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Gaming Interviews

Twitch Streamer Draynilla Talks Gaming And The Importance Of Being Yourself

Draynilla is a man of many talents and many names. Andre Joseph aka SoaR Dray aka ‘The Booty President’ is one of the most skilled and entertaining gamers in the esports and gaming community, and is the latest guest to join Aaron ‘Don’ Dukes in this latest episode of Inside The Screen. ‘Dray’ brought the laughs, fun, and epic gaming expertise in a 35-minute conversation with Don as he discussed his content journey, Twitch, and so much more that you won’t want to miss.

Don starts it off by asking Draynilla about when exactly he realized that he wanted to be a content creator. “I started my content creation journey when I was a lot younger. I used to make Minecraft videos on YouTube just for fun,” he tells Don as he reflects on his childhood gaming years. “I used to get made fun of in school for stuff like that, and I stopped doing it because I was super self-conscious as a kid. Around 2017 is when I started getting back on Twitch, and when I saw Daquan and Hamlinz, that is when I got back into it. I saw so much of myself in them, and I figured that if they could do it and pull all those numbers, then I could too!”

Don and Draynilla then went into a discussion about how his parents reacted when he told them that he wanted to quit his job to pursue a career in streaming, his passions outside of gaming, the importance of family, and his career growth over the last six months with Don asking him about his long-term vision. “Not to sound arrogant or anything, but I have always believed and envisioned myself to be one of the biggest content creators on Twitch. I’m a firm believer in my own content and my ability to get that position. At TwitchCon they always have these banners of the biggest streamers in Twitch, and I have also thought that I can get there. I want to take this global, and I want to be everywhere. Let’s say down the line I’m not streaming anymore, I still want to be in gaming, whether it’s being the manager of an up-and-coming streamer, or having an org.”

As the conversation progresses, Don and Dray chat about Dray’s Twitch evolution, with Don eventually asking Dray how long it has taken him to build his audience. “I want to let people know that it is a marathon not a sprint, and it is about what you do on a day to day basis that leads you to where you want to be in life. Just like with anything, you have to be consistent. I’ve been streaming for about two years now, and I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but I’m a firm believer that everybody’s journey is different,” he tells Don before going into what has personally helped him achieve success.

“Honestly just being myself! I don’t try to put on a fake or front, and I feel people gravitate towards that more because they want to watch you for you. At first when you are really trying to grow, people are going to want to watch you for the game you play, but you have to get people into your stream. You have to keep in mind that timing is everything because I believe life won’t give you what you want when you want it, but when you need it.”

Don and Dray had an awesome convo that any avid gamer will not want to miss. You can follow Dray on Instagram and Twitter.

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Gaming Interviews

Bugha Is This Week’s Special Guest on ‘Inside The Screen’

This week’s episode of Inside The Screen hosted by ONE37pm’s Aaron ‘Don’ Dukes features the one and only Bugha. Since debuting in the gaming scene in early 2019 as a member of Sentinels Esports organization, Bugha has gone on to be recognized as one of esports top superstars. The Fortnite World Cup Champion and PC Player of the Year joined Don in a very special interview to talk about all things gaming, how to achieve longevity in the esports scene, Lebron, and more.

The two didn’t waste any time diving into what they both love most: gaming. They kicked off the conversation talking about how competitions have been so far for Bugha, and what he has currently been up to. “So competitions have been good. I’ve been competing in Fortnite for about three years strong,” he tells Don as he goes to explain how he periodically takes breaks to play other games such as Valorant. “Fortnite comp is always going to be there for me, and I am always going to perform well because I’m never going to let myself do really crappy in those since that is where I came from. Some of the kids that go into Fortnite now-a-days really want it bad!”

As the convo goes on, Don and Bugha get into the pancakes and waffles debate, BBC, and game meta vs LAG, before diving into a discussion about Fortnite’s mechanics being underrated. Don makes the argument of Fortnite potentially being top five in terms of how challenging the game is from a mechanical standpoint, and also points out that he could see Bugha making the switch to Valorant one day. “If Fortnite comp were to ever die out, I feel like I’ll always have those ‘gamer genetics’ where I can just play another game. I’ll put in the time and be good at whatever I play. Like I said if Fortnite were to ever die out, then I’ll try something else!”

One of the best in the esports and gaming community in terms of content creation, branding, and marketing, the guys  cover some of Bugha’s marketing strategies, ultimately pivoting the conversation (after a fun debate on Attack on Titan being the best anime), to Bugha’s longevity in a place where it can be hard to achieve, well, longevity. Don goes on to ask Bugha about being signed to VaynerGaming, and how he personally views his future in the esports and gaming industry. “As long as I am with Vayner, my content is always going to be growing. We have really good chemistry with what we are going to work on, and the things we do. As far as five years—is Fortnite going to even be a thing in five years? I think casual Fortnite could be around for a long time, but with competitive Fortnite, the players get really mad about any new weapon being added! I still want to be a competitive player if not in Fortnite, then somewhere else.

Don and Bugha covered so much ground in their 20-minute discussion, and you definitely don’t want to miss out the full conversation. You can find the episode above, and follow Bugha on Instagram.

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Gaming Interviews

Nate Hill, Professional ‘Fortnite’ Player With FaZe Clan, Goes Inside The Screen

This week’s edition of Inside The Screen hosted by Aaron ‘Don’ Dukes features quadruple threat Nate Hill, a professional Fortnite player with FaZe Clan. He is also Twitch and YouTube streamer, content creator, and former model, Hill has been a magnetic presence in the gaming and entertainment community since 2012. The 26-year-old has amassed a massive following over the years with nearly four million followers and subscribers across all platforms and has no intentions of letting his foot off the gas. 

Recently announcing his second collaboration with H4X, a merchandise line called ‘The Kid from Somewhere.’ The collab will feature a unisex hoodie and jogger, and is inspired by one of Hill’s favorite sayings ‘We are all just a kid from somewhere.’  The pieces are designed in red as a nod to FaZe Clan, and sports Hill’s personal doodles. On the cusp of his announcement, Don and Hill discussed the new merch, Hill’s transition from modeling to gaming, and more during their 25-minute conversation.

Don and Hill start the conversation discussing his seven-year modeling stint, and how he eventually pivoted his career to gaming. “I used to model—I think used to is a good saying because once gaming started I kind of put a lot of the modeling stuff to the side. I basically started straight out of high school, did that for seven years, and it is weird to say, but it was kind of a means to an end,” says Hill as he takes a look back at his start in the entertainment industry. “It was cool to do. I love to travel, meet pretty girls obviously, and seeing your face on a billboard in Times Square is mind-boggling. It wasn’t a passion of mine though.”

Admitting that his side projects and other interests fueled him more. The love of gaming was never too far behind for Hill, but things were a lot different in gaming back then. It wasn’t as mainstream and the opportunities were limited as opposed to the current landscape. Don and Hill then briefly chat about how these last couple of years (2020 in particular) have transformed the world of esports and gaming. “It’s funny because the main celebrities in sports that we would think of as ‘super cool guys,’ are looking at us now like we are the superstars!”

As the conversation progresses, Don then asks Hill about his experiences with FaZe, teaming up with Arab and Innocence this past FNCS, and the excitement of playing with SypherPK and Nick Mercs in the near future. “So there are two worlds to that. One, I was way too competitive a year ago where there was more money and was just passionate about competitive gaming more than what I am now. Arab and Innocence are two really good competitive players who don’t want to put the extra hours in scrimming, and neither do I, so we’re a great fit,” he tells Don. “Nick and PK are two of the biggest names in Fortnite, and they are friends that I have had for a long time. Playing with them is going to be fun!”

We don’t want to spoil too much of the conversation, but we’ll leave you with a quick glimpse of Hill discussing his new merchandise. “I’m collaborating with a brand called H4X, they specialize in collabs with esports athletes like myself. We did one drop last year and it did really well. I like it because we put so much work into the quality, style, and design.”

You can catch the full episode of Inside The Screen above. Be sure to keep with Hill and Don on Instagram and Twitter.

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Gaming Interviews

‘Axie Infinity’ is the Perfect NFT Game for ‘Pokémon’ Fanatics

Imagine how wealthy a whole generation of 90s kids would be if Pokémon allowed them to profit from their pocket monsters as NFTs. 

In this current day and age, there’s a digital pet universe gamers can enter if they want to prosper in the blockchain gaming space. That game is Sky Mavis’ Axie Infinity, an addictive monster collecting experience that allows players to battle, raise, and collect fantasy creatures called Axies. Players also have the ability to become a land baron and use their personal kingdom to farm resources, acquire AXS tokens, and engage in dungeon raids. The Axies you strengthen into daunting creatures or the land you’ll eventually build into something worthwhile can be sold whenever you see fit, which gives Axie Infinity the all-important element of true digital item ownership.

Even though it’s in the middle of an early access lay period, the game has quickly ascended the charts and become the #1 Ethereum (ETH) game by monthly and weekly active users. Axie Infinity’s accomplishments are many – 25,000+ ETH ($44,435,250+ USD) has been traded on the game’s in-house marketplace thus far, the most expensive Axie ever sold went for 300 ETH ($533,916+ USD), a virtual property from the game sold for 888.25 ETH ($1.5 million USD), and it regularly attracts 19,000+ monthly active onchain users. Judging by those impressive numbers, Axie Infinity looks like it’s set for even bigger wins as it continues to grow.

To gain an even deeper understanding of everything Axie Infinity has to offer, we spoke with Sky Mavis co-founder and growth lead Jeffrey Zirlin.

ONE37pm: Give us an overview of what Axie Infinity is and how it initially came into existence.

Zirlin: Axie [Infinity] is a battle pet universe that leverages NFTs and Blockchain technology to empower our players in new and exciting ways. On the surface, the game is about battling fierce (but adorable) pets called Axies and earning cryptocurrency rewards, collecting super rare Axies with limited edition skins, and building a land-based kingdom where you can ally with friends and fight for control of resource nodes (this game mode is still in the pipeline).

However, what we’re seeing is that Axie [Infinity] is becoming its own digital nation with a complex economy and emerging tight-knight social structures. We believe this is because of the unique behaviors that emerge when you give gamers more stake in the games that they play. The founding team actually met each other playing a game called Cryptokitties. We realized right away that NFTs would be huge and knew that whoever could build out a fun game with an interesting in-game economy would play a major role in defining the future of gaming. Axie [Infinity] is our answer to that mission.

ONE37pm: What are some of the major milestones that have taken place within the game’s community thus far?

Zirlin: There are a bunch but here are a few – Axie [Infinity] is currently the most played blockchain game, we have about 22,000 daily active users. There are around 33,000 people who own Axies. A bundle of nine land plots sold for 1.5 million dollars last month (February), which we believe to be the most expensive game asset sales of all time. And finally, we’ve released an Alpha for a card-based battle game, racked up over 25M USD in Marketplace volume on our own in-house marketplace, and launched Ronin – a scaling solution built specifically for NFT games.

ONE37pm: Are there any future updates in the works for Axie Infinity?

Zirlin: Building a city/base for your Axie’s, gathering resources, fighting in epic battles with allies, and fighting monsters. In the future, we’ll also make a portal to different games built by community members using our map editor / SDK. We’ve seen how passionate our player base is when it comes to creating content so we want to make it even easier for them to participate in the economic growth. Roblox comes to mind as an immediate inspiration or parallel here. We’re also working on an upgraded battle system that will be faster, more skill-based, and easier to get started with.

Ubisoft believes the new battles are a massive improvement over the current experience! On-boarding, which is our #1 barrier right now, has been significantly improved with social login, a fun tutorial, and free starter Axies. Free starter Axies will allow people to start learning the game before making any significant economic decisions. However, their earning ability will be very weak, meaning that free-to-try players will be encouraged to eventually get real Axies of their own.

ONE37pm: There’s a good number of major partners involved in the game’s continued growth, such as gaming publisher/developer Ubisoft for instance. How did that partnership come to be? And who do you hope to work with in the future?

Zirlin: We’re always looking to evangelize and educate larger organizations on the power of NFTs and Blockchain. We got to know Ubisoft in mid-2019 and eventually joined their Entrepreneurship Labs Season 5 program in 2020. That program has been great and we had many long discussions around the future of NFTs and gaming. We hope to work with game studios, both large and small in the future. We will teach them about NFTs and how to use them to bootstrap a community. We’ve already had some great game developers reach out to us about leveraging our tools and infrastructure. Ronin, for example, is our NFT scaling solution that allows for many of the frictions associated with NFTs right now (gas, complex account setup) to be eliminated.

ONE37pm: What do you hope to see from the blockchain gaming space in the next, say, five years?

Zirlin: I believe that game developers will use NFTs to eliminate the black and grey markets that exist for game assets right now. Gamers deserve to trade their items freely without risk of being scammed or banned for TOS violations. In addition, I am convinced that Axie Infinity will spawn a trend of community-owned games that align incentives between a game’s creators and the player base.

ONE37pm: And finally, we have to give out some proper Axie Infinity strats. What are some of the best Axies that players should definitely add to their collection?

Zirlin: Axie.zone is an amazing site for stalking the top players on the leaderboard. The meta is always shifting but typically teams are made up of a resilient Axie upfront (tank), a high damage glass cannon (DPS), and a more resilient but still dangerous 3rd Axie, which is sometimes called a brawler. In terms of collecting, Mystic Axies are the ultimate digital flex in our universe. They are capped in supply and there are only about 1,400 of them. Some are even owned by famous crypto funds/researchers like Delphi Digital.

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Gaming Interviews

Immutable is Looking to Rule the Blockchain Game

The relatively new concept of blockchain gaming is starting to gain some steam and viability in the eyes of many. Over on the Ethereum side of things, titles such as Axie Infinity, CryptoKitties, and Sorare regularly dominate the charts for the top blockchain protocol. One of the more recognizable entities within the growing blockchain gaming space is Immutable, who just so happen to be the developers behind another trending ETH-based blockchain game – Gods Unchained.

The popular turn-based collectible digital card trading game has been a massive success thus far – $7+ million worth of card exchanges have gone down and the game’s tournament prize pool has reached a total of $570K. Gods Unchained isn’t the only game Immutable is focused on growing, however – the company is looking to launch the world’s first AAA blockchain RPG, Guild of Guardians. Just five days after being announced, the game has captured a ton of interest as evidenced by its 120K email signups from interested gamers and 35K Twitter followers.

Immutable is vying to become even more of a stronger force within the blockchain gaming space. With Gods Unchained, Guild of Guardians, and its very own decentralized non-custodial exchange system (Immutable X), that company goal looks quite attainable. We spoke with Immutable CEO James Ferguson about everything from the company’s central idea to its future aspirations within the gaming industry.

ONE37pm: What ultimately inspired the concept behind Immutable?

Ferguson: People can’t trade or sell the digital items they buy. There is a fundamental psychological difference in consumer expectations between the property rights for digital items – and the property rights for physical goods. We think that’s crazy, and we finally have the technology to make sure you can properly trade and sell digital items in video games, art, and more with full ownership.

But it’s important this technology of ownership is backed by a strong decentralized technology – or else it’s just lipstick on crappy existing centralized services. We’re not here to build another steam marketplace. We’re here to give people immutable, uncensorable, and permanent ownership of their digital assets. That’s why it’s so important the solution uses Ethereum, the leading decentralized blockchain, for its security. Immutable X is the only scaling solution that does this for NFTs.

ONE37pm: What led to the creation of Gods Unchained?

Ferguson: Robbie [Ferguson] and I spent a lot of our teenage years playing video games (much to our parents’ dismay). Some of our games of choice were Hearthstone and Runescape. Through playing Runescape, we learned the fun of an economy as we arbitraged different opportunities on the marketplace. We also learned that having millions of GP in-game isn’t that great in the end if you’re not allowed to turn it into real money.

Through playing Hearthstone, we learned about what the trading card genre had to offer in terms of strategy and gameplay and also learned just how popular games could get, with Hearthstone having over 100 million players. In Hearthstone though, a centralized game, none of the cards we earned could be traded and we had to spend heaps of money on items we could never sell.

The idea for Gods Unchained was simply what we wanted in a game. We wanted a beautiful, mainstream appealing game that was competitive, and we wanted one in which we truly owned our items and could sell them. Millions of people around the world want just that – they want to be empowered to trade in their games, rather than exploited with microtransactions. 

This paradigm shift where users can own and trade, made possible with blockchain, allows games to be so much more than just entertainment. Gods Unchained is the first trading card game where users can own and trade their items, and be rewarded just for playing with real value. It’s the game with the highest budget on Ethereum because we know that quality is necessary to make it a mainstream hit. Our goal with Gods Unchained is to grow it to a million players and beyond, so we can show people around the world what blockchain and real trading can allow in games.

ONE37pm: What are some of the biggest successes you’ve seen from Immutable within the gaming space thus far?

Ferguson: My favorite quote is someone who came from a traditional game, Hearthstone, to play Gods Unchained. Within a few days of playing, they said they literally felt sick going back to Hearthstone and buying packs of cards they couldn’t actually own. That’s what we’re here to do – redefine what it means to own a digital asset. Gaming is so much more than just a past-time for some people; it’s their lives. People spend 10-12 hours a day on the internet, and our future is likely to be more digital than physical. It’s essential that these spaces support property rights natively. 

ONE37pm: What led to the publisher/developer partnership between Immutable and Stepico Games?

Ferguson: Immutable’s mission is to make digital worlds real and we believe the world needs more traditional game developers building amazing blockchain games. Blockchain games are unique by design as they feature open economies, whereas traditional games have closed economies with no real-world trading. So building quality games from the ground-up is critical to unlocking their potential. We decided to team up with Stepico to combine our blockchain game design, technology, and crypto-native publishing expertise with their development and mobile games experience. We’re super excited to join forces and change the industry.

ONE37pm: What are some of your hopes and aspirations for the future of Immutable?

Ferguson: Fundamentally we want to make digital worlds real. Digital worlds mean everything – gaming items, digital art, financial assets such as tokenized real estate, options contracts, and more. In order to get there, we’ve built a mainstream ready piece of infrastructure where you can create or trade thousands of NFTs per second with 0 gas cost, all via APIs. So it’s “mainstream-proof” as we like to call it. Real means: you can’t lose your stuff. Digital assets are going to have trillions of dollars in annual volume over the next couple of decades. We want to ensure the infrastructure powering that is completely open, secure, and decentralized – which means on Ethereum. That’s what the whole goal of Immutable X is.

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Gaming Interviews

100 Thieves’ George Nowack Is All About The Process

This week Aaron ‘Don’ Dukes goes ‘Inside The Screen’ with George Nowack, junior graphic editor for 100 Thieves. Recently graduating with a bachelor’s degree from California State University in graphic design, Nowack is already off to a fast start in his career, taking the job with 100 Thieves nine months ago and officially coming on as a full-time employee in February. In his short time with the company, Nowack’s designs have become instantly recognizable in the 100 Thieves community, with fans praising his exciting approach and stunning visuals. Don and Nowack discussed many subjects during their hour-long conversation, also covering the topic of NFTs, and how they are going to impact the future of gaming.

Don starts the conversation asking Nowack how about his early interest in designing. “I always express how thankful I am for being able to discover my passion really early on. I started designing in middle school, and I asked my parents to get me Photoshop CS5 for Christmas. I was always curious about design, and high school was where I discovered that it could be an actual career. Thankfully the high school I attended had classes where you could explore that side of the industry.”

Picking up on Nowack’s deeper approach to his mindset and craft, Don asks the 22-year-old about the psychology behind his professional approach. “I always tell people that if I were never a designer and decided to pursue a different route, I would have pursued psychology because a lot of motivation behind what I do as a designer is centered around other people’s emotions,” Nowack says as he goes into the thought process behind his designs. “A lot of it is about how people react to visuals, and how we can trigger some type of emotional response just by having something on a screen, and that has always been fascinating to me. I always teach people that if you are intentional with what you create, you can lean people in a certain direction.”

As the conversation continues, Don and Nowack revisit the 2010s, taking a look at Nowack’s early college days, and how he was able to obtain the connections and experiences necessary to progress to the next level. Nowack also talked about how he incorporates his love of streetwear into his visual storytelling, building his brand, and of course, bitcoin and NFT. Pointing out that gamers have been slightly involved in the scene for a while now, Don asks Nowack his thoughts on NFTs. “I love it because I’ve had my eye on it for the past year or so, but I have only gotten really involved in the community this past month. I think something that helped me understand why this working is because of collectibles. Some people know that I have been really into Pokemon cards and that people selling crypto art is basically the same thing whether it is digital or physical.”

Don and Nowack had a great conversation that can be helpful for any aspiring content creators. Be sure to check out the full interview above, and follow both Don and Nowack on Instagram and Twitter

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Gaming Interviews

Matthew Benson, Founder of eFuse, Goes ‘Inside The Screen’

This week Aaron aka ‘Don’ goes Inside The Screen with special guest Matthew Benson, founder of eFuse. eFuse is a web and mobile application that provides validated opportunities and candidates for the esports and gaming industry. A place where gamers can get discovered, the company assists with opportunities and resources for gamers to build their portfolios, apply for jobs and scholarships, participate in tournaments, and more. With over 500 organizations to choose from, eFuse is considered one of the world’s most prominent gaming companies. The move to esports and gaming has paid off for Benson (who quit his day job as a venture capitalist in 2018), as he was recently named to Forbes ‘30 under 30’ list in the gaming category. 

Don and Benson covered a ton of ground in their nearly 30-minute interview, kicking off the conversation with Don asking Benson about the craziness of these past two weeks for eFuse. “It’s been a whirlwind,” says Benson. “We launched a press release last week, got a six-million dollar raise, and some great people involved in that to join the company from Odell Beckham to Ezekiel Elliot, and Steph Curry. We are really excited to have them formally a part of the business, and the outpouring of support from the community has been so cool. We’ve had so many people say such nice things, and we are really grateful!”

Benson admits that understanding the business side of gaming is a new challenge for him; Don asks Benson to break down just how substantial these last couple of weeks have been from a number standpoint. “Raising money is not ever fun, but it’s part of building a business like this. That fundraising process took a couple of months. I started working on that last year, and our relationships have been ones that we have been building over the last year or so. It’s really hard, but it’s also very rewarding because that money is a means to us being able to hire more employees to help us take things to the next step.”

As Don and Benson continue to chop it up, the two discuss how the esports and gaming industry is truly a never-ending merry-go-round of learning. “Sometimes I wake up, and I don’t know what we need to do and where we need to go, but we have to keep stepping forward. If we can show up everyday and stack 365 wins, or 300 out of 365 wins, we will operate at the highest level. You get up every day, and you don’t know what is going to come, and you just have to keep stepping and building.”

Don and Benson had an incredible conversation that you won’t want to miss. Make sure to follow Benson on Instagram and Twitter to stay abreast of any new developments over at eFuse.

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Gaming Interviews

Aaron “Don” Dukes Goes ‘Inside The Screen’ With KCP Kate

On this edition of Inside The Screen, presented by host Aaron aka ‘Don’ Dukes, Don welcomes special guest KCP Kate, a young phenom playing for the Kansas City Pioneers, who has been dominating Rocket League. While the 21-year-old is still a relatively new face in the esports and gaming scene, she is making quite a splash with not only her skillset but for her competitive and fiery spirit. Kate is truly a beast behind the controller, and she and Don talked about this next step in her career, being a young woman navigating the esports and gaming scene, and more. 

Don kicks off the conversation getting the scoop on Kate’s signing with Kansas City. “It’s been good—I love KCP! Obviously, with Covid, we can’t visit or anything, but that is definitely something that we want to do!” KCP Kate has been earning her stripes this year, being ranked in the top 100 for most of the season, which is something that is incredibly tough to do in just under a year—especially when you consider the tough mechanics required for a game like Rocket League. “At least for me, this was my first game on PC basically. I had played indie games before that, but when Rocket League came out, that was the first major game that I had actually ever played.”

Don and Kate go in-depth on a ton of topics during this 20-minute episode, with Don asking the rising streamer about her early interest in gaming. “I started off watching other streamers on YouTube, and when I got my PC, I was super big into speedrunning. One of my favorite people in the world, FullGrownGaming, streamed speed runs of Majora’s Mask, and I was there all the time watching it. I started speedrunning myself with Super Mario Sunshine, and I did that for a long time. Eventually, the group of YouTubers that I watched started playing Rocket League, and I played soccer all of my life so it seemed perfect!”

After a quick conversation about Kate’s parents and her support system, Don then gets Kate’s thoughts on being a woman in esports and how things have changed for the better. “I think that every single woman will have a different experience with it, but at least for me—when I was in the speedrunning community—everybody was so nice to me, and I never really experienced a lot of the things that I saw, but then when I came to Rocket League and played Overwatch at the same time, that obviously got pretty toxic. I think the same way it’s been really harsh to get used to; it has also made me a better person.”

We definitely don’t want to spoil this amazing conversation between Don and KCP Kate, so be sure to check out the full interview in the video above. You can continue to follow both Don and Kate on Instagram and Twitter.

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Gaming Interviews

Corsair, the Gaming Gear and Streaming Equipment Leader, Acquires VBI

Visuals By Impulse (VBI) is undergoing a major shakeup in this first quarter of 2021. Last week Corsair, the leader in gaming gear and streaming equipment, came to a groundbreaking deal to acquire VBI from founder Caleb Leigh for an undisclosed amount, as the company continues to move deeper into the streaming scene. VBI is a leading design platform for creators on Twitch, YouTube and Facebook Gaming, and among the most respected for streamers in the esports and gaming community with their graphics being used in some capacity by over 400,000 streamers. VBI has done working with some of esports’ finest including; 100 Thieves, Valkyrae, Myth, Lachlan, CouRage, Scump and more.

The deal follows Corsair’s 2018 acquisition of Elgato and their 2020 purchase of EpocCam, marking it as the third major move for the organization in the past three years. Corsair’s VBI buyout makes them the first major tech player to heavily invest in a creative platform and design team, and the company plans to add a new product line to VBI while also offering branding and digital design resources for creators.

As live-streaming services continue to soar to unseen sights during the midst of this pandemic, the VBI acquisition will open up the doors to new collaborations with other Corsair brands such as SCUF Gaming and Gamer Sensei. Streamers and content creators will also have access to more free and paid designs than ever before, giving them the opportunity to elevate their brand while experiencing world-class technology.

VBI, who has experienced enormous growth since March, will now operate as a separate brand and product line underneath Elgato, where fans will have access to top-of-the-line visuals alongside their favorite Elgato products. 

ONE37pm’s Aaron ‘Don’ Dukes spoke with VBI Founder Caleb Leigh ahead of this announcement.

When I spoke with you on your podcast—I had already been working on this since around September 2019. This has been happening for a very long time, and it’s finally done. I’m stupid excited about this!

For me I am no longer the CEO of VBI, I am not the founder. All of the media releases will be going out on Tuesday, but those are all going to be mostly investor related, and we realized we wanted to make a bigger deal out of this than just investor relations because this is the first time we have a digital product in our product line. We are going to pour gasoline all over it!

No staff reductions were made as a result of this agreement, and this move continues to highlight just how bright the gaming landscape is for live streaming.

You can keep with all of the latest announcements for both Corsair and VBI/Elgato via their official websites.

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Gaming Interviews

Inside the Screen | WestR: A Story of Underdogs

On this week’s episode of Inside the Screen, ONE37pm’s Aaron aka “Don” and co-host Dalton Floyd spoke with members of the WestR Call of Duty team—coach Sam “KingFenix” Spencer, Tom “GRVTY” Malin, and Carlos “Venom” Hernandez. WestR is one of the most dominant teams in the game right now in the Challengers League, and they have ambitions of nailing a spot in the pro league—something which is absolutely in their grasp.

The team speaks to Don fresh off their victory at the Challenger’s Cup, but they’re already looking to what’s next. “It feels good definitely, seeing all the hard work pay off. But it’s always about the next one when it comes to us,” says GRVTY, one of the team’s key players. They take very little time off, diving back into scrimmages shortly after a victory. GRVTY speaks a bit on their practice strategy: “It’s a combination of the way we practice and how we’re focusing on the way we want to play each situation. Each day we’re trying to focus on one map at a time. Just trying to get better at one map.”

Part of the team’s success is owed to their incredible rotation of scrimmage opponents. They frequently play against professional teams. On the benefit that this has for their performance, Coach Fenix says, “They don’t get the same structured practice that we get on a daily basis. We’re scrimming Faze, 100Thieves, even Dallas sometimes, OpTic. Like we’re scrimming the top teams.” They practice at such an immensely high level, which makes their competition in the challenger’s cup pale in comparison. “Against teams like that you can’t afford to make mistakes,” Fenix says.

This episode is 50 minutes long, and they cover a whole slew of topics, from the best trash talkers on the team to the implementation of presets. On the possibility of presets for league play, Fenix says: “It makes it easier for the average, casual viewer to understand and to let them feel like they’re part of the game.” 

Aside from technical, game-focused topics, the team also discusses the importance of overall health in maintaining high performance. “Physical health equals good mental health and Call of Duty is like 95% mental. The rest is just mechanical, which is physical. If your physical health is good, your mental health’s gonna be even better,” says Fenix. This has been a recoruring theme throughout a lot of episodes of ITS, as it’s becoming more and more central to a lot of esports’ players’ ethos surrounding the game.

Fenix also addresses the genesis of the team and their path to success. “I’m a firm believer that luck is when hard work and opportunity meet. And I think that’s what happened for us is our luck finally met. All of our hard work and opportunity led us to each other. I mean a lot of people won’t believe this when I say it, but we were the people that no one wanted. Everyone else had formed their teams already and we were like what was left,” he says. They truly have a special chemistry as a team. “What we have is really, really rare,” says Fenix. Speaking on the bond they have as a team and how it allows them to take very little rest without getting burnt out, Fenix says, “It makes the job easy.”

WestR, Don and Dalton spend the rest of the episode taking questions from the chat, talking about team dynamics and the future for the team. The sky’s the limit. In the words of Coach Fenix, “If you hate on success, then success is gonna hate on you.”

Don got a chance to catch up with the Coach again this week to recap some of the more recent developments involving the team. Take a listen to their catch up below.