Navneet Randhawa is the Assignment Editor at theScore eSports. She’s been in the eSports scene, more specifically SC2 for the last few years.
Sarah Gaulin: First gaming-related memory?
N: My brother used to play Legend of Zelda. He’s two years older than me, so I was five and he was seven, so he would wake me up to watch him play. So I’ve always been a viewer, right? And because it’s a one-person game, only he could play, obviously. (laughs) And then when we started getting two-player games we started playing together, so any game my brother played, I played with him. And then our sister, when she was old enough, she played with us also. So all of our memories are with the N64; the kid family console.
S: Favourite game as a kid?
N: Uhm… When you say kid, what age are you talking about?
S: You can go until you became a teenager?
N: Ok, so I played World of Warcraft when I was like twelve. So that game I played since the beta. So I started off as Alliance, then I became Horde, but it was another game that my brother and I played and bonded over, so that was like the game we played the longest. We played Warcraft before that, but he was always better than me at RTS, so WoW is a different beast, right? It’s an RPG game, so he can do his Molten Core raid and things like that, while I’m just chilling and scavenging, things like that. (laughs)
S: Easier than an RTS.
N: Yeah. I can do the instances and he can do the hardcore instances. But eventually, he would have karate on raid nights, so I had to learn all of the Molten Core bosses to play on his Shaman. Which was really funny, because only a few people would know that I was doing it, and they would just be like: “Why are you so quiet on Ventrilo now, Haneet?” And I’d be like, uhm my mic is broken! (laughs) So that was a lot of fun. We reminisce about that from time to time as well.
S: Favourite recent game?
N: I have played Overwatch a few times and I like it. I think it’s a lot more fun when you play with people you know. So like, we played with a group of our coworkers and it was so much more fun. And the next day you make fun of each other. So that’s one I really like, I just need to play more though. I just finished playing Undertale, and it was a really interesting game! The story was not what I was expecting and the gameplay was not what I was expecting either. So that was fun. I’m actually playing it again right now.
S: How did you get involved in gaming?
N: Every game my brother played, I was right behind him.
S: Yeah, it’s a family thing for a lot of people. So, how did you discover eSports?
N: My brother, actually! (laughs) He’d be watching SC2 matches here and there. We had SC2 in beta, so I was playing it to play the game, and he’d be playing it to play the game as well, but then he would also watch it. I didn’t really understand that at first, so for me, that was his thing. And then eventually, I think he put it up on the TV one day, and I just started to co-view it with him and then it became a new thing. So that’s when I started watching it, so I think that was about 2012, summer, about there.
S: How did you get involved in eSports?
N: So in my fourth year (of university), I wrote papers about eSports. That was me, just writing it for school. I didn’t get involved with the actual scene or writing for the actual scene until 2014, and that’s because MMA tweeted that Acer was looking for writers. So I applied and I ended up getting the gig. Then that has just been the endless gateway into the whole thing. But I didn’t really know a the time how to transfer my academic writing into eSports, but eventually, I figured it out.
S: The scene has been evolving rapidly in the last few years. How do you feel about it?
N: I think it’s really great. So, with theScore eSports, we’re one of the first to do a mobile approach to it. So it’s been like a year and five months at this point, so we’re a leader in the industry, I would say. So we’ve seen it grow, even from when my boss started a month before me, there were three of them and then it became seven and now it’s just constantly growing. So, with just even our company, we’ve seen the progress of growth and then you look at the scene, so we were the first traditional sports company to fully take a huge step into the eSports world. And then, a year and two months of us doing that, ESPN takes a step in, and then shortly after, Yahoo steps in. And then now, you see Budlight making announcements. So we have kind of a head-start on it.
S: What do you love/hate about the eSports industry?
N: So, SC2 is like a community, right? So the community is what made eSports and it’s really interesting to see how we went from like LANs, just people chilling with their friends, to these big huge events. And that’s just really cool. Now you have DreamHack expanding to North America, having an event here and then in Montreal in August. The one thing I hate is that nobody seems to have press kits at the ready, or player headshots! (laughs) So I really hope 2016 brings press kits and player headshots at the ready, so we can just be like: “Yo, team X, can I get that press kit from you?” And they’d be like: “Yeah, here you go.” That professionalism is slowly coming to the scene and some of them (the teams) are ahead of the curve, like Astralis – they have it right on their website, you don’t even need to contact them, you just download it right there. Props to them! (laughs)
S: Any game that is a guilty pleasure?
N: Since I started to get involved in eSports, my writing went up and my gaming went down. I do enjoy playing Smash with my siblings whenever we have a chance, but they always end up kicking my butt anyway, so it’s kinda discouraging. But it’s a lot of fun, because you have that sibling rivalry that just gets put on the forefront and there will be shoving, at times! No one has tossed a controller at me in years, but it’s something that used to be a thing. It’s a lot of fun (lauhgs)
S: Any stream/streamer that is a guilty pleasure?
N: Not really. I used to watch Rotterdam stream a lot when he was constantly streaming, I think it was early 2015, so that was one I really kept up with. As of recent, I just watch any tournament that’s on. In our workspace, we have about ten televisions, so there’s always a different stream that’s up, but it’s typically streams like ESL Pro League, so that’s always exciting to watch. We just kind of watch those. But specific streamer, not so much at this current point in time.
S: How many events like this have you been to?
N: I actually have a list on my phone. (laughs) I was writing it down one day, because I was wondering myself. Let me see if it’s in here. Or it might be on my computer… So you mean the bigger events, not so much the minor or local ones, right? I have it! So here we go: WCS, IEM, Blizzcon… I’m gonna say, ten to twelve. So that spans across 2013 to 2016 though.
S: Is this your first DH?
N: No, I went to DreamHack Summer last year. It was pretty awesome. It’s a much bigger venue than this one here, so it’s like, them (DreamHack) testing the waters this year in North America, so it’s a scaled-size of it. But DreamHack Summer, there are so many different parts to it, like there’s an exposition for like start-ups, which is really neat to see. That’s like, its own thing in its way. So people might just come just for that to that DreamHack, they might not even be there for eSports. Over here, everyone is here for either cosplay or an eSport, or just checking it out, but at the end of the day, it’s mainly for the eSports. So yeah, Summer has that many more things than this event does. It’s still a fun event, it’s pretty relaxed, and Austin is a cool city!
S: What do/did you look forward to the most for this event?
N: I’m going to say, seeing my friends. They have the final say in me coming here and convincing me to come. But also, seeing SC2, it’s always fun. I always go to every SC2 even that I can go to. So this being here at DreamHack is a two-for-one deal. Also, just hanging out and checking out Austin. It’s always fun to go to an eSports event, because it’s always typically in a different area, in a different city, so it’s fun to check out new places.
S: Your best memory of gaming/eSports?
N: Let’s go with gaming. So my brother and I were playing SC2, not having played it in a really long time, and I used to play Terran, he switched me to Protoss. So I was playing Protoss in this match-up and he was playing Terran. Never in my life have I ever beaten him. We were playing a best of three and I took game one off of him, but because he knows me and my strats, actually he made my strats, he knew which one I was playing, so he’s like: “Nav, I’m sorry but game two is mine because you’re predictable.” So he ended up taking it, but that was like my desktop background for forever, because I took a screenshot of the loading screen, the one where I won! (laughs) And he’s always like, but that was a best of three and I’m like nope, nope, nope, not listening to you!
eSports memory… I wasn’t at the RedBull BattleGrounds New York, I’m pretty sure it was New York. But it was Scarlett versus Bomber, and it was the baneling ramp, and the game was definitely Bomber’s, but he had his units over this ramp and Scarlett’s banelings were there and they just went: (squish sound). So it’s one of my favourite gifs as well, I use it regularly.
S: Other hobby/passion not related to gaming?
N: Definitely! When I was in high school and I guess actually grade school more, I painted a whole lot and I drew stuff. I had the creative artistic side. But when I started eSports stuff, I thought: “I could so be drawing something.” So it kinda took a backseat. So, watercolour is something that I really enjoy doing and then things like scrapbooking. I’m kind of an amateur photographer, so I like learning things about that. And video. It’s a lot of fun. I love storytelling and video allows you to tell a story. So when I was working for Acer, I did a summary video at IEM, Blizzcon 2014 and they were fun, because it’s an event summary, but it tells a story still. So those are fun. I have so many videos from last year that I still need to make. It’s difficult, I try to find the time for it and I’m doing a better at it. But with my job, it’s sometimes difficult. You might think it’s a job where you can leave work at work, but it’s not, because outside of work, eSports is still my life. So it just carries with me when I go home.
S: Final words?
N: If they have another DreamHack Austin, I highly encourage you to come check it out, even if it’s just for fun. I’ve had a good week and I hope everyone had a good one too!