Like regular sporting events, most e-sports tournaments feature a host, casters and analysts to provide commentary and explanations to the watching crowd.
Clowning is serious business if you’re a professional idiot like Jake “SirActionSlacks” Kanner, or Slacks as he’s commonly known.
Kanner didn’t exactly set out to become famous among millions of Dota 2 viewers. But he’s now known for his weird antics in front of the camera and his intensive knowledge of Dota 2 lore.
His career began with a video on YouTube, in which he made stupid voices while playing the game. From there he’s moved on to signing up with a Dota 2 studio before co-hosting The International Dota 2 championships in 2016 and 2017. So it’s fair to say that Kanner’s life as an online personality has been a crazy ride. These days, Kanner creates mini content segments for tournament downtimes, engages with fans and also does interviews with players.
Jake “SirActionSlacks” Kanner is a professional goofball and a blessing to the Dota 2 scene.
In person, Kanner is slightly more serious, but still full of manic energy. And while he goofs around, you have a feeling that there’s a lot of intelligence behind the professional idiot persona he usually projects, though he’s quick to downplay this.
“A lot of people tell me, oh you know, he’s got this act and it’s so good but it’s really different kind of intelligences I guess? I’m pretty stupid in a lot of ways — I can’t spell, I can’t pronounce words correctly. It’s less of an act, it’d be nice if it was an act,” said Kanner.
He added that plenty of others have put in hard work, but for him, it was “falling upwards, idiotically,” and added that most of his work is going into maintaining and growing his status as a talent in the scene.
In contrast, economics professor Alan “Nahaz” Bester takes a more professional approach to the scene. Bester is often found on analyst panels, the same type you’ll find on traditional sports channels. He can easily throw out in-depth statistics off the top of his head. If you want to know why a particular player has a 9-0 winning streak, Bester is the guy you’d look to for an explanation.
Bester’s interest in Dota 2 was piqued when first heard about The International and then started playing the game with his brother-in-law. He soon discovered the huge amount of data involved in the game its similarity to mainstream sports such as basketball and baseball. It quickly become his new hobby.
Since then, Bester has appeared on many panels at major events, including Valve’s annual The International, where he provides game analysis based on the data he’s already memorised beforehand. He’s now so well established on the scene that he’s taking a year-long career break to hit the talent circuit.
“That was something that felt natural at the time, I was running a Masters program for a couple of years, got a bit disillusioned with some of the aspects of academia and felt like I needed some time away,” said Bester.
“I was going to give this e-sports thing full time for a year, it’s kinda like my scheduled mid-life crisis.”
With his background as a lecturer, it’s easy for Bester to explain the data behind a game and what it means for players. He admits there’s more than data at play in the five-versus-five game, but he insists that “stats don’t lie.”
“A good statistic is much more often the beginning of a conversation than the end of one,” said Bester.
He says people often think of statistics as