We sat down with Evie “HamTornado” Feng, whom you might recognize from her broadcasts of the Overwatch Open Division and most recently, South American Contenders. In this series, HamTornado shares her story of how drive, skill, and heart have helped her achieve her casting goals. If you missed it, read part one here.
How did dinner with Alex “Left Guy” Gill move your career forward?
We went and had dinner and talked for hours, man. And I was like, I can’t believe this guy is just one of the most earnest and genuine people I’ve met. He taught me a lot. He had a great saying, he was like, “Anything I’ve ever truly accomplished in my life that I felt happy with – the success of it was due to personal development, not because I was chasing some kind of arbitrary goal.” You know, his whole thing was [that] you shouldn’t look at self improvement as a means to an end. It should be for you. It should be internal.
He gave anybody the time of day, was always down to talk to anybody about anything. Really, he didn’t have a big head. He wasn’t like, “I’m some hot shot, I’m a co-founder of Carbon Entertainment” or anything like that. I could have seen my casting career [unfold] very differently if I didn’t have that initial extremely welcoming, open, and honest interaction with Gill, so I am eternally grateful.
After that point, he was like, “hey, you know, I heard of some Discord server somewhere out in the ether that is providing resources for casters, they have a community where you could talk to people or something”. And I’m like, “oh, cool. What is it?” “Oh, I don’t know”. [laughter]
I was like, I have to find this server, right? I actually asked Robert “Hexagrams” Kirkbride – me, Left Guy, and Hex played a random Quick Play game – it was one of strangest things I’ve ever done. But I asked around, asked Hex who didn’t know because obviously Broadcast.gg (BGG) wasn’t even a thing.
I asked around, and I finally got sent the link and I joined BGG. At that point we probably had like, 170-200 members, something like that.
At that point, it was really just Mooshu (Alex “MooshuBeef” Chan, founder of Broadcast.gg) and Lemon (Jen “LemonKiwi” Pichette) [that] were the only real casting pair who were consistently casting scrims to improve, right?
My understanding was that it was a server set up [by Mooshu and Lemon] with [the mindset of] “I have this need, I want to be able to practice, so we’re going to set up a server [to allow people to pursue casting]”. It’s a little bit of a far cry from what Broadcast.gg has developed into now.
[And so,] I joined, and I’m just so pig-headed and stubborn – I’m one of those people who once they have an idea, that’s all they [can] think about. All day every day, I was living, breathing Overwatch and grinding scrims. If I wasn’t awake, I was sleeping. If I was awake, I was grinding.
I was [often] like, “oh, hey, you guys, what’s the dealio, we have scrims and stuff!” But there wasn’t any infrastructure set up to look for scrims. There was no infrastructure set up to find producers, or you know, smooth the flow of getting scrims – connecting teams with casters and producers, and so forth.
Mooshu must have hated me, I was so annoying! I’d come in every day and whine and gripe and want scrims. [Since] there weren’t any scrims, I was like, “you know, I’m going to find my own scrims!”
How did you create those opportunities for yourself?
I just start joining, like, a billion servers and started being like, “Hey, I got a scrim right here! Hey I got another scrim! Anybody want to come and cast with me, I got another scrim today, I got loads of scrims!” This is from my own viewpoint and it’s obviously biased, but I think that was kind of one of the catalysts that jump started BGG. What continues to drive BGG is the hunger coming up from like the the grass roots. It’s people who really want to improve and practice and get things done.
In the very beginning that was me, I guess. Super annoying, but eventually we kind of came to this place where it was like, well, other people seem really interested in this, we should start sourcing scrims for other pairings. In fact, we should start making scrim nights a thing that we do every week. We could do a multiple days a week, we should start setting up this calendar. We can invite teams in we started getting the server organized and everything. Yeah, and expand from NA into EU. And so, this was like a middle developmental period.
Around that time, like December or January, I met Harry “LEGDAY” Pollitt, another guy who I’m eternally grateful for. He’s also somebody who’s just really stubborn and self-driven. I remember we were just chatting in the general chat or something, and he’s like, “hey, does anybody want to cast Nexus Cup with me?” And being an idiot like myself, I’m like, yes! I didn’t even know what was going on, I didn’t know what Nexus Cup was. And [yet,] being an idiot like myself, I’m like, yes! [After]I answered, he was like, “Okay, awesome. We’ll cast it together”.
We start talking in DMs and he’s like, okay, so this is a Chinese tournament. It starts – I forget whatever time in BST – and I’m like, oh, that’s one o’clock in the morning NA time. It’s every day of the week. This is what I love about Leg, he always goes for it. We would have to re-broadcast streams, which is technically not supposed to happen. So he’s like, “It’s okay. We’ll just fly under the radar. I’ll just stream from my personal channel and we’ll just have two webcams set up. We’ll not show any of the ads or cinematics or whatever [since] we’re basically stealing from the Chinese stream. Oh, and we’ll just cast over the games with no game audio”. Perfect.
No game audio, underground backyard bootleg casting, I’m down. But I was like shit… you know this webcam thing, I live out in the boonies in Colorado. I have like five megabits per second download speed. It’s impossible, there’s no way that you could run a webcam and Overwatch at the same time. I was trying to play Overwatch yesterday and my ping was [over] 700. So I was like, “well this whole webcam deal, I don’t think that’s going to work out, but I want to do the webcam because it’s going to increase the production value”. I didn’t know the word production value at the time, but I was like people, you want people to be able to see your face right?
I called all my friends and everything else, trying to find where I can literally just be a hobo and squat in somebody’s house for six hours at one o’clock in the morning, cast this shit and then leave. Luckily, I have some very tolerant friends, so I would just commute to my friend’s house at twelve at night, set up in her living room, cast for like six hours and then leave. Just so I could use her internet, have a webcam on, and stream.
Oh, and the other thing was Leg Day and I would be streaming simultaneously, like we would both just be watching the feed ourselves from our separate cameras. But we needed to be linked. It was stupid, I lost so much hair probably. The struggles of not having internet and trying to make it in esports, man.
Part Three of our interview with HamTornado will be released tomorrow. Look forward to hearing more about her mentors, experience with Broadcast.gg, and advice for hopeful casters.