Kasumi “Sumichu” Yogi shared her experience of hosting the Singapore Major with us. The $500K event was a huge success and marked her debut as a Dota 2 broadcast talent.

We spoke to host Kasumi “Sumichu” Yogi shortly after she made her debut as a Dota 2 host at the $500,000 Singapore Major organised by PGL and One Esports. Despite being new to the Dota 2 desk, Sumichu is an experienced host, and was most notably the host for EVO 2019, the largest annual esports event in the FGC. Sumichu is also the Director of Games Done Quick, a passionate community who organise speed running marathons for charity.

Malystryx: I think there’s sometimes a pre-conceived notion in the Dota 2 fanbase that if a host from a different game is hired, that they haven’t played the game. How long have you been playing Dota 2?

Sumichu: I’ve played Dota for a pretty long time. Like I’m not super diehard and that I grind ranked all the time or anything like that. But I’ve basically been playing since 2012. I went and looked at it after the Major because people were asking me how long have played I was like, I don’t know, it’s been a while.

Whenever my friends would start playing Dota I would hop on a new account because we didn’t want to give them a hard time and make them not want to play the game ever again. But on my main account, I have over 2,400 hours. I play a decent amount of Dota 2. I’d say it’s not as much as like Team Fortress 2 but still!

Malystryx: Out of interest what are your three favourite heroes? So we can all judge you

Sumichu: Always a big fan of Rubick. Like, I’ve been such a big fan of Rubick that my friend actually drew a picture of me wearing Rubick’s costume. She knows I love him so much. Next I’ve already been told that it’s very cliche… (Maly: Crystal Maiden?) Oh, yeah.

When I first started playing Dota I said, tell me who to play so that I can be horrible at the game and still contribute and every person said Crystal Maiden, so I picked Crystal Maiden and I’m like, they’re right. I can still help. Even though I don’t know what I’m doing. I just have those memories of playing Crystal Maiden with my friends when I was learning how to play the game. I didn’t know what I was doing, very embarrassing games. Really embarassing.

Third is… Sniper. (Maly: Noooo) Tsunami played a game of sniper with me and I did not do well and he was like ‘alright when you play five great, but uh your sniper game…’ then there was a pause but you knew what he was thinking. I’m like you’re right, you’re so right.

Malystryx: You’ve got experience hosting, you’ve hosted EVO and more recently the Steam Game Festival with SirActionSlacks. But did you have any concerns heading into hosting the Major? What did you think you’d find difficult and what did you think you’d find easy?

Sumichu: I’ve done hosting for a couple of different things. And I think the thing that I always worry about the most personally is just getting to know the other talent because they’re experts, right? And there’s so much that I can learn from them. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn from the best of the best. But I also don’t want to get in their way or ask too many questions or bother them. So I think that’s probably the thing I was the most worried about. But it turned out to be not even a big worry at all, because everybody was super kind.

There was like a point in time where I was in the greenroom about to like start my shift for hosting. And I had a question. I think it was either Lizzard or Godz, they knew I had a question I wanted to ask, but I was shy. And then they said Sumi If you have a question feel free to ask. And I said ‘all right cool’ here you go, here’s 50 questions.

Malystryx: So what I’m hearing is Dota 2 talent are super friendly, that’s what we like to hear

Sumichu: Oh yeah, absolutely. I wasn’t scared but I was definitely worried that I would be in the way. But they made me feel very comfortable. Sheever even reached out before the Major to just say, hey, if there’s any questions, let me know. (….) And I was it just that that friendliness and availability to answer questions because I know that it must get tiring to have to answer all these questions for like somebody that’s a veteran of the scene. And then there’s like somebody just going and having 1 million questions, but they never made me feel like I was a bother at all.

Malystryx: What was the community reception both before and during the event?

Sumichu: I was just very, very pleasantly surprised with the overall sentiment that I’ve seen from the Dota 2 community because you boot up a game of Dota. And whether you do good or bad, there’s a chance that someone’s going to open your steam profile and see your picture or your name and say some very unsavoury things.

That said, I had the complete opposite experience with the community in general, like people were tweeting at me and saying ‘Hey, good work’ or ‘very nice to see a new face’. And even the Team Secret Twitter, the Alliance Twitter, they were so welcoming. And it just felt like such a warm community and I was so emotional. People gave me constructive feedback. And everybody on site was nice and even PGL’s producer Sebastian was super awesome. I felt like I was in really really good hands.

Malystryx: Yea agreed, Sebastian is an actual legend. He used to be in charge of our “fluff team” back when Slacks and I first did content at the Majors. I’ve heard from friends who are Dota 2 talent that managing feedback while working an event is a challenge. Some try to avoid it at all costs, others regularly check to see what the community is saying about their work. What was your process for managing feedback during the Singapore Major?

Sumichu: I checked once in a while. I was still doing work for Games Done Quick (GDQ) while I was there on my off time. So I did check socials and there was a lot of feedback. So I can’t even say that I read all of it, because there was just such a high volume. But generally people said ‘great job’, which made me feel really really good.

There was also somebody who said that I say the word “so” a lot, which is actually totally true. They sent me a message saying that I did a good job but I could say the word “so” less often. They said it really constructively and it was like a compliment sandwich which was really nice. It wasn’t like completely trashing on me or anything, which makes me a lot more receptive. And, you know, I actually took that to heart.

The next day I worked on reducing the amount of times I said it and I think I did pretty good. I wanted to reach out to that person and be like ‘hey, thank you so much for your feedback, I actually worked really hard on it’, but then I couldn’t find them anymore! So if you’re reading this, thank you! I also got some really weird messages. And that’s just like, that just comes with the territory. That’s nothing new. It’s nothing unique to Dota.

Malystryx: Oh god, and you were like no thank you, I’ll take the compliment sandwich for 100. For us watching at home Thunder Predator and Neon Esports were big talking points, which teams made the most impact on you?

Sumichu: I think Neon’s matches were probably the ones that I remembered most. A lot of doing the event was talking to the analysts and learning more about the game and about the thought process. Especially when it came down to the draft. So I used that time to learn a lot. And with Neon they were so flexible. It was really hard to tell who was going where and when and that was really memorable for me. Team Secret’s overall performance also stood out and unfortunately, as I said to One Esports, I was hoping to see Evil Geniuses in the final. They were so close. I watched a lot of the NA DPC with friends, and obviously I’m NA so it was a pity.

Malystryx: Hosting a Major during the pandemic means ensuring safety is a high priority. Did the talent get to mingle or meet with the players at all?

Sumichu: We didn’t get to see the players, and talent kept at a distance, just like you saw on stage. After the broadcast we would go back to our rooms because we are all trying to be safe. We didn’t hang out or eat together, it was all distanced but we were there for work so we kept it professional. We all were serious about abiding by the rules to keep everyone safe. Masks are a government requirement in Singapore as is social distancing. Living in the United States there are a lot of things that aren’t as required. So travelling to Singapore and being there, I felt very, very safe.

Malystryx: So looking ahead to the future are you looking to continue expanding to host in other esports?

I would love to host in other games but I would I would be so down to do more Dota 2 events. This experience that I had was unforgettable, and easily one of the best times I’ve had hosting an event. The people there, I want to see them again and be able to sit down and have a meal with them, you know, when it’s safe.

Malystryx: If they asked you to do TI what would you say?

Sumichu: Oh my god I’d be terrified but that would be amazing. I’ve always wanted to go to a TI. I had the opportunity several times but had to cancel because of work. If I were able to work TI that would be a dream come true. Even if it wasn’t TI, just like a Dota 2 event with some of the people I met at the Singapore Major, that would be fantastic.

Special thanks to @pglesports for sharing the image of Sumichu on panel.

Check out our round-up of the winners and losers of patch 7.29!

Lawrence

Lawrence "Malystryx" Phillips

Director of Content | Twitter: @MalystryxGDS | Twitch: MalyPlays

Malystryx is a content creator, journalist, interviewer, and personality. He has been involved in the esports scene since 2004 and has worked with many different organizers and portals, including SK Gaming, ESL, Dexerto, GINXTV, Razer and Monster Energy. Malystryx was also a broadcast talent on Valve's Dota 2 Pro Circuit over the last few years, creating on-site video content for PGL and Starladder. In his spare time he streams on Twitch as MalyPlays.