It’s been probably one of the worst years in his competitive career. He’s been recently kicked from the team he led for over four years. His brother is still with compLexity Gaming, fighting for a shot at The International 2018, while he is our new and extremely entertaining to watch Dota 2 panelist, Kyle Freedman.
We had the chance to sit and talk to Kyle at EPICENTER XL. We discussed or tried to discuss his sudden kick from the team, the intricacies of Dota 2 and the challenges for content creators.
Hey, I haven’t got to talk to you much since the compLexity drama. So, how have you been lately?
I’m doing great, life is good and peaceful.
Peaceful you say. Are you open to talk to me about what happened there, how did you end up being kicked?
Sure but I honestly don’t think I have the answers to many of the questions you might have related to that. You might need to interview my former teammates if you want to understand that decision.
Ok, I’ll try but I haven’t seen any of them since I arrived in Moscow.
Neither have I.
Let me see if I get this right. Basically, you woke up one day, went to the compLexity training facility and they just told you ‘morning Kyle, thanks for coming but we don’t need you anymore?
Must be pretty hard to hear something like that. Everyone knows by now how much you invested in that team and I’m not talking only financially, we read about that in the official announcement when they released you. CoL was much more for you, you have your brother there, your cousin was with you for quite a long time as well, and more recently he became the team manager. So you were emotionally invested in that team so much more than people might realize and I’m guessing that must have hurt more and on some other level.
Yeah, I agree. The saddest part of this story is not that I lost some teammates, I lost friends. There’s something that I read in a book once about how you’d be incredibly lucky if you made five true friends in your entire life and the longer I live the more I realize how true those words are. But, I’m lucky that I actually have a really fantastic family and a lot of support from people that I love and regardless of whether I actually win these two TIs, I’m always going to have people close to support me in what I do. So, it’s all good.
So, two TI titles is your career goal?
Well I guess now I raised that to three. I’d say it’s a decent goal.
How are things going between you and Zfreek and between you and Josh?
We’re cool. No problems there, I mean other than the usual problems. At the end of the day, the team us three we are on is way bigger and way more important than Dota. We might play together tomorrow or we might not play together ever again, but we are always going to be family and we are always going to take care of each other. I will always root for my brother; he will always root for me and no matter what happens we will always have each other’s backs.
What’s the plan for you from here on?
I’m working on it. I can’t tell you because there are too many moving parts. Think of it like a puzzle. You try to get all the pieces together but all the pieces are floating around right now, they have minds and feelings and emotions and contracts of their own. So, you just kind of need to get lucky to be at the right time in the right place, build relationships and everything will eventually fall into one big piece.
I honestly don’t know if I’m going to be at TI this year. Look at all these great teams we have now in Dota. Look at Liquid, look at Secret. Things don’t go well but the captains keep trying and trying and eventually, they find the pieces that work together and they’re good to go.
Yeah, Liquid I guess is the perfect example if you come to think how much they struggled right after the post TI6 shuffle. So, you don’t know anything at all about TI8, not even if you go as a caster, analyst, panel guest?
You mean if Valve would invite me? I don’t know. What I know is that I’m incredibly good-looking, but am I talented? Am I a good commentator? Do Valve want me at TI? I don’t know.
Maybe you are a good analyst or a good entertainer. I’ve watched you on the DAC panel and now at EPICENTER and I really enjoyed your style. However, some people might find you a bit too harsh on the teams, some also might think there’s an old beef or something not settled between you and Redeye.
Oh God, no there’s nothing like that.
Yeah, I know it’s an act, I know its broadcast and you have to keep people entertained but sometimes it might get misinterpreted. For instance, I have some real friends who started to play Dota just a year ago, I think TI6 was their first big event they watched and they don’t know you too well, they don’t know Redeye too well either. To be honest, they were the ones who made me aware of how the battle of words between you two might get misinterpreted, then I went to read reddit and I saw more people asking the same thing so let’s make it clear for everyone now, shall we?
Look, Paul is just walking towards us and I’m going to tell this just as he gets next to us “Paul is just a British ass and we won’t be working with him anymore”, right Paul?
Redeye: Yeah, ok buddy, you are an obnoxious American prick I’d never work with anymore.
Kyle: But seriously now, to the point you had. A show must be entertaining most of all things. And it’s really boring to just sit and talk about the intricacies of Dota 2 for hour upon hour. So, we got to do stuff to keep the audience entertained and make them want to watch us talk this much. And to be perfectly honest, it also keeps us entertained. Plus, when you are friends with someone, that is when you can have this kind of verbal swordplay or insults thrown at each other. I don’t know if this is part of the American culture but it’s truly who I am.
You have to have people disagree in a panel because if you are just going to have four people staying at a table all agreeing with each other and all they can say is yes, I agree, then what’s even the point on hiring them? You know, there’s this saying “the only things certain in life are death and taxes”. I would add one thing to that. You are going to read some stupid things on reddit. That’s just a fact of life and part of working in this industry is to develop a tolerance to dumb asses who think that they can do a better job than you and they are telling you that while they sit in their boxers in their mother’s basement.
I always liked this about you. No matter what, you will speak your mind. I had winners interviews, losers interviews with you and you have always been the same blunt person. You have never been afraid to say on camera “we messed up that, we screwed up that by doing this and so on. Now, you’re pointing out the mistakes other teams do and you don’t care if it’s Liquid you talk about or VP or Newbee, Na’Vi etc. Again, some might see that as arrogance but the majority actually likes you for being this frank and on point.
That’s the beauty of Dota. It doesn’t matter what your team is, how good you are if you are going to do some dumb things, it’s dumb and everyone can see it. And the game is so hard and so complex that you never play the same game, so there’s always new mistakes to make. On the other hand, if I disagree with Newbee’s drafting philosophy, I’m just going to say it out loud. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m right and they are wrong. It’s just my opinion and I’m telling it. There is no reason to soften the blow and it’s more interesting to do things this way, because what if they prove me wrong and they tweet at me and say “well, you should maybe try this”. Then I’ll be like, alright, I see you, and you suddenly give them a lot more respect.
At the end of the day, I genuinely care about the health of the scene and I also care about the show, the event broadcast. So, I’m not playing a character when I’m on the camera but I’m going to try to be as entertaining as possible. I try not to force things out, I’m sure a couple of my jokes fell flat during the group stage, but at the end of the day I think I’m someone pretty easy to work with. The organizers don’t care about the reddit comments, well, they care but it’s more like a Kardashian effect. You don’t have to say anything insightful, you don’t need to do anything interesting. As long as you create drama or controversy, you’re winning. If people make threads only to say bad things about you, you are winning.
Any publicity is good publicity.
Exactly and it’s such a dumb philosophy. And it makes everything so difficult because there are so many people out there doing legitimately good content and they work very hard, they give up on a lot of other things to keep the quality high and to do this work, you being one of them must understand exactly what I’m talking here, and nobody cares about that because you don’t stir the pot. Nothing gets interesting and widely noticed until you go clickbaity, right?
It’s really silly but it’s just the way the world works. It doesn’t matter how good the content is, it’s about how many likes you have on Facebook, how many retweets you got and so on. That’s so much more important than how much time you invested in that piece, how much prep work you did, how insightful and interesting your interview was. People literally don’t care about that.
So, if you title this interview “Kyle Firing Shots” or “Kyle: Uncut, No Hold Bars” that’s going to get you a lot more clicks than “ A Conversation With Kyle” or “A Coffee With Kyle.” If you throw some memes in the title, pretend that there’s some drama, you are suddenly successful.
Look at the reddit the other day. Redeye ended the broadcast with “Na”Vi is back!… back to the garbage.” That’s the line that creates pages of comments.
Yeah, and the sad part is that Na’Vi defeated VP and Secret in the group stage but all that people talk about and trash their name for is their loss against paiN.
paiN is a good Dota team and their draft was so, so good. That was my big point for that series because I watched the Na’Vi games vs VP and Na’Vi were much better in that series, but against paiN, they were just garbage. Here’s the funny thing. When you draft you have to do it for your team, for the meta, for what the enemy team is doing and most importantly for your players. You have to ask yourself as a drafter are my players comfortable with what I’m doing here, can they have a good game with this?
There are teams who play super well from behind and some that can’t play unless that they are far ahead. Dota is such a complex game that just because you are a very good team, it doesn’t mean you are not going to lose to a bad team. Look at compLexity for instance at the Bucharest Major. We beat Liquid in a bo1 and we needed one more win. We needed to beat Newbee and we were pressuring them the entire game but we lost that game and then we lost to OpTic. None of that makes sense.
Did you intentionally dodge the compLexity games in the group stage here at EPICENTER?
Yes, I have requested that I don’t commentate on their games. It’s all too soon for me to do that and to be honest, I’d rather not have to do that ever.
Is still hope for NA Dota to make it to TI8 via DPC points?
Maybe. It depends on a couple of factors. If EG gets their stuff together and honestly OpTic look pretty good now, I’m pretty interested to see them at ESL.
Alright, well, it’s time to wrap up our interview, thanks a lot for taking the time for this and hope to see you at TI8.
Thank you, it was my pleasure.