Call of Duty Championship ANZ Interview - Dallas ‘Bio “BooYa” Acid’ O'Donnell

Bio “BooYa” Acid is Australia & New Zealand’s most well known and experienced Call of Duty Caster who regularly shoutcasts for organisations such as the Australian Cyber League, CyberGamer and Adversity Gaming to name a few. Many have come and gone in Bio Acid’s time, but hes still standing and providing the ANZ CoD eSports community with top notch commentary coverage. Bio Acid will be heading up the coverage of the Call of Duty Championship Australia & New Zealand Online Qualifiers over February 1st and 2nd.

We sat down with Bio Acid to gain some of his insight to the Call of Duty Australia and New Zealand scene and his thoughts on the Call of Duty Championship.

Bio Acid! Thank you for taking the time to let us pick your brain. Would you like to introduce yourself to those who don’t know you?

Well, for those that don’t know me I’m Bio Acid, Bio, or just Dallas and I am 27 years old. I’m from a small rural town in Qld Australia and my occupation is an Industrial Radiography Technician in the Oil/Gas/Mining Industry. My main hobbies include commentating, playing basketball and spending time with friends. I extremely enjoy attending LAN events and just spending time with those that also have a passion for gaming, no matter the platform or title. I do enjoy traveling but finding the time to do so is extremely hard in my line of work.

How long have you been playing Call of Duty and how long have you been casting Call of Duty?

I started playing Call of Duty when I got tired of Halo, yes I was one of those people. I played Halo A LOT, and had obtained a 50 in a few playlists in Halo 3 and started to get a little bored. I mainly played with a guy named Premo but also played with AdvancedNikoli, for anyone that might know those two. It was around early 2008 if I can recall that I started playing Call Of Duty (4): Modern Warfare. This was only in the public playlists, as I had no idea about competitive CoD at that time, as I said I only really knew about Halo and MLG Halo at this stage in my gaming life. After playing/captaining a team during the second season of WaW in early 2009 on Cybergamer ladders (for the international readers, it’s the Australian version of Gamebattles), and finishing second before ladder lock/finals, I then started helping out on the site. Later in 2009 during a Invitational League Grand Final I began my casting career. In total, I’ve been casting matches for the past 5 years. I’ve trained up a bunch of casters in our region during that time.

What initially gained your interest in casting Call of Duty? And what made you decide you want to take it seriously and still be doing it all these years later?

The main reason I’ve stayed interested in casting and have kept doing it for all this time is people seem to enjoy it. I’ve always said, both to myself and aloud, that as long as one person is enjoying what I’m doing then I’ll keep doing it. The main reason I started casting was because the community here in ANZ wanted a Grand Final hosted and at the time I was simply a ladder referee that had been helping out on the site Cybergamer. A member asked if we could look into getting it casted (at that period I had no idea what he meant), I looked into it and the Head Admin on CG asked if I wanted to give it a go. A staff member from the broadcasting site Gamestah then got me into a vent channel and asked me to just talk about a game, he seem to think I had a knack for it so I along with MLC Jordo did the Grand Final. The community really enjoyed it, and I’ve just been doing it since then. It’s just one of those things, I love being able to give something to a community that I’ve been involved with for so many years now. Another reason I’ve kept doing this is cause as a caster, you get to see first hand some of the best moments in gaming and not just witness it, but call it also. It’s not just a privilege so to speak but a honour.

What is your all time casting career highlight? A moment that made all the hard work you’ve put in over the years worth it in mere seconds?

It’s honestly really hard to have a single major highlight. So many great things have happened over the years that have made what I’ve done worthwhile. Be it from all the LANs I’ve attended, the matches I’ve called both at Live and Online events plus being asked to cover the 2013 CoD Champs ANZ Online Qualifiers & Finals (due to personal reasons I couldn’t make it to the Finals). If I had to pick one? It was after the 2011 ACL Brisbane LAN finals for Black Ops, the ACL C.E.O Nick Vanzetti thanked me personally in front of everyone for being at the event and providing my casting talent for both the people at the event and those at home to enjoy via the live stream. It was also my first major LAN focused on just console gaming. That, for now, has been the main career highlight. Other great things have happened since then like I mentioned, but still to this day, it just stands out at the top.

Lets talk about the Call of Duty Championship on a International scale. Qualifiers are being held all over the globe to secure 32 of world’s best teams to compete in Los Angeles for a massive $1,000,000 prize pool. What do you think this competition means to the Call of Duty community? Do you think this tournament has changed the way fans and players view Call of Duty?

In one word? Growth. In the short time these massive prize competitions have been happening for CoD and in term we have seen the community has grown so much on an International scale. I think many people who were just fans and only played public have now started seeing that it’s a good opportunity to give playing a go on a competitive level, thus growing the scene and increasing the amount of teams that attend live events. The more exposure CoD has got has also helped to fuel sponsor interest in the scene.

Looking at the Australia & New Zealand Call of Duty Community, how do you think the current skill-pool stacks up in Call of Duty: Ghosts when compared to the likes of Europe and NA?

This is always a hard thing to know or judge. While our community comes from a Search and Destroy background, being most evident in the fact our two teams went well in S&D during the 2013 CoD Champs in LA, It’s always the other gametypes that let us down. Granted we have been following and playing 4v4 variants for a few years now, I think its due to the lack of options for scrimming/practicing and the skill gap between so many teams that has hurt us in the past. While we know locally what teams will always stick out at our events, when it comes to the likes of Europe and NA up against our guys I think it’s fair to say, we’re the underdogs.

The Call of Duty Championship Australia & New Zealand Online Qualifiers are held on February 1st and 2nd. Heading up the Casting team for the coverage of these Qualifiers, what teams or players do you expect to perform well and qualify for the ANZ Final?

That’s a hard one, we’ve seen some new teams making waves in our region and old favorites both lose players who don’t enjoy Ghosts, and other teams having to make pick ups due to the age limit on the competition. Teams such as Immunity, Aura, Avant and Trident have been showing strong results recently and while it seems likely these teams will make it to the ANZ Finals I feel the other spots are up for grabs with whomever can perform the best on the day.

Moving onto Australia & New Zealand’s big event: the Call of Duty Championship ANZ Final. 8 teams will be invited to compete but only 2 teams will get the privilege to travel to LA and compete against the 30 other best teams from around the globe on a world stage. Can you make the big call this early on and predict what 2 teams you think will qualify for the Call of Duty Championship?

I think I can say at this stage that Team Immunity will be one of those teams heading over to LA once again, with an extra member of their core line up this year (Shockz) and a member whom they teamed with for the ACL Finals in 2013 and won (Rampage), they are a strong team just like they’ve always been. The other spot? I honestly can’t say. While I might have a team or two in mind, a lot of new lineups & a lot of teams are doing really well in the online competitions we have running here. If these teams put in the time and effort in Ghosts I think they could stand a real chance at taking out one of the spots and earn that trip over to LA and competing in the Championship. That’s always one of the great things about competitions like this, everything is on the line so you can really see some surprises and upsets happen during the competition.

What do you think of MLG’s pioneering of the Call of Duty Championship this year and the fact the Australia & New Zealand Qualifiers will be broadcast on MLG.tv?

I think it’s a great thing to see MLG steering the ship this year. We always watch their events and see how well they do things. I’m sure they’ll do one hell of a job in conjunction with Xbox, Activision and Infinity Ward. It’s even better that the ANZ Qualifiers will be broadcasted exclusively on MLG.tv, since so many people follow their broadcasts. I think it’s going to really help showcase the talent we have here, plus open the eyes in other regions that while ANZ is a great holiday destination, we also home some great competitive players/teams.

Lets chuck in a few fun questions just before we wrap up! Favourite Call of Duty of all time?

World At War. While I know other regions never played it on a competitive level we did and of course it’s also where my casting career started. Plus its the first CoD game I competed in.

Favourite Gun from any Call of Duty game?

M40A3 from Call of Duty (4): Modern Warfare. No other sniper has matched how great this sniper rifle was.

Favourite Map from any Call of Duty game?

Overgrown - Call Of Duty (4): Modern Warfare.

Favourite ANZ team and lineup of all time?

Split between: Frenetic Array - Buzzin, Geemon, Stenz, & Renzy from Modern Warfare 3 and Team Immunity - Naked, Buzzin, Fighter, Shockz from Black Ops 2 / Ghosts.

Favourite series of Call of Duty you ever watched (ANZ or overseas)?

ACL Gold Coast 2012 - Frenetic Array Vs Vox Eminor - Grand Final. Maybe we can chuck in a link below from the series so you can really understand why it is my favourite series. You can’t ask for much more than a Grand Final that goes 5-5 in series score then goes down to the last round in S&D.

Favourite Call of Duty Caster?

I really don’t have a favourite, I think all the big names we’re use to seeing such as: Fwiz, Hastr0, Puckett, Benson etc all bring something to the table with their unique personalities, and make them all great casters.

Name the one Call of Duty Caster you’d most love to cast with most that you haven’t yet got a chance to yet?

I’m always happy to cast with whoever. However I’d really love to cast a live event with Benson, Fwiz or Puckett. While I’ve done a online EU competition with Benson, it’d be great to do a live one with him, Fwiz or Puckett.

Nearly done now. Looking back at 2013: do you think the placings that Team Immunity and Mindfreak received at the last year’s Call of Duty Championship were an accurate representation of the skills that those teams and players possesed?

With the team lineups that went over, such as Immunity only having 2 or their core 4 due to age restrictions, I think they did the best they could. It’s like I said earlier, it’s hard for our top teams to truly prepare the best they can with the somewhat large skill gap that some teams have had in our region. For the first time our teams went up against squads who are more familiar with the rest of the International playing field and have had previous opportunities to play against constantly, increasing their preparation. Please don’t think that I’m trying to make excuses for them, simply my opinion is all.

Lastly, what do you think is a realistic expectation of our 2 ANZ qualified teams that head over to LA? I want to hear what you think a reasonable placing is and how well you think our teams can place if they play to their full potential?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it depends how teams play on the day. The best of teams can struggle at times and if you can adapt to what’s going on in the game better at that given time, you can come out on top. It won’t be easy but I do think the teams who go over, if they play excellently and really commit, well, who knows where they could end up. While winning might be of an ask I think if either one of our teams finish in the top 16 or better I know all of us back home will be proud. That said though, just being there at the event is a accomplishment in itself and they should be proud of that fact.

Thank you for answering all these questions Bio Acid! Any shoutouts you’d like to give?

So many and way too many to name. I will call out Decepticons though, as he was the one who asked me back in the WaW days for that match to be casted and If he hadn’t I probably wouldn’t be casting today. Team FeaR (NA) & Apoc (Kurtis) for seeing my talent back on MW2 as a caster and getting me to do commentary for them that was placed up on Machinima. The Australian Cyber League (ACL) & Adversity Gaming (AvT) for always looking to me when it comes to casting and what they feel is the best choice. Cybergamer for allowing me to cast all the matches I did back in the day. Gamestah who provided live stream functions and tools I used back when I first started to give our console community something that they never really had in the past and Arseynimz who took the time back when I was first starting out to give me pointers and help me improve. A special extra one for ACL Beware, at each ACL event he has been my Production Manager and ran the Call of Duty live stream. While ACL have many people who help, he’s always done this part and we’ve enjoyed each others company with having the honour of witnessing so many great matches and great moments/calls throughout the years. Last but not least, the Call of Duty Australia & New Zealand community. As I said, I wouldn’t be doing this today if people didn’t enjoy what I do. My casting is for them and I’ll keep doing it for them until that day comes that I finally unplug the mic.

Hopefully you enjoyed the first Call of Duty ANZ Interview. Stay tuned for more interviews with Call of Duty players and personalities from the Australia & New Zealand community!