Interview: Caster Toby "TobiWan" Dawson on moving to the UK, the state of DOTA 2 and the Australian esports scene

tobiwan interview 1

Australian DOTA 2 caster Toby “TobiWan” Dawson has just made the move from Berlin to Leicester.
Ahead of the Kiev Major group stages on April 24th, Dom Sacco asks TobiWan why he’s moved to the UK, what he thinks of the casting talent here and how UK esports compares to the Australian scene.
 

Hi Toby, welcome to the UK! Firstly, what are your thoughts on the UK and moving here, have you been here much before?

Hi Dom 🙂 I had never been much to the UK until the last few months, during which I’ve constantly found myself traveling in for the events of the award shows.
I’m from Australia but my father was actually born in London so I came over a couple of times as a kid, but – of course – traveling from Australia to London is a fair trip so I didn’t make it that often.
 

Why are you moving to the UK?

I was really looking for a change of pace: the ability to work from home and live in a country that speaks my native language. It also brings me closer to a couple of mates and to my girlfriend.
 

The UK is a hotbed of casting and hosting talent, with people like Machine, ReDeYe, Deman, Joe Miller, Richard Lewis… and other more recent talent like Excoundrel and Medic emerging from these shores. Why do you think the UK produces such a host of casting talent? 

There is no doubt there is a lot of top class talent coming out of the UK. I don’t know what they put in the water in here but it creates really dedicated, hardworking people.
People like ReDeYe and Joe Miller have been around since the dawn of esports, and that I think is where the secret of the UK’s talent can be traced back to… the fact that the infrastructure here was built up early here put the UK market ahead of the rest.
 
 

“There is no doubt a lot of top class casting talent coming out of the UK. I don’t know what they put in the water in here but it creates really dedicated, hardworking people.”

 
 

We recently wrote this article – 13 up and coming UK & Ireland casters to look out for. What would you say to hopeful casters like these, what advice would you give them?

With all starting casters I suggest they ensure they are commentating for the right reasons, the first and most important being that they enjoy casting and the game they are covering.
Commentary is really just an expression of your own thoughts and emotions concerning the game, and if you don’t enjoy it then you are just faking to your audience.
 

You’ve moved to Leicester. What are your thoughts on ESL UK potentially using the revamped Leicester Haymarket Theatre as an esports arena?

Speaking as someone who has attended many esports events in venues that are designed for basketball, concerts, etc… having venues crafted to suit the specialty needs of electronic sports is something I will always support.
The one thing to do when you are retrofitting an old venue is to make sure that you can actually make the show look good. There is nothing worse than showing an empty audience at a LAN event!
 
 

TobiWan recently published a vlog about his move to the UK (above)
 
 

You mentioned in a recent video you’ll be giving a lecture at a UK university. Do you have more details on this, when and where will this be happening?

I was actually approached to be part of a masterclass! I still need to work out a couple more details around it, but if all goes according to plan I will get to share my knowledge with a couple of universities in the UK.
I will of course let people know once I set the place/date/time 🙂
 

You also said you want to focus on studying and pushing your YouTube channel more. What are your plans here, and how important is it for casters to focus on highlighting their own content?

I wanted an avenue I could use to be creative with stuff, while also archiving moments my old brain and community might be starting to forget!
The best way for me to do that is through my YouTube channel, so now I can do all that while helping to build a community, which will give me more freedom to create whatever my heart drives me to do.
 
 

“Commentary is really just an expression of your own thoughts and emotions concerning the game, and if you don’t enjoy it then you are just faking to your audience.”

 
 

A lot of people say the amateur DOTA scene in the UK is dying. What are your thoughts on this and the UK esports scene in general? Do you follow it much?

There are many issues facing the DOTA scene at the moment; lack of participation is one not easily solved and puts a lot of pressure on the third-party organizers, who are decreasing their level of investment in DOTA.
There are many things that can be done to help fix this problem but most of the real solutions have to come from Valve HQ, so we will have to wait and see how they structure the scene post The International 7 (TI7).
 

We don’t hear much about the Australian esports scene. What’s it like Down Under and how does it compare to other countries around the world in terms of esports?

There are a few people I know trying to build up the Australian scene. We have some amazing players down there, but they rarely get the opportunity to showcase their skills, either due to the horrible internet infrastructure down there or just the sheer distance of Australia from any of the major organisations/tournaments.
If we could just shift Australia closer to the rest of the world, improve the internet, and give funding to the people trying to make a difference, then Australia would be the best esports nation in the world.
 
 

“If we could just shift Australia closer to the rest of the world, improve the internet and give funding to the people trying to make a difference, then Australia would be the best esports nation in the world.”

 
 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I am sure I will see many people at happenings around the UK. Until then, follow me on my social media and thank you!
 

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