Grant “GranDGranT” Harris has been around in the Dota 2 scene for 15 years now. DotA 1 pro player, successful streamer, the heart and soul of NA qualifiers commentary and yet he is making his Major debut at EPICENTER 2018. Recently he decided to make a couple of changes and he says he feels LAN ready now. We had an extensive talk with Grant on the day off at EPICENTER XL and here is how our chat went:
Hello Grant, how do you feel on a such a sunny day, how is it Moscow treating you?
I feel super good, I had a long nice sleep after the last group stage series. I haven’t really seen anything in Moscow yet because we were all day at the arena casting games but we plan to go have a walk around today, in the day off.
So, you’re finally commentating a Dota 2 Major. You’re here as one of the winners of the casters contest and I must say, for the people that know you since DotA 1 it feels weird when you come to think that you actually never been on a TI or a Major stage. How does it feel to be at EPICENTER?
It’s a little bit hard to answer this because we were alone at the arena all these group stage days. The players were playing from the hotel while we commentated from the venue, there was obviously no crowd so for me it all felt like I’m still casting from home. I had no pressure so far because I’m doing this for such a long time already. It’s what, 15 years of Dota for me?
Fifteen years in the community service and still no Dota 2 Major for you until now. Why do you think is that? I mean, let’s talk a little about your ups and downs. You’re a DotA 1 pro, a HoN player, a very successful streamer in your prime, then you entered a cone of shadow, so please tell me what happened there?
Walmart happened. I started at Walmart in 2008 at the end of DotA 1, then went to pro in HoN in 2011 while still at Walmart. When I got back to Dota 2 I guess my older personality wasn’t LAN appropriate. I was, you know, more on my own stream yelling a lot, drinking, doing all that, but now I decided it’s time to cut that out and I think I’m good, I’m LAN ready.
I hope you don’t plan to change too much though. Because a lot of people appreciate you for who you were all these years. And what I mean with this is that you are one of the few that is always blunt, you do speak your mind, you don’t pack things to make them look better if you know what I mean. You’ve always been super honest and I seriously hope you will be the same person from here on. At the same time, I see how all these things which I just listed as qualities can be exactly what prevents some people to digest your type of content.
Yeah, I try not to change too much. Regardless of what I do in terms of creating a new me, I will still speak out my mind. And yes I know that means sometimes I will ruffle someone’s feathers. I’ll give you a very simple, example: I say Na’Vi is back after they beat Secret or VP – instant ruffle feathers. I say Na’Vi is back after they lose regional qualifiers – ruffle feathers.
But as I said, I try to speak my mind but I am more reserved now.
Ok, let me interview the more reserved GrandGrant. So, what’s your take on the group stage here, at Epicenter, who looks hot, who would you place in the grand finals?
Virtus.pro. I think they are better than anyone else right now and most likely we will see a VP versus Team Liquid grand final.
Fair enough. Tell me, going up into the main event will we see a change in your dressing style as well? Will you be all suit up or we should expect the BTS – funky Grant, a t-shirt and a pair of jeans?
I’ll be dressed up, not as much as most people use to do at LANs these days, but still, I’ll put a nice coat here and a tie there but I’m not gonna be like those guys wearing a bow tie and doing their hair super nice.
Ok, looking forward to see you in a suit. Let’s talk about how much Dota do you play lately.
Lately, I started to play a whole lot more but I’m playing just 5 vs 5 with my friends. I play just one solo queue per week because playing solo is just not fun for me anymore. Why is that? Because when I used to play DotA 1 and HoN I knew I was good, but I can’t regain it now. So, this is why it’s not fun for me to play solo. Friends games are something else, I do enjoy those.
Ok, so you are a super casual player now. Tell me how do you see the bi-weekly patches from a casual perspective. Pros clearly like more small changes more often, I spoke to a lot of them about this and they all agree that this is a better way to patch the game. But how is it for someone who takes let’s say a six month or a year from playing because, I don’t know, he has a stressful time at the job, has something else more important to do. He comes back after, opens Dota 2 and he sees 24 patches. How does he recover from that?
He isn’t recovering. The longest I didn’t play Dota at all was one year, 2008 to 2009 and that was back in DotA 1 when it was no patch or maybe one patch and that was it. Nowadays part of the problem is that the reddit pub players are saying it’s better with more patches more often but these reddit people are also the more hardcore part of the pub players. While for the normal people or for the ones who are new to Dota I think it’s super hard to keep the pace with the changes.
And let’s be honest, not even all the pros can keep track of all the changes. The coaches do so much work for their teams.
Another aspect is that these pro players know what to look for or look at when patch notes come online. Majority of the pub players don’t. Usually what you see happening in pubs is that one hero is getting spammed over and over again. And that’s’ something Valve wants to avoid, wants to stop from happening, right? They want all the heroes to be played and I think the idea behind the patches is that the more you change the game the more heroes will make their space in the pubs meta. But the reality is different. Every meta will always have that one hero spammed even if the meta is now two weeks.
True. While in the pro scene the meta will still stay the same through a few patches. By the way, I was expecting to see a lot of more Windranger being played at this event, why do you think it isn’t happening, although she is pretty buffed now? It was just FlyToMoon who actually last picked her once and I think Na’Vi played her once as well.
Yeah, Dendi played it mid once and FTM offlane. I think in most of the cases teams are coming to an event with something they practiced and they are not willing to take risks or make big changes of what they practiced just because a hero looks a bit better in one patch.
For this particular event, it looks like it’s only the CIS region that perhaps had the time to look into WR. I would say FlyToMoon definitely practiced that draft, they were so on point with everything, you can almost say it was a pocket strat of theirs.
Ok, at the end of our interview I would like to hear your opinion on why do you think the up and coming casters still got no events this season with a few exceptions; you being at the BTS minor, KillerPigeon at DreamLeague Minor and of course this event which is completely special in this regard.
I think the more important question is why organizers would hire new casters? There is no reason to expand on something new unless they bring something unique, something better something new to the table.
Wouldn’t you say you bring something unique, something better, something new to the table?
Let’s say you put me as an analyst on a panel over Capitalist. He is clearly much more well-spoken, maybe even smarter at the game than me. There is just no reason to invite someone new, someone with far less experience and so on.
Fair enough, but then what’s left for the not so well known commentators to do? We had almost no online tournament this year. Dota Pit League which used to be an online event had threeLANS already, one of them being a Minor, what used to be an online event of DreamLeague is now a Minor as well in a LAN setup etc. So, where do the new voices train?
In the regional qualifiers. The good thing about having so many LAN events this year is that we had a ton of qualifiers to cast.
With all that you just said, I wish you good luck in the main event, again, I hope that regardless of how this turns out for you, you won’t change too much and I hope to see you more often at LANs. Any shoutouts?
Yes, shout out to Evil Geniuses. I wouldn’t be here today doing this without their support.
More interviews from EPICENTER XL:
BreakyCPK: “I Hope TOs Will Realize There is More Talent in the Scene”
Duster – paiN Gaming: “Dazzle is a Very Good Hero This Meta”
PSG.LGD Coach QQQ: “Virtus.pro is a Very Tough Opponent”
MATUMBAMAN – Team Liquid: “Winning EPICENTER XL Would be the Dream for Me”