Having recently partnered with Mindfreak, the members of Australia’s leading Heroes of the Storm team are currently in the midst of competition in the Premier Division of the 2018 Global Championship.
Joining the Mindfreak family means more than just an opportunity to don our colours on stages both local and international. It involves a passionate community that follows along every step of the way, anxiously anticipating the euphoria of victory.
Without a single map loss to their name thus far in 2018, it’s only fitting to share the stories of those involved with one of Australia’s most powerful esports rosters.
Join us each week as we continue to chase our goals within the storm.
Today we’re grateful to be joined by Jenna Cloud, manager of our Heroes of the Storm (HotS) team and one of the key individuals at the forefront of the overall community. Aside from having played an integral role in assisting the team through intense competition, Jenna is known for her vast presence on social media as well as consistent Twitch streams.
Having gone from being radio host to cosplay specialist studying at the University of Melbourne, how has your career intertwined with the video game industry thus far?
Yes I used to be a radio host for Asian Pop Radio Australia and cosplayed purely because of my love for games! My very first game was Diablo and I remember being too scared to play it by myself as a kid so I had to ‘duo’ with my brother in a brightly lit room with a volume setting of ‘barely audible’.
Diablo was my first Blizzard title and I’ve been a massive fan-girl ever since, evidenced by my foray into Diablo II, Diablo III, World of Warcraft (WoW), Hearthstone and now Heroes of the Storm - sorry no Starcraft or Overwatch (well I did play some Overwatch but it gave me motion sickness hahah).
Would it be accurate to assume then that your first cosplay was centered on a Blizzard character or did that that not occur until you were far more experienced with the craft?
Hmm, my first cosplay was actually Ahri from League of Legends (LoL) hahah.
Well the reason I haven’t cosplayed any Blizzard characters is because I find they are so well designed (the clothing and accessories are so detailed and colourful), it is truly difficult to live up to the expectations.
When you are cosplaying, you are the character, and to date I still haven’t mustered up the courage to take on that challenge.
I’m sure a lot of fans in the cosplay community appreciate your mindset.
Moving forward however, when did you decide to focus your efforts more heavily on building your own brand through daily Twitch streams and occasional YouTube content alongside your other social media efforts?
You might not guess it now, but when I was younger I had a lot of anxiety speaking to strangers and especially speaking in public. I guess that growing up playing video games allowed me to have that social interaction, even if it was with NPCs in the game.
As I grew older I started playing MMORPGS (like WoW mentioned above & Lineage II) and as I grew more confident speaking with guildmates online, I was determined to ‘conquer my fear’ so that I could communicate with people about things I am passionate about. That’s actually the reason why I got into radio hosting, MCing & hosting events.
With my social media efforts, it really just ties in with wanting to be a voice out there to speak on the things I am passionate about. Whether it is esports, modeling, advocating for a product, various social issues, etc.
In regards to streaming on Twitch, I actually started streaming for fun because I played a lot of LoL at one point in my life. My friends just suggested that since I was spending so much time on the game, I might as well stream it. The rest is history.
So how does one go from casually playing MOBA’s online in front of a large audience, to getting involved in the Heroes of the Storm scene and eventually managing the top team in Australia?
Huh, this one is a tough one.
It was just a natural chain of events in my life that lead to managing our HotS team. I was very interested in the LoL scene while streaming and did some work for Legacy Esports (hosting their inaugural esports open house event) along with some other PAX events. I eventually got to know a lot of the professional players and owners of the Australian LoL scene. That’s where I met Ryoo one of our current players.
When Ryoo transitioned from being a professional LoL player to HotS, he told me about how excited he was to be picked up by team Nomia. I could tell he was very passionate about wanting to do well and for his team to ascend beyond just the local competition. He told me about the team’s visions and goals and I could sense that they had a lot of things on their plate so I offered to help manage all non-game related issues so that they can concentrate on practicing and improving on their game.
What exactly does the managerial role entail? What intricate aspects of the position do you think go unnoticed by many?
The key goal for me, is to make sure the boys are happy. When their mental state is clear and positive, that is when they can play their best without any worries. That is my guiding point for everything I do with our HotS team.
You can say I’m basically their surrogate mother hahah. The work I do includes making sure the players are feeding themselves, attending scrims, organising team building sessions, managing finances, arranging boot camp sessions (including accommodation, where to eat, how much we can spend, travel arrangements, etc.).
It also involves me sorting out their schedules, communicating with Blizzard and tournament organisers about admin related responsibilities, making social media posts (announcements - pre & post games), making memes, taking pictures and video of the team for social media engagements or as well as communicating with current and future sponsors.
I think people generally do appreciate what a team manager does for the players, but you are right in saying it’s hard to reach that level of transparency when you are just a fan of the game or the team. I’m not saying my work with the team is exactly what other team managers do or should do, as a manager’s role is unique and depends on their arrangement with the organisation or the team itself.
Mentioning that your role may differ from other team managers, how difficult was it when starting out in this position? Obviously there aren’t many similar examples in this line of work that you can look to for inspiration in order to replicate success. How did you strike a balance between managing professional obligations for the team, maintaining a personal social media presence, as well as finding the time to switch off occasionally?
Not to mention I also have a day job as well hahah,
Well the boys were really good to me when I first started out, they do not make any demands at all (and still don’t) with the exception of FAT94 who does NOT like walking for long distances hahah.
In terms of striking a balance, I have a scheduled time for doing everything. There is time to manage the team’s needs, my own personal needs, and my professional needs. I generally like to reward myself when something gets done with a pair of new shoes for instance, but I do give myself some ‘ME’ time on Saturday or Sunday, and that is super important in this line of work, just to give yourself a mental break.
I find that when you are passionate about helping others and engaging with something you care about, you generally don’t feel any sense of ‘burn-out’, at least I don’t. I personally thrive when I am under pressure and know that what I am doing is going to be beneficial for myself or others.
That’s a great outlook to have!
Focusing on the year ahead for the team, how do you think that the pairing with Mindfreak will assist the squad moving forward?
We are extremely excited for the journey ahead with Mindfreak because the way in which the organisation runs things is very professional. From how they deal with sponsors and their affiliates to how they communicate and approached us initially. I’ve also heard some really great feedback about Mindfreak from other people I know in the industry, so we have a really good feeling about this.
We are confident our pairing with Mindfreak is going to be successful based on their history of picking strong performing teams to join their family. With Mindfreak’s support and guidance we strongly believe we will excel in the international spectrum and put ANZ on the map.
Since the inception of our team, our objective has always been to be the best HotS team in Oceania and Mindfreak will greatly assist in that.
Because of the small corporate investment and infrastructure in eSports in Oceania relative to say NA or EU, we felt continuously challenged by the small talent pool within our region to practice with and appreciate that we need to bootcamp internationally more often to fully harness and improve our skills.
What has it been like witnessing the scene evolve as of late?
Blizzard is now investing heavily in HoTs with the new HGCANZ Premier Division and the increasing prize pool for 2018. Couple this with the fact that the eSports scene in ANZ is flourishing with more viewership, mainstream media coverage and corporate groups are taking an interest to investing in eSports, we can’t help but believe this is an exciting time to be in esports.
Speaking of which, currently sitting atop the Premier Division rankings with an untouched map count, did you think that the team would perform this well to start out the season and do you see this trend of dominance continuing throughout the events to come?
I’m their manager so of course I have to be confident they will do well hahah. I also forgot to mention that I’m their biggest fan and cheerleader - that is part of my job description kappa.
Jokes aside, the team has never let me down because I know how hard they practice, the time they spend researching the game and analysing how the other regions perform. Most importantly, the team members are a really close bunch of friends with the same dream & drive. Like when the team is just ‘chilling’ you can tell they really care for each other, and I believe that’s so essential for a successful esports team.
Practice time for us isn’t just playing the game, but also observing where we can improve, whether it’s the draft, mechanics, in game communication, shot calling etc. I see the team do this on the daily so I am very confident in their ability to maintain their current dominating performance within the HGCANZ, and hopefully in the Intercontinental Clash in Brazil.
Everyone in the community is incredibly excited to have the team on board and we look forward to big things ahead.
Thank you so much again for taking the time to sit down with us today. Any closing comments for the Mindfreak family?
We should say thank YOU for giving us a voice and the opportunity for the Mindfreak community to get to know us. We will keep training hard and performing better under our new home and we hope you will continue to support us as part of the Mindfreak family.