By Fantasy

A caster, a personality, a backstage worker - every one of those words applies to Kyle ‘Beef’ Bautista as he continues to make his presence felt in the Heroes of Newerth community. As a member of the casting crew heading to Bangkok, Thailand for the World Finals, he took the time and gave everyone a glance into his mindset, his playoff prediction, his role on the team and much more.

Fantasy: Hey Beef, thanks a lot for taking some time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions. First off - how excited are you to return back to Thailand?

Beef: 8 out of 8, mate, should be great! Traveling to Bangkok last year and experiencing, first hand, the passion of the Thai HoN fans was an incredible experience. The opportunity to do so again is very exciting!

Last time you were over there, you were kind of doing the Pam Oliver role as a Sideline reporter and caster. Is that the role we will see you in again?

While I’ll officially have my own casting partner in swindlemelonzz, I won’t be doing as much casting as Breaky. As you said, more of the sideline reporting, hosting, interviews, which is something I found I really enjoy at big events like the World Finals. Hopefully I won’t catch any footballs to the head!

What was the biggest takeaway from your last professional trip to Thailand?

HoN is huge! Everyone always talked about how big HoN is in Thailand, but you have to be there to see it. One of the guys that worked at the hotel restaurant asked Zfreek and I why we were there, and we explained eSports, and HoN, described as a MOBA, like League of Legends or Dota 2. He didn’t know those games, and instead said, “Like HoN?”. We were blown away. He then proceeded to recognize the stayGreen jersey after further examination, and freaked out a bit. It was nuts!

What are your plans on making this event special. Can you promise the hyped fans of our region something of the production or what you have in store for us?

Last year the interviews and sideline reporting was something that I had wanted to do, but we hadn’t really properly prepared for it. This year that will be a big focus for us going in, and we actually have a dedicated area specifically for longer interviews, away from the loud noise of the event. In addition, we’ll make sure to provide the kind of in the field reports that give the viewers at home a sense of the event life.

Before we really dive head first into all things Thailand concerned, let's cover the NA/EU division for a moment. The playoffs started, teams are fighting for that last spot. Who do you think will travel with Sync eSports to Bangkok?

I think that willowkeeper has been the most consistent team for most of the season, but in recent memory Reason Gaming has been phenomenal. Their growth and tenacity puts them as my favorite to take the event, and I can’t wait to see them - last time they qualified for a LAN a broken down car prevented them from making it! Hope it works out better this time.

If you look back at the season, what stands out to you?

The sheer dominance of Sync eSports. In Season 1 we had 4 wins apiece from tdM and sG, with coL fighting for 2nd on both sides. Season 2 had a split of 5 cycle victories from both sG and LION/BMG, while Sync started to climb. This season Sync took home 7 of 8 cycles, most of them in dominating style. They appear to be leaps and bounds ahead of their opponents. We’ll see if their NA/EU competition can challenge them in a LAN environment, or if a SEA or CIS challenger appears!

Sync as the dominant team is going into every match as the favorite nowadays. What makes them so strong in your opinion?

Consistency of roster. They’re not scrimming as much as everyone else, they’re not necessarily more experienced than their competition, but their roster has remained mostly the same throughout the season, with the major fixtures unchanged. Additionally, having huge talents and very smart players doesn’t hurt.

Do you see anyone beating them?

I don’t see a NA/EU team beating them on a LAN environment. The hope has to be that a foreign underdog can come in and take some games off them, or maybe even make a huge upset.

Now that we already crossed over to the World Finals, let's talk about the teams that are coming. How is your insight on some of the foreign squads?

Not as good as I would like it to be at this point. Realistically we only know a couple of the teams that have actually qualified, though we should be getting more information in the coming weeks. I’ve read all of your recent articles on the CIS and Thai scenes, so I’m a bit more familiar with those, but the qualifying teams from the other SEA regions are likely going to be a mystery until just before the event.

Especially the Thai teams are always the center of attention - their champions are Acer.Dogg, their other two wildcard teams are Neolution eSports.MRR and Hybrid Gaming. Who do you think has the best chances to light up the home crowd?

Well, if Acer.(Snoop)Dogg lives up to their namesake, I think they may get crazy once they take the big stage. Realistically, the guys from Neo.MRR and Hybrid have the experience and I would assume, the fan favorites, so it is really hard to say. I’m excited to see if MRR can upset our NA/EU champs once more.

You've been to Thailand before, how much of a homefield advantage does the crowd provide?

I don’t think it is super substantial. Last year we had issues with a lot of noise from things like concerts and other games distracting players, but in those cases the matches were delayed or paused during circumstances deemed unplayable. It’s possible that some of the newer players like from the newest NA/EU qualifying team, or CIS team may have some stagefright, but for Sync, I think they’re going to be fine.

CIS and SEA will also send some squads, so far not known who it's going to be. Any reason to believe they will turn around the perception we have of them?

I think the CIS squads always have the potential to show up in the Group Stage Bo1s; their hero choices and strategies are generally unknown by most of our Western competitors so, those are ones to keep an eye on. The Chinese team is another question entirely. The Chinese version of HoN is a bit different than the version played by the international scene, so they will have that going against them, but China historically has been one of the best nations in the MOBA scene. So, who knows!?

Now, the big question everyone is going to be asked and asking. Who will take home the title of HoN World Champion this time?

I’ve gotta say Sync eSports. Realistically I don’t see the NA/EU competition taking them down, and I don’t know enough about the international competitors at this point to make an educated guess favoring them.

How sure?

Pretty sure. I’ve seen their new jerseys and they’re going to feel like a million bucks up on that stage. Then again, last year MRR had a Neo.MRR sports car, so who knows.

To end it on a more personal note. In your role in eSports, you travel to events all over the world. What is special about this one?

I’ve been to events from small LAN centers to World Cup football stadiums, but the crowd at last year’s GSL/World Championship was nuts. Their passion for HoN was incredible, and with people like Winzy whipping them into a frenzy, you can’t possibly not get nerd chills when you feel that roar.

Do you still get pumped and psyched for them, or are they now business as usual?

The day you’re not pumped to be a part of a LAN event, in any capacity, is probably the day you should think about making a change. That last second as the producer counts down to showtime, taking a final deep breath and straightening your back as you raise your gaze to the camera - there’s nothing like it in the world. I haven’t been in this industry near long enough for the allure to have worn off, and I hope that it never will.

Thanks a lot for your time, any final shoutouts you want to share with the world?

Huge thanks to you for taking the time to interview me, for the community for helping to raise the prize pool for Season 3 to incredible levels, to the HoN Team for inviting me once more to participate, and to all the fans for making HoN awesome!

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.