“You know, I’m going for the twinkmaxxing.”
Andrew Jenkins wasn't originally scheduled to appear at BetBoom Dacha Dubai 2024, but Dota 2's biggest funnyman found a way. Esports.gg sat down with the star analyst to talk about his inspirations as a caster, constantly improving jawline, and preference in the age-old rivalry between Team Liquid and Gaimin Gladiators.
Join us for an exclusive interview with Jenkins at BetBoom Dacha Dubai 2024.
Jenkins at BetBoom Dacha Dubai 2024
esports.gg: How is FISSURE treating you? Is it your first time in Dubai?
Jenkins: Yeah, it's my first time in Dubai. I heard some crazy things about the city. I feel like everybody knows it's a party city. As for FISSURE, I worked the previous one in Armenia, and it was kind of like a party house. We were partying every night, having good times, playing, I'll spare the details, I'll spare the details. But the level of the relationship with these guys is like, I was saying to you before, It feels like family or like old college roommates. It's so nice to be back and see the same faces. It feels really good to be back, even though we're in a different place now. It's the same people.
What do you think of the venue, the hotel, all of it?
It's overwhelming. I mean, yeah, it's to come from like a small... Can I swear?
Small s***hole in Canada with like 100,000 people living in it, people are riding tractors and stuff around. To be in Dubai and like the smallest building here is like bigger than the tallest building in my city and there's like literally a thousand of them, you know? We saw that big tall building, the tallest in the world, the Burj Khalifa. I'm gonna try to get to the top of that, we'll see how that goes. I'm overwhelmingly grateful. I feel grateful to come to places like this for the job. But the best thing is the people, seeing the people again. That's always the best. Like I said, it's like old college friends.
Were there any pro players or talents who inspired you to pursue Dota 2 full-time?
Particular player? Hmm... (Long pause)
Most people say Clement "Puppey" Ivanov.
Puppey, I see, for the negative reasons, right? They're like, "I can never be as good as this guy." or "He took a machete to me," etc. I wouldn't say any particular player. More on the talent side of things... Jesus, I hope he never sees this interview. [Shannon "SUNSfan" Scotten,] I really enjoyed his content and thought he was great. I had him as somewhat of an idol. Now he's my business partner.
We're making a game together and he's one of my best friends. And he literally says "I didn't realize that you existed until a few years ago." when I've known him for seven years or so. And he always jokes that I came into existence only a few years ago. So there's that. So some people like SUNSfan, [Dakota "KotLGuy" Cox] from BTS, just some of the guys that I thought were really funny, similar to the sort of humor that I like to do. A bit theatrical, I guess. I wanted to do the stuff that they were doing. More on the talent side was what I liked. I mean, I was a theater kid in high school, so I liked the talent stuff. And playing was just kind of like, I liked video games, but I was never good enough to be these 12K MMR monsters like [Quinn Callahan.] It's just not in my blood, you know?
What's it like playing pubs as Jenkins? Do people call you out?
Usually, people are nice. Like, I'm lucky that my character is like "Funny guy." Because people are just cracking jokes and stuff at me or they're like "Hey, I think you're funny." which is a really nice thing to hear. I mean, there's the occasional mean guy, but that's just video games. You play video games, you're going to run into mean people. Generally, people are really nice. They will make a reference or something like that. I mean, it is like cheating, because it's like they already know you and you don't know them. So you don't have to get past that phase where you have to become friendly with them because they're already friendly with you.
So unless you're really f*** up, generally they don't hate you, you know what I mean? Which in Dota is like a really big advantage. It's a really big advantage to have your teammates think, "Oh, he's a caster, he's not that good." (derogatory) But then that's like even a benefit as well, right? Because some people are like, "Oh, he's just a caster. Like he's not meant to be good." (forgiving) It's like, all right, now I get a free pass to be like Pudge just f***ing griefing.
You can look at the negatives, but the positives, clearly to me at least, outweigh the negatives. And you can just ignore the negative parts. You know, mute the people who are animals, the animals are going to be animals regardless. They're going to do that to everyone, right? Why pay attention to them?
Jenkins names his favorite teams and players
You’ll be on the desk for this tournament so you have to be impartial, but off the desk, what team are you cheering for?
The impartial thing... I don't know if I agree with the idea. I know you're supposed to be, but I personally think it's much more interesting if like... To me, our job is to be entertaining, and what if the most entertaining thing is me fighting with [Natalie "NatTea" Mahoney] over who my favorite team is and why they're better? Then that is what we should do, you know? It depends on the event.
Some people want to value competitive integrity. It's serious. I think with BetBoom Dacha, it's not that serious. We're having a good time here. So I think for this one, I could literally just say "like, "I like this team because they're North American and I'm North American" or "Well, I like this team because, you know, [Zhang "Faith_bian" Ruida] is a bubby of mine and I love them and f*** whoever he's playing against. They're going down." Like I'm perfectly willing to say that.
So Azure Ray and nouns. Those are your teams?
Azure Ray. Faith_bian is a wonderful man. He's one of the most perfect human beings I've ever met. He's the best. I'm very grateful to be friends with him. That is one of the best friendships that I've gotten over the last couple of years. He's amazing. I could talk endlessly about how great that guy is. Everything that he looks like on camera, all the persona, the God-ifying of him, "Oh, he's this perfect guy." He actually is. He's the one guy where that persona is actually correct.
And also, Gaimin Gladiators - I spoke with you about these guys. I party with them, have good times, and really like their whole team, I really love their org. I have a lot of friends that are working in their org. They're also doing some stuff with me and Relic Arena and Ability Arena, so we work together, which means I'm interacting with them a lot. It's hard because when you've been in esports for so long, most of the teams, I have a personal relationship with somebody on the team.
Like I remember at TI, I was at a pretty low point, and I'll spare the details of why, but I was really depressed. One night I was just going out for a walk just to clear my mind. And I guess the way I looked as I was walking by [Aydin "iNSaNiA" Sarkohi] from Liquid and he's like "Are you going for a walk?" And I was like "Yeah." He's like "Do you want somebody to join you?" I'm like "No, that's fine." And he goes "I'm coming with you." He could just see it. And he spent the next four or five hours, and keep in mind they had to play the next day early morning. He spends like the next four or five hours talking about me and my problems and giving me... Literally giving me therapy. His dad's a therapist.
And some of the stuff that he talked to me about when we were walking, I wrote notes. And I read it! I go back to the stuff that we talked about because I felt like it was that like profoundly impactful, the stuff he said. If I had to compare him to an anime character, he's legitimately Luffy from One Piece. He cares so much about his friends and he's willing to do anything for his friends.
I'm ride or die with that motherf***er no matter what, right? Like, I love that guy. He's a bubby. So if it's Gaimin versus Liquid, it's always so difficult for me because on one hand, I love the whole Gaimin org. I know all of those guys, we party together. They're like brothers. But then iNSaNiA is literally Luffy from One Piece. Like, how do I pick one, man? How do I pick one?
I would say, in that situation, I'd pick Gaiman to win because I'm also good friends with [William "Blitz" Lee] and it's funny to s*** on him. So that will weigh it in the one direction where I can insult him at the same time as not bothering Gaimin by picking the other side. But it's like, I love a lot of the people at these events, it's really hard to pick.
You're like the third guy to take a potshot at Blitz in these interviews.
He f***ing deserves it dude, he's a little b****.
Which heroes will ruin BetBoom Dacha Dubai 2024?
Are there any heroes that you think the pros are sleeping on this patch?
I think Ember Spirit offlane is genuinely really good. [Cedric "Davai Lama" Deckmyn] from [Heroic,] I don't think they're at this tournament. But they qualified for DreamLeague [Season 22] and then also for [ESL One] Birmingham. So they're doing very well, and they're picking him offlane Ember, and they seem to be the only people doing it.
I saw them play it and I'm like 16-3 on it in pubs or something. I'm telling you dude, you get a Mage Slayer, you get an Orb of Corrosion, you just stand in front of the enemy team and press Sleight on them. And if they go on you, you're a f***ing off-laner. So you don't care, right?
You're wasting their time. You're wasting your time, but you're an offlaner, so your time is worthless anyway. It's honestly like the perfect role for him. And I think a lot of the four positions that are currently in the meta, that are strong like Hoodwink for example or Lion, these heroes love an Ember Spirit in the lane to just tank for them and to go in and press Searing Chains and set up for their s***, right? I think that's a super underrated hero and it's at some point it'll start being picked as an offlaner, I'm 100% sure. And hopefully not soon, because I have a YouTube video I'm making about it. I want that to come up first, and then they can nerf it.
Nicolas "Gunnar" Lopez had a similar take. He also namedropped Davai Lama with the offlane Ember Spirit.
My boy. That's good. My boy Gunnar. He knows.
A few pros have mentioned Arc Warden and Meepo as strong threats this event. We even saw some first-pick Meepos in recent qualifiers. Are you worried they’ll ruin BetBoom Dacha Dubai 2024?
Oh, Jesus Christ. I think those heroes are tremendously broken. I think Meepo is better than Arc Warden. If you ask anybody, they'll tell you the problem is MegaMeepo and the fact that it takes the limitations of the hero and nullifies them. It makes him not remotely balanced. There's no counter to it. It feels like he outcarries pretty much anything and, like you said, he can be first-picked.
Arc Warden? I feel like Arc Warden is very annoying to play against. It's not a fun hero to play against. But I do think that, strategically, it's more solvable than Meepo is. Because of the old Arc Warden, you could never kill him. You have to find him, right? Because you play on the other side of the map and he'd be this carry guy. Now he shows up to fights. So to me, he's more like a Zeus or a Sniper where you can pick heroes to like jump him on the back line and solve him. It's really annoying to do, and you have to do a whole draft to solve it, but it's solvable.
Meepo, you pick Winter Wyvern, he just MegaMeepos and it stops the Curse. You pick Earthshaker, he just only fights with MegaMeepo. Already he's only fighting with Aghanim Scepter anyway, right? So what's the point of picking an AoE counter to him if his timing is already when he's not an AoE hero, right? So I don't currently see a great solution to it. I've seen some people do Spirit Vessel and some minus healing strategy. Or Troll Warlord, another one, where he MegaMeepos and then you're just hitting so quickly on the one Meepo that it doesn't matter that he has, like, 10,000 EHP or whatever. But it's like, Jesus, then you have to have a f***ing Troll on your team, you know? That's not, that's not good. But yeah, I agree. Both of those heroes are horrible, horrible.
Relic Arena takes the custom game to new heights
You mentioned that you and SUNSfan were working on a game, right?
Yeah, so the TLDR of the story is we have a game in Dota called Ability Arena, a custom game, and when we maintained it, it was the most popular custom game in the West. China is huge into custom games, CIS region, they're huge into custom games, they play a lot of Custom Hero Chaos, right? They have their own little ecosystems. So in the West, Europe, and North America, we were the biggest. So we're very happy, we're very happy with how that was going. But then, at a point, basically Valve's lawyers emailed all the custom game people and they said "Hey, we don't want you to monetize using the Valve license," which is like, all right, fair enough.
That's probably should have been how it was in the first place, especially because these other games have these gacha mechanics and stuff like that. So we're like "Okay, we have this game, people already like it, but we can't monetize it anymore. What do we do?" And at some point, we wanted to make a standalone game anyway. So we were like, all right, f*** it. Like, let's do a Kickstarter, which we did. Got funded, thankfully, which we're very grateful for. And we're basically translating that game from the Dota version to a standalone version.
It's an auto-battler except with some tweaks to make it more accessible to non-Dota people and stuff like that. And we're going to improve on things that we know that we could have done better and that sort of thing. So it's a little easier than just making a fresh game from scratch because we already know that people liked it and all we have to do is not f*** that up essentially.
But, we have to get all the models and the art and stuff. Because in Dota, obviously you can just use Pudge and call them a different thing, right? So you can use all the Dota skins, their voice lines and stuff. They have, like, S-tier voice actors. Like we're going to have to hire some f***ing Fiverr people and stuff like that.
So it's a whole process, but we got a team of like 10 guys and girls that are super talented. The reason they're so talented is because we have the lucky benefit of people who know us from Dota. So we had a bunch of people reach out and be like "Hey, we're like AAA game developers. We just like you guys. Can we work with you?" And we're like "Please!" You know what I mean?
We're slowly making progress and hopefully within a year, that's like the point where we are going to launch... It's called Relic Arena.
Do you have any competitive aspirations for the game? Maybe some kind of competitive circuit?
I think generally the concept behind the game, the mechanics behind the game, which I will spare you the details of. Essentially, the idea is like, you buy these relics, they're like actual ancient relics, they can get King Tut's mask, or like a rocket engine, you know, the F1 rocket engine that Apollo Mission went to the moon with, right?
Like actual real-life artifacts, and they represent spells in Dota. So the F1 rocket engine will fly you into them and explode and deal damage and stun and all that sort of stuff. And there are upgrades to it, so the idea is that you're combining these relics together on these units doing crazy combos with these different relics.
The nature of that is that if we allow 12 relics in the game, that's 12 factorial possible combinations of things with just that. The amount of combinations and permutations of stuff that you can do is... literally you could write the number on every particle in the universe and never have enough space to write the number. This is how f***ing statistics work. Competitively, As long as we don't balance like idiots, there's going to be a way to like min-max it where it can be competitive.
Also SUNSfan and I just like really like competitive games. We really like Dota. We like esports. Obviously, we're both esports commentators. Naturally, I think the game is going to go that way if the developers just like that thing. And I think the best way from what I've heard watching a lot of GDC talks, talking to actual game devs, generally a game just turns out to be the type of game that the developers like. That's usually how it goes. Like, if you put your heart and soul into it, usually that's what'll come out, which I feel makes sense. Games are meant to be fun, so whatever you find fun.
Jenkins reveals his secret workout techniques
Related to some of your YouTube content, you've been focusing a lot more on tier lists lately. Is that a form of apology for ruining so many pubs?
That's my favorite thing. I love when people are like "I had this guy playing Anti-Mage offlane in my pub, it was just miserable." It's like, I'm so glad. Because, you know, you just want to put something out there in the world, you want to spread something. And if it's chaos and disarray or if it's happiness, I don't care. I just want some sort of ripple effect on the universe. So that's my small little contribution to entropy. So I'm happy for that.
But the tier list actually came from… I had a Patreon, but then I was really neglecting it out of laziness and I felt really bad for the people that were paying monthly. I would go on there and apologize like a little cuck. And they'd be like "Don't worry about it, we just want to support you." But I still kept feeling bad about it, because you can't not do anything. Jesus, people are giving you money, right? So I was like, I'm just gonna do what I do on there publicly. The most sought-after thing for people was these tier lists, and then that channel started getting a lot of views. So I was like "Oh, yeah, I'll keep doing it, I guess."
Yeah, it's easy to make too, because I make them anyway. Like I'm playing pubs and sometimes you get stuck playing like five position or something. So I like to have an idea of what's good. So I would always make the tier list anyway. It's so little effort. That's why I've been making a lot of them because it's just zero effort.
Lastly, your jawline is looking really nice lately. Have you been mewing?
(Clearly annoyed) Yeah, yeah, I've been mewing. I've been looksmaxxing actually, big time.
Any bone tamping?
(Laughs, no longer annoyed) I've not done the bone tamping, but I have done, of course, the mewing. I try to do it when I'm speaking as well, but you have to constantly oscillate the tongue between the top of the mouth and the bottom of the mouth, so that's maybe why it sounds like I have a bit of an accent right now. It's like a mewing accent, but I've been actually twinkmaxxing at the gym. So when I go to the gym, and I'm pumping iron, I listen to ABBA.
Yeah, yeah! Like Dancing Queen, for example. Because if I'm listening to something like phonk or if I'm listening to metal or something like that, I'm gonna pump too hard, right? And I'm not trying to get huge gains, I'm just trying to max out the veins and stuff. You can't see it right here, but like get the veins.
Oh, we can see them.
Yeah, that's good. I hope they're picking up on the camera. Get the veins going.
Okay, they are showing on the camera.
I got you good, yeah.
That's good. Yeah, give me a second.
You've got like rock climber forearms.
That's good! That's great. Yeah, that's the twinkmaxxing. You know, not working on the traps because that makes you look too manly.
You want the smaller shoulders?
No, large shoulders small traps. That's what I'm going for, yeah. Because a lot of people are warriormaxxing or they're vikingmaxxing, which I can respect. You've got a beard so you could definitely go for the vikingmaxxing thing if you wanted. But that's just not it for me. You know, I'm going for the twinkmaxxing.