Interview: Reviving the Community with Back2Warcraft
Hey guys! I'm working in a special article in Brazil about 15th anniversary of Warcraft 3. With that, I had the chance to interview our lovely Jannes "Neo" Jambalaya, one of the faces from Back2Warcraft broadcasts.
I'll post here our original conversation in English. Hope you guys enjoy his insights about the Warcraft 3 community today!
Forkxx: How did the idea behind Back2Warcraft come out?
Neo: We originate from a German community project called ESL-Radio. Back in 2007, Germany had a lot of casters covering WC3L, NGL, etc. So I and Remo started there as radio commentators and our other team members quickly became family.
When ESL stopped to feature Warcraft in their big tournament series, they tried to force us to cast Starcraft 2 which I hated at the time. Thankfully, videostreaming became a thing and we left ESL and just did our own thing at Twitch. One of the best decisions of my life.
We also help organizing tournaments together with a great team so close the gap between Asia and the Western scene, like GCS Western Qualifiers recently. There’s always new tasks and that’s why it’s still fun after all those years.
Forkxx: The community is waiting for a balance update, which is not out yet. What changes do you expect?
Neo: I have no idea what they’re going to do, but I think the game is well balanced. You still see changes in the meta game in 2017 and races that were bad in 2015 are now on top of the scene.
it’s pretty obvious that the Blademaster damage is very crazy on high levels. I’d flatten out the crits a bit, for example less damage but a higher crit chance. Or you nerf critical strike but buff the rest of the Orc army. It’s a problem that ~80% of Orc’s damage is one hero.
Apart from that, tanks are just annoying. It’s no fun to play and no fun to watch. So I expect a nerf there as well.
Something it’d like to see changed are drop tables. It’s unfair if you get a crystal ball and your opponent is rewarded with an aura.
Forkxx: We have a lot of hints that Blizzard is interested in a Remastered/HD edition of WC3 just like StarCraft. What kind of content and support will be good for the fans if this happens?
Neo: At first we should be happy that the current infrastructure gets reworked. We need better ping, better anti-cheat solutions and an updated mappool. Once battle.net is up to nowadays standards, more people will enjoy playing War3 automatically.
Apart from that, I’d like to see a revamped observermode like SC2 or DotA2 has. This in combination with DotATV / GoTV / NetEase TV feature would be cool, so people can watch games of their favorite players in real time and with their own camera control.
For the longevity of the game, I feel that skins and small modding opportunities are necessary. Maybe you get a new Death Knight skin for 1000 wins? Or you do cross promotion via HotS and HS, everything is possible in that regard.
In general: I heard that everything that’s done in SC:R is of interest for Warcraft fans as well, so keep an eye out for Starcraft updates in that regard.
In terms of support, we need a big league featured by as many news outlets there are. Starcraft has WCS and is doing an incredible job. World Championship of Warcraft with a final at Blizzcon would put War3 on the map immediately and might result in a rise of activity in the Western world.
Forkxx: Battle.net is now smoother for the players, but this is not the same level as the chinese community and their entire platform just for the game. Is this an upset for the players?
Neo: I think only the hardcore audience is negative towards that. At this point, we must be aiming towards casual and returning fans and for them, 100ms is already a great improvement. But Blizzard stated that they would look into it if too many people feel that 100ms is still not good enough. So I’m positive about that.
Forkxx: In Latin America, for example, we don’t have a server to play besides Blizzard or P2P connections like Garena or GameRanger. This, with the lack of tournaments, made the community split between other games and eSports like DotA or StarCraft 2. What is important to make the community so strong right now in Europe?
Neo: It’s a combination of two things:
W3Arena - that server saved our asses! Low ping and less hackers kept many people playing and established a healthy environment for competitive players. Unfortunately, they never lived up to their potential and could’ve been way more successful and influential.
GERA Cup Having a weekly cup format for more than 110 weeks now is just a blessing for the scene and kept it alive after some very bad times. GERA and his admin team deserve so much praise for what they did over the years.
This is also my advice for North and South America. It all starts with a healthy and well administrated cup series. Make that cup every week on the same day, at the same time and people will come and play.
Forkxx: You guys had the chance to go to China recently and cast many tournaments there. How is the Chinese community? Are there still the same passionate fans as we had back in Sky’s golden days?
Neo: Well I never experienced China in Warcraft’s heyday but it’s incredible, especially towards Sky. He did an autograph session at WCA 2014 and hundreds and hundreds of people were waiting for hours to get something signed.
Same for Moon when he retourned at WCA 2015, fans were following him and his entourage everywhere – just like a popstar.
For less popular players, I think there’s no hype at all. TeD, Infi, TH000 and many others invited us to dinner several times and we were never approached by fans there.
Every single person we met there was nothing less but awesome! A lot of people knew what we do and gave us flattering nicknames like “European Laofen” (Laofen is the backbone of the Chinese scene, doing many casts, organizing tournaments and writing news for the biggest scene pages War3.Replays.net). I’m incredibly grateful for that opportunity and the chance to meet these people that love Warcraft the same way we do.
Forkxx: You saw a lot of matches from a lot of players. Do you think there are differences between Asian and Western players?
Neo: I think, generally speaking, that Western players are more creative and not locked to one approach, while Asians are playing one style until they perfected it. There’s of course many exceptions to this rule.
Forkxx: Nostalgia Battlefield made some people come back into the arena, like Grubby, Moon and others. What is the difference between the Warcraft 3 ten years ago and Warcraft 3 right now?
Neo: I think players now are way better than the top dogs in the ~2007 era. The game has evolved, especially creeping, scouting and micro so in my opinion a Moon of 2007 could never beat a 120 of today.
That being said, I think the scene was more competitive back then. Players practiced way more and more professionally than today. They prepared so much for one specific opponent and they knew each other inside out and had to come up with new solutions against them all the time. I guess this is not the case today.
Forkxx: What is the most amazing memory you had casting Warcraft 3?
Neo: Easily WCA 2015, which was the Warcraft World Championship at the time. YAWS lost in the pre-qualifier and came to GamesCom to cast with us. Fortunately for him, Foggy had visa issues and the tournament needed a fourth man for the so he stepped up. Unprepared, he qualified for the Main Event,was an underdog in a group with TH000 and FoCuS, made it into the playoffs and just enabled his beast mode.
Escorting YAWS into the Grand Final felt like taking ecstasy. I’ll never forget the Winner Bracket Final against Fly because nobody thought he’d have a chance to win a map and then he beat the Chinese orc monster seemingly easy. I was shaking all over my body afterwards.
The Grand Final one day later was the saddest memory though, as YAWS lost while having a huge chance to take the cup. I was speechless and close to tears and Remo had to save the end of the broadcast (smile). This is, I guess, what makes B2W so special. We don’t fake these emotions we show on stream, we live Warcraft for more than 9 years now.
Forkxx: Do you have any message for the people who are interested in getting “Back2Warcraft”?
Neo: It’s a great Esports scene especially for people who want to contribute for it. We need help in every regard, whether it be admins, news writers, casters, media creators for images and videos, marketing, organizing tournaments, whatever. It’s easy to get in touch and little effort can make great impact while in bigger Esports titles, this is not the case anymore.
For players, I advice to watch a few streams and replays and then play games on Battle.net to practice a bit. It’s not ideal but ok. Then you can go onto W3Arena or Netease to play with the elite if you feel comfortable enough. The game is still amazing, well balanced and usually you find very friendly people everywhere.
Thanks a lot for giving me the chance for this interview, it’s always a lot of fun! Support Warcraft in every way you can because it’s a title that deserves love and attention.
The article in portuguese is right here. This is the fourth part of our special. You can find the rest here: