BC GM Colin Bashor: “I think SA is rising within the world rankings…Everyone's closing the gap up a little bit on them, or at least I hope so.”

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In just eight days, Beastcoast captured the heart and soul of the North American crowd. As the last representative of South America (and the Americas as a whole), they fought side by side with the best Dota 2 reams the world had to offer inside the Esports Arlington Stadium, which served as the site for the Arlington Major, the penultimate DPC event of the season.

Against expectations, they finished in 5-6th place in the Lone Star State, matching their previous mark from ESL One Stockholm. Despite a shaky group stage where they had a 2-5-2 to start the playoffs in the lower bracket, the team held its nerve to secure a spot at The International 11.

It is in Singapore where the Peruvian outfit will vie to maintain SA's competitive momentum and prove to the world once and for all how far it has come since its formal entry to the scene roughly half a decade ago.

Of those who caught a live glimpse of BC's performance in Texas was general manager Colin Bashor, a former Beyond The Summit worker who then joined the org in 2019. Shortly after BC's elimination from the Arlington Major, BLIX.GG caught up with Bashor to discuss their performance in Texas, SA's chances of attaining success in TI11, his transition to being the team's GM, and its Dota players' progression since signing with the org.

Pedro Romero, BLIX.GG: Thanks for taking the time to speak to me, Colin. We just came off of a pretty tight series between BC and OG. Starting, I'd like to know your thoughts on BC's performance in the Major.

Colin Bashor: We're really happy with the whole tournament performance. What I would say about our run here is our group stage would have been nice had we started off a little hotter, but we managed to turn it on in the lower bracket. OG is a great team and who won the last Major. With that Game 3, that's one you'd accept.

There was no game where we felt we got completely out drafted or were out of it from the start. We kept up with them. There was that moment where the Ember Spirit gets away right around that Rosh fight with around 10 HP. That was done out of skill from him and also a little bit of luck. If we took a guess and guessed right, or if wel came in a quarter second earlier, he dies, and that halts the entire momentum and changes the swing of the game. We were right there with them, and it's disappointing to lose. The guys are never happy when they lose. The goal is always to win every tournament we're in, but it's not the worst outcome to experience.

BLIX: Staying on course with the major, BC reached the lower bracket semi-finals, and they became the only team from the Americas to go this far in the tournament. That essentially allowed the team to play in front of a pseudo-home crowd. What do you think of the crowd's energy that followed this team throughout the Major?

Bashor: The crowd support was awesome. We appreciate the fans, especially from South America, who traveled here. I know several people came a long way just to be here and root for us and not to mention the USA fans who adopted us. I know we gave EG a little bit of help to make sure they made it to TI, so they were appreciative and kind of pay it back. It was cool to kind of have a home Major for us.

Normally, we're kind of the underdogs, and maybe a few people adopt us along the way. There haven't been a lot of South American tournaments exactly for us to be the home team, so it was cool and fun for us. I know it was fun for the guys to hear the "Let's Go Beastcoast" chants and hear everybody get really excited for them. Even after we lost when they were heading out the door to return to the hotel, everyone wanted to take photos and had a "let's go BC" chant as they were getting in the car to return to their hotel. The support is always appreciated and cool.

It's hard for them to express gratitude when they're on stage and focused on competing, but I don't think anyone would not be excited to have someone root for them when they're playing anything, so it's cool as a different experience.

BLIX: Speaking of yourself, you are the team's general manager and have accompanied this team for this occasion. How have you been able to support them for this event?

Bashor: I can't personally claim a lot of credit. A lot of that goes to Alejandro, who's our Director of Operations in South America and runs all of everything that goes on down there (from the team house to hiring staff to make sure the guys are taken care of). He's helping give them English lessons, getting trainers to work with where some of them take boxing lessons and things like that. He's handling a lot of those things alongside our manager Vitoria, or Guashineen, who made that dancing rat post.

My job is more so supporting those two and making sure that they have everything they need rather than taking a really active role in the individual day-to-day for the players, and that really is down to both of them. They do an awesome job, and they really make sure the guys have everything that they need to succeed.

BLIX: Have you been able to occasionally converse with the players in English for a long time period of time?

Bashor: Yeah, their English is improving. I think, across the border, our Spanish is also improving a little bit, so we get enough to get by between the two and kind of meet in the middle. Actually, when we first discussed picking them up, that was something that had been expressed as important to them where they were really interested in learning English just because they wanted to communicate with a broader fanbase and engage more so because they're really well known in South America. We didn't start on it for a little while, and they actually were the ones who really brought it up. That's something that they pushed us on.

We were excited for them to do that, and it makes everything easier in terms of communication because I think that's usually where the biggest challenges lie. It's just making sure that we're feeling understood by them and that we're feeling understood. I guess the goal at some point would be for them to be able to do full interviews in English without a translator.

BLIX: Before becoming the GM of BC, you used to work from Beyond The Summit, a well-known tournament organizer not just in Dota but in other Esports titles. How could you translate the skills you've acquired from your time in BTS to working with BC?

Bashor: I think I learned a lot from just watching how other people operated within the space, as well as who I worked directly with. This includes David Parker, David Gorman, Dan, Ken Chen, Dakota, and all the rest in BTS. I learned a lot from working with each of them; I'm going to leave a few people out, at least if I try and name everybody; I have a lot of appreciation for those guys. They really helped me and gave me a lot of development experience, and just being at the events and seeing how teams operated Dota and beyond in other games.

Watching how the CS:GO teams operate when we run cs_summit, seeing how some of the Melee players had worked with other people, and getting to really observe and learn from other people was really valuable there. So it went both ways. Also, I got to meet some really great people like Jack Chen, who has always been someone who's willing to give me advice.

Aiden Calvin, who previously worked for BTS and is now working for Ludwig, has been someone who I've talked and gone back and forth with who's always asked awesome. You meet good people on the way and when you don't know what to do, being able to ask a question is incredibly valuable to be able to do that and kind of figure it out, as well. When I was on BTS, I think I was the 10th or 11th employee there, so it was a pretty small establishment.

We managed to create a pretty tight environment. My job was with sales, but I kind of wound up helping out on just about everything at any given time, so I got a wide breadth of experience in problem-solving more than anything else.

BLIX: As you mentioned, you eventually expanded from your initial employment with BTS. Did you then find that transition to becoming a GM much easier?

Bashor: I think just the esports industry knowledge and the connections were really valuable and helped me. I think what helped me the most was after I worked at BTS, I actually got a job up at a different company that was totally non-esports related (mostly in consulting, a little bit advertising, things like that) and got to see how a mature company in a different industry operated. Parker and Gorman are incredibly great guys, and I loved working for them. But they were both under 30 when they started BTS, and there's been a lack of experience, different experiences. I would say that pretty much anyone who wants to work in esports, I would recommend working at a job not in esports for least some point, just to get experience of 'Hey, this is how companies outside of this industry operate and you can get a really good model and learn a lot from that. So I would say that actually set me up.

The roster for Beastcoast cheer at their PCs after a win during the PGL Arlington Major The roster for Beastcoast cheer at their PCs after a win during the PGL Arlington Major

(Credit: PGL)

BLIX: Beastcoast is in charge of various teams outside of Dota. They work in Smash, Rainbow Six, and other games, so that allows you to work with various teams at one time to figure out how each team can be competitive in their own right. How has managing Dota differed from the rest of the other teams that you've worked with?

Bashor: We touched upon it a little bit earlier, but the major difference with Dota for us is the language barrier. They're the only Spanish-speaking team that we're currently working with what. Not to say that we don't want to work with more, there's a lot of talented South American teams that we would be interested in engaging with, of course, but you know, that that creates a really big difference in terms of how we manage things, as well as Dota, being significantly more player-driven and the ecosystem that Valve has created is very much driven around TI and the prize money associated with it above anything else. Working with other games like Rainbow Six Siege, we work much more directly with Ubisoft.

I know that they've got the fan bundles in the game, but for every season with Ubisoft, we get to design a gun skin, put it into the game, sell it, monetize that, and we split the profits with them similar to the way that the bundles work. So the monetization within Dota and other games are relatively similar. Still, the engagement with the developers are significantly different as well, as you know, because of the way that TI and the ecosystem is structured. With that big fixation on that TI prize pool, you could get sixth, and that's worth more than all the other tournaments combined.

BLIX: It also considers that Riyadh Masters also featured a similar distribution of prize pool, with last-placed teams earning more than what other teams would have acquired in DPC regional league play.

Bashor: You wind up with these top-heavy systems, which I think leads to things being significantly more player driven. Roster changes in Rainbow Six Siege are a little bit easier to make. They're a little more willing to be like, ‘We've got this group, but this piece isn't working, so we're going to change it to another piece.' For Dota, it's player-driven, so a lot of the decisions around our roster are driven by our players. as well as the team that we have in particular is very chemistry driven and very strong as a group.

I think it would be difficult to take any singular piece out of our roster and put another player in, no matter how skilled they were, and keep the essence or the spirit of how the team plays intact because it really is a group effort in the way that they play the game.

We are hands-off with Dota where we let them go and allow them to play their way, and we try to give them the resources to be successful, but we're not coming in and saying things like, "We think we need to change this player." I don't think that there's a single organization with Dota that does that, and I think if they do, they probably wouldn't be too successful.

BLIX: Moving towards the DPC and ahead of TI11, South America has delivered a better showing this season compared to past years. Two of their own made the Top 6 in ESL One Stockholm, and BC accomplished the same feat here. What does South America stand against other areas, such as Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and China?

Bashor: The whole premise of us working with this team is based on the idea that South America was underrated for its performance. They could have significantly better performances by providing additional support to a team. I think we've proven that to be pretty true. We've given them a quality team house and a lot of other support.

They're not worried about where their next paycheck will come from within South America right now. There are a lot of independent teams who aren't affiliated with an organization, and they basically have to win to make money or do something else. I think that there are actually a lot of teams in South America that, if you gave them a similar opportunity that we had, might not be as successful as we are. Still, I think they could be significantly more successful with infrastructure and support. And I expect South America to continue getting more dangerous internationally as things go.

Thunder's a great team, Hokori, Tempest, Infamous; there's a lot of talent within South America that I think could bump up and surprise a lot of teams at TI if they manage to get there. I believe they are rising within the world rankings, and I think, in general, everything's getting a little bit closer together in terms of what the top teams are. Everyone's closing the gap up a little bit on them, or at least I hope so.

Bashor: I think Dota is in a better place when every region can win. That's fun when you have all these regions that are all able to beat each other at a given point in time. It's only good for Dota that SA is improving, and they're contending even more. I would expect that as the infrastructure for it develops within the region, you're going to see it more and more because right now, if you look at what's in NA, China, or Europe, there's a lot of very developed infrastructure. If you look at a lot of the teams within the DPC, they've got a lot more of a stable living situation than some South American teams, and that will eventually even out. You'll start seeing a SA team be able to put together some incredible performances.

BLIX: Regarding this team's general trajectory, it can be said that there's the aspiration to surpass their first great performance in TI9, where they reached Top 8 as Infamous, a first for the region's history. At this point, with this team doing well in recent months, how far do you think this team is from its TI9 form?

Bashor: I think they're a better team than they were at TI9. I think everybody's gotten better, too, so it's just the arms race of trying to keep up with the talent level. The game has shifted a lot since then, but the way it is played is significantly different than it was last year. Every couple of months, Dota evolves pretty significantly. I think that they are a better team than they were at that time, and I think currently they are capable of--I think they go into every tournament thinking they can win.

I don't think they have much self-doubt in that, and we don't doubt them either. I think that they are a better team. I think they're a little more mature as well, which helps a lot. I believe they are significantly more focused on the goal, breaking things down, moving forward, and achieving success when challenges come. In particular, you saw it at this tournament where we lost the first game in a couple of series, and we managed to come back and win 2-1, and even against OG, we were close in all three games.

Even after losing that first game, we could have pulled out. Game 3 had a few things going our way. I think they're a better team than they previously were, and they'll continue to get better as they go.

Beastcoast fans hold up flags to cheer on the team in the audience at the PGL Arlington Major 2022 Beastcoast fans hold up flags to cheer on the team in the audience at the PGL Arlington Major 2022

(Credit: PGL)

BLIX: Looking at TI11, what are your expectations for SA in that tournament? Where do you think they will finish within the grand scheme of things?

Bashor: Well, I'm not exactly sure who will qualify from South America, so it's hard to say. I think the more open qualifier teams that aren't in on DPC points are a threat to be strong like the mid-field teams. I think they could potentially go as high as eighth. They could go on to have some pretty big runs. A few teams play a little bit more of a unique style and play very fast-paced, and I think if they catch the momentum, they can be really scary.

Especially depending on how the meta shifts, some players were, if their heroes are good, they're gonna be scary, and you can't count them out at that point. I think for Thunder and us, the sky's the limit. I would not be shocked to see either of us in the Top 4 of TI this year. They're a great team. I think we're a great team. I think there's a lot of potential for success between them and us.

BLIX: Team Spirit managed to make that awesome lower bracket run. They caught fire at the right time.

You can't count anyone out. I mean, I think we lost to them because they eliminated us. I remember that even after I tried to block that to my memory a little bit, but you know, they were a great team and tough to play against. As you said, BTS tragically died. They just, as you said, caught fire a time. I think there are a lot of teams like that in Dota right now.

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CS Virtual Trade Ltd, reg. no. HE 389299 Registered address and the principal place of business: 705, Spyrou Araouzou & Koumantarias, Fayza House, 3036, Limassol, Cyprus
Copyright © 2024 BLIX.GG. All rights reserved.