Green Bay Packers linebacker Blake Martinez isn't just a big Dota 2 fan, he's also an advocate for the game and esports in general among his NFL teammates.
Martinez has been streaming Dota 2 for charity almost every day since mid-February, and he was recently invited to MoonduckTV's Kiev Major Qualifier hub and helped cast dozens of Dota games in the lead up to the Major. theScore esports caught up with Martinez to talk about how esports are perceived in the NFL, how he got into Dota 2 and his plans to pitch the Packers on esports.
How did you get into Dota?
The way I got into Dota was an interesting story because my friends were all playing in our living room my sophomore year of college at Stanford and kept egging me on to play with them but I was so focused on football that I didn’t take up the offer but after a week or so they finally got me to try and I fell in love with the game and was one of the things I do to get my mind off of football!
Do you keep up with Dota during the season? Either playing or keeping up with the esports scene?
I watch Dota 24/7 whenever I am stretching or in the ice tub or any down time that I get from film watching and all other football obligations. Also I only play on our off days because there isn't enough time on a daily basis during the season to get games in! It was tough my rookie year, I didn't play Dota for about 6-7 months.
What position do you play in Dota? Who are your favorite heroes to play?
I mainly play the carry role and the shot caller of my team when I am in solo ranked, but I know how to play all positions since a lot of Dota players like to instantly pick the core roles regardless of skill. My favorite heroes are Storm Spirit, Luna, AM, Earthshaker, and Juggernaut.
What was your worst solo queue experience?
Worst solo queue experience happened about a couple weeks ago, I had a offlane Underlord that went afk farming the whole game (key note was that we were still winning the game without him). Then at about 30 mins the Underlord came out of the jungle with a rapier and fed it to the enemy team and we lost the game. Then I asked him why he did that and he said "I hate Monkey King pickers so I didn't want to win...."
What's your favorite Dota team? Why?
My favorite Dota team was the original No Diggity team that Synderen started, because I love the underdog role in any situation and they proved to everyone how good they are. It was awesome when they made it to the main stage at TI.
If you could play a game with any Dota pro, who would it be and why?
The one person I would want to play a game with would probably be Fata from Bears because I have just heard how amazing of a player he is, and I would just want to learn from his play!
What prompted you to start streaming? Do you find it hard to balance offseason training with your daily streaming?
The main reason I started streaming was because I play this game so much and it is one of my favorite hobbies, so I thought it would be a great way to use it in a beneficial way! That meaning I use it to donate money to the Saint Jude’s children's cancer research program! All the money I make from streaming goes to Saint Jude’s also every 100 followers I get I donate $50 to the foundation as well!
What do you think of the growing interest from traditional sports in esports? Do you think the NFL is going to get involved, given that it's been mostly from the NBA so far?
I think it is awesome how much sports and esports are meshing together! I knew it would happen sooner than later, because every professional sports player plays video games of some sort and the competitive aspect always catches the eyes of the real sports players! I think soon the NFL will get involved, and it is my mission to be the one that gets that to happen as soon as possible! During the next session out in Green Bay I want to speak to our president about sponsoring a team in the near future.
Are esports and gaming things that people talk about in the Packers locker room?
A lot of us talk about gaming because everyone plays console games and we have massive tournaments in Madden, FIFA, and UFC, but not too many conversations about esports competitions until I got there! I think every day I got asked "what are you watching on your phone" and I would always have to explain what Dota is, what Twitch is and the grand scheme of the tournaments, prizes pool, TI etc... and after I talk to anyone about it they think it is the coolest and greatest thing so hopefully that is a good start in easing its way into the NFL!
What is the most played game among the Packers' players?
The most played game is probably FIFA, I think there is a tournament in our game lounge almost everyday!
What's it like casting the Major qualifiers? Is casting something you've wanted to do before?
Casting was an amazing, crazy experience because I had no Idea what I was doing, but the people at Moonduck were extremely helpful in teaching me the ins and outs of casting. Also they just made it a fun and enjoyable time throughout the qualifiers. It was always something I wanted to try but never thought I would be able to do!
Jeremy Lin is noted in the community for being a pro athlete with an interest in Dota, he even has a team named after him. Could you beat Jeremy Lin in lane?
Yes I could easily beat Jeremy Lin in any lane or game!
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.