Dedicated Esports Reporter Jourdan Kerl Talks Shop

Dedicated Esports Reporter Jourdan Kerl Talks Shop

While in New Orleans covering the Gears of War tournament, I was immediately drawn to the brilliant energy of Jourdan Kerl. You can’t miss her, she brings so much passion and personality to the broadcast team. I love how you can tell she has to contain her excitement with the rest of us as she conducts interviews and provides viewers with updates and tournament analysis. I cannot tell you how excited I am to introduce Jourdan to the SG readership as she was kind enough to grant me an interview.

Rebecca Rothschild: What is it about the GOW esports community that makes it so special for you?
Jourdan Kerl: Although I’ve never played GoW competitively, I have played the game for 10 years since Gears of War 2. The passion within this community is really unmatched, which you can see in every single game during any event or on many players streams. It’s one of those special titles that I believe resonates with so many diverse communities. I’m also willing to bet that it’s one of the most diverse esports scene. That goes from the players, which span many different countries and cultures, the officials and even the broadcast team. This diversity is also reflected throughout the game in its lead characters.
RR: Would you consider yourself a lifelong gamer?
JK: 100%. Without question, I will always be a gamer. Since I was a little girl, I’ve always been one of the guys. I grew up an only child with two boy cousins, who played with LEGOs and video games. I wanted to be the one standing in line when the latest title dropped at midnight in GameStop. I’ve always found peace in gaming. I’ll always be a gamer.
RR: What are some of your pursuits outside of gaming? 
JK: Currently, I’m earning my master’s degree in journalism. My focus in this venture is to become an esports host/producer, so I guess it isn’t really “outside of gaming.” Haha! What can I say? I guess I can’t get away from it. Right now, it’s mainly graduate school. Since the program I’m currently in is a year-long venture, it takes up most (if not, all) of my time. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends and exploring new cities, since I’ve moved about 3 times in the last year.
RR: Esports has come a long way, but there is always room for improvement. In what ways do you think esports could continue to improve upon itself?
JK: I think diversity is the biggest struggle right now for esports. I say that not just from a cultural perspective, but also for more women to be included in the competitive scene. There are talented female gamers out there, but I wonder how much of an effort is being made to recruit them.
RR: What would you say to people who are interested in esports but are fearful about being accepted by the community?
JK: I would say that I don’t know anyone who has been successful that didn’t take a risk. One of my professors told me during undergraduate career before a major presentation that “You can only be the performer or the audience. Depending on where you decide to stand, you’ll be received accordingly.” I really took this advice with me going into my first reporting event for the Gears Pro Circuit New Orleans event. I worried about how I would be received, but I constantly reminded myself that I could do this and that I was here for a reason. The feedback I received from the event was overwhelmingly positive, and I still tell myself how unbelievably blessed I was to be able to work that event. At a recent NABJ convention I attended, one of the guest panelists asked the audience, “if you knew what was on the other side of fear, would you still be afraid?”
One last note on this question, to be completely candid, as a woman entering a male-dominated industry, there is no feeling like being the only one in the room. However, that has never stopped me. I don’t think anything should ever stop someone from chasing their dreams either.
RR: When did you know you wanted to be more than just a spectator when it came to esports?
JK: Initially, I wanted to develop video games, which is why my bachelor’s degree is in computer science. However, the first job that I really wanted was to be a meteorologist, but that didn’t last long considering my fear of tornados. Back to gaming, I always read GameInformer magazine growing up and watched IGN. I found that — although, I can develop and code games — I wanted to dictate the stories and create content around gaming, but didn’t really know how. I attended graduate school to figure out how to develop my skills on camera and create my lane in esports. 11 months later, I’ve served as a floor reporter at a Gears of War event, freelanced for several esports publications and now hoping to continue to produce content for esports in bigger ways. I’ve never been a “sit and watch” kind of girl though; I’ve got a lot of ideas, so that wouldn’t do. Anything is possible!
I want to thank Jourdan for taking the time to chat with me. Keep an eye out for Jourdan on the Gears Pro Circuit streams and follow her on social media (IG & Twitter: @jourdankerl).
A Fresh Face At The HCS Desk: Lottie Van-Praag

A Fresh Face At The HCS Desk: Lottie Van-Praag

Back when I was new to covering esports, I was eager to jump in to the Halo scene as it was and still is my favorite game franchise of all time. I was immediately met with a collective cold shoulder from fans and players as I tried to engage them so I could tell their story. Being a woman in that space at that time was incredibly tough to navigate, so I gave up on covering esports for a long time. This time around, things are different, not perfect, but definitely different. There are a lot of new faces now and one that grabbed me immediately was Lottie Van-Praag who popped up in the Halo scene as a presenter. She brought a lot of energy, intense passion and was well versed in game knowledge. I loved seeing a woman making her mark in the scene and being welcomed with open arms. I was over the moon when she made her very quick transition to broadcaster at the desk.

I caught up with Lottie at the Halo Championship Series in New Orleans and she is an absolute delight! She radiates with positive energy, you could tell there was no place she would rather be at the moment than right there in he middle of all the HCS action. I couldn’t be more thrilled that she gave me the opportunity to pick her brain.

Rebecca Rothschild: What drew you into esports and Halo in particular?

Lottie Van-Praag: I had grown up with gaming from a young age, since the days of Halo 1 and 2 I was hooked on my consoles. Halo is the first game that got me hooked and my brother and I would complete the campaigns again and again; Halo was what bonded us together. I vividly remember playing Tomb raider on my PC and in complete awe of the graphics, almost unable to believe that I was battling a tiger in an underground cave. My love for gaming has only grown and I now find myself hosting and presenting some of the best esports in the world, my experience of gaming has been and continues to be incredible. I love getting lost in another world and having challenges to overcome in game as well as watching how the industry grows. E3 is a demonstration of how gaming can evolve, it’s so much more than game play now, it’s the graphical enhancements and the beautiful artwork that so many designers create, as well as the communities around gaming that have taken me under their wing while I present the esports they love. Every part of gaming to me is an example of how hard an industry can work and grow to its upmost potential. I see so many talented females in esports now and truly believe that they can continue to game knowing that the industry is behind them, and that is from my personal experience. I am completely aware that there is a gender gap but if we all work together to abolish this stereotype I believe one day we will see an esports world filled with a mixture of both male and females on our screens.

RR: What do you think is the biggest misconception about being a broadcaster in esports?

LVP: The biggest misconception of being a broadcaster has to be the amount of research we do in order to do our jobs properly. The hours of work and research and preparation I do in order to give the best I can to the esports fans and viewers is crazy, I will never go under prepared. I want to give the best I have for a broadcast and know exactly what I am talking about and who I am talking to.

RR: Is having a seat at the HCS desk pretty much the peak of what you want to do with esports or do you have goals beyond that position?

LVP: Oh for sure, I always think it’s important to reach your goals and this is a goal I didn’t see coming my way as quickly as it did. I am unbelievably grateful for being part of this amazing game and the community that drives it continuously with love and passion. I also think it is important to make new goals especially once you have reached your current ones, so despite what I have achieved so far in such little time, I only want to get bigger and better at what I do.

RR: You also love playing sports. Is there anything from your athletic sport experience that you use in your gaming?

LVP: 100%! I used to represent my country in Lacrosse and have done that since I was 14! I see massive similarities between gaming and sports and when I game or try and breakdown a play that I am watching from the desk, I can’t help but notice the teamwork and tactics that are there in front of me. Having a team ethos and knowing how to work together efficiently makes a perfect esports team and traditional sports team.

RR: If you could make one wish for the future of esports, what would it be?

LVP: To be a part of a future in esports that accepts every culture, race, gender, shape and size into the community and celebrating the different people all over the world coming together to play games they love.

You guys see why I love this lady so much? Thanks again to Lottie for being so open with us here at Sugar Gamers. If you wanna keep up with Lottie follow her at @Praagy08 for both Twitter and Instagram. If you wanna see Lottie in action, catch her on the Halo Championship Series streams.

Gears Pro Circuit Season 2 Brings the Hype to NOLA

Gears Pro Circuit Season 2 Brings the Hype to NOLA

There is no esports fandom quite like the one that is dedicated to the Gears of War Pro Circuit. They have patented their own signature brand of hype. That’s why I was elated that the entirety of the GOW hype machine was making their way down to New Orleans, a city that can house their level of passion.

It seemed like there was a record breaking amount of roster swapping this season, but the truth it has become the norm. It took me a moment to orientate myself with who was now playing with who. My tournament notes were a complete mess. There were so many solid performances this weekend so I guess it all worked out, even if I’m a little cross-eyed.

Optic Slaps Another Brick On The Wall

I was playing catch up before coming to NOLA and watching what had been going down in the circuit this season. I came to the Big Easy with the understanding that I would most likely see an optic victory, however there were plenty of moments where it was in question. Echo Fox made a noteworthy effort all weekend long to be a thorn in the side of Optic. There were countless moments where I thought the check Icy’s mouth was writing could very well be cashed. These two were going at it hard and it was wildly entertaining.

EVERYONE on these two teams were in fine form. There were only a few games where it seemed as though Mental was a little off, but he bounced right back to seal the deal. It honestly felt like he was experimenting with new strategies. As for Echo Fox, strategy was definitely on the front of their minds. Part of what pushed their team to second place was their signature smooth rotations and killer smoke grenade usage.

Favorite Series: Elevate v. EU’s Finest

While Elevate was perhaps a little shaky in their dealings with EU’s Finest, they managed to hold their own and make some serious moves. Elevate worked hard to play to their strengths and they were able to rally after a very strong start from EU’s. I would say Elevate forced EU’s to pull out some of their fancier tricks. Marsh was making himself quite a nuisance with his evasion capabilities which unfortunately for Elevate, helped disrupt their rotations. In the end EU’s Finest simply had tighter rotations and a more solid grasp on the map.

Tip Of My Hat to Ghost Gaming

I have to say Ghost Gaming surprised me a lot at this event. I saw a great deal of focus and I could honestly have seen them making it into top three without much of a problem. Alas, they’ll have to settle for 4th for now, but they earned that spot no question. They had several instances of pure momentum going. I think the only slip up from what I saw wasn’t so much technical as it was mental. When they would get stopped short they seemed to have a hard time getting back the same amount of gusto. When they were on, they were playing flawlessly you could see them truly enjoying themselves.

This particular event was also host to Halo’s HCS which meant double the fun for me as I made my best effort to cover both. I have to say, as far as which side was having more fun…I respectfully have to give that title to the Gears side of the room. I’ll be curious to see how this all shakes out in San Diego.

HCS NOLA 2018: Big Plays in the Big Easy

HCS NOLA 2018: Big Plays in the Big Easy

The Halo Championship Series in New Orleans was a rambunctious ride of hype and unpredictability. Alongside the players we’ve come to know, there was a lot of fresh blood making big impressions. The New Orleans Convention Center was a decent and VERY well air conditioned venue that came with alligator sausage po’boys and more than enough room for both Halo and Gears fans to enjoy the spectacle.

Attendance was a little thin, made up mostly of competitors and their entourages, but there was a lot of passion in the room.

The Steely Eyed Trio

The HCS broadcast got a serious upgrade with a new observation team consisting of Wonderboy, Kighty Knight and Richie Heinz. This was an excellent decision that elevated the viewing experience. These three managed to create a very smooth flow of high impact action. I wanted to make sure I took a moment to acknowledge their great work because it made my job so much easier.

Addressing The Status Quo: Splyce Are Your Champs

Photo Credit: @DavidSsandman

Maintaining what has become the norm for the Halo Championship Series, Splyce walked away as the champs of New Orleans. They did not have an easy road. The most interesting series to watch was Splyce v. Elevate. Elevate definitely came to make a splash, this series was full of bare knuckle standoffs. There was a lot of talk, especially from the broadcast team, that Splyce was not playing at their best. I have to admit there were moments where it felt like true effort was lacking or they were simply out of their element. During the best of seven bracket reset in the grand finals Tox took the whole thing 4-0 with little effort. The new maps proved to be a bit challenging for Splyce early on in the tournament, but that seemed to fade away as they started locking horns with Tox. While Tox put on a hell of a show, they ended up falling short when it mattered most.

“YOU CAN’T LET HIM DO THAT!”

Above is a quote is a quote from Golden Boy in regards to Trifecta’s Musa who was a juggernaut of slaying momentum. Musa was by far one of the most frightening, fresh blooded players at NOLA. He was dealing massive damage, responding to call outs with ravenous blood thirst and having a damn good time doing it. Musa is a beloved favorite in the local Toronto gaming scene and it’s not hard to see why.

Photo Credit: @DavidSsandman

Performing with the deadly consistency HCS fans have come to expect was Shooter. Ryanoob had this team sitting pretty by putting up huge assist numbers while Rayne displayed terrifying talent with the sniper rifle. I spent some time with their young and very ambitious coach Jake Bain on the floor. Like the rest of his team, he sets high standards for himself and has a hunger to be on top. Considering these guys have only been a team for a couple months, I’d say they were pretty damn successful at this event.

Me hanging with Trifecta Coach Jake Bain and Reciprocity Manager Martin Omes.

When talking about Trifecta I can’t not mention Reciprocity because these two teams had a proper showdown on Sunday. This series is easily number one on my re-watch list.

The final round ended 49 to 50 in favor of Trifecta. I’ll be honest, my money was on Reciprocity who was delivering solid performances all weekend. Also on the floor was Reciprocity manager Martin Omes who took to the time to speak to me about Rec’s heavy focus on communication and I would say it paid off.

Favorite to Watch: D3MON_D

Amid the mad roster shuffle a new impressive squad emerged calling themselves Hitmen. A handle that works pretty well considering the lineup. You’ve got Ace, Bubudubu, Artic and my new favorite slaying machine, D3MON_D.

Musa may have made a big splash but there is something about D3MON_D that is downright cold blooded, and I respect it. His KD was undeniably spooky; By day three he was ranked just under Snip3down and above Frosty. During their bout with Splyce, he kept himself very composed and made several clutch plays that allowed his team to take one victory off of Splyce.

Back To Where The Players Play For The Finals

The big announcement out of NOLA was that the 2018 finals would be held at Dreamhack Atlanta 2018 this November. Not only will the HCS finals be featured, there is also $10,000 up for grabs in the form of a Halo 3 2v2 tournament. Me being one of the few people that was north of 30 years old in the venue this weekend, you best believe I will be there to cover it.

Naturally I would like to see a good deal of these rosters keep their bands together, but there’s a lot of time between now and November. Congratulations to Splyce and everyone who came and gave so many incredible performances. See you all in Atlanta.