. He came in and he was willing to play a ton of heroes off the bat. What he has done as a player and add that to his leadership -- yeah, he’s the MVP.
To get you off on a hot-topic within the community, is it time for a third ban?
Yeah, I think it’s time. I think it will be cool to change up the meta, start getting more heroes in so it’s not so stale within the top picks. You can see within the top it’s very set with the OP or very, very strong heroes.
Tim Rizzo is the editor and a reporter for Inven Global. He joined the company back in 2017.