Who is Kala? Good question… he’s Tempo Storm’s coach. He also does Community Coaching on Twitch every week where anyone can submit replays and tap into his depth of game knowledge. He also plays in a band called Kitsune. Oh yeah… he’s also casting HGC Open Division for North America! Today the spotlight is on him:
You’re a coach, streamer, and caster – What about each of those activities do you enjoy?
As a coach, I enjoy watching the individuals on my team as well as the team itself progress strategically and mechanically. Watching my team practice the same style of comp a few times over and seeing the drastic changes after going over our mistakes is such a fantastic feeling. I also love the standard setting that having a coach does to a team. I can challenge my players to be better, and in turn you see them challenge their teammates. It creates a culture and an atmosphere of competition and greatness that no other dynamic can achieve.
As a streamer, I enjoy giving back to my community. I love turning on my broadcast and interfacing with people who otherwise wouldn’t really have the opportunity to learn about me. Most of what I do in HotS is behind the scenes, so this puts a name to my face. It’s also amazing seeing the same people come into my stream asking questions, then watching them grow from the answers in different ways, whether that’s increasing their HL rank, or working elsewhere in the scene. My stream is a tool of empowerment for people looking to chase their dreams, and I really cherish it.
Casting is my opportunity to share the intimate team-based information that I’ve gained over the years of working with teams. I watch Heroes of the storm over 40 hours a week at a bare minimum, and I’ve been doing that for a very long time. The information I’ve gained from studying HotS that much comes out in my casting in the form of analysis, and to me it’s just another way of giving back to the community.
What got you into casting?
A friend of mine, actually – his name is Grizz. He’s not around in the scene anymore, but we were talking about ways he could potentially navigate the HotS scene and find some work for himself, and I suggested casting. I even offered to start up with him to give himself a partner. From there, I really found a love for it. After a short period of time, I was offered the HeroesHype Tempo Storm gig, and the rest is history!
For the aspiring caster, any advice you can offer?
Just try it! Nobody’s stopping you from grabbing a friend of yours and getting into a replay (previous HGC ones publicly available!) then giving it a shot. There’s a wealth of information out there about how to further yourself as a broadcaster, so if you really love it then you just need to be willing to put in the work to get better. After that, start networking. Use Twitter, upload content for the community, build a reputation. People will start to notice you. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.
As you’re casting Open Division teams, what sort of macro/micro gameplay are looking for in the teams that suggests they have potential to be a contender?
In terms of macro, it’s not even always the right calls that I’m looking for, but the speed of those calls that’s most important to me. To me, that shows that a team has a strong leadership foundation, because regardless of what the call is, everyone reacts quickly to it. Which leads to the micro observation – I mainly look at the cleanliness of execution to determine where a team is at on the micro level. To me, I don’t care if a Storm Bolt is missed or a Powerslide whiffs; those are things that the individual player is very well aware of and can put in the time to fix themselves. However, if the Storm Bolt lands, and the Verdant+Gravity Lapse doesn’t follow immediately? Then that’s a huge problem. The execution isn’t there, the synergy isn’t there.
What sort of advice, as a coach, can you give to OD-teams?
Watch your games back and find the consistencies where you fail. Focus on one thing at a time. Too many teams get overwhelmed with all of their problems that they instead start to blame the roster and animosity gets built up amongst them. Instead, you need to focus on the small things that you can change, 1 at a time, until the puzzle starts to get completed. These problems can exist anywhere mind you. It can be an individual player’s attitude, your rotations as a team, your drafting, execution etc. Find the problems, and get to work.
Also, find someone to do this for you. Having an objective 3rd party person work with you is the healthiest thing to have in a HotS team. DO NOT get a friend of the team to do this.
The pros have an established meta in HGC, what sort of differences do you notice between the HGC-meta and the compositions being run in Open Division?
So far, I’ve seen way more Cassia emphasis in the Open Division. I think this is mainly because teams don’t know how to play against her team-fighting prowess, but I definitely found it interesting. As far as the meta differences are concerned though, I don’t actually think it’s that much of a difference. Most of the power picks are quite similar, it’s just the way the arrive in the draft that’s a bit different. I’m talking about you, first pick Malfurion.
What do you love/hate about the amateur scene in Heroes of the Storm?
I love the drive that the players have to become the best. It’s unlike what you see in some HGC teams. If we’re talking historically, there have been some teams that are literally just in HGC for the paycheck, which to me is deplorable. The nice thing about that, is the fact that there WILL be people who will work harder than those players, and they will outshine them eventually. What do I hate? Maybe just some of the entitlement coming from players that have seen glory before. You would think that going from an HGC player to an Open Division player would instill humility in someone, but in some cases we tend to see the opposite.
What sort of change(s) would you like to see Blizzard implement to better support the Open Division/amateur scene?
I would absolutely LOVE to see the Crucible go to LAN. Open Division teams work their butts off to get to the top, and I believe they deserve to compete against the lower tier HGC teams in the most even circumstances you can imagine. Also, I would love for them to get the media treatment that teams get going to LAN, in addition to the ability to interface directly back into the Heroes community.
Who is your favorite hero and why?
Genji because I’m a weeb.
When it’s time to simply have fun, what sort of composition brings joy to your heart to play in Heroes of the Storm?
Anything with interactive synergies or anything with Abathur. With my friends, I love playing the classic ETC+Kael’thas+Malfurion combos, where you see direct fruits of your synergistic labor. As far as Abathur is concerned, I love playing him with my friends because I find it very relaxing. He’s a lot of fun for me.
Give me one hero you would like to see join the Nexus…
Professor Putricide would be really cool. I want a real Undead to be in the Nexus, not just Sylvanas (as much as I love her). Asides from him, maybe Maexxna or Broll Bearmantle.
Big thanks to Kala for taking the time to answer our questions! Be sure to catch both Kala and SolidJake commentating the explosive action in HGC NA Open Division at https://www.twitch.tv/blizzheroes!