Zepph is a SC2 caster from Sidney, Australia. She is well-known in the SEA scene has one of the main caster for WCS, along with her co-caster, Maynarde. Zepph has been in the StarCraft 2 scene for about 4 years now.
Sarah: First gaming-related memory?
Zepph: My first gaming-related memory would have been playing Runescape when I was about 13. I wasn’t allowed any sort of handheld consoles or anything of the sort, like Xbox or PlayStation. So I had a laptop and I played Runescape a LOT on that and my mom would get mad at me about it. So yeah, that was the first one. (laughs)
S: Favourite game as a kid?
Z: As a kid, my favourite game would have been between Sonic the Hedgehog or Super Mario Brothers on Game Boy Color.
S: Mario is a classic choice. I feel like it’s a lot of people’s favourite game when they were kids.
Z: It is! I could only ever play it when I borrowed my friend’s Game Boy. It’s got a special place in my heart. I just bought the new Super Mario Brothers 2 for the plane ride over and it’s so much fun! It never gets old. (laughs)
S: Do you have a favourite recent game?
Z: My favourite recent game is definitely StarCraft. Always will be. Specifically, StarCraft 2, I didn’t play Brood War. So yeah, StarCraft 2, number one, always.
S: How did you get involved in gaming?
Z: I was always interested in video games, because I was never allowed to have them. Then I got a laptop one day and I started playing WoW on it, because I saw that a lot of people had started playing it. I had a few friends that said it was a cool game. So I picked that up and I got SUPER addicted to it. I played that for about 3 years, religiously. I just didn’t have a social life. And from there, I kind of stemmed out to the other Blizzard titles; I played Diablo, I played StarCraft 2. And the slowly I started to try a little bit of consoles and whatnot as well.
S: How did you discover eSports?
Z: I discovered eSports through StarCraft 2, because when I first started playing it, I knew there was a lot of hype around the beta. Then I had a couple of friends who started watching GSL (Global StarCraft II League) on the old GOMTV player, so we’d just have nights where we would just sit there and watch it all together whenever it was on. That was kind of my first introduction to eSports. Then I started to get involved in the local scene as well. It was very, very small at that time, maybe ten players at a LAN, but overtime, it really started to pick up and then we had our own sort of eSport scene. So yeah, it really all came from StarCraft 2!
S: And then you became a caster through that? What was the path for that?
Z: So back in the day, there were 2 casters for the SEA (South East Asia) region, or two main casters that kind of did most of the events; Benji and Xeen. Benji was Australian and Xeen was an American living in Singapore, and because they were a duo, eventually, Zane had to move back home for school, so Benji didn’t have a co-caster. I was just joking around one day, saying: “Don’t worry, man, I’ll fill in.” And I totally wasn’t serious, because I have a fear of public speaking, of all things. Now I don’t shut up, clearly! (laughs) But he actually offered me to do a cast one day and it was huge amounts of fun, and then he just kept inviting me back to do the local events, local LANs, we just did everything we could get our hands on. We started doing things like the Taiwan Clan League, a lot of Chinese cast; we would do the English stream. Pretty much anything in South East Asia that came our way. So yeah, it all went from there!
S: The scene has been evolving rapidly in the last few years. How do you feel about it?
Z: I think it’s great! It’s getting the attention in mainstream media, I mean, we’re on TV and stuff now. It’s becoming more of a known, and in some ways, accepted thing, for lack of a better term. That can only mean bigger and better prize pools for eSports in general, better venues, better quality events. I know because I’m seeing stuff like the NVIDIA party last night, Deadmau5 was playing at that, just randomly! But yeah, I think it’s fantastic, it draws more people in, which means it’s going to be even better competition in the future as well, as we get the new young blood in. A lot of people, once they hit the mid 20s, they start to move on, so we’re constantly refreshing up eSports’ population now. I think it’s great.
S: What do you love/hate about the eSports industry?
Z: I love the community, everyone is super friendly, super chill. Everyone’s happy to help each other out; if you need a VGA cable for your PC down at the BYOC LAN, someone will have one for you. Everyone is here to have a good time, it’s a really relaxed environment, you can walk up to any of the eSports’ personalities and players and they’re happy to talk to you and take pictures, sign stuff. I think that’s really cool. It’s something you don’t get in traditional sports, because they’re big superstars; you can’t really approach them, they have bodyguards and such. So I think that’s something special, it’s something that’s built on the passion for a hobby, basically. So I think it’s really cool.
In terms of things I don’t like about it, there’s not much other than the fact that I think we need more in Australia! (laughs) Because it’s so far to travel! But yeah, I can’t think of anything that I really dislike about the eSports community at the moment.
S: Any game that is a guilty pleasure?
Z: You know what? I don’t think so. I just don’t play that many games, so I can’t really think of one that I would feel guilty about. If I think of something, I’ll let you know! I don’t think I have a guilty pleasure game. (laughs)
S: Any stream/streamer that is a guilty pleasure?
Z: Stream or streamer…? Uhm… Destiny’s drama streams. I hate them, but I can’t NOT watch them! (laughs) They’re fantastic. eSports drama gets so old, but you get roped into it, because it’s just funny. It’s like animal throwing crap at each other in a zoo; you can’t help but watch because it’s so entertaining.
S: How many events like this have you been to?
Z: This is my first big, sort of, premier event. I’ve done smaller eSports events in the Australian circuit, but nothing like this.
S: Is this your first DH too?
Z: Yeah, exactly.
S: How do you like it so far?
Z: It’s so good! There are so many people; it’s like what we have at home, but on a much larger scale. We don’t have that many people and there’s a lot less gaming titles there as well. This is just huge! The traffic is awful to get here, there’s people everywhere, games that I’ve never even heard of, like Pokken; that actually looks very fun, I kind of want to try that. But yeah, it’s very different to what I’m used to, but it’s great, there’s just so much going on, I’m a little bit flustered sometimes, looking around and going: “Where do I go next, who do I talk to next?”
S: What do you look forward to the most for this event?
Z: I just really like watching StarCraft 2. I’m looking forward to the finals. I just really like that sort of energy, the crowd in the finals, where everyone loses their mind over the tiniest little things, like when a drone dies or something. I just love this sort of buzzing excitement from that. So yeah, definitely watching the competitive SC2.
S: Your best memory of gaming/eSports?
Z: My best memory would have to be my first year of doing WCS (World Championship Series for StarCraft 2) casts for the SEA region, because it was in a studio, our first studio, really. We didn’t really have any sort of studio work before that, now we have a fully fledged ESL studio working. But definitely being able to do the WCS for our region. That was a huge honour as well, to be able to do something like that. I mean, it’s the World Championship, it’s global and to have our players representing (our region) overseas as well, was really special for us, being isolated for so long. So yes, definitely my first couple of WCS cast in studio, never going to forget that!
S: It’s true that you guys in Australia don’t get as much.
Z: Yeah, I mean, it’s gotten a little better, but still. Since ESL’s come to town, we don’t have our national circuit that was ACL before. So it’s kind of quieted down since WCS 2012 when we had Tastosis come over. It was like: “We’re blowing up!” and we kind of quieted down since then, because a lot of players retired. It was like: “Oh no! Did we not make a good impression?!” (laughs) But no, it’s certainly on the rise, that’s for sure.
S: Other hobbies/passion not related to gaming?
Z: Yeah, I’m really into music. I’m actually just picking up my third instrument; I play guitar and piano. I just got a cello and it sounds awful, so I’m hoping to conquer that soon, so I don’t drive my parents insane! (laughs) So yeah, music has always been my number one thing, it’s what I wanted to do when I was in high school and stuff. I go to shows all the time, I’m very invested in the music scene as well.
S: Final words?
Zepph: Thank you, for your time.
S: Thank you for YOUR time. I’m the one who should be thanking you here!
Ze: No, no, this is cool. It’s really weird being interviewed, it’s kind of like: “Well, if someone wants to know what I have to say…?” It’s very strange, very strange.
But this has been great. I’ve been having a good time here. So yeah, thanks!
You can follow Zepph on Twitter: @zepphsc2