Part one of my conversation with Khaldor where he discusses his ability to tell stories on-stage while dealing with criticism off of it can be found here.
Part two of my conversation with Khaldor where he discusses how the esports industry came at the sacrifice of this social life, including dating, can be found here.
Everyone is allowed to partake in a little drama, gossiping and rumor-sharing from time to time. There’s no shame in that. It’s part of human communication and can help form relationships with peers.
It does, however, become an issue when certain individuals would rather start and spread tittle-tattle than shrug it off and not get involved.
For Thomas "Khaldor" Kilian, a 16-year veteran of the esports industry and current Heroes of the Storm caster, he has seen his fair share of drama and from his experience, no region focuses more on it than North American.
“There's, in my opinion, way too much drama that exists in NA already as is,” said Khaldor. “You have a lot of players that continuously pile on that whenever something happens, no matter if they are involved or not involved. I don't really think that's a benefit to the scene in any way. I personally believe that is one of the reasons why North America struggled for so long to really keep up with the rest. They were heavily consumed by a lot of the drama that has been going on there while you have a little bit of that going on in other regions as well but never to the same extent.”
He would know better than most, having lived in Europe, South Korea and, currently, North America. But as to why North America loves drama more than the rest of the world, Khaldor has his theories:
There's a couple of things to it. I've been criticizing North America as a region within esports for quite some time now because through Warcraft 3, Starcraft 2 and also Heroes I think there is pretty much a very consistent theme. I am speaking extremely general here so I want to make sure that there are definitely a lot of exceptions to that rule. But if you just look at the region as a whole and you compare it, there is a lot of entitlement and there is not really a very good work ethic. Now there are of course teams and players in each of those games that have stood out and were able to just shrug that off. But if you look at the region as a whole I feel those issues were very consistent in all three games throughout the 16 years I have been involved in esports and I think that's a problem. It shows when you look at small tournaments. For example, in Korea, Europe, and North America you had small weekly tournaments that were played and in basically every region there was big attendance the only region that didn't care was North America because they just straight-up said, ‘Well it's not worth our time.’ If you have that as a work ethic and you just always think that you need more prize money, more opportunities here, more there, but you're not really willing to work for it, then you can't really be surprised if at the end of the day you are not really reaching the heights you are aspiring to.
Compared to the rest of the world, which already view esports as a legitimate job, Khaldor notes NA has some room for growth.
Korea has always had a great work ethic as they really have esports ingrained in their entire culture and in the infrastructure that they have, especially around Seoul. But they also have the work ethic to go along with it. If you look at Europe which has a lot of that also evolving, especially now that you can make a living in esports, people are starting to realize compared to a couple of years ago that you also have to treat it as a job. There's a lot of competition going on there too because there are different countries that are competing against each other and you have your small rivalries. One of the ways that people try and deal with it is saying, ‘Hey, I want to get better. I need to beat this guy. I want to get better because I want to be the top in my country or the region.’ I feel a lot of that work ethic gets lost in the NA region especially because they feel they deserve more. There are just a lot more complaints on that end because they want more money. I feel like that is changing slowly.
Over time, as a region spends more time complaining than playing, a domino effect occurs to where an area gets weaker as a whole, according to Khaldor.
Let's say, for example, and I'm going to take a very extreme example, but you have a team of top players in the Heroes scene in North America and those guys want to work their asses off. Who do you train with? If the rest of your region or if a lot of the players in your region just don't care, don't have the same drive, don't have the work ethic, simply don't take it seriously or don't want to put the time in then you can be as engaged and driven as you want to be but it is going to be very difficult to get proper practice and that makes it very difficult for the region as a whole to grow. You can't grow with one single team. The minor regions show that pretty clearly. Look at Australia, for example. They oftentimes state that their biggest problem is that they don't get proper practice. Unfortunately for them, the player base isn't big enough but the same problem can be translated over to a region where they have very few players that are ambitious enough or that are willing to put the work in. In very competitive regions even the amateur teams are training so the top teams need to stay ahead of the curve and the only way to do that is to practice your ass off. So, the better the region is as a whole, the better the top teams are going to be in the long run.
Tim Rizzo is the editor and a reporter for Inven Global. He joined the company back in 2017.