eSports is an ever growing form of entertainment, with hugely popular games such as StarCraft 2 featuring on the tournament scene. So why not interview one of the most known StarCraft 2 commentators to date, Sean Plott? If you don’t already know him from his DayDaily, this interview will surely give you quite the insight.
Elisabetta Bruno: Hello everyone and welcome, I am Elisabetta Bruno and I am in the happy company of one of the best StarCraft 2 casters in the world. That’s right, it’s Sean “Day” Plott. En taro, Sean!
Sean Plott: Hello, hello!
EB: Welcome to this interview, let’s started, we are going to ask some questions, shall we?
Sean Plott: I’m ready (laughs).
EB: So tell us a bit about yourself, for the people who might not know you. You are a caster (Sean: Yeah) and a StarCraft 2 player?
Sean Plott: Yeah, I am a StarCraft 2 caster for any of you unfamiliar with the StarCraft 2 community, it is like the greatest game in the whole world. It’s a nice blend of huge in-depth strategy, like a game of chess, but also has a fast paced speed of something like playing a musical instrument or just, you know, traditional sport. So what I do for a living is provide the commentary for the games in a couple of different ways.
I travel around the big tournaments and I’ll do the play-by-play, which is great for me because I am also a huge fan of the game so I get to watch like the really good players play, and I get to freak out and shriek like a little girl when awesome things happen.
But then I also do a 5-day week web TV show that is all about strategy and analysis, because my past in StarCraft has been as a player, I played StarCraft 1 competitively for about 12 years. So when StarCraft 2 came out I was just running a little bit low on time in graduate school, so I started to just do a show that was focused on analysis, to give me that fix that I wanted as a player of studying strategies and trying to learn and that just sort of spun into all the tournament casting. So the analysis show I would really say is the flagship Day thing.
EB: All right. So why the name “Day?” Why did you chose that, how did that come about?
Sean Plott: (laughs) Ohhh, get ready for the most uninteresting history. All right, but you know what? I have an answer. Long ago, way back when I was a wee-lad, I used to really look up to all the top Korean pro players, ’cause South Korea was the first professional scene developed and you had these incredible players who had these cool one-word names, like Reach and Boxer, and I wanted something cool like that so I was “Day”. But… there was no… “Day” was taken on the servers because, you know, every three-letter word was taken. So I wanted to put my favourite number at the end which was 9 and then I also added my favourite delimiter which is the brackets. So that’s what became “Day-bracket-9-end bracket” and there you go! (laughs)
EB: So we got a Day out of that.
Sean Plott: It’s a little catchy too, that’s what I like about it, you know. Day!
EB: Yeah it is. Well okay that soun-
Sean Plott: It just stuck.
EB: Sorry, go ahead.
Sean Plott: On no I just said, it just stuck. I just said a trailing phrase that’s only purpose is to interrupt.
EB: Yeah, I don’t know, these casters. Anyway. So tell us how did you get into casting? Why did you choose to go down this route?
Sean Plott: I touched a little bit on that. In college I went to Harvey Mudd, which was an awesome experience, and it was… it was a lot of work, but I still had enough time to play StarCraft. It wasn’t necessarily, like, regular but there would be periods where I’m like, “Oh! A bunch of projects finished, I am gonna play hardcore for three weeks. Yeah!” And when I went to Graduate School, I was having this collision of “time problem” because in my under-graduate program ‒ I did a math degree ‒ a lot of it was, “Okay I am going to do this…”
EB: Yeah, 3 halves math degree. Yeah.
Sean Plott: Yeeaah. That’s right, you saw yesterday’s daily.
EB: (laughs) Of course I did.
Sean Plott: I will always mess up basic mathematics if there is a video recording at home. Oh, you should see me in my private quiet time, when I am just multiplying stuff, in my free spare time. Oh, incredible!
Sean Plott: So the math program was a lot a lot like just, “here’s the problem set, and you are going to do that” and you know there was independent research I did, but when I went to my graduate program, it was an interactive media, or, basically, game design. And I started just doing a lot of projects on my own, and the projects kind of had the format of, “you get to work on them as much as you want to work on them.” There was a lot of freedom and flexibility, so I ended up starting to dive into a lot of projects, because I was excited about jumping into the new program, which immediately cut down in a lot of my StarCraft playing time.
So I had this weird situation where I both wanted to watch the Korean pro matches, because that was my primary form of entertainment, just like someone would wanna watch their favorite sport, and also I had this desire as a player to delve deep into digging the strategy, because that was always one of my favorite feelings when I had some huge problem, some huge leak in my play and I would ‒ “How the hell do you solve that? How can I overcome this problem I am having?” And you are thinking, thinking, thinking.
I had these two urges, so what I decided would be good would be to just do a daily web show, where I would take one of the pro matches I wanted to watch anyway, but I would analyze it really slowly. And the act of talking is a very, slow, deliberate way to communicate. So it kinda forces my brain just to slow down and really explore things in depth. Very quickly I found it to be incredibly fun to log in, to start talking about all this fun high level strategy, that a lot of people hadn’t really gotten the chance to hear about or to look into, ’cause all the commentaries are in Korean for the pro matches. I would have the opportunity to interact with all these other people, who were also really really into the game. Because to be honest a lot of my friends who were into StarCraft got that way, because I basically grabbed them, sat them down, and I was like, “This game is awesome, you gotta watch this.” And then they got into it over time, and then they get the chance to interact with all the people from, you know, for instance the Team Liquid community who are really really into StarCraft as well.
EB: So then you didn’t do any studies to become a caster, it just comes all natural to you.
Sean Plott: Well, you know, it’s kinda funny because you want‒you’d love to say something like, “Oh, yes Day, it was my natural talent” yeah but, as a matter of fact, it was the fact that I started doing the daily show every single day and I would just stumble through it (both laugh) it was definitely just work that was put into it, and I definitely would credit Harvey Mudd for a lot of that because in my math degree they had lots of regular presentations that you had to do. That was one of the most important parts of the program. They would just say things like, “Okay. Sean you are going to do a presentation on this weird math topic that you don’t actually know very much about, and it has to be five minutes, and we will cut you off at five minutes. So you must absolutely make sure that you can convey to this group of students and teachers that have never heard of the topic before in a reasonable, legible fashion.” It was great, great training grounds, because math is just so abstract in a lot of areas that… it’s… very very weird. You have to be able to boil it down to something tractable.
EB: What is about casting that makes your heart beat? Trumpets?
Sean Plott: (laughs) It’s definitely the trumpets, it’s one important aspect of it. The gameplay itself is what’s really really exciting to me about it and I always think that it’s an important duty of the caster to be able to convey the excitement of the match to the players.
I think my background as a player is the thing that is most exciting for me about it because a lot of times you’ll be watching a match and if you are unfamiliar with the game, you are just like, “Okay, well they are building stuff, they are building stuff, they are building stuff. All right, one of them attacked and I guess he won.” And it sort of feels dry.
But if there’s a caster there you can say something like (with classic Day casting tone), “Oh oh. Oh oh! He has not started this upgrade yet, and that will take two and a half minutes to do, which means that now there’s a two-and-a-half-minute window where this player can attack to do a huge amount of damage. Oh my gosh, okay, he hasn’t moved out yet ‒ oh he’s starting to move out. He’s starting to move out, there’s thirty more seconds until that upgrade finishes. Can he hit it?” And all of a sudden there’s all this intensity to it. Kind of a like in a movie where the bomb timer’s ticking down ‒ can he defuse it on time?
Sometimes this can be a curse though, because sometimes I get a little too excited. Like I remember in a recent tournament one of my friends was doing very very well and I started to get overly excited, because there was too much adrenaline on the system and I was just screaming, “Oh my God! Oh my god he might win!” That was quite a bit of fun.
EB: (laughs) And then you throw in pipe leaks every so often, and that’s also funny.
Sean Plott: (laughs)
EB: Is there a game that you casted that remained imprinted in your mind for any particular reason?
Sean Plott: I still remember Nama vs Mana game 3 from the winter Dreamhack final in 2010. Both players were kind of unlikely to be in the finals. They are both, very very talented players, but a lot of people expected some of the more notable Korean players or notable Americans to be in there. And then, there they were in the finals and Nama had won the first two games and it was game three. And… I will say in any tournament your brain just immediately starts playing tricks on you. Immediately, and one of the big things that happens to me in my tournament games is that you get this overwhelming urge to just attack ’em and end the game. Your patience is really hard to actually hold on to in a serious tournament situation.
There was just this gigantic army of Nama that was slowly marching a little bit closer and closer and closer, and I just kept thinking, “Oh my gosh, he’s not attacking yet, he’s not attacking yet, he’s not attacking yet” and I was so impressed with his ability to stay patient for so long… he was almost too patient for my heart to handle, because there came a point where literally his buildings were getting shot at and Nama was still waiting. And still patiently gathering a few more forces and waiting for a couple more upgrades to finish. He finally made the huge attack and it barely didn’t quite work. And I was like, “Oooh… Gosh ‒ Ohh!” But Nama still stayed patient, and stayed patient, and stayed patient. And Nama kept pushing harder and harder. It was this incredibly dramatic game, and every time Mana made a huge blunder where you’d merely think the follow-up would be for him to go on tilt to immediately try to win, never once did and held on, and won this game by inches. I remember just screaming. Just being like, “He did it! Oh my God he’s done it!” And I actually started to get light headed and I almost passed out, because I have been casting for like sixteen hours a day for a couple of days in a row. The match was just so intense, the energy of the crowd was just so huge and I had so much adrenaline in my system that I still distinctly remember my vision starting to wane a little bit and I turned to my caster and said, “DApollo, gotta finish this one, man, I am light headed.” That’s one that always stands out in eyes.
EB: So… talking of patience. I seem to recall a particular game that left you with your jaw hanging at MLG. It was MLG Columbus. Do you want some hints?
Sean Plott: Well… it could… I would believe it to be the IdrA vs MC game? Is that the one ‒
EB: How did you guess that one!?
Sean Plott: I still remember that one very well. That was fun.
EB: Yeah, you know… there’s a lot to do with (read: talk about) his GGs. What do you think about his (IdrA’s) early GGs? Many talk about that.
Sean Plott: I mean, you know… A lot of people would love to just jump on IdrA and bash him immediately because he is known for having that sort of bad boy attitude, so people always love the drama and that sort of thing but IdrA has learned the most important lesson to learn in StarCraft ‒ actually in any strategy game in my opinion ‒ that’s actually so hard for a newer player to learn, which is that whenever you lose a game you have to go back to the first mistake and look at the first mistake and fix that.
It’s really easy to be playing a game and at the ten-minute mark you make the game breaking mistake, but because you are good you can hold on to maybe the thirty minute mark and when you lose, it’s so easy to back and say, “Oh yeah from minute twenty-two to twenty-eight I should have been doing this stuff.” And the answer is don’t waste your time analyzing there, go back to minute ten and fix that. And then you’ll never be in any of these weird situations ever again. And IdrA, I think, is bar none in terms of this going back to the first mistake and weeding it out.
It’s kind of funny because a lot of people love to talk about a lot of IdrA’s mechanics, his ability to build lots of units rapidly, his ability to make lots of great micro decisions with his units but I honestly think that his best skill is his ability to look at a strategy and pop out all these little leaks at the start. So when you watch him play it’s just this symphonic, beautiful play. Everything lines up perfectly and falls into place. But I think that pretty much anyone can get flustered at a major tournament. And I feel like, for someone like Greg who just really does not make a lot of mistakes at the start of a game, there were a couple of mistakes that happened in that game that I definitely think could have made him feel a touch flustered. You know, there was a drop that snuck in that even though it didn’t do as much damage as it maybe should have, I feel that it could potentially have been one of those jarring moments in your head. And then all of a sudden once the attack doesn’t quite go the exact way ‒ I mean he was winning it, but it didn’t got exactly as planned ‒ and plus he had seen a third Command Center, so he probably was also assuming that there was a third Command Center that was out on the map, and then he ended up incorrectly leaving the game.
So I think that it sort of stems from the fact that he is such a good player, but it’s one of those things where I would just say stick in the game and then do that sort of analysis after the fact instead of leaving mid game. But it’s so hard to ‒ it’s so easy to say that and then so hard to look back when you are in the tournament, and all the adrenaline is flowing and there is that huge crowd looking at your every move, and every time you mess up at a big tournament, I know my instinct is just, “Look, just screw it, I am just going to go back into the next game and I am going to play better.”
EB: Yeah, I can see that. I mean, I remember you mentioning in one of your early Dailies… you mentioned people asking you, “How do I win against Colossi, I can’t win against Colossi” and you saying, “Well maybe you have done something wrong before that so your opponent got the Colossi in the first place.”
Anyway, you mentioned earlier that you were casting for like 16 hours? Do you always cast that long in all these tournaments like MLG, NASL…?
Sean Plott: (laughs) In a lot of tournaments that actually does end up being the case. There’s just so many games to cover and it’s all crunched into one weekend and everyone really wants to see the matches so yeah. Generally it’s not quite 16; it’s generally closer to like maybe 12 to 13, 14, something like that.
EB: It’s still a lot.
Sean Plott: It’s a lot, yeah. It’s always kind of funny the things that people don’t talk about at these tournaments that would be hard for a caster. People always talk about: you have to know the match up, you have to do research on the players… For me I have to drink a lot of honey tea, but like several days before the matches I need to make sure I am drinking water regularly, I have to make sure that my meals are being eaten regularly.
One of the hardest things for me as a caster is that it’s very hard on my stomach at these events, cause you know I am drinking coffee to help me stay awake and I am drinking a lot of liquids for my throat and stay hydrated and a lot of times I have to eat my meals a little bit quickly, so that way I can go back to doing the casting. If for some reason a match goes longer, it’s not like I can be in the middle of a match and be, “Well guys I always eat my lunch at 12:30, I have to go.”
EB: (laughs) Pause please, pause! Pause the game!
Sean Plott: Yeah like “pppp” And they pause the game. And then like “It appears there’s a technical difficulty”, and I am walking to get a sandwich. It’s that sort of thing that really hurts my stomach a lot. In a lot of circumstances like trying to make sure is as aligned with what my body is comfortable with as possible ‒ that is really, really, really important.
EB: Yeah, I bet that’s stressful. I got a new respect now that I know your hours. I mean not only the games, but also when the games are not casted. You know, there’s technical issues, the gamers are setting up… I mean, you’ll talk for ages (laughs) I really don’t know how.
Sean Plott: (cheerful) Yeeaah. I always joke with Marcus ‒ DJWheat, who does the co-commentary with me at MLGs ‒ that like… it’s important to have a lot of opinions on things that don’t matter, ’cause then, you know ‒ “Look, while they’re setting up, I just wanna bring up the old board game Crossfire. Did you ever play that?” And he’s just like “Oh! Crossfire, that game was bullshit.” And we start to have a conversation about it right there. Strong opinions about a game that most people will only know via the commercial. (Laughs)
EB: So now, talking about tournaments. I’ve got a few questions about the NASL.
Sean Plott: Yeah!
EB: First of all, who was your favorite co-caster? I mean, I love iNcontroL; I am a big fan of his. But who was your favorite co-caster?
Sean Plott: I only got the chance to cast with Geoff and iNcontroL ‒ Geoff and iNcontroL? That’s the same person.
Sean Plott: Gretorp and iNcontroL. I don’t actually have too much of an opinion to be honest. It’s hard. I get asked that question a lot, like “Who is your favorite person to cast with?” It’s honestly like going to a different class in school. Like math ‒ okay, some of you may dislike school, let’s do it with movies. It’s the difference between a comedy movie and a really funny Sci-Fi movie, they tap into different types of things.
For instance with Gretorp… Gretorp is one of few commentators who is as excited by the strategy as I am, ’cause Gretorp is a huge hardcore player and we’ll both start getting giddy and high-five each other about the someone’s getting an upgrade fifteen seconds earlier. “Wow! How did he get the resources? That’s so awesome!” There’s not even a battle going on.
EB: He does that, he does. I noticed that.
Sean Plott: And likewise Geoff is really fun to joke around with and at the same time he also has that player background, and he and I will both be like screaming. I will just say though that it was incredibly fun to cast with Geoff and Gretorp there because it really goes to show how strong casters they are. It’s the first time I really casted with them in an environment like that and it just felt really really natural.
EB: It did. It did. Well done to all of you actually.
Sean Plott: Thank you!
EB: Talking about games, there was something I didn’t quite understand. I mean I didn’t understand the reasoning behind the choice. And that’s Morrow swapping to Terran to play versus July. Why do you think he’d do that? That I didn’t understand.
Sean Plott: I actually sat down with Morrow before the finals and was talking to him about that. A lot of people dislike that there’s no differences, there’s no… Okay, I am going to use the word “imbalance” and everyone in the StarCraft community uses that to mean “unfair”, but I’m going to use it to mean “big differences.” Like one of the bigger imbalances is that the Zerg has faster units and that Protoss and Terran have slower units, and I don’t mean to say that that’s unfair, it’s just that huge difference there. And because that is a fixed, innate difference between the races, that’s always something that you can exploit.
In any mirror match-up there’s no imbalance. You have the exact same units. Sometimes it’s difficult to perceive where the clear edge is. Often you’ll see players recoil away from the typical strategies and try to find something different. If everyone is making the roach/hydralisk mix in the match up, some players will try to do a spine crawler/mutalisk mix just to be different, because by doing something different he can have clear edges. If both of them are making roaches and hydras it can often become very difficult to sit through that extremely similar environment.
Morrow was saying that not a lot of top Zerg players like it, though. It’s less that there’s huge similarities, but just very few players enjoy playing it out, and as result it’s hard for him to get good practice partners. He has a number of practice partners in the other match-ups, and at the same time he also said that it’s very hard to get a good win rate in the match up for him because there’s this extremely thin micro situations that happen in the early game with zergling and banelings that can make it feel very volatile.
But at the same time there are players who have discovered incredible ways to be able to control those units properly seemingly every time. They don’t shy away from the similarity, they just say, “Okay we are doing the same thing, well I am going to do it better.” You know, players like Sen who can do that good stuff. Even though Morrow ‒ I think he’s absolutely capable of being one of the best Zerg vs Zerg, he just said that for his own enjoyment he just wanted to play Terran vs Zerg.
The thing that struck me most when I had that conversation is that he touched briefly on how the match-up functioned itself and then just said, “But I really like Terran vs Zerg. All the match-ups feel so fun right now, I can just practice it for days. I love playing Terran vs Zerg and Zerg vs Terran and Zerg vs Protoss.”
EB: Did he actually practice that? Or was it just for that match?
Sean Plott: Oh yeah! Morrow is a beast when it comes to playing long hours. That’s one of the reasons why Morrow is one of the top Europeans, it’s that he’s a training machine and he’s not scared to be a thinking player. A lot of times people will think up of a strategy but then say, “No, no, no, I should do the ‘standard stuff’.” Morrow drills out his own strategies. It’s absolute brilliance. I have huge, massive respect for Morrow because he decided he wanted to play Terran. That’s a weird, I guess you could say, strategy to do, to just say, “You know what? I am just going to play this other ways entirely.” And then he just hardcore plays it for a month and in a lot of tournaments you see that Morrow is one of the strongest Terran vs Zerg players out there.
EB: I remember that, yeah. Let’s talk about the winners a little. Do you have any comments about the best-of-seven match between PuMa and MC?
Sean Plott: Ohhh MC! Oh gosh, that just wounds my heart in that last game ‒ just like a couple of decisions that could have switched it back the other way. But I mean honestly, one of the answers I always give whenever someone says, “Who’s your favorite player?” Almost always my answer is, “Well I don’t really have favorite players.” I just like watching players win. I just like seeing good strategies and action. So that’s my honest favorite thing, it’s seeing the best of the best doing really really cool things in the game.
In that match? Holy cow did that deliver! I could not believe how much PuMa seemed to be riding along the razor’s edge in those matches. He had this army that could do so much damage but if he mis-controlled it once he would lose everything, but he just never seemed to. And MC’s incredible ability to always hold on no matter what. I just couldn’t believe that the game went all the way to 7th series. Erm, the series went all the way to 7th game. That was just so fun to watch.
EB: It was epic. It really was. I mean, PuMa deserved that win, I was rooting for MC, but PuMa definitely deserved that win, I think.
Sean Plott: Yeah I think he was the best player in the tournament.
EB: Yeah, he was. Now NASL received a lot of positive responses, but also criticism. So if you were the producer, what would you have changed?
Sean Plott: Honestly (laughs) the thing that I said to the NASL folks, like in Day 1 when there were some technical difficulties is, “It wouldn’t be a tournament without something going catastrophically wrong.” That’s just the way of the tournament. There’s almost no ‒ I don’t think I have ever been to a tournament where something really weird hasn’t happened.
Sometimes the spectators don’t actually get to see what the struggle was but sometimes there’s a player who is from another country who might have messed up on the time zone change, so he’s just nowhere to be found. So we are sitting there riffing and can’t find the player. This has happened in tournaments before.
For NASL I feel like things went a little bumpy at the start because of the standard tournament problems like, for instance, the doors were supposed to open at 10 am. 10 am on Friday it was gonna begin. And I think it was at like 9:48 that all the projectors just broke. They tested it and it looked incredible, I showed up early and there’s just this giant HD images on the screens, I am like, “Yeah, this is going to be awesome” and then just bsssh ‒ turn off. And everyone’s like, “Weeell… let’s get more projectors in” so they are just spamming as fast as they could, to try to get these set up. I think NASL has a good grip on it, I think they are going to get a couple more people next time just to make sure that it can be a little less frantic. ‘Cause stuff is just gonna go wrong, and I think it’s important to just be like, “Well, you know, it’s gone wrong, whatever. It’ll be fine.” ‘Cause you’ll know that in day 1 everyone was ready to get out their pitchfork, “Oh my God, NASL! Rawrgh, I am going to sue them to get my money back!” and then like 36 hours later it’s just like, “NASL is the best tournament ever! Oh my God! Where do I donate?”
EB: I think it was epic. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of the NASL, I thought it was great finals. Now I got a couple of more questions about you before we end this. You did mention the DayDaily earlier, to help us NOODs ‒ N, double O, D ‒ become better players. (Watch DayDaily #293 to know what I’m talking about!)
Sean Plott: Yes.
EB: Is there anything else you would like to add? What exactly do you do… we mentioned the Funday Monday…
Sean Plott: (laughs) Yeah. The DayDaily began like a sort of personal thing that I just thought would be kind of fun to do, because there really were not that many people who were doing any sort of high level analysis. There were people who played a lot, who were lower league players, in Brood War who would be giving some feedback. In a lot of sense it was this sort of flawed, comments of inexperience and stuff. And none of the people who played competitively were actually sitting down and elucidating. So that was also a big motivator.
Something that I always just sort of held to be really important is just how so much fun playing games competitively can really be. And I mean less about the winning ‒ actually very little about the winning. But more about how fun it is to just to do problem solving, how fun it is to have something go wrong and try to think, “How do I fix it?” And when you find a solution and you win it’s only your fault. It’s not like the math test where you don’t really understand what the heck is going on but the teacher just said, “Look that’s what’s going to be on the math test.” And you’re like, “Okay.” And then you studied it and wrote down the process and got an A, and then it leaped all out of your brain, and then it turns out everyone else got an A too. Just not objective measure if you are actually getting what’s going on.
But in competitive gaming it’s only ever your fault, if you win. It’s not from any other circumstance. I just love that so much in terms of the reward. And also it’s this really fun social experience; I’ve met so many people and interacted with so many people. I still remember when I had a Brazilian friend and a Russian friend. And none of us spoke each other’s language but we’d still play for hours together, because we could communicate through this game. I always found that to be very important.
The last thing that I need to add in before I talk about Daily (laughs) is that for a lot of reasons many just view games as an inherently difficult thing. Which in my eyes I guess it makes sense, because if you look at a modern day controller ‒ if you never played games and just look at a controller, there’s so many buttons, there’s like 3 directional pads. It’s this “impossible to step into” sort of thing. and it’s kind of funny you’ll note that language that’s used: casual game, casual games like PopCap or Zynga makes ‒ it honestly makes no sense to use the word “casual” game. A game is just an interactive fun thing. But they’ve introduced an entire genre to explicitly let people know, “You shouldn’t be intimidated by this” because that’s how scary a lot of modern games can feel to people.
So all the fun I’ve had, and all the seeming difficulty that people had entering into the games ‒ I feel like one of my driving goals with the daily is to make competitive gaming more accessible. To have some sort of step-in, some sort of lead-in, because regardless of whatever content I am pushing out, a lot of people just pick up on the fact that I am having a lot of fun talking about it.
There’s the explicit fun content, like the Funday Monday, which is where I put out a ridiculous constraint for people to play under. Like for instance a couple of weeks ago it was, “Play without using your keyboard. Do your mouse only, play one-handed.” And people were having these ridiculous problems, but then all of a sudden it would force them to try to be creative under these constraints that they were put into. And there’s a lot of fun that can be had, but interestingly a lot of learning.
At the same time there are the other shows that are hardcore in-depth analysis, which will help a lot of Master League players really step their game up or really trying to help people get into those Master Leagues. And even for the people who are lower level it can help them watch a pro match and appreciate more the intensity and the difficulty of the situation the pros will find themselves in.
Then there’s even things like Newbie Tuesday someone who doesn’t really play that much, maybe plays 3v3s with friends and wants to step into 1v1 that they can have some sort of starting point to.
All my content always has that goal: How do I get people to get more into this and, most importantly, to have more fun with this. I really firmly believe that someday, hopefully in the near future that eSports will be something that everyone will be talking about, and everyone will want to step into. And it’s something that households will just have as a primary form of entertainment.
EB: I do have a little bit of criticism to make though.
Sean Plott: Lay it on me.
EB: I mean I love you man, but I am Protoss and you started… you started the Protoss week with a Zerg T-shirt.
Sean Plott: (laughs)
EB: What’s going on there?
Sean Plott: Oh, man, you know it’s so funny, for some reason I have live SIX Zerg T-shirts, and a Terran and a Protoss. I don’t know how this happened, ’cause it’s not even like 6 varieties of Zerg T-shirts, it’s literally 6 of the exact same outfit. A bunch of times, so honestly there was this one week where I was just like, “I am only wearing Zerg T-shirts” and I’d look like a cartoon character. I’d wake up and be having the exact same outfit all the time, I even tried to comb my hair the same. So I assure you that at least one day during the Protoss week, I will have my Protoss T-shirt on to represent the pride.
EB: Good. Now, I hear you love Sen?
Sean Plott: I simultaneously love and hate him we have a very tumultuous relationship.
EB: (Giggling) So anyway if you people don’t know what we are talking about, please go watch the Funday Monday #322, right? I got that right?
Sean Plott: That is correct. I recorded that one last evening. Yeah!
EB: Any replay, especially a Newbie Tuesday replay that was submitted to you, that made you really go, “What is this guy doing? I can’t believe what I am seeing with my eyes.”
Sean Plott: That has only ever happened in a positive way. Someone asked me earlier, “I wanna start playing StarCraft but I don’t know what I should do”, and all this stuff and I remember I started going through my usual Day and said, “Okay look, you wanna make sure you have a game plan, bla bla bla” and one of my room-mates just came up and said, “Look. The game’s designed to be fun. Just mess around and have fun. After a while you’ll just figure out what kind of works and what doesn’t, and then you can start thinking about your strategies. First thing is to just make sure you have fun.” And I was kind of like, “Ooh. Yeah, that’s actually a lot better of a point.” And since that time I had a pretty dramatic opinion shift, in terms of how to step in.
When you watch a lot of the newer players play, you see a lot of that come in. There’s all of the problems like, you might not be playing quick enough, you might be making some of the wrong units, but you can clearly see this theme of, “Oh! This unit is awesome! I am going to make 50 of them!” Especially the Thor, I think it’s a popular unit to, “Oh I am going to mass that thing to ‒
EB: Void Rays!
Sean Plott: Oh my God! Void Rays, the most massed unit in the game!
I honestly think that’s the correct way to go about it for an intro to the game, but interestingly there’s just so often ‒ a player will do something that I’ll kind of go, “Oh-huh? Why-I never seen anything like that.” And I’ll think about it and be like, “If you actually refine that a little bit, that would be quite strong.” I’ve actually had some cool strategies pop out from weird goofy things that have been performed by players that are honestly not very experienced at all, actually doing things in a fundamentally off-fashion but it’s definitely cool to learn that way. I honestly make myself regularly tune into some of the non-featured streams on Team Liquid, the people who have maybe 10 people viewing. There will be some sort of Gold League player, ‘cause it’s just incredible the amount of ways that you can pull this game off and still be successful.
EB: True. Now let’s talk a little bit about your latest project, the After Hours Gaming League.
Sean Plott: Yeah!
EB: So what is that about? Tell us.
Sean Plott: The After Hours Gaming League is a StarCraft 2 team league that doesn’t have the best StarCraft 2 teams in it, with all the pros in it. Instead the teams are 8 top tech companies that are Amazon, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Yelp and Zynga.
EB: Did you have that written somewhere or did you remember them all?
Sean Plott: I did it off the bat, I did that so many times, I am pretty sure I did that in alphabetical order. Sometimes I mix Microsoft, Facebook and Google, those get swapped around, but I always remember the Amazon-Dropbox opening and the Twitter-Yelp-Zynga finish.
But the goal was to present StarCraft 2 in a way as… as being a legitimate, fun activity that is performed by what a real gamer is, which is a smart, successful professional, instead of this completely farcical view that’s portrayed in a lot of media. Which is this sort of sweaty man in a basement who’s never talked to anyone ever, you know. It’s a chance for people to see that there’s a lot of fun to be had and a lot of fun team work and a lot of morale building that can happen in the game.
‘Cause I love the idea that there’s this 12 year old who plays a lot of video games, and his mom doesn’t quite get it, but he can say, “Look mom, look. You know how you shop on Amazon, well, all the people who made Amazon happen are playing in this league. And you know how you take breaks at work and play Barn, well the Zynga people are in this league. And Google that you use every 20 minutes whenever you have a question and you wanna Google it ‒ they are playing in this league too.” And it’s a chance to legitimize and to provide an entry point for a lot of people who are maybe unfamiliar with it, because there are so many amazing, amazing tournaments out there for the gaming crowd. Tournaments like NASL, or MLG or GSL.
EB: Dreamhack as well.
Sean Plott: Yeah! Yeah ‒ there are these amazing spectator events and I want to do something that would be another ‒ that would complement those, that would allow people to step in and just say, “Hey this is pretty fun! Seeing this team stuff.” And then someone to go, “Man you think these players are good? Watch Sen vs MC. Look at how good those players are.” Check out the NASL semifinals or the NASL finals, those were incredible games.
Thus fur it’s been a huge, huge ‒ it’s been a bucket o’ fun.
EB: That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Sean Plott: Yeah! Yeah ‒ It’s kind of funny because all these people have all these representations in their heads of what these companies are like, ’cause when you hear “Google” you just think about this ambiguous mass force that’s on the internet and it’s just sort of doing things. And then when you actually sit down with the Google people they’re just all friendly and goofy and fun and they like games. Everyone from all the teams has been in conference calls with each other, you know, laughing and joking and in fact a lot of the contact and outreach to grab new people to bring them in was done cross company. Facebook was like, “Oh my we got some friends at Google that heard that we did an event at Facebook and they kinda wanna do a thing, can I go talk to ’em?” I said, “That’d be great!” You know and that was how the league got started. The teams are friendly within themselves, but also to each other and it’s just a fun experience to show that this game is a great, great way to have fun to just engage in an intellectual activity that is at the same time fast-paced and tense. Yeah!
EB: Yeah, because you do need to have some brain to play this game. So, you cast, you host tournaments, you do your dailies. How about pro-gaming, any plans for pro-gaming?
Sean Plott: I wanna start playing more, and honestly a big personal push for me is to just do some schedule rearranging to try to give me the chance to play more, ’cause honestly I just really really want to. Whether I enter in any tournament or not and play it, I am always satisfied with the opportunity to learn and improve. That’s always my favorite. Again I still have the goal that if I did improve and I did play well I think it would be really fun to take the chance to say, “Hey here’s a show match I played, a best of 5 against some good player. Let’s analyze it. Now that it’s been played.” And I can tell you after the fact what I was thinking at every point in time.
EB: (joking) what do you mean AFTER? Can’t you just play and cast it at the same time? I guess not, huh.
Sean Plott: Oh, not in a million years, I actually can’t even talk, I can’t even read. If somebody messages me in the game it actually does not register. I have successfully learned how to block that out and stay focused on the match because there’s so many things going on in the game at once that I don’t want anything else clouding that out.
A lot of people tend to think that the game is largely about hand-speed, it’s actually more about brain-speed, where there’s tons of stuff going on at the same time. And you have to not only remember a lot of it constantly, go through like a mental checklist as I call it. Just constantly re-review, re-review, re-review, am I doing everything I need to do, am I doing everything I need to do. But then all the variance comes in like, “Oh I spotted those couple of units.” Now I have this new task that I need to accomplish, while also keeping in mind everything that’s in my mental checklist, and how do I order all of that. There’s a lot of, you know, inner battle. Do I control my units to be a little stronger or do I go back to my base, and continue to build things, and continue to start upgrades, so that way when my army dies I’ll have another bigger army ready to go out and fight. So there’s tons of little micro decisions that you try to constantly rearrange, rearrange, and if you can keep it all in your head you’ll naturally start playing much, much, much faster, ’cause your whole body is frantically trying to accomplish everything that’s sort of floating around in there.
So… so wow I guess that’s my long tangent to say, yeah I am really bad at talking in games. In fact it’s kind of funny when I start talking in games, I mess up really badly. Like I will forget to build any units kind-of-badly, because I need that focus. Other players might be able to, but I certainly can’t.
EB: Well I know ‒ well I am not exactly a diamond player but I have a bit of a problem with hands myself. As in I might think to do something but my hands can’t catch up with it. I get that a lot. It’s a bit the other way around as well for me. Well, we are reaching the end of the interview, but before we finish, 2 things: First of all, how can people follow you on the net?
Sean Plott: Yeah, you should check out my new website day9.tv that has a searchable list of all the videos that I’ve done.
Also check out the After Hours Gaming League at ahgl.tv or afterhoursgaming.tv. And now that I say that I wanna (typing) ‒ ahgl.tv ‒ I am pretty sure that goes through. Yes, ahgl.tv.
And… yeah! Follow me on twitter, twitter.com/day9tv.
And that should be about it. I would most of all love it if you started playing StarCraft 2 and tell all your friends what wonderful and fun it is.
EB: Anyone you want to give a shoutout to or thanks before we end this?
Sean Plott: I’d like to give a shoutout to everyone that helps making Daytv possible. All the fine crew, because it’s amazing how incredibly consistent and reliable everyone is. They just always… always hit the marks. So huge shoutout to them, ’cause even though I am the public one that people see, Daytv would be absolutely nothing without their amazing help.
EB: Well, thanks to you for doing the Daily and once again thanks for coming along. See you at your next Daily!
Sean Plott: Cheers!