Interview: Team Allegiance's Lassiz on life as a SMITE eSport player
Drew "Lassiz" Boyd is one of the original SMITE pro players, as well as one of the first to stream the game on Twitch. Playing since 2012, he has swapped between playing mid lane and jungler -- and recently has made the change back to Jungler for Team Allegiance.
I got a chance to interview Lassiz about how he got into the SMITE scene and what it's like to be a pro player in one of the largest eSports circuits in the industry.
Usually a fan of MMOs and RPGs, Lassiz had tested the waters with previous 3D MOBAs, but none as refined as SMITE.
DB: "I was playing Diablo 3 with one of my buddies. His name was Gantz. Played League of Legends in early beta with Gantz. We kind of had a small falling out. Then when I was in Diablo 3 I joined one of his games by accident and he told me about a 3D MOBA coming out called SMITE. I was immediately interested because I tried this one game, Land of Chaos Online and it was a much more unrefined 3D MOBA. I just wished some company would make a 3D MOBA like this just better. Finally it happened and he told me about it. My buddy and I bought into this early access and tried it and fell in love with it."
Lassiz fell in love with the game to the point that he was putting in 10+ hours a day. He found himself above the skill curve of new players joining, and that his history of games such as Bloodline Champions helped him make the transition to a skill shot type of game. Still playing games for fun, he didn't think much of how much time he was playing SMITE. But he did know that he wanted to start streaming.
DB: "I started streaming and just wanted to be one of the first people to stream this game. I remember when I got 30 viewers and I started spazzing out "OMG 30 people are watching me”. I was having a blast. I was playing in these games because they have the hidden ELO and I would play with the same guys every single day. Suddenly one of them approached me, his name was hero. Asked me if I wanna make a team and I was like “sure”. I had no clue about competitiveness or anything in the scene. We made a team with myself, Hero, Wolfy, Mattypocket, and Keyadrel, a gentleman that doesn’t play anymore.
While many of those players are still active in the SMITE community, it is Lassiz and Mattypocket that have come full circle and are playing on a team together again for Season 3. A lot has changed since that original team, and now Lassiz is one of the most entertaining streamers in the SMITE community.
With all of the fun he has on stream, he realizes this is still a full-time job and it's something he takes seriously. Like anything you want in life, Lassiz realizes you have to work hard for it, because it won't come without a fight.
DB: "When I go really hardcore I treat it like a full time job. I would be doing a minimum of 6 hours a day of streaming for 7 days a week. On top of scrims that people don’t factor in. People don’t understand how mentally exhausting it is -- 'video games are your job that is the life'. And it is very fortunate, but you have to be able to play the same game for 10 hours a day. Pushing the same buttons for 10 hours a day. The scrims start to get tedious if you are falling behind or getting stomped on. It does get stressful."
With that stress and the hard work comes disappointment as well. For all of the success and the good times that SMITE has brought Lassiz, the ultimate prize has eluded him. He has missed out on going to the SMITE World Championship the last 2 years. Like a true grinder, he brushes it off and has climbed his way up into the SPL from the Challenger Cup each season.
Lassiz is once again trying to make it to that big stage this season -- trying to avoid becoming the Ken Griffey Jr. of SMITE (a top player who just kept falling short). It weighs on his mind as he continues his chase for glory.
DB: "Truth be told I had a personal issue. Maybe I am not good at this game anymore. I was having those doubt. Can I compete at the top level? I knew my teammates could. They were young and great players, but I had questions about myself. Challengers Cup put things in perspective a bit that I had to bust my ass if I wanted to even compete with the lower guys at the top level."
While Lassiz still has goals he wants to achieve in SMITE for Season 3, he has plenty that he has accomplished already. One of his goals was to own a home by 30, and last year he was able to accomplish that goal thanks to his successful career -- even to the point that he had his teammates from last season living with him in Florida. He found it was a great way to build the team and enjoyed the overall experience of it.
A big difference between an eSport athlete that streams and athletes of more traditional sports is visibility. An eSports player and streamer is always in front of the camera for the most part. Fans can interact with them and see the players emotions on the spot. Needless to say, this can be very stressful.
Early in his career, Lassiz was known as someone who would go on tilt pretty bad. But over the years, he has learned to take things in stride -- and it has helped him grow his own Twitch community.
DB: "No matter what word you say, everyone is judging you from that moment on. There is a certain etiquette to follow, but you can’t be a jackass. It is a small TV show in a sense because you have to appeal to your audience. At the same time everyone is an emotional player, myself included.
Back when the scene was smaller, dmbrandon said I am the guy who wears my heart on my sleeve -- which is true, I am an emotional guy. If I get angry, I get super angry, and tilted really bad in the past. I have learned to keep those emotions in tact a little bit better. But at the same time, your emotions are constantly up and down as you are playing."
Lassiz is now currently in the middle of the Spring Split for the SPL. He's playing alongside Incon, Mattypocket, Oceans, and DaretoCare as part of Team Allegiance. They recently split with the second-ranked, Team EnVyUs.
I'd like to thank Lassiz for taking the time to chat with me about his experience as a pro SMITE player. If you are interested in checking out Lassiz, you can follow him on Twitter @ALG_Lassiz or watch his stream on Twitch. You can also catch up on all the SMITE Season 3 action on their eSports website.