Never Two Late: Community Spotlight with BarbEric
Team Liquid is one of the longest running orgs in esports. The foundation and the scaffolding is mostly community. Over 22 years, the community has grown from a small group of friends with a StarCraft clan and domain name to millions of fans around the world. You’d think that most of the big, super fans would have been here for years. However, for one Team Liquid’s most prominent community members, the start of their Liquid love was much later–like, the start of 2020 later.
Eric Dhillon, known by his social handle “BarbEric”, is an avid Team Liquid fan from Buffalo, NY and one of the few Liquid fans to reach the rank of Mythic in Season 1 of Liquid+. That’s the highest rank achievable! It takes 1,000,000 points to get there and for reference, the average user only has 40,590 points.
For most fans, the “Liquid” comes before the “+” but Eric’s interest really sparked after receiving an invite to participate in the beta version of Liquid+. In fact, joining Liquid+ was his gateway into the world of Liquid and the full universe of esports.
First of all, how in the heck did you find out about Liquid+?
I became a fan of how caring and inclusive Team Liquid was, so I reached out to join the Liquid+ beta. The staff was so kind and generous, they gave me an opportunity to join the beta. I was very grateful.
Where did the name “BarbEric” come from?
I love my dad jokes and puns, so I had to make a name that was kinda… creative. So first I was thinking of like, GenEric and HystEric and then I thought, you know, barbaric and then changed the a to an e and it was perfect.
It seems like your esports journey is relatively new, but you’re very familiar with traditional sports like hockey, soccer, and golf. What got you interested in sports at such an early age?
My father was a big sports player. He enjoyed playing hockey and grew up playing it, so he introduced hockey to me and my brother. We were fortunate enough to play on the same team together when we were very young, and it was so much fun playing with him and our friends.
Did you ever play hockey at a competitive level?
Yes! I played Junior B which I guess is at a relatively high skill level. My brother played in the OHL, which is an even higher level, and played semi-pro. It was really cool to watch him be able to play at such a high level.
Alright, tell me about this…experience you had about being a goalie without glasses.
I was a goalie playing without glasses, which is kinda scary cause it was difficult to see the puck. I would not recommend it. I was thinking, “Is this normal to not be able to see the puck?” and I’m like, “Probably.” I then realized after not being able to see the notes on the board that maybe I did need some glasses. Maybe it was time. I never wanted to admit it, but it was time to get some glasses and be able to see during my time as a goalie.
You listed quite a number of sports that you actively participate in and watch. You must have some jerseys of your favorite teams, right?
I have a Sabers jersey that’s signed by a bunch of the Sabers players. I have a - I know a lot of people don’t like them - but I have a Boston Bruins jersey ‘cause I really like Tim Thomas. I was also able to meet Chara in person, which was really cool. I also have hockey shirts from teams like the Capitals, Leafs, and the Devils (we’re a big Martin Brodeur fan).
Oh! We have Detroit Redwings as well. And Saint Louis Blues.
Dang, that’s a lot! And with you now being a Team Liquid fan, you probably have some Liquid apparel to go with these jerseys and shirts. You’re even wearing a jersey in this interview! What do you like about them?
I really love how comfortable the hoodies are. I have the Naruto hoodie (the orange white and blue one). I love that one. I wear that like, all the time when I'm cold. It’s just so comfortable and cozy. I also have the simpler shirts too, the ones that say ‘Team Liquid Established’. I really like when it’s clean and simple.
How did you get started playing video games?
I remember my brother and I got the Wii and we started with Mario Super Strikers, and that was the first game we started playing and we’d play that every day after school. We then transitioned to the PS3 and started to get into first person shooters like Call of Duty and other games. We kept our sports games of NHL and FIFA and Madden as well. It was a lot of fun to bond with him and play those games with him. We weren’t the best, but it was fun playing.
Do you still play on the Wii & PS3? If not, what do you play your games on?
My brother is on the PS4 and I’m on the computer, that was a nice gift.
So it looks like it was essential that games you both play together should have cross-platform compatibility. Did you manage to find any? Which are your favorites?
He loves Fortnite, so sometimes I get dragged into that. We go the no-building route, which is fun because there are a lot of sweaty players who sweat in Fortnite with the building mechanic. They’re very good and we’re not at that level after taking a long break from it.
We play a little Warzone as well. He likes to play rebirth and I tag along and he shows me the way. It’s mainly those two games.
I bet it’s fun to play games that he brings you into, but what about games you’re into?
I'm trying to get him to play Apex more, but he’s more of a Fortnite and Warzone player. *laughs*
Well hopefully he’ll be able to join you in more Apex games as you play more Fortnite! And speaking of Fortnite, you mentioned that you actually saw Team Liquid for the first time through our Fortnite team! Walk me through that reaction.
When Fortnite came out, I saw the wonderful team of 72hrs, Poach, Vivid, and Chap. I did see that they were on Team Liquid, but I wasn't really sure who they were at the time. I just knew that [Team Liquid] was some kind of team or organization. After I joined Liquid+, I learned that it’s so much more than just a team. It’s this close-knit caring community, where everyone is just so nice.
You describe the Liquid+ community frequently as “nice”, “amazing”, and “awesome”. I get the feeling that you really appreciate your time in the Liquid+ space.
When you get to speak to people like Kadaver[BB], Sarah[.GG], Gamer[hcp], and the developers, it’s just so rewarding to be able to communicate with an organization. I feel like not many organizations have this closeness or connect with their community like Team Liquid, so I really enjoy this experience.
Fortnite and Apex are two esports titles that I assume you like to watch. What other titles do you like in terms of their esports scene?
I do really enjoy the tactical FPS games and the battle royales, so I've been starting to watch more PUBG. I also really love watching Apex, Counter-Strike, VALORANT, R6 and Fortnite, especially with our Brazilian players, they’re very good.
That’s almost all of them! How about Rocket League? It’s pretty close to traditional sports in terms of esports.
Rocket League is very fun, it’s easy to understand and the moments can get very hype. Especially with our young team, I'm excited to see how they do.
Do you explore any other genres?
I'm trying to understand the other games like League and Dota. I do enjoy watching them, but I don’t exactly know what’s going on. Same with Starcraft.
I agree with Starcraft. It’s impressive to know that players have to keep track of everything on the screen.
Yes, it’s fun to watch. I have no clue what’s going on, but seeing how fast they move, it’s just insane. And the way the cameras are constantly moving, how fast the different units move across the screen, how fast the resources are gained and depleted, it’s just… it’s just amazing how people understand that and how they can move so fast.
So you watch ALL of these esports games? I know you reached Mythic, but it seems like you went above and beyond to earn that rank! Did you manage to redeem the most expensive Liquid+ Reward, the Letterman Jacket (2,500,000 Points)?
I think I earned enough points last season for the Letterman Jacket, but I spent it on other things, like pizzas. I highly recommend buying the pizzas for the support team and the devs. I think that’s my favorite shop item.
Aww, that’s really sweet of you! What is it about redeeming points for pizzas that makes it your favorite?
I just love seeing how happy everyone gets, and I enjoy getting to see their pizza pictures. My favorite pizza would be Chay’s pizza, her pizza toppings are amazing. You know, I'm kinda getting hungry now. Maybe I need a pizza for dinner today. *laughs*
Yeah, I’m getting hungry too. Let’s wrap up this spotlight with your favorite foods then! What’s on the top of your list?
It’s very difficult to answer, because I love a lot of food. I think my favorite might be the desserts. I love my Krispy Kreme donuts. Warm cookies and warm brownies are also my favorite, same with cakes. I love pizza and wings, I really enjoy that.
Did you say BROWNIES? Dang, that sounds good right about now. Quick question: are you team “edge brownie” or team “center brownie”?
I like the center pieces, cause they’re fudgier. I prefer the fudgy texture more than like, the cake-like texture.
I’m an edge brownie kind of person, so this works out! Do you enjoy brownies with any toppings? What about toppings on other foods?
I’m kinda picky when it gets into the toppings. I’m not the greatest with spicy foods, so I would not survive a Hot Juans episode. I love that show, and when he went out to the food trucks and tried the food, I thought that was great. I really loved those episodes, I hope we can see more of those later.
And how about pizza toppings?
I’m very basic, I really only enjoy cheese. Just the plain cheese. Sometimes there’s some good pizzas like margherita or more unique ones that have sun-dried tomatoes and other vegetables.
So sure, Eric is a relatively new Team Liquid fan. A fan that, weirdly, joined Liquid+ out of curiosity. But what happened afterwards was unlike anything he’d ever expected. BarbEric became one of the friendliest faces in Liquid’s community - a presence that you could expect to see on Twitter, in Discord, and in chat; the kind of presence that would even hype up the behind-the-scenes staff and the other fans cheering in the audience.
Barberic came for the points but found a real community - a real home with the fans, staff & developers. But more than that, he’s helped make the community feel like a home to others and become an important figure within it himself. He may not have been with Liquid at the beginning, but he was with Liquid+ at the beginning, and it looks like he’ll continue to be with Liquid+ in the years to come.
One final question for our sports-loving Liquid+ fan:
What’s your beverage of choice?
Just some Liquid water.