“I was playing a lot of Dota. In the night I used to play, in the day, I used to sleep”: India’s most followed Twitch streamer, Helm.

by January 29, 2020 0 comments

We recently sat down with Gaurav Helm Anand, the most followed Twitch Streamer in India and talked about his journey as a professional gamer. Before streaming, Gaurav was the captain of one of India’s first professional Dota 2 teams, Buriza. The team won the Taiwan Excellence Cup in 2017 under his captaincy and also CobX Delhi. 

PCQuest: Tell us about your gaming journey.

Helm: My gaming journey started at college in 2010. The first multiplayer PC game I played was Age of Empires. In college, many of my friends were playing Dota so I got involved in it. Then within 6 months we made a team and started participating in tournaments. It took me an extra year to complete college because of Dota 2. After college, I got placed in Bangalore. But the interview wasn’t done yet. It was in August  2016, if I remember correctly. At the same time, Buriza came started hiring players. I applied for that and I got selected. I talked about it at home and I told them that I won’t be joining the job. Obviously, my parents didn’t agree but my brother was at my side. He said that since I had the degree, I could give it a shot. 

The first time I streamed was when I reached bootcamp. Since we were professional players, we were required to stream so that we could get sponsors and it would be beneficial for us anyway. I had always been watching professional players on Twitch so I thought that if they could stream even I could do it. We had a very rigorous practice schedule so we didn’t get a lot of time to stream. I used to stream 2 hours a day and three or four times a week. I did this for a couple of months and then the Indian season started for Dota 2. We couldn’t perform at the beginning so we started concentrating more on the competitive side and practising. 

The big moment for us was when we won the Taiwan Excellence Cup in November 2017. After that, we started getting all the big sponsors. Then I realised it would have been more beneficial if I had had an established Twitch channel. I then started streaming regularly in January 2018 after a couple of months of break. I was streaming regularly every day, the way you are supposed to do. I was doing this until June when Buriza dissolved. After that, I came back home and made my own setup and started streaming. Since then I have streamed almost every single day. 

You said it took you an extra year to complete college because of Dota. Why was that?

I was playing a lot of Dota. In the night I used to play, in the day, I used to sleep.

I have been playing for 6 years and I am still a Crusader in Dota 2. Yet you are in the upper Divine ranks. Did you take coaching or were you naturally that good?

I would say before entering the professional scene I was an okay-ish player around 4000 MMR. When I started playing Dota, it was around good players. My friends who taught me were really positive players and they actually taught me well. They never got triggered or threw games. I never saw them doing this so I never did this myself. In Dota, I guess positivity, takes you far. I thought I knew all about Dota until I entered the professional scene. But there were actually a lot of things which I had never even thought of. Then I entered the scene and I played among some of the best players and also got a bit of coaching and then I learnt new stuff. I knew how to play heroes and all, but actual Dota, I learnt after I got into the professional scene. 

How challenging was it to live in a bootcamp?

Buriza was one of the first boot camps in India. The biggest problem in bootcamps is the players if they have an ego issue. All the players are talented and all but if you put five good players in the same room and if anyone has ego issues, problems are bound to pop up. I have played with and tried around 20 plus players for Buriza. I was the captain and kind of the unpaid manager of the team so I had to interact with everyone and the major issues I found arisen due to ego problems. There are a lot of good players but they can’t play in teams. To be successful, players should be able to merge in the environment of the bootcamp and also need to be talented. Finding those five players is really hard. 

Other than that there were problems specific to India. Like parents calling the players back home and saying that they haven’t achieved anything. So the problems that come from parents also have a huge impact on players. The parents start expecting unreasonable results within just a few months. They don’t realise that it takes time. 

Another issue is internet connectivity. Even in Delhi that was a problem. We had to actually move from Delhi to Hyderabad because of internet problems. We had tried everything before that, including getting leased line, but even that had issues. One disconnection during a tournament match and you’re out. 

Other than that, considering we did not have sponsors we were still doing well.

You have now completely shifted from being a professional Dota player to being a streamer.

Yes, completely. ESL Mumbai was my last professional tournament. After that, I completely shifted towards content creation as a Twitch streamer. I recently went for Red Bull R1v1r runes but only because my viewers wanted me to go. 

But why exactly did you make the shift?

There were several factors. I can’t get into many details but there were times when players missed practice. Some even said, “Bro, 1st toh aayenge nahi, toh kya faayda.” I had heard this many times from multiple players. Ultimately these reasons and financial issues due to lack of sponsors led to the closure of Buriza. As far as the Bootcamp itself and the management is concerned, I personally had no issues. The electricity bill, stay and our meals, everything was taken care of by them. I’ve heard various rumours going around in the professional scene regarding them, but they are false.

How does it feel to be the most followed Indian streamer on Twitch?

I used all the money that I had left after Buriza to set up my system. I was a bit sceptical about it because I knew Twitch’s condition in Asia. In the beginning, I was only getting 2 or 3 viewers. I still remember their names: Dotablaze, Ktt, Wispy, Maxalias. These are the core members of my channel. I used to stream minimum for around 10 hours, sometimes it went up to 15 hours. And they were always there in the chat with me. Even late at night when it used to be around 12:00 a.m. or 1:00 a.m., we used to chat and we used to discuss how to grow the channel. So they gave me a lot of ideas and they promoted me wherever they could. They also made a lot of clips. The one thing that made me popular was their clips. They got featured more than 20 times on Tea Eye Winner and seven or eight times in Holyhexor. I got a lot of recognition because of those clips. Sometimes people used to tell me that they saw my videos when they met me in-game. This helped my channel grow a lot. They also used to suggest me which heroes to play so that I could get some great Clips out of my games. Also, they were the ones who helped me become a good streamer as well. Whenever someone starts streaming they are not used to talking to the viewers and mostly just play the games. They used to prompt me whenever I went silent on stream. I grew because of them. If you are not a big streamer, then obviously of content matters, but it is also your community which matters and how much they help you grow. I don’t have a lot of viewers but considering we don’t have any Twitter servers in India, I am happy with what I have.

Have you tried your hand at YouTube?

I have never tried streaming on YouTube. But I have seen people trying Dota on YouTube. Even though they are great players and interact with their viewers, they don’t get a lot of them. It’s the same grind for YouTube and Twitch for a non PUBG, GTA or a CS player. There are a few streamers on YouTube whom I know who play PUBG or GTA and they get thousands of viewers. Some of them have more than 250k subscribers but when they play Dota, they get like 65 viewers. For Dota 2 there is no viewership on YouTube. I have seen professional Indian players in professional Indian teams stream Dota 2 on YouTube, yet their viewer numbers are in single digit. So, from my experience, YouTube wins in its own genre of games and Twitch wins in its own genre of games. 

Is streaming on Twitch sustainable?

No. From Twitch, no. Recently I started getting money to promote websites and stuff, sometimes even to play some other games. But from Twitch itself, not that much. There are a few people who want to watch my streams, but Twitch buffers for them. Until and unless Twitch servers come to India, it is not sustainable.

What are your plans for the future?

I qualified for a government job in Delhi so I will be moving there permanently. So now on weekdays, I will be streaming for 3-4 hours in the night and I will do long streams on Saturday and Sunday. 

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