Even though Anastasija "Heccu" Tolmačeva entered the Counter-Strike scene less than a few years ago and has less experience under her belt compared to other established talent, she has undoubtedly become one of its most recognizable interviewers in the events she has participated in.
This concerns ESL Impact, ESL Pro League, the Rio Major and many more. Undoubtedly, she has had multiple moments and multiple highlights to choose from while reflecting on her career.
In the second part of BLIX’s interview with Counter-Strike host and interviewer Heccu, she covers the people she thinks has stood out in developing a career from ESL Impact, her experience working in the Rio Major, how the CS community views the gradual presence of women in broadcasts and more.
Distinguished people in ESL Impact & personal highlights
Pedro Romero, BLIX: Which person has stood out to you in terms of cultivating their career in Impact specifically?
Anastasija "Heccu" Tolmačeva: I would say probably Lucy. I'm not sure if she did something before Impact, but I think when it comes to Impact, she also started casting on her own channel and then DreamHack and ESL noticed that she's really good, well spoken and understands the game. She was getting like all of the checkmarks, got invited to be the official caster and now she doesn't miss a single Impact, and through Impact, she actually managed to showcase so much of her skill set that now she's being invited to other events. She's now doing some bigger formatted events with ESL and BLAST with the [Paris Major] RMRs. There's a lot of things just because she put herself out. Since she was doing it for Impact and Impact wanted to praise her for that and they it her to the spotlight and it was like, "Wow! She's so good!"
BLIX: And it's a testament to her diligence and her hard work, and the same goes to you as well. Also, you were able to be in Rio for the Major last year and even stood alongside the trophy during certain times. What was that experience like?
Heccu: It is wild because you need to keep in mind that you're in a different country, you're a different continent and you are at one of the two main events of the year in the sphere that you're working in, and you're not only getting to work behind the camera but also in front of the camera. So it is wild in a way. It is definitely wild. It's a type of thing that you write down the things I got to do in life. That was definitely one of the things I'll write down and say I did this, so it was incredible.
BLIX: Would it be fair to say that it was the top moment of your career?
Heccu: Top moment of my career? Let's say, when it comes to the CV, I will say yes. Emotionally, I would probably say my first ever Katowice [appearance] was the most emotional one because it was my first event with ESL and I didn't do anything with them before, and all of a sudden, I'm doing Katowice. You have, like, what, two Majors in a year then there's the BLAST finals but also there's Cologne and Katowice. It is a Top 6 event of the year and that was your first one. You didn't even do Challengers or anything else, so for me, it was really emotional.
BLIX: Talking about that, do you feel like you ascended too fast or not? Or do you feel you should have done the steps before reaching Katowice
Heccu: An example that I can give is that I felt I'm like a bamboo. I spent so much time developing the roots without showing myself, and then when I got an opportunity, I just shot up so high. I've spent a decent amount of time growing and not being like noticed that much. I was trying to create content for Tier-2 and Tier-3 CS, FPL and academy players and that is exactly how I got noticed. In the way Lucy got noticed through Impact, I got noticed through doing the WePlay Academy League because I got to host to a few seasons, and the reason why I even got this opportunity was because I was interested in their project.
I was interviewing their players. I was traveling to their LAN events on my own such as booking the flight and booking the hotel. For the first ever season, when I found that that's gonna be online, I was like, "Okay, I want to go there and do IRL interviews because it's always different having the person next to you and interviewing him than doing it online. Right away, it even looks different and it has more interest.
I remember writing to them asking if would you give me a press pass, and since it was still 2021 and the [COVID] pandemic [was still going on], it was hard for them to guarantee it and were delaying the answer. But eventually, I came over, I did the thing and then I got invited to be the host for the next season because they saw the passion and the interest.
Also, the reason why that happened was because banks needed to go back home to make a visa so they needed a substitute and decided to go for me because I already knew the storylines and I already knew the players. Because they were absolutely, I don't want to say "no names", but unknown. Back then, you would Google their names like "Aqua," and the only thing you would get is my online interview. It was things like that so it was easy for me to actually host that because I knew the storylines. I was not lost. I could actually tell things so that kind of helped me out a lot.
BLIX: We've been seeing more women come into the CS broadcasts such as yourself, Lucy and other people you mentioned in this conversation. Do you feel the CS general community (not just in Impact) has been finally accepting of seeing more women in broadcasts and stuff like that?
Heccu: I would say women in CS broadcasts work were there from the beginning of CS:GO. For example, Pansy used to cast big events, but I feel previously, women would only be seen in the roles of a stage host or maybe an interviewer, like what I do. Right now, people are way more accepting to the fact that they can have a woman casting.
When Pansy was a caster, she was getting a lot of negative things for absolutely no reason and it was actually really interesting to see when she came back for a little bit during the pandemic how much people were happy to see her back because they now know she's actually really good. Back then, people were just hating [her] for the sake of hating, and now they dropped this idea of not like hearing a woman's voice. People have different reasons, but once they listen to her, they're like, "oh no, she's actually good," because she has a really nice voice, she is well spoken and her vocabulary is absolutely crazy and amazing.
"When Pansy was a caster, she was getting a lot of negative things for absolutely no reason and it was actually really interesting to see when she came back for a little bit during the pandemic how much people were happy to see her back because they now know she's actually really good."
Grading the Season 3 Finals
BLIX: Taking the focus back to you, with Impact heading into its second year, coupled with your progression from last year, what is the biggest team that changed the Heccu of last year and the Heccu of this year?
Heccu: For the Heccu of this year, I would say I'm definitely less stressed out because I'm the type of person that likes planning. I like to plan everything in advance and be prepared for everything that is possible, but unfortunately, in my field of work, that is absolutely impossible. Sometimes, that might be technical issues. Sometimes, maybe something was not prepared on time because people were short on time and there's a lot of things to do. I will say the [biggest] change is now I'm more easygoing. If something doesn't go according to plan, there's way less panic. I'm still kinda getting used to it. I can't say that I'm fully adjusted like a pro, I can flow like the water or I can take any shape. I'm working on it, but previously, it was hard to just let go of control.
BLIX: Even though we still have one more series after the NAVI and FlyQuest RED semifinal, how would you grade your performance in this event on a scale of one to 10?
Heccu: It's always so hard to rate yourself because you don't see yourself on the site. It's like the same way as saying if you can rate your voice which you cannot because you don't actually hear yourself you know? You need to make a recording and then listen to it. Right now, it will be hard for me to tell you. I would be able to tell you in a few days when I would watch the VOD to actually see, because, right now, I think I did good and I'm pretty happy. There was a lot of chaos. All the things that could happen were we adjusted and fixed. It can probably always be better. I don't think it's bad. I'd say let's give it a seven and If I do good during the grand finals, we can get to an eight or nine.
In case you missed part one, be sure to check it out here.