Over the past couple of years, Alexandra "Sheepsticked" Roberts has emerged as one of the top commentators and analysts in Dota 2.
The 26-year old British talent started out as a streamer before getting her big break as a guest analyst in The International (TI) 2021 and has since become a regular panellist in many of the game’s biggest tournaments.
In an exclusive interview with Yahoo Esports SEA, Sheepsticked said her unexpected entry into Dota 2’s talent scene was more than just a career advancement. Cliche as it may sound, she admits it has made her a better person.
“I think the people I've met and gotten to spend time with have improved me as a human so much. So, I'm incredibly happy with the path I've taken through talent work,” said Sheepsticked.
While most other esports talent and personalities had prior experience in hosting events and appearing in front of cameras, Sheepsticked’s path to becoming a Dota 2 analyst was more a result of her just being an avid player and member of the game’s community.
Sheepsticked said she didn’t have a natural inclination towards competition, but that she “got competitive just from being competitive” over the course of her many years in Dota 2. She started with just playing the game and grinding up the MMR leaderboards before competing in amateur tournaments and becoming a streamer.
“I got into the talent scene when streaming didn't really work out for me because I wasn't throwing effort into it, and I really loved the people in the talent scene, so I wanted to work with them,” said Sheepsticked.
Sheepsticked broke into the talent scene during TI 2021, when she was invited to the tournament’s semi-impromptu All-Star Match as a member of Team Golem, a stack of English streamers that went against two other squads of English and Russian talent.
Team Golem went on to win the All-Star Match, with Sheepsticked showing flashes of on-camera brilliance that prompted Valve programmer Bruno Carlucci to offer her a place on the panel.
“It was kind of dumb luck, honestly. I got invited to TI10 to be in the All-star match. And then I was there, Bruno offered me a place on a panel for one panel and I did it, and it went well. So I was like, ‘I should maybe try and do this more,’” said Sheepsticked.
Sheepsticked admits it making an unplanned appearance on the All-Star Match and panel for TI didn’t come easy, though she was eventually able to find her groove thanks to the support of the other talent there.
“I was absolutely destroyed. I had so many nerves, [but] I was pretty calm because everyone there was so nice. And then the actual playing [in the All-Star Match], it was so cool to go into the booth, but it was quite rushed because we didn't all have a set up,” Sheepsticked recalled.
“I'm like, ‘Oh god, I have to be funny and I have to fix my hotkeys and I want to play well.’ But it was really sick getting to come out on the stage. We won in the end so we got to eat the cheese and stuff. It was very, very, very cool.”
Sheepsticked's journey to Dota 2's The International
After TI10, Sheepsticked became a fixture on the official English broadcasts for the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC), working on the panels for the Southeast Asian and Eastern European regional leagues as well as the Arlington Major.
She was then invited to be a commentator and analyst for TI 2022 in Singapore, though she was part of the remote panel working halfway across the world in Norway.
“I'm incredibly grateful that I got to work my first TI. I think that was really cool because it's like I'm working with Valve and I'm a part of this big thing. It's like the TI, you know, they're broadcasting our faces into the arena, so it's like you feel very cool, and I'm very grateful for it,” said Sheepsticked.
“Obviously, it was really depressing not to actually be on-site, especially because we were in Norway, so it was the middle of the night when we were working. Inside, I wish I was there so bad. But at the same time, again, it's like you're working TI.”
Sheepsticked admits that her breakout year was a rollercoaster of emotions, especially for someone who didn’t exactly plan on going down this career path. Being in front of cameras was one thing, but facing public scrutiny was another.
“It's kind of crazy. There's good and bad bits because I think in your first year, people pay extra attention to you because you're new, and they want to encourage you because you're new. So, people will see you. They'll be like, ‘I like you and they'll comment I like you,’” Sheepsticked explained.
“And then after a year or so, people kind of get used to you a bit So, I think a lot of the people that like you a lot became quieter and a lot of the people that don't like you, it's abrasive to them, so they get louder because they don't like you. So, I think like the roll down of positivity and upwards of negativity got to me a little bit this year when that would arise.”
Even so, Sheepsticked said she just rolled with the punches and came out of it all a better person. In fact, her experience as a Dota 2 talent has given her the confidence to take another leap: start streaming seriously again, this time as the Vtuber Reya, debuting on 20 August.
“I've gotten a lot better and more confident and I've kind of come more into myself,” said Sheepsticked.