Get to know our new Vainglory coach: LeftSpectrs
Meet Connor Hartlein, better known to the community as LeftSpectrs: he’s a multitalented freshman attending college in Michigan, with a penchant for video creation and gaming. When he’s not studying or attending class, he’s working as Nova’s Vainglory analyst, and our newly appointed interim head coach as we enter the Vainglory Winter season. He makes videos on his YouTube Channel, breaking down Vainglory updates, heroes, items, and has videos of a few other games sprinkled in.
LeftSpectrs’ involvement in sports runs deep. When he was just three years old, he learned to skate, and in turn developed a love for hockey - followed by soccer, lacrosse, and baseball. A back injury in 2015 took him out of the rink and off of the field, but his passion for games didn’t fade away. Some might turn to computer gaming, but he was limited here; although he had a school laptop at his disposal, there was no way to game on it, so he searched “League of Legends type game for phone” and discovered Vainglory.
Having free time gave LeftSpectrs a chance to develop a deeper understanding of the scene. His first few months were spent learning the game, and watching Vainglory YouTubers. Upon hearing about the Season Zero Challenger Series, he took the plunge and signed up. With his Tier 3 twin brother as the Jungler, the inexperienced team moved on to the next round, although they were missing a support player. Despite their attempt, the tournament eventually fell apart for them. Those who have experienced failure often learn more than those who succeed; here, LeftSpectrs began to understand the hard work that goes into esports success.
Around the Autumn Season in 2016, he was a member of Insanity Prime with two of his close friends. They were skilled; intense daily practices saw them reaching the highest rank, Vainglorious, and they worked on strategies that were good enough to bring Team Secret down in a ranked match during the Samsung Galaxy Invitational. This wasn’t all he was up to, though. Over the past year of practicing, LeftSpectrs had also been working on Vainglory content. He had asked his school to download iMovie on his laptop, so was able to get to work on hero guides and similar videos in his downtime. As one sometimes sees with failed challenger teams, the team fell apart and everyone moved on to other things. LeftSpectrs was not content to just stop here; competitive play and first hand experience in a Challenger Series only increased his interest. Rather than focusing on mechanics, he decided to learn all there was about the game and make videos to teach others. He began to make breakdowns of Vainglory8 matches - here is one of his first videos from this shift in video style. Now, he sticks to shorter, more precise videos, like this one.
At the beginning of his video creation, growth was slow. Before the team crumbled, he was posting gameplay videos without commentary while ranking up for the next Challenger Series. After about half a year, LeftSpectrs had reached 1,000 followers, feeling the most support from close real life friends and Vainglory forum friends. After reaching Vainglorious, he decided to use what he’d learned and make more informative videos, talking through the content and making montages which became quite popular. YouTube was a side hobby on the road to potentially becoming a pro player, not something he was fully focusing on at this time. Throughout this, he said, “I never had adsense turned on. I actually still don’t.” This was in part because he was having fun creating the videos, but also tied into the skepticism his family felt toward the Internet in general. It can be difficult to become involved in something when your family has doubts, especially when you could be getting paid for it, but this really speaks to his passion and persistence.
Speaking again of working on a school computer, LeftSpectrs talked about the challenges he faced given the restrictions. It was extremely difficult to find a way to get music for the videos, and he couldn’t edit his profile images because Google+ was blocked. On top of this, he was faced with the inevitable end of the school year, which left him without a computer for months. Despite the challenging times, he acknowledges the other potential outcome had the restrictions been even more firm: “I was honestly surprised that our “security program” allowed me to log in with my personal YouTube account at all, which would have stopped me before I started.”
Over time, LeftSpectrs began to notice what viewers liked best, and ended up discovering that montages garnered the most attention. “Before I made the montages, my videos were frankly just indigestible raw gameplay with music that was too loud, because I wasn’t very good at editing, and too shy to use my voice.” With the montages, he’d sit down and focus on editing and creating smooth, short pieces that were easier for viewers to watch. To top it off, he was mainly showing crystal power Kestrel, a hero with insane assassin potential and playmaking capabilities that captivated audiences. He currently has no set schedule, but is working on balancing out upload dates for his content.
Looking back on it now, he acknowledges that working as an analyst could have been the outcome for him all along: “I guess the transition to doing competitive analysis was inevitable, as I was already doing it for YouTube and I wasn't quite at the level to be a challenger player, despite my rank.” As a college student, LeftSpectrs is faced with a busy schedule, spectating and organizing scrimmages in the evening hours where he previously found himself doing high school homework. Luckily, a less demanding college schedule (as far as hours go) gives him room to do this.
He speaks of the fans and company as his favorite part of the Vainglory community, though he hasn’t had much experience with others. “The Vainglory community is amazing to me, because I feel everyone has a genuine interest in making the game and themselves better. Super Evil Megacorp really helps this too.”
Keep it up, LeftSpectrs! Here’s to more killer content, and the best of luck with analysis and interim coaching heading into this season. If you’d like to visit his YouTube channel, you can find it at this link. Give him a follow on Twitter, you can find his page here.
Saint Mary's College of California '18
Aspiring eSports journalist