Bush Stalking – Bush League Teammate Spotlight – TowerBARRON

The myth. The man. The legendary Gold-type player who—some might say—has not been given the respect that he deserves.  For instance, one could argue that he has contributed quite a bit to the GankBush Squad [GBS] podcast without proper recognition.  Also, his role as team captain of Please Don’t Ban Diablo [PDBD] has been, perhaps, underestimated as PDBD upset Bush League’s number 2 seeded team (FTBRG) and is currently one of the teams who will fight for the Bush League (BL) Season 1 Championship at 9 p.m. EDT on 6/18!

The GBS podcast has several strong personalities, but none of the co-hosts should be overlooked due to their overall contribution to the show.  GBS has perspectives (i.e. the host’s player ranks) chosen to represent the different play levels of the audience members who may either watch, listen (or both) with an aim to be entertained and also gain some gameplay insight. As an objective subscriber to the weekly GBS show, I recognize TowerBARRON’s growth in voice, especially in providing a contrasting viewpoint to exceptional players like oldbackpac (aka OPB, a Platinum-level player) as well as the Master-level players like Scott and Bacon (and, of course, one cannot forget the knowledgeable host FringeAverage).

Maybe the first step for a player who wants to both understand the complexities and enjoy such a layered game like HotS is to find some things they love about the game and work from there to get better?  This question of how to “get into” or “approach” the game led me to begin a conversation with TowerBARRON himself and, if you consider his words and thought processes, perhaps you will see that HotS can be for you and it can be experienced with current friends (as well as new ones found through joining a community like GBS).  

HotS enthusiast should consider getting to know and rooting for TowerBARRON and PDBD on 6/18.  If you do maybe, just maybe, you’ll want to try out for PDBD for Bush League Season 2!

Jay “San” Kolo: Leoric is TowerBARRON. TowerBARRON is Leoric. Discuss.

TowerBARRON:  Leoric is my favorite character in HotS. He rides around in a StarBreaker carrying a huge mace; that’s badass. Even the name of his abilities and talents are badass, like ‘Drain Hope,’ and ‘Kneel Peasants.’ I never played Diablo so I don’t know the lore, but he kind of reminded me of the Skull Knight from Berserk, a favorite manga/anime of mine. To be honest though, I didn’t care too much for him on his release because he was pretty weak with no CC and a damage sponge. Basically, the only reason you’d pick him is for ‘Entomb.’ After his rework last year I saw huge potential with his self-sustain, wave clear, and damage mitigation (via his Level 13 talent ‘Ominous Wraith’). I also really liked his other reworked heroic, ‘March of the Black King,’ which is OP in games Gold-level and below IMO. They (Blizzard), pretty much buffed every aspect of the character and I think a lot of players really didn’t noticed.

JSK: Your team, Please Don’t Ban Diablo (PDBD), had a composition which was listed as all flex players at the start of Bush League (BL)Season 1.  By having undefined individual roles in a team game, how did that affect PDBD’s performance and/or development?  Did you settle into roles on average or did each week remain flexible through the map pick/ban/draft phases?

TB: When we first started we only knew that EBsgrafic was going to be main tank and nothing else. We each filled out a shared Excel spreadsheet of heroes we can play and I just assigned roles to the rest of us. No one else was really outspoken about playing a certain role and it was all mixed up at the start. We had GhostBear (currently support) on the solo lane and I was main support. Loksley (currently DPS) was actually main tank our first BL match. It was definitely a learning experience that I don’t think we’ve even cemented to this day. I mean, we had Blemsie on main tank in our playoff match, and EBsgrafic on DPS, a role which neither of them have ever played before in our BL games. I think it’s actually improved the team dynamic because we’re still open to optimizing our team synergy by playing different roles. Initially we thought that having EBsgrafic on main tank and micro calls, but maybe it’s better if Blemsie plays that role. Let’s try it out and see. The biggest factor for us doing well is discussing the team comp and getting practices games beforehand though. Some of the BL games we just “winged it” in drafts and they’ve always gone horrible (except that one game with Zunicorn’s Illidan hah). 

JSK: How did your team change throughout the season?

TB: We named our team Please Don’t Ban Diablo because we, and other teams, thought we were a one trick Diablo pony, but now none of the other teams don’t ban Diablo and we haven’t really even been picking him. There was the Diablo rework and everything, but actually we’ve just been exploring different people on other roles. Me, Blemsie, Loksley, and EBsgrafic have all played together before PDBD formed and GhostBear was the wild card. I think he’s fit nicely into the team and in my opinion has produced the most consistent performance throughout Bush League.

JSK: If you were the Commissioner of BL, what is one rule you would change AND one thing you would add?

TB: First thing I would change is that if you need a substitute, the sub must be at the same level or below the person he/she is replacing. The current rule says the sub can be +1 tier above the person they’re replacing, i.e. a plat can replace a Gold player, and I think that’s BS and ruins the integrity of the match up. Of course, the other team is gonna call foul on that. I personally would like some best of 3 matches outside of the finals. Not necessarily every week, but maybe like a mid-season brawl type of thing. Logistically it can be hard with the different time zones and it’s a greater commitment by the casters, but as a player I like the idea. One game doesn’t always feel satisfying, especially if it’s a throw or stomp.

JSK: Beyond HotS, which other non-Blizzard games do you play?  What makes HotS stand out from them?  Bonus question: What was your first video game love and why?

TB: Right now, all I play is HotS. It’s all I have time for, really. But I’ve been a gamer for a long time. My favorite game of all time is Breath of Fire 2 for SNES. It’s an old-school turn-based RPG with an epic story, better than Chrono Trigger IMO. I played every sequel afterwards and even bought the game’s concept art book and strategy guide. I always liked RPGs partly because of the customization you can have for each hero in the party and I think HotS has that as well with the different talent trees and team comps. You have your healer, mages, auto-attacker, etc. HotS stands out because the of the community aspect. All my brothers play it, and we all haven’t played a game since Super Smash Brothers on N64. I used to play WC3 and DOTA with OBP (aka oldbackpac), Scott, and Voldemort years ago too so this is familiar territory.

JSK: How did you and your brothers get involved in the HotS scene? Whose idea was it to start a podcast about the game (GankBush Squad [GBS] podcast)?

TB: Initially it was OBP that got me into the game. Then we got Fringe (aka FringeAverage) to try it. Fringe was really hesitant because he never really played the same games as me and OBP. He mostly played Madden or MLB games, but once we got him on to the basics I could tell he really like it. Fringe was the one who proposed the podcast idea early 2016 so he gets the credit there. He got the website and logo going too. I came up with the podcast name though. It’s funny think of it now, but the other names for the podcast that we had floating around were: GankSquad, NexusRoamers, MurkyKillers, and BodyBlocksAreReal. Byron (previous podcast member) also had a lot of input on the show topics and how to get the content out. Speaking of content, that first show we recorded was embarrassingly bad. I’ve never gone back to listen to any of those early episodes haha.

JSK: Now that there have been 117 episodes, how has GBS evolved over time?

TB: GBS was the first podcast all of us have done, outside of Fringe. Fringe was on a number of baseball podcasts as a scouting professor so that’s why I think he was the one to get the ball rolling. Basically, we all didn’t know what we were doing at first. We interrupted each other all the time, rambled, and didn’t have a clean format. Not to mention for the first 50+ shows all we output was a recorded show. We didn’t have Discord, Twitch, YouTube, Bacon (current Master-level co-host)…haha. It wasn’t just the GBS that was starting out either, HotS itself was a pretty immature MOBA as well. There wasn’t all the game modes, rankings, heroes, and content as there is now. I remember one of our first show topics was “when to take merc camps,” which, at the time wasn’t something we all completely understood. It would be a lame topic to have now because we’ve all gone way past that as a community and a show. We’ve all branched out into the community more with the Discord and Twitch and have embraced our alter egos. I call my brothers Fringe and OBP now, even in front of other people irl, which still feels strange sometimes.

JSK: Who is the most competitive amongst your brothers?  How does that competitiveness translate to HotS?

TB: On the surface I think my bros would say I’m the most competitive since I play the most P-sports, but actually I think Fringe is the most competitive. I remember playing tennis with him one time and he missed an easy shot then ran up, kicked the net, then hit the racket on the ground. This was the first time we’ve played tennis in months BTW. I was just thinking, “Oh shit, this is gonna be an awkward car ride home.” I think this same intensity comes out in Fringe’s shot calling and the research he’s done for his BL team. He’s probably done more homework on the teams than any other captain. OBP is the most chill I’d say, unless you play him in MTG, then he goes into beast mode.

JSK: Will Season 2 bring oldbackpac (OBP) to the League? How will you convince him to join the fray?

TB: I really hope OBP plays in Season 2. The league doesn’t have that many prominent tank players and I think he’ll be highly prioritized. Thing is he’s halfway around the world in a different time zone and sometimes he’s got lag playing on our USA servers. It’ll be pretty tricky to convince him since he doesn’t cave in to peer pressure usually. Maybe if I can get his girlfriend to join BL he’ll join too.

There is no one path of entry to HotS, just as there is no clear “right way” to lead a team. Likewise, no manual exists explaining how to become a podcaster and find a mission and a way to express your opinions in a balanced way. Although Leoric might attempt to drain all your hope of finding a way to do these things, TowerBARRON found a way to embrace it, overcoming such challenges.

Perhaps the point is that we can learn something from what TowerBARRON has achieved thus far and strive to achieve our own areas of growth as well. Isn’t that what the GBS is ultimately trying to achieve?

Please consider tuning into the Bush League Final Championship series.  The Bush League Season 1 Champion will be crowned after a three-game series on Monday, June 18th starting at 9 p.m. EDT on Twitch.

Check out these Bush League Links: