Interview with Frank ‘VanCaspel’ van Caspel

Hello hello NSSL-fans, Draco here with a special treat for you. With the first group stage in the bag and the second group stage well on the way, I’d like to take a step back and give you some information on the one-man band who’s running the whole thing, Frank ‘VanCaspel’ van Caspel. In this intervieuw he talks about his personal StarCraft experiences, the NSSL, the upcoming finals and future plans for the DSCL (Dutch StarCraft League).

So take a seat and enjoy the first of hopefully many more intervieuws to come from the NSSL. Click the button to read the interview!


– First off, please tell us a bit about yourself

My name’s Frank ‘VanCaspel’ van Caspel, and I’ve been a student for quite some time. I started in 2003 with Business Administration, and started Philosophy in 2006. I’ve finished my MSc in Organizational Design & Development in 2011, and am now in the final stages of the Research Master program in Philosophy of Mind. I guess you could say I’m a full-time student…

Currently I’m in Edinburgh, where I’m taking the course Advanced Topics in Philosophy of Mind, while working on essays due in Nijmegen. Besides studying I like doing cycling, tap-dance and – of course – StarCraft :).

– What is your history with eSports and StarCraft in particular?

I don’t really have a very extensive history with either. During high school there was the occasional LAN-party with friends, but e-sports wasn’t really something we knew about. Of course we did play StarCraft & Brood War, but not particularly competitive (20 min no rush on BGH anyone? :)). Once the StarCraft 2 beta came out, some of ‘the old gang’ got together for old times’ sake, and we really enjoyed playing StarCraft again. This continued after the release, and by now I’m playing about an hour a week – really not as much as I’d like…

But I did start watching the occasional replay on YouTube, and that’s what really changed things for me. It was the first time I’d ever looked at (and talked about) a game, besides playing it. I really started to enjoy seeing the game develop and looking at the pro’s do their magic. Focusing on the analytic / cerebral aspect of the game is what I enjoyed the most, Day[9] in particular inspired me greatly – he’s an awesome guy!

– Where did the idea of the NSSL come from?

On a whim I decided to go to DreamHack Winter 2011 in Jönköping, Sweden. I’m really glad I did, because it was an awesome experience! There were so many StarCraft pro’s and casters there, and I got to speak to quite a lot of them too. I’ve even got some autographs – no sense in going if you’re not going to be a fan boy 🙂 Among those I talked to are White-Ra, Ret, Stephano, TLO, Day[9], Apollo, TotalBiscuit, and MrBitter. I’ve also talked to Grubby who – as a matter of fact – was sitting right behind me! Whenever he was not in his hotel or playing his matches, he was literally sitting within arm’s reach grinding out some games. One time he even looked over my shoulder while I was playing and gave me some tips afterwards – coached by a pro!

The live finals were also completely awesome. 4000 people in the crowd cheering for the players and awesome casters. The crowd was really open and friendly, we were all quite pleased about being happy with what we were seeing. I dare say a sense of accomplishment swept the crowd, as we knew that in a sense we made the event possible.

On the way back from Sweden I realized that there really was no reason not to organize a tournament back home – that was the inception of the NSSL!

– What was it that changed the NSSL from an idea to a fully realized tournament?

Basically just the decision to sit down and build the website, send out e-mails to find volunteers to help me, start promoting the tournament online, finding sponsors, and setting up the Tournament Rules. After that it was clear sailing 🙂

– How do you think the NSSL is going, now that it’s started?

Really good! I’m excited to see so many people have fun playing their games, and I think in general the tournament is progressing really smooth. The only issue I’ve had is with people not playing their games. At times it’s been hard to reach certain players, and ‘only’ 89 matches were played in the first group phase (of the 110+ that had to be played). But I’m hoping that now that we’ve gotten to the second group phase these problems are in the past.

– What kinds of responses do you get?

Really good ones. There’s a growing group of people who’ve volunteered to help out with casting games, providing content (like yourself), setting up the Dutch StarCraft League (as admins, or by building a website). That really amazed me. So many people said that they’d been waiting for an initiative like this, and that they would gladly spend some time making it awesome. It really made me think that this is something I would want to see through to the end.

– What is your favorite thing about the NSSL so far?

I really like casting games, even though I don’t have as much time for it as I’d like. But nothing got me exited as much as playing my own matches. It’s totally different from playing a regular ladder match! I’ve done some competitive cycling in the past, and the feeling I get right before a game is quite similar to the pre-race nerves you get there. It’s awesome! And I really notice myself completely screwing up because of all the excitement – and this feeling gets even worse when I watch the webcasts of my own games 🙂

– How are you managing it time-wise? Is it conflicting with your ability to study?

It does take a lot of time. Although there’s quite some of people involved (particularly with the casting) the operational side is pretty much a one-man gig. I have the habit of clocking my hours for different activities, and the NSSL-counter is at over 250 hours. At times it does cut into my study-time, but in general I’m getting by quite nicely. The fact that I’m in Edinburgh at the moment does help tough – I don’t have as much other things to worry about besides studying and the NSSL.

– What are your plans for the DSCL (Dutch StarCraft League)? Did the feedback from the community have an impact on those plans?

I’m really looking forward to the DSCL! My plan was to turn the NSSL into the Netherlands Student StarCraft League next year, but when I spoke of these plans online (particularly on TeamLiquid.net), there were so many people that cried out for a general tournament (not students only), that I basically had no choice. And I’m really glad I didn’t, because it’s going to be awesome!

So yes: next year there’ll be an open tournament for all Dutch citizens! There will also be a team league for universities, companies, friends or clans. Openness is key, and fun is the prime objective!

– With your experience of the NSSL so far, how do you feel the DSCL will go?

When we started preparing for the NSSL, I said that 64 players would be realistic. Looking back on it now, I’m actually really glad that we in fact got to that (72, actually!). If a tournament for RU- and HAN-students only can draw 72 people, imagine how many participants a tournament for all Dutch citizens could have! Of course I realize full well that we cannot market the tournament as intensely as we did at the RU and HAN, but getting at least 500 participants seems perfectly realistic if you ask me.

– As a final question, what are your hopes for the finals?

I hope we get to see some awesome best-of-five series at the finals! Every finalist will be able to prepare diligently for their opponents, by studying replays & casts from earlier games. I hope we’ll be able to avoid any one-sides series.

But most of all I hope that there’ll be a large crowd and that everyone is going to thoroughly enjoy themselves! That is really why I set this whole thing up: catering for the lively e-sports community I’m sure we can have in Nijmegen!