Avo+ shares insight into his journey as a DPC talent
During the 2023 SEA DPC Winter tour, Avo+ sat down with esports.gg to share an insight into his journey as a DPC talent.
Today, Alvaro "Avo+" Sanchez Velasco is one of the most recognizable faces in Dota 2. A host, caster, and personality in the scene, if you've watched top-tier Dota in the past 18 months, you'll have seen Avo on your screen. But what are the origins of Avo+? And how did he become a top talent in the scene?
We sat down with Avo+ during the Winter Tour of the DPC to unravel the mystery and origin story behind the man.
How did Avo+ start?
Originally from Spain, Avo moved to Malaysia as part of his work with a tournament organizer, Epulze, along with with his current casting partner, Richie "SeekNStrike" Garcia. Though Avo+ and SeekNStrike are some of the most well-known talents in the scene today, the pair started in obscurity. They worked their way through different regional and international tournaments over the years, working with dozens of different tournament organizations and broadcasters.
Today, Avo often works as a host/presenter in LAN tournaments globally, most recently at the Lima Major, in Peru. He also takes on the role of creative director in the 2023 SEA DPC, where he created the food theme and production concept of the 2023 SEA DPC: Winter Tour.
Alongside SeekNStrike, Avo+ has been with Epulze since the start of its journey in Malaysia. While Avo is on the creative side of production, SeekNStrike's on top of the broadcast side. The pair make a great duo, on-screen and off!
Alvaro "AvoPlus" Sanchez Velasco
The history behind the Avo+ name and DSwordfish
Avo+ originally started off his career with the name DSwordfish, choosing it due to his love of the animal. He later said he felt it was a hard name to write and sounded dumb, but he was 14 when he came up with it. After all, who among us doesn't have an old username they're embarrassed about now?
Four years ago, he switched his name to AvoPlus or Avo+, with "Avo" being a short version of his name. But why the plus? Avo explained that it's because he does many things, above and beyond a regular "Avo."
Going above and beyond for the work
Avo+ started out in Epulze originally as a caster, but over time, he found himself filling whatever roles were needed, something he hadn't originally set out to do.
During Realms Collide, Avo+ and SeekNStrike decided to take it a step further and while they were doing it online, they said, "Why not do a set design? Let's have a theme for it" rather than just having it in their living room. That became their brand moving forward, going a little above and beyond for tournaments that hired them, due to them thinking it would look nicer.
They weren't paid extra to do that. Instead, it was a pride thing, as they wanted to present themselves a certain way. When Epulze started doing tournaments, they deviated from casting mostly. Richie was naturally a good technical lead due to being smart with production, while Avo focused on the creative side, making content and writing.
But going above and beyond, moving across the world for work, and pushing the quality with each broadcast must take a lot of sacrifice right? Not according to Avo:
"I don't feel like I sacrificed much. I like Malaysia. Malaysia's pretty great, food here is great... And I've lived in Scotland, but I think Malaysia is unbeatable."
Avo+ talks casting vs hosting
With the 2023 SEA Dota Pro Circuit, Avo+ has gone back to his roots industry of casting rather than hosting. Avo says his style is similar to Xcyclops, and he feels like he is a western version of him, with his more light-hearted approach. Avo found himself introducing a lot of jokes into his casting, with puns and references.
He likes that he makes it casual, rather than just talking about data. That's because when you're casting a video game, he feels it should be fun. He's says been working on the speed of his speaking, which he explains is usually very fast, due to being Spanish, and he may sometimes sound like he's rapping. This isn't just because he's casting. It's his natural way of talking!
But beyond humour, Avo tries to include cultural aspects to themes when it comes to his casting. His parents are not English speakers, so he's feels more attuned to what South Americans like to hear or watch, or even Southeast Asians due to having lived there for many years.
At first, he felt like an outsider when listening to the American style or even the Australian style of casting. When he came in as an outsider, he felt he understood what everyone wanted and what other regions looked like, knowing what would work for people that may not be native English speakers.
Avo+ at the Lima Major (Image via 4D Esports)
Ironically though, despite often being his role, he's tried to move away from panel hosting, as he feels there are plenty of capable hosts on the scene. He brought out a more casual panel hosting style to the scene and was able to talk with the panel, as well as analyze alongside them. But he found himself using his hands a lot, which is one of the reasons he isn't comfortable being a panel host.
Instead, because his energy as a caster and host is usually pretty high, so he found himself enjoying the stage hosting role, which is something he got to do in ESL One Malaysia, and of course, at the Lima Major. Interviewing is something that he found suited him because he's able to make the interviewee feel comfortable and feel more like a conversation.
What are some highs Avo has experienced?
As a caster and host, Avo's had a few highs in his career. But he says they're less about beingon a big stage, and more cheesy, sentimental moments, such as the friends he's made or the firsts he's been apart of. The first big event he participated as a talent was as a Spanish talent at the original Kyiv Major in 2017. It was the first time that Spanish ever got a broadcast in any sort of Major, and the studio was in Mexico. It wasn't much, but it a big step forward at the time.
Despite not getting paid for it, it didn't matter, and Avo+ and crew were just pleased to be there. It was a big high because it was the first time he got to meet people that he had casted with for four to five years back as a university student. He got to meet all his friends in person and it was a meaningful experience because it felt at home in his community.
When he first got invited for English broadcasts, he was not allowed to tell his friends, and when they saw the announcements, people on streams and everywhere expressed that they were proud and that he finally made it.
The community he'd grown up around was genuinely happy for him, which is a rare emotion in such a competitive field. One moment that made an impact was when a Spanish caster made him cry. The caster filmed the announcement on his phone, saying: "This is the only Spanish caster that's ever made it in Dota 2." Avo watched that clip a thousand times.
What are some tough moments in his career?
As a talent in a competitive industry on the grind, he's experienced a few lows, including at The International 10 during the event. He had to do exit interviews, which was the hardest thing he had ever done. He cried daily at TI10, due to very rough work schedules where he did 16 hours a day, and the emotion of the exit interviews.
Reddit had a major impact too, where comments from the community affected him. During the first few days, his work on the panel and other parts of the broadcast was heavily criticized.
"They told me not to be on Reddit, [but] I read Reddit. I'm kind of glad I read Reddit. Emotionally, it was bad, but it was good for my work."
Despite being affected by comments made about him at TI10, he endeavored to improve the way he did things towards the end of the event. He volunteered for exit interviews, thinking it would be a chance to do his best work, but it was much harder than he thought. Not only was he nervous and about to freak out on camera, he had to go up against many obstacles, and it was a few seconds after the matches. The players were emotional, and so was he, and it took a toll on him.
Despite it being one of his lows, it was good as he learned from it and will still volunteer for exit interviews to this day. He feels it made him grow as a person and become who he is as a talent today.
With the second tour of the 2023 Dota Pro Circuit underway, stay tuned for more news and updates on Dota 2 at esports.gg.
Contributor | Twitter @Ruiedolph
My name is Ruie, aka Ruiedolph. I am a variety streamer on twitch, and a former social media manager for the South American DPC. I've been writing books, scripts and articles. I can't guarantee it's anything good, but I'd like to think I can write. I am a shy person when I first meet people but after 10 minutes of being around me, you will want to run.