This week, we had the chance to talk with Thibault “Koka” Legall, a caster at O’Gaming and a Starcraft II enthusiast. Graduated from a business school, he did not necessarily plan to work in esport. But life is made up of encounters and opportunities… And he is now a commentator and expert on the game. His career path, his vision of esport, his future… He agreed to answer our questions!
Kyklos: First of all, the classic one: can you introduce yourself?
Koka: I’m Koka, Thibault Legall, and I’m 24 years old. I work at O’Gaming on Starcraft II!
I’ve been in the esport business for four years now. I started making youtube videos like all the casters, in my room. And one day I became a professional. In addition to that, I’m also an official observer on Starcraft. So Blizzard recruits me directly to do the in-game camera on the official competitions. That’s the little extra livelihood that’s a little cool! And at OG I also do show production. It’s project management on all shows other than two casters commenting on games. The goal is to create different contents, with staging, animations…
K: Can you tell us more about your academic background and the steps that brought you to where you are today?
K: So I have a super classic career path as a guy who went to high school, Sciences baccalaureate degree. Then I went to a post-graduate business school directly. My goal was to learn how to do marketing. And on youtube, I started making my first videos when I was 18. I resumed later at the beginning of the 2nd year of the business school. It was casting videos, coaching for beginners… My goal was to enjoy and introduce my audience to the game. Then I joined a team for which I started streaming! And that’s when a lot of guys on this team told me to try to reach Pomf and Thud (O’Gaming’s founders).
And luckily I had a school friend who knew them. He introduced me to Thud, we had a chat over a beer, then Skype and here I am casting at OG! That was done pretty quickly after all. I didn’t have much experience, not many hours of streaming… Not even 1000 subscribers on YouTube! It was really because they needed someone and I wasn’t bad for a beginner.
I then finished my studies at my school, and joined OG on a permanent contract immediately afterwards.
Kyklos: Why starcraft II? Has that always been your game? Or did you go through other games before?
K: When I was a kid, my dad used to play RTS. So at 4 years old I discovered StarCraft 1, then Age of Empire, Age of Mythology… It was the fashion at the time and my father loved it. So I was immersed in it very early on!
Starcraft II was released in 2010, and I played it right from the start! It was the first game that opened me to the notion of “community”. I used to play with my friends. I didn’t play online, I played solo. And then with Starcraft, it completely opened me up to that. And since then I’ve never really gotten out. After that, like everyone else, I have periods when I play more or less. But I’ve never really stopped!
K: And was esport your career plan? Or did it come with the time and opportunities you had?
K: No, no, no, it wasn’t the plan at all. When I started casting, it was pocket money, but it wasn’t much. And over the years as you grow up, as you move forward in your studies, you start to get a little better at what you want to do. In business school, we do a lot of internships, and I had the opportunity to work in large companies. So yes, you’re well paid, yes, you have an interesting job… But I was missing a few things. I thought it was a little annoying! I was missing that cool fiber in the morning: I get up, and going to work is not a burden.
After careful consideration, it remains a job. To be honest, the speech of “passion”, “family” when you talk about the pro I find it a little lame. We get up in the morning to earn a living and eat in the evening. You shouldn’t lie to yourself. But you get up in the morning, and it’s not boring! You’re not just unhappy.
But here it came, as it went along. Even if I want to return to a more traditional or other environment later on, it’s still a possibility.
Kyklos: And you, who have been following the game since the start, what do you think of the Starcraft scene today? Did it evolve well according to you?
Koka: Starcraft has a dead-game image, let’s face it! It was on the decline for a while… 2015 was a good year, 2016 it was starting to lose momentum, and 2017 was clearly misery. We thought it was going to be complicated. But in 2018 the stars are lining up a little bit! We have a Finnish player, Serral, who is destroying the game. We also have Maru in Korea who also explodes everything. And now we have a storytelling that will last a year, saying that these two players will challenge each other all year long until BlizzCon. So it’s January, and we’re talking about November.
Besides, the game meta is super cool. The hype is rising, the games are epic… And as the year progressed, the number of spectators began to rise. After that, you have to be careful what you compare audiences too. Don’t forget that back then, when you had 60,000 people watching a DreamHack, we were all crazy! Nowadays, you’re doing a Fortnite tournament, you hit a million viewers right now. So proportionately speaking, the game has almost never been as good as it is now. And it’s great that it’s still going on!
The only problem is that you don’t have many new pro players. But overall it’s going well.
Kyklos: And what is it that keeps the pro players’ cycle from being renewed?
Koka: The game is too hard… Now we have a French player, who is 16 years old and who is monstrous. But he’s 16, so when the game came out he was 7. So from then on, he grew up with LoL, CS… Games that are much more attractive on paper. The new player scene is attracted by sexier games and the game is too old to have new beginners who will become the professionals of tomorrow. Starcraft is very, very demanding.
Kyklos: Okay interesting. But what makes the difference on StarCraft between a good player and an excellent player?
Koka: As you said before, it’s a very mechanically demanding game. And before you have perfect mechanics, there is also a game intelligence. Very good example, we cashed the WCS final between Reynor and Serral. So from the beginning we knew that the level was going to be incredible. They played with Zerg against Zerg, so they had the same units. And it was impressive! The number of feints they put on to surprise the opponent. And when you combine that with perfect mechanics and 500 clicks per minute… Obviously it gives a good show. And even us at the cast it was very complicated to follow.
But all that to say is that’s why the scene is struggling! To reach this level, you have to invest a lot of time in the game.
Kyklos: Zerator announced the game at the ZLan by the way! And we’ve only seen big streamers like DominGo, or Sardoche who are very interested in the game! And you even improvised yourself as a coach! Do you think that even for them, who are good video game players, it’s complicated?
Koka: But I’m not inclined to say that Starcraft is hard. It’s hard if you want to be the best in the world. But if you just want to have fun, it’s really good too. It’s a game that’s very rewarding! After that, if you blow yourself up in the ladder, that’s normal too! You’re going to play against guys who’ve been playing for five years, who are not so good, but they’ll know the game better than you. In fact, mostly guys like DominGo and Sardoche, they know how to try hard especially! When you’ve played games like LoL or whatever, you know how to approach a new game!
And you see DominGo, after two hours training he beats a Silver in Ladder! And he’s happy! The video with DominGo I recommend it to you! He enjoys it, and takes pleasure while getting better. You just have to put aside the “it’s a mechanical game”! You have to take an interest in the game and you’ll see that it’s not that complicated.
Kyklos: It seems to me that Sardoche has already passed Diamond on the game? It still shows that it remains accessible!
Koka: Yes, after that it’s Sardoche, he’s super good mechanically. So he learned a very strong technique and it works. But yes in the idea, it’s a game that can satisfy everyone!
Kyklos: And what advice would you give to people who are going to read this interview and who want to test the game?
Koka: Start with the solo campaign. It’s a Blizzard game, there’s a great story. So really do it here! The universe is well tied up. And it will allow you to set a first foot in this universe. Also watch games, whether on YouTube or Twitch! Feel free to ask questions on the forums or chat rooms. We’re a small community, so when someone comes to us for advice, we welcome them with open arms!
Kyklos: And if we come back a little bit to the overall esport market. We’ve seen a lot of changes in the scene lately, especially with the arrival of Fortnite. What do you think of the game? And what do you think about Epic Games’ arrival on the esport market?
Koka: BR for me is not esport. There’s too much randomness, it’s not very beautiful to look at… However it’s brought a lot of audiences to Twitch. It democratized video games a little bit. So I don’t necessarily think it’s an esport range of games, but it brought people to us. And we always want more! Our goal will be to educate them to watch and play other things than Fortnite! So it’s a beautiful challenge!
Kyklos: Interesting. You’re not the first person to tell us about Fortnite this way! Finally, if we get back to Koka: which other games do you play ?
Koka: I played a lot of LoL. I reached the Platinum / Diamond level and I followed the scene a lot too!
But right now it’s Smash Bros. Oh! How could I almost forget Smash. This is my life. It’s tons of mechanics, it’s 1v1. It’s the exact game that gives you satisfaction. But I’m playing a little bit of everything! I’m not closed on the topic.
Kyklos: And how does Koka see his future? What are his projects?
Koka: Honestly, I’m asking myself the question but I don’t have the answer yet. I want to continue to ride the positive Starcraft wave right now because I love what I do. I also want to gain experience in production. And one day the game will end. And then I’ll have to be able to rotate! But we still have a bit more time! But you have to think about it and be prepared for eventually!
Kyklos: Thank you very much for your time Koka!
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