Devmarta: “It’s the year of the underdogs”

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We caught up with Australian caster and prominent ANZ community figure James 'Devmarta' Stewart at the Six Invitational to ask about his experience on the analyst desk and expectations for APAC in the near future.

Making his breakthrough earlier this February was Australian caster, James 'Devmarta' Stewart. Having cast a number of ANZ and APAC games since APAC Pro League began, Devmarta has shot his way into the hearts and minds of many members of the community. Also being one of the hosts for popular ANZ podcast Talking Siege and the Esports Specialist for Ubisoft Australia, Devmarta has seen his share of experience across the community. We sat down with Devmarta on the second day of the Six Invitational 2019 for some insight on his time in Montreal, and APAC as a region.

What has it been like coming all this way to be a desk analyst?

The cold, hard truth is tired. It’s a twenty-hour flight from Melbourne through to Vancouver and then Montreal. It’s been fantastic, but it’s also been, uh, I’m fueled by adrenaline more than- and a bit of caffeine, more than actually getting a proper sleep.

Alongside quite notable names, given your name in your own region, was that an easy thing to come into? Or was it a bit more challenging?

So one of the nice things is that I’ve had a couple of conversations before with some of the talent roster like mzo, in particular, he’s really welcoming. When I rolled up at the group stage venue on the day that I arrived in town, he was there to hold the door open for me, he gave me a big hug. The entire talent team and all of ESL and Ubisoft, everyone I’ve been working with, has been really, really friendly- and that’s helped a lot.

In terms of the work itself, it’s a big change mainly because of the role from casting, which is what I usually do, to doing analyst work- because I can’t rely on actually watching the gameplay while it’s going to talk about that. I kinda have to focus on all the preparation coming into it, obviously, z1ronic is very familiar with that, and Milosh also making a transition from caster to analyst- so we’re all learning together but it’s been a really positive and fun working environment.

Devmarta on the analyst desk at the Six Invitational 2019, via @mjayx_.
So onto what we’ve seen so far, who has stood out for you as teams? I’m sure you’re going to mention your own region, they’ve been a standout- especially Nora, has been a standout team. Obviously, we’ll touch on Nora, other teams from other regions, anyone stood out for you as well?

Well, I think the obvious one to talk about is Team Reciprocity, who’s currently actually playing a match against G2, not doing amazingly at the moment but who knows what’ll go forward. It’s kind of a theme of teams coming through Challenger League and dominating because Empire has done it as well. It’s not just APAC regions who have had a really impressive showing this season, even SSG from North America coming to the main stage. Look, if this current ongoing match between G2 and Reciprocity keeps going how it is, then SSG will have actually put up more of a fight to G2 than Reciprocity.

The statistics for the matchup between Evil Geniuses and Team Reciprocity from this year’s Six Invitational.

Overall, so many teams stepping up that we hadn’t expected and as a result of that, also teams that we maybe had expected, not kind of coming like FaZe, etc. I can’t name one team, if I had to name one team that I think has surpassed expectations- I will admit I’m biased here, but Nora-Rengo for fairly obvious reasons. Unfortunately for the Nora-Rengo fans, I may or may not be one of them, they didn’t make it forward today. But, so many teams showed up, it’s the year of the underdogs.

Going away from Invitationals, I wanted to ask what you thought the impact of Kaid and Nomad will be? It’s a bit of a favourite question for us because we want to see where everyone thinks the meta will go.

These comments were made prior to Nomad or Kaid's introduction into the competitive operator pool.

So, I guess I’ll start with Kaid because he’s a little more cut-and-dry. The thing is, it’ll be really dependant on maps and sites and we have yet to see all of the tricks people will find with Kaid. Just recently, I can’t remember which content creator it was, but I saw a small clip on Twitter where someone used a Kaid to actually see through smoke- using the little detection radius thing. In theory, I guess Nomad could partially do something similar.

But, in terms of the more obvious stuff, defending Bank- defending those hatches in Open Area from below with a Kaid device, the only way to counter that is to shoot it from below with a Twitch drone or your rifle, or Thatcher, and Thatcher has only three EMPs. I think it’s going to become very site-specific, and I also think there is a lot of things we haven’t seen yet that will come about once they start being used more by the Pro League players who typically spend most of their time in scrims, not so much playing Casual or Ranked, where you actually might have Kaid available.

As for Nomad, we’ve already seen some tricks used with Nomad and now she has a claymore, obviously, that’s one of the big things. Putting a Nomad device on the flank watch to shoot people into claymores, it’s been very effective. I think that, as for Nomad, you always have to sacrifice something on the attack to afford that operator and so far she doesn’t bring smokes, she doesn’t bring any long-range breaching ability to get rid of Evil Eyes or anything. It’s a bit more difficult to slot her into a lineup at least for now.

What are your hopes for APAC, as a region? We’ve got the rest of Season 9, and there will presumably be more things to come throughout the rest of the year, what are you hoping to see from your own region?

This is less something that people from the international viewpoint don’t see as much, but on the local audience, I really want to see more local tournaments. They get a lot more exposure and even further than that is more organizations in the scene. Obviously many people know about Fnatic, that’s unprecedented and there has never been another org of that calibre come into APAC in any of the four subregions and pick a team up. There are some really, really really strong APAC teams who don’t have any org support, and they really need that.

It’s indisputable the amount that allows teams to step up to the next level. The obvious one is Mantis, who’s actually at the Invitational, they’ve been running as orgless for so long. And now one of the top contending Australia & New Zealand teams is currently called 0RGL3SS. Hopefully, before too long, we’ll see these guys get the support they deserve, so that’s in my more domestic scene.

0RGL3SS with the Oceanic Cup after their victory against Fnatic, via @A1_FEROX.

On the international scene, I’d love to see this not just be dismissed off as a fluke, that these APAC teams are making quarters, semis. I honestly believe we can see, especially Fnatic and Nora-Rengo, continue to deliver. I think it won’t be long before Mantis starts making semis as well because they’ve been a very strong team for a long time. And I’m also hoping at our own APAC LANs we’ll see a little bit more diversity, some of these other teams such as Aerowolf and 0RGL3SS step it up and maybe even make an international LAN.

Same topic, but this is for my own curiosity, Korea at the moment doesn’t have a full eight-team Pro League, thoughts on reasons behind that? Maybe there’s a specific answer, but I’d love to hear a bit more relating to that.

Korea is a funny situation because it’s one of the biggest regions for esports as a whole, but in Rainbow Six it’s actually one of the smallest. I guess you can put that down to a lot of competition, Rainbow Six as a game, as an esport, has other games which it has to compete for airtime and player base in Korea. A lot of MOBAs are really popular in Korea and a lot of players will focus on those, I’m still surprised it’s taken this long and we still, as you said, don’t have a full eight teams in the Korean Pro League.

The stage and venue for the South Korean tournament Six Challenge Korea.

For a while, I was maybe thinking mixing up some of the subregions- for example, Japan and Korea together would be a really interesting ‘North Asia’ or something like that. A variety of subregions, Mantis would have another environment to be in, but it’s really difficult to put your finger on it. Don’t worry, in the future, this will change, it’s just how long will it take for that change to happen.

If you wanted to dive into your Invitational experience…

Invitationals have been really crazy, obviously I’ve been to a couple of LAN events in Australia and the local scene, but the stark difference is that when I’m going to a LAN in Australia I know almost everyone- I’ve played games with them, I’ve spoken to them before, so they’re kinda like known community members to me.

Whereas here, I’ll have people approach me because they’ve seen me and I don’t necessarily know who they are, but they say “I’m really impressed with how you’ve been commentating or doing the analysis” and just meeting people that way, which is a really big difference. Also just the scale of things, everything from that bloody massive television screen to the number of crowds, the hype that comes from the crowd, the production, people walking around the venue. It’s an amazing atmosphere to be in.

You could come here to the Invitational, and not watch any of the matches, and you’d still have gotten your value worth out of your ticket.


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Devmarta hosts the Talking Siege podcast every Tuesday via the Rainbow6ANZ channel. You can check out more of our interviews from the Six Invitational right here at SiegeGG, or watch our interview with Fnatic's Jake ‘Virtue’ Grannan on his experience representing APAC in the year’s first major right here: