The world of competitive gaming known as eSports is still in its infancy and has a ton of room to grow. Its popularity is climbing every year with seemingly larger production budgets, being held in arenas that seat thousands of people. A big component in creating such an excited and dedicated environment are the casters; they not only help hype people up for the event but also inform those who are watching.
At this year’s Heroes of the Dorm tournament, DualShockers spoke to one of the casters of the event, Albert “Halorin” Haily III, to discuss his personal journey on becoming a caster, his dream opportunity, and his prediction for the winner of Blizzard’s collegiate eSports tournament.
Michael: What drew you to Heroes or the Dorm more than anything else you may have casted for?
Albert Hailey III: Heroes of the Dorm is unique. In the HGC (Heroes Global Championship), they have that competitive mindset; they want to play at the highest level and for the prize pool. In Heroes of the Dorm, they are people who just love the game while they are also going to college.
Anyone can empathize with getting a higher degree of education. The concept of playing a game and getting my tuition paid for makes it easy to empathize with all the teams. It also makes it that much more compelling because you’re like, “I like the story of this team. I want to see this team succeed; they’re really cool people,” and you want to get behind them and root for them.
I feel that way with for all four of these teams. It’ll be heartbreaking to see three teams not win but I’ll be happy to see one of them actually become heroes of the dorm. It’s very easy to find protagonists in this tournament.
M: How did you get into casting? It seems like getting a job as a caster is a mystery.
AHIII: (laughs) It is still a mystery to me too. I started casting in January 2016. There’s a community effort called Chair League which is like Saturday night bowling. It’s for recreation; you do put a team together and there are standings but it’s for fun. They were looking for casters. I emailed the person who started it and said, “Hey, do you need another caster?” He was like, “Yeah, what experience do you have?” I had none but I just thought it would be cool!
They gave me a chance and let me cast a game and I was like, “Alright, thanks!” He emailed me next week and asked, “Hey, would you like to cast this game too?” I’m like, “Sure,” and he would give me a game to cast. Then, over time, another person reached out, “Hey, do you want to cast this, you want to cast that?” Sure! It just snowballed from there.
M: What was the journey like coming to something big like Heroes of the Dorm?
AHIII: Blizzard had contacted me last year about being a caster for Heroes of the Dorm and that was a dream come true. I like to think they were happy enough with my performance last year to invite me out this year (laughs). I, very much, hope to be invited to do more things; I would love to. At this point, casting is in my DNA now. I got into it for personal reasons and now I can see an avenue where I potentially could see this more as an ongoing profession.
M: If you don’t mind me asking, what were those personal reasons?
AHIII: Growing up, I was a very quiet, introverted person; by nature, I am. I wanted to try to get past that because it wasn’t leading to the kind of happiness in life that I wanted. I decided to try to use casting as an avenue to find a more honest expression of myself. My goal in casting is to be myself, crack myself up, and have fun. So, if I make a joke that no one else laughs at but I think is hilarious and I’m having a good time, I went into it knowing I can fit into it. People can not like my talents but it would be okay. I would be fine with my own performance because I was myself.
M: That is super important too. I think that is something a lot of people struggle with. For myself, sometimes I may do things that I feel disheartened by. But when I am happier with something I do and I personally think it’s fine — even when others don’t — that is something I can totally agree with.
AHIII: Yeah, it is very much that principle. Thankfully, people have enjoyed my casting. It has led to other opportunities and snowballed into where I’m at now. I feel extremely lucky to have gotten the opportunities that I have. It’s just me trying to be me.
M: What is the dream opportunity for you?
AHIII: I would love to be able to cast at a professional level where that could be my career. Right now, I’m an IT guy; I’m a systems engineer and my job is really cool. They let me work remotely while I was doing [Heroes of the] Dorm. That was an experience because they all know what I’m doing but, conceptually, I’m on vacation, I’m not there. No, I’m working two full-time jobs. I didn’t really have much free time to really do anything. I just love what I’m doing here.
There will be a situation where that crossroad happens and if I want to continue to do this, this is my job. That would be the dream. For Heroes [of the Dorm], that’s HGC.
M: So, the “dream” for you is doing this as a career rather than casting for a specific game?
AHIII: I haven’t really put too much thought into which games to cast. I am aware that if I do want to pursue casting professionally, I’ll probably have to look at other games. There hasn’t been anything static like wanting to do BlizzCon; I would love to do BlizzCon but it’s not like once I do that, my dream is complete. I just want to continue to explore it and see where it goes. Just being here in this world and being myself, that is the dream to me.
M: How do you prepare for something like Heroes of the Dorm where you always need to be in the know all the time?
AHIII: The analytical side is very integral and important to being a caster. For me personally, it’s the human side of things that really draws me and inspires me to do the best job I can.
For example, the semi-finals match: Laval vs. Kentucky. Laval, they love the concept of eSports but Laval as a school have yet to embrace it. They’re trying to be that lightning rod that says, “This is a thing. This is something that a lot of students have the passion for.” They want to be a spark to a legacy. Not only that, they are representing an entire country. Interviewing them yesterday, they said something like every Canadian team has reached out to them and congratulating them.
On the other side with Kentucky, RogerThat — one of the players — has a six-month-old. Winning this — taking the burden of college tuition off your shoulders at that point in your life — would be incredible.
Not only that, they are just likable people; you can empathize with them. I just channel that and I respect the effort they put in enough that I want to make sure I’m doing a good job.
M: Who do you think is going to win tomorrow?
AHIII: I think Kentucky is going to win it.
Obviously, Halorin’s prediction didn’t come to be. Kentucky was defeated by Laval in a 3-0 sweep in the semi-finals of the 2018 Heroes of the Dorm National Championship. The French Canadian team went up against Buffalo in the Grand Finals where they also swept the opposition becoming the first Canadian school to become champions of Blizzard’s collegiate eSports tournament for Heroes of the Storm.
If you want to check out all of our coverage from this year’s Heroes of the Dorm, you can check out our wrap-up of the tournament and some pictures we took of the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles.