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SirActionSlacks: “We are absolutely not a cult” – Interview on Arkosh Gaming and the season so far

Interview with SirActionSlacks on Arkosh Gaming, team’s Winter Tour showing, contributing to NA Dota popularity, managing its players and more.

Written by Community Writer Pedro Romereo.

The beloved and hated Arkosh Gaming

Brash, enigmatic, comical, facetious, and eccentric. These words and more depict North America’s most unconventional professional Dota 2 team: Arkosh Gaming. Since being founded in late 2020 as a way to galvanize interest for Dota within NA, Arkosh have emerged as a formidable team by reaching Division I for the start of the 2021-22 Dota Pro Circuit–all while adopting unconventional methods such as signing entirely anonymous players in the process.

Though many have lauded Arkosh’s efforts in rekindling interest in Dota for NA after less than two years of existence, others have criticized them for making a mockery of a scene that they were supposed to properly represent.

 

 

Even so, Arkosh has yet to let the mixed sentiment deter their usual operations. So long as they continue shedding light on the dilapidated region that is NA, the game they’re playing, and everything else that is affiliated with both aspects, they will continue playing together–for better or for worse.

In the first of this two-part interview, esports.com caught up with Arkosh Gaming’s founder, manager, and coach Jake “SirActionSlacks” Kanner to discuss the team’s performance in the Winter Tour, their contribution to the growth of popularity for Dota 2 in NA, the mystery surrounding its players, and how his experience managing them has been so far.

Arkosh in the DPC Winter Tour

Pedro Romero (esports.com): Thank you so much for doing this interview, Slacks. First of all, I would like to cover what went down with Arkosh as it relates to the recent Winter Tour. Although the season just ended for the team, they unfortunately finished in the bottom two places in the standings which meant their subsequent relegation to Division II. How are you handling that relegation right now?

SirActionSlacks: Super well. Super super well. We never wanted to be in Div. I honestly. This is a team that never does any scrims. They never practice. Some of our guys literally ditch our most important events to go do other activities. This team is absolutely atrocious when it comes to any kind of seriousness.

Have you ever seen a Pudge walk into lane with zero items and buys a Ring of Health as his first item? These guys definitely did not deserve nor should have been in Div. I. The only reason I believe that they got there was because several teams were match fixing in the lowers of Div. II last season. There were teams that were actively trying to lose against Arkosh Gaming and had a hard time pulling it off. Through some kind of demonic stroke of fate, we made it to Div. I and thankfully we have returned to Div. II so they might actually do some work for the first time in their lives.

So I guess you could say that you were surprised that Arkosh made it this far to Division I?

God no I wasn’t surprised. I’m surprised they lasted more than 20 minutes in any of their games, quite honestly. The only thing I was surprised about is that EG took more than 30 minutes to close out . It was horrendous. My deepest condolences to Black N Yellow. I have no clue how they lost to this team. I’m surprised they won a single series.

Regarding how the season transpired for the team, they underwent various obstacles through the season, of which included fielding a substitute player (his name being DoubleKing) and the penalty the team suffered for fielding more than two players outside of NA. You already went into detail as to how they performed in the Winter Tour, but I’d like to know what do you think largely contributed to Arkosh’s downfall?

God, I’d have to say this one is mostly on the team itself, especially on their personalities. We had to grab DoubleKing because Pale Horse decided that he wanted to go to the opera and refused to cancel his plans. His response was that he wanted to ‘prioritize his real social life’ rather than be bogged down with Dota. Now this happened during a DPC game by the way.

I don’t ask much of these a******s. I simply say, ‘Can you please just show up and lose?’ That is all I asked and apparently this is too much for the players. Even showing up and losing is too much. So yes, that was a hardship. Our hardship was their own stupidity coming into this season. Our newest member, Forsaken Oracle, could apparently only play Queen of Pain (QoP) and kind of Razor so really great there.

I would say overall dedication to the team and general skill was a hardship; hero variety was a hardship; shutting up was a huge hardship. We have a lot of team comms (we record them all) and they’re just constantly talking about nonsense. It’s like someone was having some kind of seance with a schizophrenic ghost. I don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. They’re talking about legitimate nonsense the entire time during the games.

Not that I would sit in and listen to their games. I listen to recordings. I’m not Bulba after all. At any rate, pretty much everything about this team is a hardship. Legitimately, they need help. I know that OG got a psychologist. We need a clinical practice around this team to try to get it to have anything resembling something normal.

Well, in that case, how did you react when the team won their only series (against Black N Yellow) for this past season?

Mostly disgust and fear for the North American Dota region. I honestly genuinely felt bad. *laughs*

You felt bad for your team for winning?

No, I felt bad for the enemy team. *laughs* For the rest of their lives, they will know that they had to lose to Arkosh Gaming. I felt bad for the viewers who had to watch that game. I mean sweet Jesus, I don’t know how you recover from losing to Arkosh Gaming. it’s got to be rough but they did beat EG the day before so I guess it equals out, you know? Life is the yin and the yang. There’s ups and downs. I guess another big reaction I had to that game was worry. Worry that we would continue to be Div I. That would have been the worst case scenario in my opinion.

 

In a way though, that did pay off because it ended up being the only win for the team. You just mentioned the viewership regarding the NA Winter Tour. According to Esports Charts, Arkosh raked in the highest peak viewership for the season in their series against Evil Geniuses. What do you make of Arkosh contributing to the viewership?

Well, I would like to start off by saying that we are not a cult. Just because a lot of people come to our games and call the meetings and have a lot of discussions during those games, we are not a cult. We are not affiliated with any cult activities. There are allegations in a few different places about missing children. This is all fabricated. We are absolutely not a cult.

But with these large viewership games, I don’t know. Why is NASCAR viewed a lot? You think people like watching cars turn left for 45 minutes? No. Everybody goes to NASCAR because there’s a small chance in the back to your monkey brain that Maybe you’re going to watch someone die. Maybe a car is going to careen off the road and explode into a fireball and nobody’s going to watch s*** go left.

I think it’s pretty much the same for Arkosh games. They’re really just going in to see what kind of horrific demonic nonsense is going to be showing up. Is it about winning? God, I hope not. I hope they’re not watching Arkosh games just to look for the win, but is there a possibility that something horrific might happen? Yes, and I think that is a big contributing factor when you have North America’s biggest and best paid Dota 2 team facing off against a team of five literal demons. So yeah, I guess that’s kind of a draw that brings people into our Arkosh.

It’s sort of difficult for me to hear you say that you’re not a cult when your team’s content essentially displays cult-like features. In fact, for the team’s announcement video, it started off with you slashing your hand and then blood started dripping down to the ground. You say it’s not a cult but–

It’s not a cult. I mean, cults get tax exemption so it’s more of a meeting of individuals under mysterious circumstances which seeks to, you know, increase its meetings with larger audiences. I mean, it’s not a cult.

Some of the players were wearing robes! Like–

Yeah, a very–have you seen Star Wars? A lot of people wore robes, right? A lot of people also wore capes. It’s a futuristic kind of fashionable–

Only evil people wore those robes though.

Boba Fett wears a cape! Is Boba Fett evil? No. (Pedro: Yes!) Is the Mandalorian evil? No, he is a bounty hunter! There’s a lot of gray! There’s a lot of gray in the extended Star Wars universe–

Who served the evil empire! So like–

Getting money! Do you get paid for doing this interview? Are you evil?

No?

Relax, okay? A lot of people wear robes. I believe the pope wears a robe of some sort. Is the pope evil, bro?

I mean… I can’t say anything. I can’t comment on that.

Moving on from that. *laughs* You mentioned the two new players that were brought in for the Winter Tour (Forsaken Oracle and Monkey). I’d like to know how exactly did you scout those two players?

Wow, that’s a great question. Monkey is a literal monkey with neuron adjustments with a machine that we implanted in his head. We locked him in a room and taught him to get treats by watching Purge gaming videos and Dota Cinema videos from 2012. That one was something created actively to get rid of one of our players. It was kind of a bet. We said, ‘I bet you I could train a monkey to play better than you,’ and then it turned out the monkey was actually really good, so that was an easy choice for us on the monkey.

With Forsaken Oracle, I was convinced to get him in and by convinced I mean I showed up one day and Canus Valpus had been kicked and he was put in his stead. I still don’t understand why . I feel like he’s legitimately horrible. He plays no heroes. He ruins team comms. The entire drafting phase is just him whispering prophecies of things that will never occur. I don’t think he has any hit rate. The guy is basically a pet psychic.

You know that he’s full of s*** but he just keeps talking. You’re like, ‘Am I actually going to correct this person? Am I actually going to spend my time arguing with a cockroach.? I hate him personally but the choice was out of my control. I don’t have a lot. I mean, the team just does what they want to do and there was just heartbreak in their wake as you saw from our DPC season.

Did it just happen on a whim? Does that mean you had no control over those roster moves? They just showed up out of nowhere?

God I hope so. I hope they didn’t get together and look at this guy’s profile and be like, ‘Oh yeah, this looks like a good idea.’ I legitimately hope they wheeled out the Ouija board, started moving it around, and have it spell out that guy’s name. That’s because if they purposely chose a dude who can literally only play QoP and Razor to be their mid, who hasn’t played professionally in around six years, and in the last time he appeared, he was literally mocked out of the scene, I just have so many more concerns. I keep telling myself that it must have been some random decision because God help us if it wasn’t.

Arkosh’s Contribution to NA Dota and Return to Division II

As stated in the team’s introduction video, Arkosh’s main goal was to help NA ‘rise up from irrelevancy’ and generate attention in the region for Dota 2. With how the team has performed thus far, do you think they’ve made progress in that regard? Why or why not?

Honestly, for the first serious answer in this interview, I actually do. Real talk. I think that having them in Division II is fantastic because we will draw in our like-minded community members (not cult members) into that and I find the most pride of Arkosh gaming when I can look at teams like Undying and teams that are rising up like DogChamp and say, ‘Okay, I think we helped get these guys some attention and help get them on the map.’

I’m not going to take a lot of credit for this, obviously, but I will say that if any North American team gets sponsored, it’s because of Arkosh Gaming. I’m not gonna take any credit for this of course. I’m not that egotistical, but literally if you know who Sammyboy (Samuel Anderson) or Lukiluki (Lucas Shanks) is, it is because of us. Now that’s not egotistical. That’s not me going out of my way to say that we’re better than these guys just because we have more fans and more attention and more love than they’ve ever gotten despite being professional players for around 10 years, but what I am saying is…I guess that’s what I’m saying, yeah.

I think we did good. Despite our evil intentions, I think that North America has a lot more eyes on it and I really wish we have helped players that worked their asses off like MoonMeander and Quinn in some way. Despite being considered by some as making a mockery of their entire lives, I personally say all views are good views.

Taking a look at next season, Arkosh will play in Division II, so how do you view the rest of the teams that you’re going to face? Additionally, which team do you think will pose the biggest threat to Arkosh?

I think all teams pose a big threat to Arkosh. I think that Broadway shows pose a threat to Arkosh. Genuine clocks and calendars pose a threat also but I’m extremely excited to see how we do in lowers. I love playing in lowers. It’s a great opportunity for the guys to go into Division II and try out their insane strategies that RTZ would instantly shut down in like seven minutes. While I can’t specifically call out a team that I think that we’re super excited to play against, I will say that in general I’m really excited that there might be a chance that we could win a game, so I’m super pumped.

So that’s the goal? Just win a game and that’s it?

Literally just one game. Now notice that I didn’t say series. I said win one single game. That is hype.

I was just about to ask for a clarification on that. I thought there was maybe some catch in that statement.

No. If they show up, I’m pretty jazzed at this point.

Before Arkosh’s eventual relegation to Division II, they faced off against the rest of the top NA teams in the region. From your point of view, where does NA stand in the International Dota scene? In a ranking, where would you place NA?

Making a ranking is tough but I do think that the NA scene is a lot like in nature when an albino creature is born. That creature is going to have a much harder life than anything else. North American pubs, except for SEA pubs, are the worst pubs in the world. In fact, in SEA, at least they want to win. In NA, I literally think 90% of the high MMR players want to lose. They want to go in and destroy their items, so I would say that the region itself has a lot of skill variants. But the survivors, the albinos, the ones that have gone through the trudges and the trenches, these are really, really good teams. I legitimately think Quincy Crew is a very, very good team. I think Undying is a fantastic team. Where do they rank around the world? I mean, I think they’re going to be hard pressed to win TI but I wouldn’t think it’s so crazy to think that a NA team can clinch a Major. It just needs more practice. They just need more time facing off against international opponents because QCY sh****ng on Arkosh in 10 minutes two times in a row ain’t going to help them out. They need to get out there. As usual, I think that most people’s perception of NA is kind of correct. Yeah, they should get like one or two slots at The International and stuff like that, but is it a bad region?

I’m not sure. What would you say?

I will say that it makes some real diamonds in the rough but it’s still rough out there. But The diamonds come out and those diamonds are shining, you know? They’re shining bright.

*silence for three seconds*

How much detail–I don’t remember all the regions. I can’t say them from top to bottom, okay?

There’s only six regions though.

I don’t care how many. I don’t remember all of them so I’m not going to do a ranking, alright? I got to go on TierLists.com and make a YouTube video out of that. I’m not giving that to you for free. Six regions you say? (Pedro: Yeah.) That’s a lot of regions. Is China one of them?

Yes.

Okay. They’re probably up there.

Well, yeah. They sent one of their own to the TI grand finals last year so wouldn’t that–

Did they win?

No, but–

As my dad would say, ‘Best loser,’ so I don’t know. North America has never lost a TI final–except for DC in TI6. Yep. But that was mostly w33’s fault so NA has never lost a grand final. We’ve only won them at TI.

Alright. I’m just going to ignore that. *laughs*

I was on DC, okay? *laughs* Mid Slark? What the f*** are you doing? *laughs* Anyway…

SirActionSlacks = Arkosh Founder, Manager, Coach, and Possible Defector?

SirActionSlacks during the AniMajor
SirActionSlacks during the AniMajor (Image Credits: WePlay Holding)

Taking the direction towards yourself (Slacks: Oh God.), you founded Arkosh Gaming back in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. And on top of that, you’re best known among the community as a major content creator and interviewer, so have you encountered any difficulty in finding a balance between continuing your work as a content creator and managing the team in the NA DPC?

Absolutely. In case you noticed, it’s been 11 months since I’ve made a Loregasm episode. I legitimately hate this team. I thought this would be a fun little side project where like, ‘Oh, I’ll pop in and pop out. I’ll post some links to some open lobbies during tournaments.’ It has been a grudging nightmare of scheduling and trying to calm them down.

A player says, ‘Oh, I want to join under my real account and say that I’m substituting for myself’ even though we have one substitution left. One! And if we win, we play tiebreakers and he couldn’t make tiebreakers so I have to beg to this idiot. ‘Don’t sub in for yourself in case you win because you might get us out of Div. I!’ Any time I interact with them, I hate it.

So yes, I feel like I’m trapped. I just talked to my therapist yesterday about how I feel I’m trapped in this demonic cult that I can’t escape of my own creation. I don’t even want to be in it anymore and I keep trying to find other managers but nobody wants to touch it. It’s like radiation and I can’t live my life because I’m stuck with these morons.

I have so many things I want to do. I have a child and a wife but here I am up for three hours trying to find a substitute in 20 minutes because this idiot wants to go to a Broadway show. So yes, it has impacted me quite negatively. In fact, I don’t see a single positive about this entire thing and I just want them to disband but they have literally nothing better to do. Every day I say ‘Can we disband? Can we disband? because I’d be over the moon by now if it wasn’t for these a******s who refuse to stop being on this team. So yeah, it has impacted me a little bit here or there.

Was there anything that you’ve taken away from your time as the manager of the team towards your content creation?

Yeah, depression. That is what I think. My editor has been made into the Arkosh editor, so what has been taken from me is literally any ability to make income. That is what it has been taken from me. My time, my youth, my hair, and my income. Fantastic question. Thank you.

Yeah, no problem. No problem.

You’ve already covered how it has been working with players (which is not good) but although they’re known as enigmatic beings who are members of a “cult” as depicted in the team’s videos, many have suspected that they’re actually well-known casters disguising themselves as players. (Slacks: Oh my God…) I’d like to know your thoughts on the allegations brought about by the many people within the community.

Arkosh Gaming is all about providing content to our fans and to grow the NA scene not from skill but from fan interaction and making entertainment. I literally emptied my bank account in hiring a content team. We made a Reddit post that said ‘Welcome our content team.’ We announced that our content team is making streams, playing with fans, and advertising games, and yet people think that they are the players.

Do you legitimately think Jenkins and BananaSlamJamma would not only play together but face RTZ of EG and two-time TI winner JerAx? This is literally nonsense. This is insane nonsense. BSJ is a smurf. He’s a professional smurf. He plays in Archon II. You think he’s rolling around in Div. I? You think I’d ever speak to Kyle? Gorgc is right. Kyle is evil. He’s an evil man. I would never get anywhere near him.

Yet again, and let me make this abundantly clear, the casters and YouTubers are the content team. They are making content about Arkosh. They are not the players. Kobe Bryant’s talent manager is not Kobe Bryant, okay? There is a clear distinction. Please use your brains for once, Dota community. Thank you.

If I may interject, it has been shown on numerous occasions in the ESL Dota stream throughout the regular season that the players representing Arkosh have a striking resemblance to those casters that you’ve mentioned, with them being BSJ, Kyle, and Jenkins (Slacks: No, no, no.) Jenkins at one time covered himself with red face paint whereas the rest of the team covered themselves with facemasks.

Alright, I’m going to try to really talk slow so I can really get this across. The cameras used during the ESL broadcasts are not directed at our Dota players. They are directed at our content team which reenacts how the players would most likely be acting as the real players from their rooms. The players themselves (Forsaken Oracle, Monkey, Pale Horse, whoever the hell else is on the team), these guys are playing from their homes. The cameras you saw are the hired content–which I had to pay by the way ($3,000 a match) to put on their cameras and pretend like they were playing the games.

In our voice comms, when we release a video from Arkosh Gaming, these are our content team trying to reenact how the players would have felt during their games. I cannot share with you actual team comms from the real players. This would put us at a massive disadvantage. You would know all of our strats and the people would be easily able to find our ward spots. That’s insane.

Do you think Team Secret is going to come out with audio of how Puppey commands his team for every single match during the DPC? No, that’d be literally stupid. These are the content teams doing a progressive new esports art form to showcase what our players would have reacted and sounded like and I paid very good money for it. I am sorry if there has been any confusion. It seemed extremely simple to me but apparently it needs to be explained yet again. I could get out some crayons if you need me, Dota community, and I can explain this in a pretty picture or you can use your brains and figure this thing out.

So just for final clarification, what we’ve seen publicly of the team is its content team and the players who are actually competing are hiding in secrecy?

Yes! Information is power in Dota 2. During TI, you’ll see players come out with packets of papers showcasing not only picks, bans, ward locations, general movement, heat maps, and deaths. The more information you give about a team, the more information your enemies are able to extrapolate and use against you.

The number one thing we do on this team is to not only protect the identity of our players but to protect things that paid psychologists might be able to pick up. Does the guy cringe when he walks towards mid? What ticks do they have? What tells do they have? Putting your players on a camera? Absolutely unbelievable. What a disadvantage.

Again, these players are real. You said that you watched the intro video. Clearly, you know who they are. They are still real but we are having the content team reenact everything that they are doing. To put players in interviews and cameras, that’s psychotic. I don’t know what kind of manager would let that happen.

Someone who’s been known as a pretty wild rapscallion?

Yeah. A real sicko.


Please stay tuned for the second part of our interview in which we discuss the current state of the DPC.

This interview was conducted and transcribed by Pedro Romero, Community Writer for esports.com.

Freelance writer with approximately three years of experience. Worked for numerous outlets including esports.com while covering League of Legends, Valorant, and Dota 2. Currently at Bronze I in NA LoL solo-queue.

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