For the unindoctrinated, World of Warcraft 3v3 arena can be a little overwhelming. Dozens and dozens of spells, defensive and offensive, fly to and from six different players constantly, some more easily discerned than others. Games can be lightning quick bouts or wars of attrition, and most of the time, they are all about the long-con: easily overlooked opening moves can determine a victor two or three minutes down the line.
The meta-game changes regularly too, especially early on in an expansion. Miss a week or two of matches and you could return to find that the meta is now dominated by new classes or new specializations, hitherto overlooked gear or recently buffed abilities.
The beloved, over-a-decade old esport lacks the intuitive mechanics of Counter-Strike, the leisurely turns of Hearthstone, and the high-budget theatrics of Overwatch. It is a hard to follow, niche game mode nestled within the expansive, immensely popular MMO-RPG that is World of Warcraft -- and Sid “Supatease” Compston is a part of the tight-knit cadre of individuals tasked with weaving the messy onslaught of information into a compelling storyline.
Like most modern gamers, Supatease has a WoW story.
His starts two months before the release of Burning Crusade, the game’s first expansion, when his friends -- DnD and Runescape enthusiasts, naturally -- pulled him into the World of Warcraft. “I can remember my friend Casey, a level 56 tauren shaman mounted on a kodo, entering the Valley of Trials to give me gold and tips to get started,” he reminisced.
From there, he was addicted. He began his WoW career as a dedicated raider, loving the coordination and individual responsibility it required and comparing it to “an orchestra with each player playing a different class/musical instrument,” but by Wrath of the Lich King, Supatease’s attention had shifted to PvP.
"I think it’s trying to prove everyone wrong that
WoW can be an esport that keeps my passion burning.”
His guild had been “dead set” on acquiring Amani War Bears for all of their members before Wrath of the Lich King launched, and after they managed to pull it off, they set their sights on acquiring the Rusted Proto Drake in the new expansion.
The mount is the reward for fulfilling 13 monumental Ulduar achievements, and Supatease’s guild pulled that off too -- only to learn that the mount and all future raid achievement mounts would be available forever, no longer unique to those who completed content while it was challenging.
“Making this mount achievable after its difficulty made our reward for this effort feel meaningless,” explained Supatease. So he and his friends moved to PvP and focused their efforts on obtaining the frost wyrms awarded to Gladiator-ranked players, unknowingly setting the course for what would become a decade-long, life-defining adventure.
He didn’t get the wyrm, though -- Supatease was a Duelist.
But come Cataclysm, Supatease achieved his goal several times over, claiming Gladiator title after Gladiator title and even competing in tournaments. When he moved onto college and thus had less time to dedicate to competition, he began to stream educational commentary and from there, he was noticed by a Bleached Bones tournament organizer whose caster had flaked last minute.
“I happened to be streaming at the time and they felt I could fill the role. I took the jump despite feeling unsure of my capabilities,” Supatease recalled. “Everyone was impressed with my performance and I was invited to participate in the next two community tournaments for Bleached Bones.”
But it wasn’t until Warlords of Draenor that he dedicated himself fully to shoutcasting. His partnership with GCDTV, a World of Warcraft tournament organizer, was key to the development of his skills and he soon found himself contacted by Blizzard to commentate an Australia-New Zealand event.
"If Blizzard keeps up its ongoing response to feedback,
I think BFA will improve staggeringly."
He commentated a North American regional event next and in 2015, he took it upon himself to independently broadcast the BlizzCon qualifier cups. That year, Supatease was invited to the BlizzCon World Championship, and he has returned every year since.
“Paid or unpaid, it [doesn’t] matter -- developing this skill of casting has been my passion and pursuit. Putting together the stories of players dedicating their years to advancing their skills in World of Warcraft has been fantastic,” he said.
“My new challenges are to tailor my commentary in a fashion that is more approachable for a wide audience to enjoy, even outside the realm of Warcraft. I think it’s trying to prove everyone wrong that WoW can be an esport that keeps my passion burning.”
Supatease’s obvious passion and enthusiasm for the esport have earned him a personal following, with fans having grown to love his unparalleled vocal theatrics. At BlizzCon 2018, he snagged the opportunity to cast one of the most hyped up, exciting matches in recent Arena World Cup history: the Grand Finals between Method Orange and The Gosu Crew.
“It's almost impossible to not be captured by the intensity. This year was like no other. To see The Gosu Crew [go] head-to-head [with] Method Orange on the global stage after their constant battles throughout the year was phenomenal,” he said. “My only wish is that it was a bit closer score-wise. But the score certainly doesn't accurately represent how closely fought the teams were.”
The 2018 pro arena season ended with that exhilarating 4-0 series and one teary-eyed Method Orange, and now those involved are enjoying a well-deserved off-season. In the last few weeks, Supatease has busied himself with creating arena guides for YouTube and in just a few days, he will dive into the new content made available with Tides of Vengeance.
“I'm most looking forward to class changes and Azerite gear acquisition,” he said of the upcoming patch. “Usually the start of an expansion is rough balance wise. Although I'm upset by some mechanics, I'd also say it's the most balanced start of an expansion yet. If Blizzard keeps up its ongoing response to feedback, I think BFA will improve staggeringly.”
Supatease casts the final moments of the 2018 AWC Grand Finals.
It is significant, relatively high praise from someone who is consistently outspoken about World of Warcraft’s persistent balancing issues and does not shy away from offering critical feedback to developers. As both a commentator and a high-level player himself, Supatease regularly offers an unique, valued perspective on the game.
“Generally speaking, I would like to see damage increase outside of cooldowns and decrease within cooldowns,” he explained before BlizzCon. “Right now the game feels like teams take turns with cooldowns and instant crowd control. If your strategy doesn’t fall within that realm, then you can’t compete unless you can bring strong passive defense ... which leads to frustrating, long, non-impactful situations.”
He specifically cited passive defense abilities, such as Shadow Priests’ Edge of Insanity and Demon Hunters’ Demonic, as detrimental to PvP, and argued that the aforementioned emphasis on cooldowns has made the time between them feel insignificant.
“I see the game as being played in three styles: all-in aggression, set-up, and attrition. I think it’s important for multiple strategy choices to exist, but what is even more important is that your actions throughout the match feel meaningful and impactful,” he said.
So yes, Supatease has come a long way from the newbie, mount-chasing WoW player he once was. He has now casted four BlizzCon Arena World Championships, not to mention the hundreds of arena games leading up to each, and become an integral, reliable fixture of the long-standing, yet ever-shifting pro arena community.
But for Supatease, his time with the AWC has meant much, much more than any job or even career. In the last year, he has lost nearly 100 pounds and consequently undergone a massive transformation in both mentality and appearance -- and he attributes much of his lifestyle change to 3v3 arena.
“For a long time, I thought I was fat because I was just supposed to be fat, [and] it prevented me from having confidence,” he explained. “In a lot of ways, joining the AWC program gave me confidence to start working on my health. Working hard with GCDTV to build my casting skills and cast Blizzcon turned my life around.”
He continued: “It was with this new found confidence that it was time to get out of my comfort zone again. I'm currently at 77 pounds down and aiming at 100. My biggest advice to anyone trying to accomplish a goal is to start little by little, as little as you need to go so you can do it every day. You'll be surprised how quickly that positive effort will spiral out of control.”
Although details regarding next year’s Arena World Cup season have yet to be released, you will likely find Supatease on the desk in 2019, talking passionately and animatedly about the game he loves. In the meantime, he is creating content on YouTube and Twitch, and he is always active on Twitter.
Photos via Blizzard Entertainment.