Hearthstone - Heroes of Warcraft news » So He Thought He Could Cast—And Did!
Now in its third year, the So You Think You Can Cast (SYTYCC) program has shone a light on some incredible Hearthstone casting talent in its time. One of this year’s selected entrants, Seven, took the time to share his thoughts on the experience with us—including how he built his portfolio, what he does to prepare ahead of the broadcast, and what he’d recommend to aspiring casters.
Why did you apply to SYTYCC?
“I’ve watched Hearthstone grow from the very beginning, from both a competitive and commentator standpoint, and casting has always been something I’ve had on my bucket list,” Seven says. “I’ve done a lot of show hosting with some fantastic and talented individuals over the years, but I’d never had an opportunity to cast a live match.”
His solution? To make casting a live match one of his New Year’s resolutions. “I felt like I was ready,” he says. “To me, it didn’t matter if it was a local Fireside Gathering or entering the So You Think You Can Cast competition, I just wanted to see how I’d handle it—and, well, things turned out better than I could have imagined.”
How did you put your submission together?
Seven says his biggest challenge was finding a partner. “The irony was that after years of wanting to enter, all the people I had discussed casting with were either unavailable or had gone to work at Blizzard!” He took a chance on commenting on the announcement to look for a partner.
“Every time someone would reach out, we’d hop on a quick call to see if we meshed well together,” Seven says. “Casting and hosting involves a lot of banter, so it was good to have that time to get to know the other person.” In many cases, it took several hours of rehearsal over the provided match just to learn the other person’s style—but he and Nicholas “DollaBilz” Bilz knocked out their entry on the second try. “In the end, I cast that single match for about 20 hours,” he says.
All said and done, Seven says that reaching out to find a co-caster was the best decision he could have made. “I met a ton of talented individuals,” he says. “Everyone I worked with was utterly astounding.”
What was your reaction when you found out you had been selected?
“Stunned. Completely.” Seven knew that community heavyweights like Jace “DrJikininki” Garthright and others had entered, and says, “I figured my chance of making it was about zero.” He texted his partner when he got the email. “Poor Bilz, he was on an airplane when the email came across. His first tip was a barrage of 47 texts from me saying ‘DUDE!’ when he landed. Rumor has it his response scared half an airplane full of passengers.”
How did you prepare to be on the casting desk?
Seven played as many decks as he could, and listened to, watched, or read anything he could find. “On casting and practice run days, I’d wake up at 4:00 a.m. and kick on the stream for HCT Taipei, look at matchups, practice a few decks, and listen to [the] Value Town [podcast] over breakfast in the hotel lobby,” he says.
“Between casts, we’d run through matchups, likely bans, and talking points,” Seven says. “After we finished for the day, it was back to the hotel for the same thing: HCT Taipei, practice, rinse, and repeat.” He says that, especially since The Witchwood had just been released, a lot of research on deck lists and strategies was required.
What were the most memorable parts of your experience?
Seven was overwhelmed at first. “I have a long history of hosting events and being on camera, but this had the added pressure of being something I’d wanted to do for a very long time,” he says. “My biggest worry was having production in my ear while trying to talk and sound like a normal human being. The crew was terrific, super flexible, willing to take and give feedback, and every day we made adjustments towards a better cast.”
“One of my favorite moments came on our practice day,” he adds. Since their first assignment was to cast Collegiate Hearthstone, the casters were set to receive Tespa shirts to wear on set. “It turns out we had a problem—all the shirts we had on hand were women’s cuts and sizes. Now, I don’t know if there are pictures out there in the wild, but Bilz and WillScarlet both came out of the dressing room looking even more handsome than you could imagine.”
Outside of that hilarity, Seven says the tournament itself was amazing. “The Penn State versus Waterloo matches were some of my favorites. Waterloo’s strategy was to target the exact lineup Penn State brought, and it worked incredibly well for them at the start of the day. After Waterloo dropped the next round, though, the two of them met again—with different results. The fact that Penn State was able to triumph was just a fantastic thing to watch,” he says.
What did you learn about Hearthstone from this experience?
“From a casting standpoint, it was amazing to see the level of production that goes into the event,” Seven says. “The crew that puts together the cast are so knowledgeable and understand Hearthstone so well. Even when we were done casting for the day, we spent a lot of time recapping plays and talking about what decks we were each playing.”
Will you try to continue casting?
“Absolutely!” Seven says he’s in this for the long haul and hopes to cast many more events in the future.
Absolutely unforgettable weekend casting for @TeamTespa Hearthstone. Huge thanks to these goobers for making it such a fun time. Thank you to the blizzard team for the opportunity. Thank you to @Songbird_HS and @ThatsAdmirable for letting me bother them for casting advice. pic.twitter.com/BeJGBhk5iE— Willscarlet (@WillscarletHS) April 30, 2018
What would you recommend to someone else looking to learn to cast?
“Just start doing it,” he says. “Grab a VOD and a friend and try your hand at casting over it. If you get the chance, get involved with a local Fireside tournament, or put a bracket together for coworkers and friends.” He says not to worry about production value or how many people will see it—just do it.
“That aside, pay attention to the HCT casting crew. They do an amazing job,” Seven adds. “Listen to how they describe matchups, win conditions, and tech decisions.” He says to think about how tournament scenarios are different from regular play, and to think about both decks when speaking—both to the other casters, and to your audience.
“I wouldn’t recommend spending 20 hours casting the same seven-minute match,” he says with a laugh.
Thanks to Seven for his valuable insight! You can find him over on Twitter, where he’ll no doubt share his next great Hearthstone casting experience.
Learn something new from Seven’s experience? Interested in trying your hand at casting? You can always email a submission to our talent inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we’d love to hear about your casting experiences in the comments!