Maelstorm: Even if I were Valve, I don't know what decision I'd make

Alisa Barladyan
19 Apr 2022

Vladimir Maelstorm Kuzminov is a professional Russian Dota 2 commentator. He runs his own YouTube channel where he broadcasts game reviews and tutorials, analyzes Dota 2 in-game tricks, records podcasts, and writes news reviews. Vladimir also has a Twitch channel where he broadcasts some old-school games and interacts with the audience. Read more from about his coming to cybersport, his work as a commentator, and the process of creating videos.

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Vladimir Maelstorm Kuzminov

- You're quite a famous person, but not so many people know how you decided to commit yourself to cyber-sports. After all, you were originally a WarCraft 3 commentator, and before that, you were a StarCraft fan. Can you tell us more about how you switched to eSports? Why did you settle for Dota 2, what made you do that, maybe there was someone who helped you?

- That's right, I originally started with StarCraft and Warcraft. At that time it was the only eSports, it was the most affordable and widespread. I also remember CS, I wasn't really into it. Although it was fun to watch some of it, I was more into strategies. I have often told how I got into eSports: I saw a recording of a game from the World Cyber Games tournament on my cousin's desktop, watched it, and loved it a lot. I was already familiar with the games and StarCraft before that, so I started watching it bit by bit: whatever was local and whatever was on the Internet. The Internet was only evolving at the time, and there was more and more traffic.

Then I started playing DotA, but it wasn't very popular and didn't really appeal to me. After Dota 2 came out, I switched to it: it was much more convenient and enjoyable, so I played it a lot. Then The International took place and offers started pouring in. I got into, then I got to TI myself and continued working with After the Storm Studio, I joined RuHub where I've stayed ever since.

- Why did you choose such a nickname?

- It was a Dark Archon's skill in StarCraft: Brood War, only spelled differently. I misspelled it and since then I've had that nickname. Before that, I had a different one, but I'm not naming it, it was funny and ridiculous. I was put to shame, I "caved in" and changed it.

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- What did you like about being a commentator? What do you like most of all, and what do you hate about the profession?

- As a commentator, I like being able to comment on interesting games, but what's annoying is the routine that goes with it. Routine pisses everyone off, but it's unavoidable. There's a proverb "after dinner comes to the reckoning". I'm going to rephrase it: after commenting on interesting matches, come the common ones, and one should make a good show with them because they happen all the time. Even when The International is in progress, everyone thinks: wow, so cool. But there is PSG.LGD vs OG and you are commentating on Fnatic vs Beastcoast and it all happens at the same time, I don't really like it. I started questioning why I became a commentator. I'd rather be a spectator and go watch OG vs LGD, but a job is a job. There's a lot to like and a lot to hate, but that's the first thing that comes to mind.

- Have you tried yourself in other areas? As a player, manager, or trying to work in the industry of your degree?

- No way! Maybe I do try acting as a manager occasionally when looking for advertisements for Dotascope, or trying to improve some of the processes I see. But that's not my job, that's not what I'm doing.

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- What do you think it takes to become a cybersports commentator? Maybe you could give some advice to those who want to try their hand in this field?

- To become a commentator, you need to commentate on cybersport matches. Anyone who wants to become one - commentate on matches. The application won't come on its own, you have to start doing it. It's pretty hard at first, and it's not certain whether it will result in success.

- Who's your favorite commentator? Are you looking up to someone, perhaps not someone who belongs to cybersport?

- I don't really have any favorite commentators or people to look up to. I've been commentating for too long now, I won't be able to change drastically. I'm searching for what I don't like about myself, and I'm trying to fix it. There are commentators that I like and there are some that I don't, but still, I understand I won't be able to adopt the manner of some of them. For better or worse.

- Let's talk about your most popular column. Many Dota 2 players love your Dotascope - how did you come up with the idea? Who initiated it and how did the format and name of the column come about?

- Yes, it's my most cherished brainchild at the moment. I've always loved analytics, learning to see and analyze things. You can still find the old episodes on my channel or on the channel, which were in the format of hour-long game analysis. I was the instigator, then when I was called to Storm Studio I was told that I would run the columns of Versuta. The audience didn't like it, they offered me to get my column, and it was a hit. It's been around ever since. The name was created as something like this: telescope, microscope, and Dota.

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- Can you share how the process of making a clip goes? Do you work alone or with a team? How do you choose which match to analyze?

- (In an intriguing tone of voice) - If you were subscribed to my boosty, you'd have seen my videos about it! Subscription costs next to nothing, and the whole process is explained in detail there.

In short, the process of creating a video goes like this: writing a script, selection of visuals, voiceover and editing. I don't do the editing, but there's still not enough time to produce enough work. At the moment we have three people in the team. The idea, the visual plan and the voiceover are all on me. Searching for ideas is like looking for mushrooms: you keep walking, you find them, you pick them, and if you don't - you're just moving on. Picking matches is the hardest part, you have to find a good idea in the first place. One can make a good show out of a bad match, but it won't be the same.

- My favorite Dotascope is "Problems of Chinese teams," and which one did you like the most?

- At the moment, it's the "Dragon's Way". We invested so much effort into it. It's hard to believe, but the work has been going on for a month, every day for hours on end. I used to do everything by my own the first half a month because I was writing the script and making revisions, and then there were actually four of us, each doing their own thing. It was very time consuming and labor intensive.

- What are your plans for the future? What are you going to do?

- For now, I plan to keep doing what I'm doing, give or take. That is - Dotascope, a podcast and streams, where I'm just having fun. Drop by and have a chat, it's mostly old-school game content. And, of course, my main job is commenting, working at RuHub.

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- What changes will happen to eSports in Russia? In your opinion, when do we expect the beginning of DPC league or any tournaments to start? Maybe we should expect an increase in the number of tournaments organized by the Russian sponsors or eSports federations?

- No one knows for sure. Of course, maybe someone does, but not me. DPC league is canceled, as for how it returns and in its format is up to Valve. Even if I were Valve, I don't know what decision I would make, what I would do. I think they're confused as well, so no decision has been made. When should we expect the DPC league to start? I have no idea. Winline Dota 2 Champions League is going non-stop, it's a very good, and basically an exclusive possibility for the CIS teams to play and perform somewhere on a regular basis right now.

I think we have to rely on such domestic tournaments and our own work. I can't say if it's for good or bad, but it's a fact. We should expect an increase in tournaments organized by our Russian organizations and wait for developments in the eSports world.

- What is your favorite game?

- A lot of old games, but let's settle for Space Rangers 2 HD.

- What is your favorite Dota 2 item?

- Aether Lens.

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- Favorite match you've commentated on?

- OG vs EG at The International 8.

- Best professional Dota 2 player ever?

- Probably ana if we're talking about the entire history.

- What's your dream?

- To make it to the Dark Tower.

- Thank you very much for this conversation, one last question: what would you like to wish our readers?

- Check out the Dotascope. Rate the work and write down what's missing. I also invite you to join my streams. The best support for content makers and commenters is your engagement - I mean it. To support someone, just keep track of their activity. I wish all the best to everyone who reads this. If it all gets bad, there will be no views, no content, nothing at all, and it would be very sad. The most important thing is being safe and well, that's what I wish for all of you.

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