We caught up with Luke "Fluke" Pate, up and coming Dota 2 broadcaster from Australia, for a quick chat. He first truly came to the limelight while hosting the ESL One Germany 2020 Play-offs alongside his countrymates from the ESL Studios in Sydney.
He talks on a lot of topics such as the uniqueness which he brings to the table, up and comers trying to undercut each other to land gigs, his experience hosting ESL One Germany, handling criticism and praise, and more.
Related: Interview with Prius, CS:GO Observer
Hey Luke. Introduce yourself to our readers.
Hello everyone, my name is Luke “Fluke” Pate and I am a Dota 2 play-by-play commentator and desk host from the lovely country of Australia. I have been casting for close to 3 years now and covered events from tier 2 Australian Dota all the way up to ESL Ones this year.
Tell us what got you into gaming, specifically Dota 2?
I’ve always been into gaming basically ever since I can remember, from playing Oddworld Adventures on my uncle’s original GameBoy to spending days on end playing Kingdom Hearts 2 with my brother, gaming has always been something I’ve done. But in regards to Dota 2, I first noticed the game during TI4. I was in my first year of university and was looking at free games on steam (I was a POOR student) to download and play to kill some time and saw the splash for TI4. Once I downloaded the game and started watching I was hooked. I asked my brother if any of his friends played Dota 2 and turns out one of them did and he then taught me the ropes. I’ve basically been so into Dota since that point, that I don’t think I’d ever leave.
When did you decide that you wanted to make a career out of esports? Prior to that, did you or do you hold any other jobs?
I don’t think I ever woke up one day and was like “I want to be in esports”. I kind of did it as a side hustle to my university studies and now it has developed into a career that I am super happy to have. I’ve always been the type of guy that is really easy going and I emulate that in regards to my career as I’ve really floated between many different ideas of what I wanted to do as a career. But what really got me into esports as a career was the insane passion and love that everyone I’d seen in the scene gave to their craft and I really wanted to be a part of something that had so many talented and passionate people in.
Surprisingly enough I used to be very far removed from your stereotypical “gamer” or esports person. One of my first jobs was at a hardware job filling up gas bottles and then I was a farmhand for 3 years on a small property in my hometown. Still to this day when I return to my hometown for holidays people are still, 1) Very confused as to what esports is, and 2) Confused as to how I made the transition from being a country boy to a full time esports personality.
Not many people know this but I’m not just an on-camera esports personality, I have been for the last 2 years a production technician for ESL Australia where I’ve worked on big shows behind the scenes from the Melbourne Esports Open to IEM Sydneys. I think this job specifically has really built my passion and love for esports and is why I continue to try and improve so I can continue to do everything I do as a career.
The broadcasting circuit is quite cutthroat and are mostly dominated by already established casters albeit rarely giving a chance to newcomers to find their footing in the scene. For example, for the recently concluded ESL One Germany 2020, you were the desk host but only until the round 2 of the play-offs after which the tier 1 talent took over. How do you plan to make it to the top rung of the ladder and explain the level of difficulties that you’ve to face in such a scenario?
Getting to the top rung of such a stacked talent scene will be a long and difficult road. Those guys at the top are there because they are all so insanely talented and I have nothing but awe at how they make everything look so seamless. But I think with the most recent 'me too' movement that we had it has definitely opened up some spots at the top in which the tier 2 talent are all trying to get. So I think with those people gone and the current circumstances now is the best time to build a personal brand and try and get your name in TOs minds for when the DPC restarts.
As for my plan to reach the top, it’s pretty simple. Just go absolutely ham on every broadcast I am lucky enough to be a part of and treat it like it’s my last (hopefully they aren’t). You look at SirActionSlacks for example or even Rich Campbell. Those guys have so many memorable moments on any given show that it’s almost impossible to look over them if you are doing a Dota event. Now I’m not going to go to the extremes those guys do but I want to embody that mentality, where you just put everything into the event so that the viewers at home have a good time. So fingers crossed, I can develop to a point where I’m half as good as those guys. That’s basically my plan to just put everything into every show.
Now for the difficulties of executing such a plan. Well first off, I’m from Australia. And for those of you that don’t know Australia is in a really bad spot in regards to time zones, so for most events, ESL One Germany as an example we have to stay up or flip sleep schedules to times like 4am just to cover these more “important” regions. So that is a big obstacle is that most of the western fanbase is EU/CIS. Which means in order for us to get recognized by the majority of fans we have to cover tournaments that are on the complete opposite schedule to us, and it becomes a giant toss up of risk vs reward. Another difficulty I have personally faced is the fact that Dota just isn’t huge in Australia. This leads us to having almost no domestic events to practice with and also means slim to none chances of us ever getting a big tournament in which someone like me would be more looked at for talent.
It’s well known that there’s plenty of talent who undercut each other just to get the job and indirectly give the TO’s an upper hand. Have you ever done anything similar to this or has anyone done such a thing against you that might have cost you a bit? To the uninitiated, how dangerous can this be?
I really enjoy these spicy questions! This is something that is starting to come back to the surface with Valorant casters and how they are going about securing gigs. For those of you that don’t know or understand undercutting, it’s when you quote a rate at a lower price to a competitor in order to be considered higher for the position. For example, the person that undercuts is the one who KNOWINGLY drops their rate in order to be cheaper than other talent already in consideration.
Now I understand up and coming casters willing to do gigs for little to no pay, that’s okay and that’s how I started. BUT willingly dropping your talent rates in order to secure a gig should not be done. But I understand why some people do it. Sometimes you really need the gig so you can make some more ends meet, or you really think it will rocket your career to the next step, okay fine I can understand that.
What they need to understand though is by openly undercutting fellow talent you create an environment where it is normal for these rates to be constantly dropped in order to be the guy picked which then drops the talent value as a whole. This is why it is SUPER important for talent to speak with each other openly about their rates in order to better understand their value in the ecosystem as well as giving themselves reassurance that the next guy won’t screw you over just for an event slot.
I personally have never undercut any talent in order to secure a gig and I hope no one has intentionally undercut me in order to get a gig. There have been situations where I’ve quoted my rate to some TO’s and they have replied with them having someone else or not replied at all but I don’t think any of it was intentional. Like the Australian casters are all good guys and I think it was probably a situation of not understanding their value and doing gigs for cheap but everyone has to start somewhere!
Basically when it comes to undercutting, you have to realize that these people are probably going to be your colleagues at some point so what's the point in screwing them over for an event? I think talent just needs to be open with each other and TO’s where possible in order to make a better ecosystem for themselves as well as the TO’s.
You did get the chance to host a tier-1 tournament – ESL One Germany 2020, even though it was remotely based out of the ESL Studios in Australia. How was the experience casting a tier-1 tournament and what difference did you notice between casting tier 1 and tier 2/3 events?
Surprisingly enough ESL One Germany was the second ESL One I have hosted! We also covered the ESL One Thailand SEA/China region a few weeks beforehand from the studio here in Australia. I really enjoyed the experience of being able to watch the best teams in EU/CIS bang it out in full bo3 swiss format because usually being in Australia we don’t get to watch these teams play a whole lot. I’ve worked with the guys from ESL Australia a lot over the past couple of years and they made it really fun to be a part of.
Whenever any of us had a cool or funny idea our producer was (mostly) behind it and we would try and bring it into the show. So having that fun and relaxed vibe off camera really made it feel like we belonged and didn’t get overwhelmed with the idea of covering Team Secret, OG, Nigma, Liquid all these big names every day.
Also one thing I really enjoyed about the tier 1 event was how well spoken most of the players were. I know chat/reddit were complaining about some of the interviews being boring but I was really impressed with how well they handled anything we threw at them and made most of them really memorable for me personally.
The biggest thing I noticed from covering tier 2 Dota to this event was how insanely breathtaking some plays were. There were so many games where QO, Danog and I were screaming and bouncing off the walls of the green room because something absolutely nuts had just gone down. Also the mind games and inter tournament meta developments really took me by surprise. Like everyone understands that tournaments and even series can have their own meta when it comes to the drafts but these tier 1 tournaments have these games of cat and mouse where they both know the meta but its like do you want to take the bait hero pick or are you going to bait us back? Really high level thinking when it comes to the drafts. Whereas with tier 2 tournaments you mostly see stuff they like playing a few targeted bans here and there.
Oh and one last thing about the difference of covering tier 1 to tier 2 tournaments is the increase in food budget haha lets just say I put on a few kilograms over ESL One Germany.
Haha the food part is quite funny. I want to ask you as to which match-ups surprised you the most and why?
Oh there were so many matches that were huge surprises coming into the tournament. When I was doing my prep for the event I got all my talent to do a “power rankings” and they all put OG and Nigma way at the top. But if you look back at their results both of those teams finished 7th-8th and then you look at the teams that finished higher than them, Vikin.gg, Mud Golems and Navi? Absolutely wild to think that the EU/CIS region is still this tight after so much time online. I think most people could have picked the top 8, maybe a few people would put NIP in there and 5men but it wasn’t a huge surprise to see those teams there but the huge surprise was how the bracket worked out. So if I had to choose a match that surprised me the most, it would have to be Mudgolems vs Team Secret in the Upper bracket where they 2-0’ed them.
I loved watching Mudgolems across the tournament and Milan is a really chill guy that I’d love to interview or just hang out with again!
What lessons did you take away from ESL One Germany professionally as well as personally?
This is a tough one! This is basically the first time I was in-front of so many vocal EU fans and there was a lot of advice/criticism that I received across the tournament which had some really solid points that I do need to improve on. If I had to pinpoint one thing professionally it would be “You can’t please everyone”. I felt like at times we were being pulled at from both sides of “This panel is too serious, we want WePlay panel back” and “This serious panel is great! Non serious panels get old after a while”. So we were trying to please both sides but it became an impossibility that we just started focusing internally to improve and I felt like towards the end we struck a good balance.
But personally I think maybe learning to have a little more confidence in myself would be a good thing. I know I’m not Sheever or Rich Campbell when it comes to hosting but I’m certainly not as bad as I think I am sometimes. I am learning to be less hard on myself for mistakes and be more positive when I think I did a good segment or joke or whatever.
Basskip and Danog are two renowned casters from Australia and in some way, your competition. What is your take? How do you plan to stay toe-to-toe with them?
I’m not as close with Basskip as am I with Danog but I think of it as more of a friendly rivalry. Like we are all striving to be the next guys on the block so having someone to compete against is always healthy. I just hope that when they do make it they don’t forget about their little old mate Fluke back in Australia haha. I also don’t really see them as like 1 to 1 competition as I am really starting to focus on hosting more and they are both fantastic panelists as well as Basskip being a play-by-play caster. I think we all bring something a little different to a show, so yeah we are all talent but I don’t think we would be competing for the same spots on a show.
I don’t really have a plan to stay “toe to toe” with them. I don’t really like comparing myself to other talents' achievements. I move at my own pace and know that if I continue to put in the hard work I will be up there with them. Plus I don’t think talent can really be compared in that way? The whole tier system is very arbitrary and based on people's perception of what makes a event better than the other. Like don’t get me wrong I think I am a little lower on the pecking order than Basskip and Danog but I like to try and focus internally rather than externally.
Perhaps the most important question, what do you bring to the table in terms of casting?
Some real hard hitting questions here dude haha. This is something that I think I am still trying to pinpoint. A while ago I got some advice from BlitzDota about casting and talent work in which he said to me one important thing is finding that unique aspect of yourself and using that to make you stand out from the rest. So I have really been trying to hone in on that idea and make it come out on camera, so I’d have to say I bring very story driven segments to the desk where I really try and weave an intricate intro into the segment for my panelists to follow with. I also think I can bring out the really laid back and Aussie attitude to the show when I begin to relax. So yeah I’d say that's what I bring to the table.
Something else that I offer is the willingness to do basically anything for a few laughs and 'KEKWs' in chat. I’ll do whatever stupid idea people come up with as long as I think it will be fun and not cross a line. Still haven’t been able to do a few things I’ve wanted on the show but someday I will do a shoey on the desk!
Alright mate, that’s a wrap. Anything you’d like to say before signing off?
I’d just like to say thank you for giving me this opportunity to answer a few questions and I hope it wasn’t too much of a wall of text for people. If you want low quality memes and tweets about Dota then follow me @flukedota3 and also make sure everyone is staying safe right now so we can all get back to Dota LANs!!
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