For rAge Expo 2014 Western Digital brought Stephen “Snoopeh” Ellis into South Africa this weekend to chat with local journalists and meet some fans. Snoopeh will be at the ComputersOnly stand all weekend in addition to having a few events up on the rAge main stage. I sat down for an interview with him and it’s been transribed for you below after the jump.
Wesley: Hello Stephen, welcome to South Africa!
Snoopeh: Hi, thanks for having me.
Wes: How has your trip here been so far?
Snoopeh: Its been great. I was specifically coming here for rAge but then I decided to come for a slightly longer stay to enjoy the country. So for two days I was down in Cape Town, which was cool. I did some shark diving down there which was fantastic.
Wes: I imagine you don’t really get the chance to swim with sharks that much, given how busy you are.
Snoopeh: Yeah I don’t, and especially not with great whites.
Wes: You swam with great whites?
Snoopeh: Yeah, I was in the cage and they were really close. The cage wasn’t that enclosed and you can actually stick your hand out, but… that’d be stupid!
Wes: Yeah, it is. So what else did you do on the way to Johannesburg?
Snoopeh: I went to Madikwe Game Reserve and it was incredible. I saw lots of wildlife and I even got to see some lions feasting on a buffalo up close. I’m definitely coming back for more.
Wes: After rAge Expo, where are you headed?
Snoopeh: Lots of places! I fly back on the 14th to Los Angeles and on the 15th to Korea. That’s probably another 30 hours of time spent in a plane.
Wes: Wow, you’ll definitely need to keep yourself occupied. What are you going to be doing up in Korea?
Snoopeh: I’m going to be doing a lot of things (traveling again, seeing the sights) but mainly I’m going to be watching the Korean teams and learn how they play and how they co-ordinate attacks and so on. I’m the only member of EG going. I’ll be watching the World Cup in Seoul and I’m hoping to grab a few tricks from them.
Wes: There’s a very big shift in tactics from one country to the other, isn’t there?
Snoopeh: Yeah, it’s a huge switch and if you’re not familiar with those players, you can be overwhelmed easily. It’s a different environment. I’ve been to China before and the players there are intense and extremely skilled.
Wes: The rest of Evil Genius is in the US right now. How do you feel about the move and do you think it was a good idea?
Snoopeh: I think it’s a good one because it’s always useful to experience how players in different countries compete. I’ve been on the European circuit, I’ve been on the Asian circuit and being in the US is the next natural step for us.
Wes: I have a few fan questions for you, if you’re okay with that.
Snoopeh: Sure. I love my fans, they’re very dedicated! (laughs)
Wes: Are you a cat or dog person?
Snoopeh: I’m a dog person, definitely. I don’t like cats.
Wes: CLG.EU had an extremely long match with Team WE that lasted hours and seemed to go forever…
Snoopeh: Oh no, not this again!
Wes: … So what happened behind the scenes?
Snoopeh: Okay so we were going into the match with Team WE. We’re in downtown LA and we’re in the same place as the NBA and those sports. So while we’re playing the game, our live streaming soaks up about 5% of the network bandwidth in the LA area and we also trip the circuit breakers, which naturally goes on to shut down our internet! While the game is paused there was a flurry of network engineers and electricians racing against time to fix it.
We were hanging backstage while we’re waiting for the problem to be fixed. In total, the game was about nine hours long. We’d keep on unpausing the game and the network would break soon after thanks to more power trips and it took a long time for the problem to be resolved.
Wes: What was the first champion you mained?
Snoopeh: That would have to be Amumu, some fond memories there.
Wes: What made you decide to take up League of Legends rather than DOTA?
Snoopeh: At the time DOTA had been out for a while but I wasn’t into MOBAs then. Everyone was waiting for something new to pop up and Riot came out at just the right time with LoL to capture the market. I don’t know if I would have played DOTA2, but it was a friend that suggested I try it out.
Wes: And then the rest is history! Before that I understand that you played Eve Online a lot.
Snoopeh: Yeah, for seven years. It is or at least was a fun game to get into back then and it’s very technical and complex. Very intense and difficult to get in to. I’m still fascinated by how the Eve Online economy works because a friend of mine is studying to be an economist and is working on a paper using Eve as his source.
Wes: Speaking of the economy, were you around at the time when Cally stole all the money in the Eve Intergalactic Bank and screwed so many people over?
Snoopeh: (laughs) Yes, he was my friend at the time! I met Cally early on in his Eve career and we would fly around together. I watched from behind the scenes as he took all the money, bought the ship and put the bounty on his head. And I gotta tell you, he had fun doing it.
Wes: You’re 23 years old now. The average retirement age for professional eSports players is about 25-28. Are you preparing for it or worried about it?
Snoopeh: Well, obviously people can keep playing and they’ll be somewhat successful, but you start to slide off as you reach 25 and over. Basically, the thing is that you have to try and meet new people and network with them so that you can keep doors open for yourself. There are a couple of things I could do once I’m retired bit I’m not sure which way I’m going to go right now.
Wes: Would you do anything similar to Johnathan Wendel, where he started marketing the Fatal1ty brand for peripherals and computer components?
Snoopeh: You can do that, but I don’t want to do that. It’s a lot of responsibility and it’s not something I’d want to shoulder.
Wes: When you finish up playing League of Legends professionally, what game is going to take up your time next?
Snoopeh: I actually don’t know. All I’ve been playing for the last few years is League of Legends. What game do I want to be playing? I don’t know. It’s a weird thing to think about.
Wes: Well… perhaps you can pick up a Playstation 4 or Xbox One!
Snoopeh: NO! No, I’ll never pick up a console again. I have a Playstation One collecting dust back home in Scotland and it’s not something I’m really into. I’m a PC gamer all the way. I haven’t turned that thing on in about four years.
Wes: Do you have a dream team of people that you’d like to play with?
Snoopeh: Not a dream team per se, I’ve had a similar question before and I’ve had time to think about it. I’d want to instead organise a tournament for all the old Legends players, the champions, to play together and see how they stack up after all this time. It’d be interesting to see who comes out on top.
Wes: Do you have any tips for people starting out as a jungler?
Snoopeh: A question like that is difficult because there’s a lot of thought that a jungler needs to do to be successful. I’d start by watching some live streams of junglers to see how they play and how they can affect the game throughout. Junglers also need to be very patient, that’s particularly important.
Junglers also have to know their own team as well, so you need to know who’s the stronger and who’s the weaker player, what their tactics are, how they react to situations and how they get out of spots and as a jungler you have to practice being in the right place at the right timeto give your teammates the edge in a fight. Its tricky, but rewarding.
Wes: What reaction do you get from people when you say that you play games for a living?
Snoopeh: They go, “what?”. I’ll tell them again and they’ll ask “what?” again! They try make sense of it by asking so many questions, like “so you develop the games?” or “do you test them for developers?” My favourite part is when they start listing franchises to figure out what I play and many haven’t heard of LoL. And its weird because gaming is such a massive industry, but for most people its not something that registers on their radar, much less for competitive eSports.
Wes: There was recently a university in the US that announced that they would be giving out credits to gamers who would enrol and compete in their eSports team and it’s seen a flock of gamers trying to register and sign up there. Do you think it’s the future?
Snoopeh: I don’t think it’s going to see a lot of pick-up right now, because that team still has to see their first year of competition and do well before other universities pick it up and play along. It’s not something that personally interests me, but there’s definitely a need for something like that and I’m eager to see it grow.
Wes: As we end this interview, what do you do in your spare time?
Snoopeh: I love to travel and experience new things, so that’s what takes up a lot of my free time. I like being outdoors and it’s always an adventure when I travel to a new country to meet more LoL teams and see how gaming has grown.
Wes: What’s your favourite car?
Snoopeh: I know this sounds weird but I love Mini Coopers, so that would be fun to drive. In about two years though I’d love to own a Tesla Model S. Its just such a futuristic car and it’s so environmentally friendly, which is something I’m also mindful about.