By Fantasy

The rising star of the entire HoN competitive scene is without a doubt Jake ‘Mini’ Benjamin. The color-commentator claimed the job on Honcast to start the third HoN Tour season and now has his sights set on his first big offline gig in Thailand. His casting style, the unbelievable journey, Sync eSports and research and preparation were only a few topics discussed.

Leon casino,

Hey Mini, thanks for stopping by and sharing your unique view on the World Finals with us. Before we get down to the nitty gritty, let me ask you - when you joined Honcast, did you imagine things taking off so quickly?

Hey man, and I honestly really didn't. I remember the first time Breaky asked me to cast on Honcast - I was so thrilled and excited! Breaky needed a caster for a match because he couldn't find anyone else, and he asked in the Skype group of casters if anyone could (the group I was only added to about 3 days before by Skyzorz) and Skyzorz said Mini would do it and he is good as well! Before that I had only casted with Skyzorz once, and it didn’t even get recorded as his internet was bad. I was just so hyped and excited, I told all my friends and my family that I was going to be on Honcast. The stream I had been watching for the last 3 years religiously. It was a dream come true I guess ^^.

You are going to Thailand as part of the casting crew with BreakyCPK and Beef. Do you sometimes pinch yourself?

I still pinch myself now, let alone going to Thailand. As I said before I was a huge fan of Honcast, and I'm talking watching every match, every Podcast, every 1v1 tournament. (shoutout to S2 vs Pro 1v1 tournament and Milkfat and Tralf owning everyone). And now when I get to cast with Breaky IN THAILAND! it really doesn't feel real. But then on top of that going to Thailand to cast with them like oh man. It really feels like I'm dreaming. Whenever like someone like Beef or Zlapped or Probusk or any other HoN “Celebrity”is in the same Skype call I still fangirl over it so hard I have to control myself :D. I've never really travelled that much but to travel halfway across the world (for free) to work on a project/stream that was so heavily involved in my life when I was younger is just magical.

This is going to be the first live event you ever cast in front of a crowd. How do you think your nerves will handle it?

I think I'll be a little nervous to start, but I've performed on a public stage and been in the limelight before because I was involved in acting at school when I was younger and had to deal with pressure from an audience before so I think I'll be ok. But in this case it'll just be bigger and to me a more important thing I just don't want to screw up!

Throughout this season you have been one of the voices of HoN. What would you say was your personal best moment?

Oh that's a tough one. There's been a lot of great moments that mean a lot to me for example there was no his one podcast that included Myself, Saintrox, Quincy and Breaky and we were all joking around and it was nicknamed #GlovesCast it was just so funny like interacting with the chat and all of the guests on the podcast because we were all talking about the game we love. But the best moment would probably be when Emperor watched one of the casts and messaged me later that day and congratulated me and said "you've finally made it" and it really meant a lot because I remember interviewing him when he was the current caster for Honcast and for him to pop out of the blue and say that was really touching.

But then there are some amazing and ridiculous games I've casted with Breaky and they have literally made my hairs on the back of my neck stand up - I was so pumped and excited!

Staying with the theme, thinking back at the season, what do you feel was the greatest match you saw?

It's hard to say, there has been some great matches that I have casted with Breaky, but it probably would be the HTS3 Cycle 4 WB Finals - BMG vs Sync. Where BMG eventually went on to win the whole cycle after that as well. The match was so awesome because it was the first series that Sync lost in HTS3 which was a big deal as Sync had this air of omnipotence and to see them fall in that fashion was shocking. But also because they ran this peculiar strat that must have surprised Sync in which they ran a double jungle strat that disrupted Zlapped's Ophelia so much that they couldn't get their pushing/team fight style of line up off the ground, and BMG eventually went on to win by some innovative play by Xibbe's Alchemist Bones Parasite.

Any particular storyline or rivalry you enjoyed the most?

I think there has been some good storylines and rivalries like the one when BMG brought down Sync in Cycle 4 and how they were the ones to finally stop the domination of Sync of the scene. But I think nothing can compare to the storyline we have now with Probusk and his Team Fresh against Sync. Probusk had his spot guaranteed to go to Thailand last year yet it was stripped away from him to m'ICKe and that must have just been heartbreaking. Now he has the ability to finally go to Thailand and then face off against Sync, I mean, imagine that Grand Final in Thailand!

You are in the color-commentator of Honcast, so let's dive a little deeper into the NA/EU scene before discussing the World Finals. Sync eSports has dominated people throughout the season, what makes them so much better than the rest?

I think the reason why Sync are so dominating right now (outside all being amazing) is because all of their players have played through every single meta and play style that HoN has ever had. So they can utilise that in their draft and play style which makes them so versatile as they can play in any draft/play style which suits the game. There's always a strategic/draft advantage for Sync for whoever they face. Very much similar to stayGreen and their dominating fashion they always had that strategic edge other their opponents.

Do you detect any weakness, anything that teams might be able to exploit with Sync?

I think there's is minimal weakness from Sync, however they are not invulnerable. I think if Sync were to be beaten it would come from one of two ways. Either by teams having more dedication and effort than Sync, focusing on getting better and more into the game similar to when BMG beat them in Cycle 4. Sync were just a little 'distracted' and weren't putting in that much effort into HoN and thus why they slipped up. However with Thailand coming up I doubt they will have that weakness now. And the other way is by the other teams showing real innovation and surprising Sync and catching them off guard by doing something they've never seen before. Similar to Tree and their crazy drafts and play style that has allowed them to take games off of Sync in the past. Which is why I think the Asian/CIS teams might be able to take games off of Sync because they will surprise them as Sync hasn't played any of them before.

Which team do you see second in the region at the moment?

The second team in the region now I'd say Reason although very closely followed by Nullstone and Tree and not to forget about Fresh. And if it's anyone who might be able to contest Sync it's probably Reason as they can tap into those 2 weaknesses of Sync as I have mentioned previously but not only that bring their plethora of experience that Tree and Fresh might not have for example.

Are they also going to punch the ticket or do you see some weird matchup with another team that might rob them of the opportunity?

It's very hard to say as I view those teams very closely behind Reason, and anyone of those can take games and series off of Reason. I guess it depends on the day as it's just that close.

Tell me the Grand Final of the Playoffs. Who do you think will play that very important match? And well, who is going to win?

Again, a very hard one because this playoffs is so stacked with great teams that can all make it to Thailand, and I guess that's why it makes it so exciting to watch. But if I had to I’d say it's Reason vs Fresh just because I think Tree have looked shaky in the playoffs and Fresh with Probusk just wanting to go so badly and just really dedicating himself to going. I'm gonna say Fresh because I love myself an underdog.

After the dust has settled on that battleground, the journey to Thailand is very close. How do you plan on preparing for that event?

I'm actually going to be doing a lot of preparation going into the event because if there's anyone that doesn't deserve to go to Thailand it's probably me. I'm the new kid on the block and my casting at times is sub par. So I'm going to do my research on the Asian and CIS teams and have notes prepared for each team and try to understand their play styles and drafts very well to enhance the casts. As well as trying to improve my voice. I'm actually taking voice lessons at the moment to control my breathing etc to enhance casts as I know alot of people can't stand my casts ^^. Shoutout to ZINK ESPAWWTS!

Before you do that preparation, do you have any insight of the teams from Thailand or the CIS region?

Unfortunately I don't but I've heard they run and prioritise a lot of heroes that aren't even touched in the international scene, like Bushwack. Its going to really cool to see and watch the 'mini-meta' the tournament is going to bring.

Even without maybe knowing those teams, do you see any opportunity for any squad outside of the NA/EU region to have a shot at the World Championship?

I really think they do. And I know everyone says this every year at past World Finals and DreamHacks etc. I really think this is the year to do it. Because their scene now is a lot bigger and they have a lot more competition so more practice. But also HoN has been available out there for a while now to discover the top star players in their region. I mean last year stayGreen lost to MiTH.S2Y and so with a whole year worth of practice after that I mean they could even be the favourites. The international teams have the strategic advantage for sure but if they only get a couple of competitive matches every month compared to the almost every day matches for Thailand/Asian Teams the international teams might even be a little unprepared.

Once you’re on the road, what are you looking forward to the most?

The first most real exciting thing for me when I'm on my way to Thailand is the realisation of that I'm actually going. From a small town in South East England (Southend Boy Represent!) to going to Bangkok, Thailand. I mean it's almost movie material. I'll definitely be listening to Drake's - "Started From The Bottom" on repeat. But meeting all of my HoN idols I practically worshipped growing up and actually workings alongside them is just - clichè I know - but a dream come true. I remember trying so hard to win that competition to travel as a VIP to their first World Finals in Las Vegas, but now I don't need to win any other competition.

And special plans for the event, for your trip or the broadcast already?

The #GloveCast will return. Haha but seriously, I will be working as hard as I possible can to get as much alternative coverage outside of the casts as I can like player interviews, footage of the event and the crowd and trying to make the viewers feel as if they are at the event. And just do everything I can do to make this the best it could possibly be (but yes I will still be attending if that's what some of you wanted to make it the best it could be :P).

Well, then play oracle for a moment. Tell us who you think is going to win the World Championship this time, and become the rightful successor of one of the most legendary teams in stayGreen?

It won't be Sync (even though they may make it to the Grand Finals) or the other international team that follows Sync. Nor will it be one of the CIS teams But it's going to be one of the Asian Teams. But I don't know which one unfortunately. My prophet powers only gave me this much information!

Thanks a lot for your time, any shoutouts you want to get out before we close the interview?

Well thanks to you for this interviews it's been fun! A massive shoutout to Skyzorz I couldn't have made it without you buddy. And Breaky for keeping me on for Honcast all this time. The HoN Team for taking me there. And SaintroX and Emperor for being awesome guys. And my family/friends at home. Southend BOYS!

About The Author: Fantasy
Fantasy is a journalist with four years of experience working in various eSports. He is currently the HoN Tour correspondent for the CIS and SEA regions, as well as an editor for both ESL Gaming and compLexity Gaming. In addition to his online endeavors, he studies Publicity and Communication, plays American football, and loves movies.