Hello, readers! In this interview, we start off asking lovely John Salter about his career before we move onto questions about his personal life and preferences! SMITECentral hopes you enjoy!
You’ve explained in a Player Spotlight how you’d always had a crazy dream about being a pro player, and then one day it just happened. Can you elaborate on the exact magic of just how you got noticed and thrown into the pro leagues?
I honestly just got extremely lucky. I got in with a really talented group of players (Boosh, Sasic, Heater, uWont, Heater, and MokeTheory, to name a few), and we would just grind casuals and go undefeated all day. From there Heater had a connection with andinster, told him to make a team with us three, and then the magic happened. I was somehow on an insanely good team.
Of all the years you've been playing SMITE professionally, what would you say has changed about the game the most since you've started playing?
It’s gonna sound obvious, but the skill of everyone else. It’s way harder to go pro and stay at the top because all the other teams are so good. Everyone knows how to invade buffs, bait objectives, and play well in lane. You rarely just outskill your opponent straight up and win off of that; you have to actually have strategies now.
Do you have a favorite meta or period of time where you had the most fun? Or do you have a least favorite meta where you really hated playing against certain builds or gods?
My favorite meta was late season 3. I was able to have a laning phase without worrying about getting ganked and play super aggressive. Least favorite was Golden Bow ADC meta, or laning against Snoopy’s Vulcan. I’ve never been more frustrated in scrimms than when I was laning against his Vulcan.
You’re known as one of the most positive players in the SMITE community -- almost all the time on streams, you’re smiling, laughing, and usually having a good time, and all of your fans love you for your attitude. But it must be difficult to keep on being positive, especially in a community where a ton of pros tilt all the time, on stream and otherwise. How do you maintain your cheery and inspiring demeanor?
Honestly it’s just who I am. I try to just have fun and enjoy playing SMITE. If I’m going to rage at my teammates for messing up, it takes the fun out of the game and makes it a chore because it’s so serious. I always try to give my randoms the benefit of the doubt that they actually just don’t know any better, and they’re playing their best. The only times I’ll get annoyed is when the servers are lagging, and I’m just teleporting around. Also, having such an attractive girlfriend -- JeffHindla -- takes the a lot of the stress out of ranked because he rages for me.
I think we can all safely say you and JeffHindla are known for your amazing synergy, maybe one of the best between duo laners in the SMITE pro community. How did you two originally meet, and how did it feel when you guys were just starting to pair up and hit it off? Was it always smooth sailing between you two?
Jeff and I started teaming after Launch Tournament when our team dropped DareToCare. As a team (Cog Prime), we really liked Jeff as a player and always heard about how positive he is for the team environment and how talkative he is. I would say we hit it off really well. Here’s a clip from one of the first few games that we played together https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UCh2dKUbdY&t=15s . It’s also really easy to get along with Jeff as a person as well as a teammate. He’s super easy going as long as everyone tries and puts forth 100% of their effort.
In your Player Spotlight from SWC 2017, you mentioned you changed over time to become a much more aggressive player. A lot of the casual friends I’ve talked to mention -- and I know it’s certainly true for me -- that you need to have confidence in yourself, and a lot of it, in order to play successfully as an aggressive player. Otherwise, no amount of skill you may have matters -- do you ever still get really nervous or anxious whenever you’re laning against someone you know will be a tough opponent, enough to feel like hanging back and letting someone else dominate lane? And were you ever the very nervous passive player who was too unsure of themselves to go in or get a kill -- how did you come to overgrow it?
I would never really say I was the overly nervous passive player; I have always been extremely calculated in my play. If I think there’s a potential for a gank to be in lane, I’m obviously not going to overextend and look for poke, because if I die there’s a potential for them to invade buffs, get Gold Fury, get pressure on my side of the map, or get ward pressure, etc. etc. So if all of those can happen off of the potential for me to lose a trade, why go for it?
The main reason I was able to play so aggressive in Season 3 was that the map was divided into a 1v1 and a 4v4. I was able to just play a joust 1v1 with the other ADC and force trades that would’ve been risky to me in past seasons. I’ve always been an insanely confident in my own abilities and playing intelligently in lane; it’s all about finding the right opportunities to force fights and trades in lane. I used to get anxious playing against Zap, but that was in Season 0 when he would just straight up dominate everyone in lane.
I overcame that anxiety in one scrimm where Zap didn’t respect me yet, and I just magically got way better overnight and dumpstered him in lane because he was just playing lazily. After that scrimm, he started to respect me, and we both had way better practice.
Currently, as of June 8, Luminosity is one of the strongest teams in NA, with a record of 2-1-0 -- the only other team with that same record is In Memory of Gabe! How have you guys been handling practicing and scrimming for this impressive record? What do you think it will take for Luminosity to remain on top for the rest of the split?
After NA’s performance at the past LAN it was obvious that NA as a region lacked objective control and played the map like it was Season 3. We’ve just been learning how to play the map in Season 4 and paying attention to parts of the map that we used to ignore. My teammates also have a really good balance between trolling and being serious in scrimms, which keeps the overall scrimm environment a positive experience.
You’ve mentioned before on your 2015 Player Profile that you find nature to be one of your escapes -- from technology, your chair, and from the stress of being a pro gamer. I’m an avid hiker and lover of the outdoors myself -- do you have any favorite retreats outside of your home, whether it’s a National Park seven states away or your local state park?
I’m all about local parks, honestly. I grew up near Allatoona Dam, and it will forever be my favorite place to hike. I know all the routes and paths there, so every time I go it’s like I’m a kid again, wandering through the woods. It’s a very tranquil experience because when I stream I’m talking pretty much the entire time, trying to entertain people, and play well at the same time, so being somewhere peaceful where I don’t have to talk or focus on anything is extremely relaxing.
You’ve been a pro gamer for a long time now -- what would you say has been the most rewarding experience so far? Do you have any favorite memories?
I would say my most rewarding experience has been being able to team with Jeff as long as I have. He’s a true support in and out of game for me.
My favorite memories are winning Worlds for the first time, and as cheesy as it sounds, hanging out with all of my teammates. I’ve been extremely fortunate my entire SMITE career with who I’ve teamed with, and they’re all really amazing people.
Do you have any idea what you might’ve been doing if you weren’t a pro gamer? (By the way, what did you study in college -- and did you enjoy it?)
I’d most likely be in Cardiac Rehab right now. I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Exercise and Health Science, and I loved it. I’ve always wanted to help people with whatever field I went into, and I’ve also really been invested into health and learning how the body works. So most likely once my pro career is over, I’ll go back to college and get my Master’s. I’ve also lately been really interested in travelling overseas and helping third world countries, so I might try to do something in that direction instead of going back to college.
You’re one of the more recognized players in the SMITE community -- have this ever affected you when you’ve gone out in public; have you ever been recognized randomly by a fan or anyone who’s known you from your gaming days?
I’ve been recognized several times in public, and every time it’s amazing. I love meeting fans because they’re all just so giddy and happy to see me; it makes talking to them and interacting with them super easy. My mom and sister have told me about all the people back in my hometown that they would run into and freak out to because they knew about SMITE. They’d say that they were “BaRRaCCuDDa’s mom and sister!!!!!!”
I could be wrong, but it seems that your family has a pet Samoyed, at least from footage from your Player Profiles. And I love Samoyeds… how’s that buddy doing?
We honestly have no idea what Katie is, but she’s doing pretty well. She’s getting really old -- she just turned 15 a little bit ago, and she’s like 99% deaf and blind from old age, but she’ll love on you forever and slobber all over your food.
Favorite hunter to play?
Favorite off-meta, non-hunter ADC (e.g. Ymir, Poseidon, Bellona)?
GEB ARENA FOR LIFE BABY!
Favorite pro player to lane against?
Favorite ice cream flavor?
Cookies and Cream, or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.
Favorite ‘salty’ pun about your last name?
They’re all AWFUL.
Did you ever find the best boxer briefs?
CALVIN KLEIN BABY.
Can I have red buff instead?
ARE YOU SERIOUS? I’VE SLAVED FOR 10 SECONDS KILLING THIS THING AND YOU THINK YOU CAN JUST HAVE IT?!?!?!?!?!?