be_ixf;ym_202112 d_03; ct_100
Caster/Host Machine. Photos will be used for an interview at The Dota 2 Boston Major

1v1 with Machine at the Boston Major

Dec 062016

Alex “Machine” Richardson is one of the most celebrated hosts in Counterstrike: Global Offensive. A consummate professional, he is a fan favorite and has hosted some of the largest events in the game’s history. This weekend marks Machine’s first foray into Dota as he hosts the Boston Major. We sat down with Alex the day before the bracket stage of the Boston Major kicked off.

The Machine: CounterStrike, Call of Duty, Overwatch and Dota 2 Caster.

This is your first Dota event. How did your research and preparation for this differ from CounterStrike events?

Well I’ve done some other games besides CS. I’ve done Call of Duty XP, the Overwatch Open and now this. It’s always very different. The prep is so different. It will always have the same structure: I’m always looking at teams; the storylines. That’s what i like to do with my hosting. I like to show why a player leaving a team or rejoining a team is interesting - for instance, ForEv. I try to look for those storylines. If they aren’t readily found I usually just rely on talking with people rather than just searching the Web. What I found was that, well, you just can’t look at events before The International. Can’t do it. Dota changes so much after TI that it’s nothing like what it was prior. So you just look at events like TI6, The Summit, MDL. Those are the three events that you can look at for your relevant stories.

Can you talk a bit about your history with Dota? Did you play it in the past, have you been watching for a long time?

I haven’t really played much Dota. I’ve played a lot of similar games though. I watch it quite often with my friends. We always try to tune in to the big events. So every TI we’d just get into a big Teamspeak server, because of the spectacle of it. Every now and then I'd catch random games. But no, I don’t really have a rich Dota history. 

Did you talk with any Dota hosts before the event to get an idea of what to do?

I reached out to a lot of people. The first person I reached out to was Paul "RedEye" Chaloner. I gave him a call in Sweden when I had a break, and we took a walk through the woods via Skype. Those nice little woods right near Dreamhack, just had my headset on, and had a great talk. Just a 45-minute talk just discussing everything around Dota. I asked more about character profiles, because for me, it’s something I consider myself good at. I know who to ask which questions, who will answer in a certain way, who’s good at talking about certain subjects and just the general strengths and weaknesses of the cast. Obviously, I didn’t have that with Dota. I also talked with Ken "HotBid" Chen, who has great knowledge of the Dota scene. He hooked me up with some great information about people’s comforts, habits, all that. And then Knoxville! He does stats so he was a great resource in talking about drafts, who’s picking whom, team history and of course dumb Dota memes.

Are you confident in your meme skills?

I dont know man. I gotta learn the memes. As long as I can remember 322 and some whiteboard jokes, I think the Dota community won’t hate me that much.

Do you think you’ll be doing more Dota events after this weekend?

Honestly I don’t have the answer for that. Hosting is something that I really, really enjoy. It doesn’t matter what the game is. My base will always be CS. It’s the game that I enjoy the most, it’s the game that, when I go home, I play during my free time. It helps that a lot of my friends play it so we’ll sit down and play some matchmaking together every night. I wouldn’t be against hosting more Dota. This event took me by surprise. It was just this out of the blue email and then a Skype call from Valve. They just told me “Hey, we want to try something different, would you like to host the Boston Major?” And obviously I’d be a fool to say no.

Going into this, what personalities are you looking forward to working with?

I met Ted "Pyrion Flax" Forsyth before at a local LAN, so I was looking forward to working with him. OD Pixel, of course, because I actually went to school with him! We grew up together man. From year 4 to year 6 - sorry to Americans, that might not make sense, we were together. So that’s awesome. I’m just excited to work with the brains of Dota. I was looking forward to working with Chan "WinteR" LittBinn, but I had no clue what he’d be like. He’s hilarious! I absolutely love WinteR. Kevin "Purge" Godec is great. Jorien "Sheever" van der Heijden has been amazing in drafts, she knows so much about the history of it all, really just a great Dota historian to have on-board.

How did job come about? You mentioned that Valve approached you, but can you just detail that a bit?

It was just a case of an out of the blue contact. I was just super busy with CS, going from event to event and then in the middle of all that chaos I just got something from Valve. I think, yeah, it was actually a Skype add. Just one day I got something that said “Bruno Carlucci has added you on Skype” and I was like “Oh, I know this name! I’ve seen you before, flamboyant suit man.” They just wanted to try me out. They explained that they enjoyed what I did in CS and they wanted to see if I could do Dota. I won’t deny it, it was a bit of a gamble on their end. It was a shot in the dark and I appreciate them taking that risk with me.

Are there any hosts that you look up to and are trying to follow their lead?

I mean, there really aren’t that many hosts in esports. There really aren’t. I’ve actually done a lot of my research from outside esports, really looking to TV. I’ve done a lot of research on traditional sports. But of course, Redeye is someone I look up to. And then when I was prepping for Katowice 2015, my initial big CS event, I looked at like, Trevor "Quickshot" Henry from Riot, Eefje "sjokz" Depoortere from Riot, RedEye, William "Chobra" Cho - who really is “Mr. TV Ready” and it baffles me he doesn’t do more, he’s brilliant - and that was about it. You really can’t look at too many hosts, or else you risk losing your own style. I didn’t want to be bland and I didn’t want to copy anyone. I just want to see what’s good and what’s not, and then apply those lessons to myself.
Richardson has already received praise for his forays into other games and it’s looking like his sojourn into Dota will be no different.