Casters are a vital part of the esports viewing experience. Have you ever imagined yourself attending a live, multi-million-dollar tournament without the echoing voices of casters filling a 10,000-seater arena?
Casters are a vital part of the esports viewing experience. Have you ever imagined yourself attending a live, multi-million-dollar tournament without the echoing voices of casters filling a 10,000-seater arena? The idea is unfathomable. The way they narrate the story while it unfolds gives more life to the game, as if applying color to an already-beautiful sketch.
As the esports industry gets widely recognized for its entertainment value, the number of hopefuls wanting to practice the craft of casting increases. However, in a world dominated by the likes of TobiWan, GoDz, Basskip, PapaSmithy, Atlus, Pastrytime, Uber, SPUNJ, and Maynarde, to name a few, how can another bloke’s voice stand out?
“The hardest part for up-and-coming talent is making a name for yourself and getting eyeballs,” Luke “Fluke” Pate, an Australian esports caster, said. “The best way to get eyeballs on you is (to be) unique. Now you don’t just find your unique trait in your first cast. This is where I think grassroots tournaments come in clutch.”
Fluke was introduced to casting when their university’s Dota 2 society needed someone to stream and commentate a one-versus-one tournament. Despite being admittedly a ‘1k MMR scrub,’ the fun brought about by the opportunity made him fell instantly in love with casting. Since then, he has been one of the voices of Australia’s grassroots-level tournaments, including the on-going Oceanic Esports League that features the region’s most promising Dota 2 talents.
“(Grassroots tournaments) provide a platform where you have a (usually) large amount of games where you can grind and learn and find that unique trait that allows you to stand out. I really enjoy casting grassroots tournaments because they usually provide you with some good clip moments. ODPixel got big by casting a three-hour tier-two Dota game. Grassroots (tournaments) give you that platform to grow and learn,” Fluke added.
The importance of grassroots tournaments for Australia’s Dota 2 scene has never been more pronounced since the top-heavy structure of Dota Pro Circuit has been established. According to Josh “Doglet” Caccamo, a professional-player-turned-on-screen-talent, these type of events provide players an opportunity to exercise their competitiveness, and casters a medium to hone their craft.
“Everyone must start somewhere, and grassroots tournaments are the perfect place to start. For both casters and players, having games in a relatively low-pressure environment can make or break their fledgling career. I think players need to remove the stigma of Grassroots tournaments being ‘not worthwhile’ or ‘too small to care’ because for every person that has these thoughts, there (will be) multiple players who will have their first impression (of) how Aussie tournaments run,” Doglet said.
Doglet used to play for Athletico Esports until he landed a full-time job. Rather than completely quitting the esports life, he got to put his in-game knowledge to use after being recruited as an analyst. While aspiring players and casters benefit altogether from the significance of grassroots-level tournaments, both roles definitely require a different set of skills to be good at.
And when it comes to casting, it’s more than just knowing the ins-and-outs of the game.
“It’s not as easy as it sounds,” Daniel “DareDevilDan” Morell said when asked about one thing people should now about casting.
One of the most common impressions non-gamers have whenever they catch a glimpse of the most popular esports titles is that there are a lot of things going on at once. It’s not as simple as traditional team sports wherein everyone’s attention most of the time is focused on a ball. Now imagine being tasked to narrate all those things that are going on at once as it happens. That, in a nutshell, is esports casting.
“Being a caster is all about entertaining everyone as well as taking them on a journey throughout the game. Casters are not supposed to be screen readers. Your job as a caster is supposed to be the verbal guide for the viewers through how you interpret the game to be going. That’s where the entertainment comes in for casters because you’re trying to let the viewers see what your mind is thinking as the game unfolds in front of you both,” Fluke explained.
Being a story-teller, that would sometimes need to be in front of a camera for more than eight hours straight, requires a lot of effort to constantly be ‘switched on’, especially since there isn’t really much downtime once the game has started, as noted by Doglet.
“Casting comes down to two things: improvisation and knowledge. To be a caster, you require an incredibly high level of game knowledge to be able to comfortably talk about most aspects of the game, without sounding like an idiot, while also being able to adapt quickly on-the-fly,” he said.
That’s why just as any entertainer who is dedicated to his chosen form of art would claim, feedbacks are much appreciated for aspiring casters.
“Critiquing our work is always a good place to start, tell us what you like and dislike about our casting style, you never know what advice might stick. I am always open for a direct message conversation.” Doglet said.
Fluke, however, reminded that giving criticisms is more than just spamming ‘SHUT UP CASTER NOOB 4Head’ in Twitch chat.
“The only way people are going to get better is if you tell them genuine and real feedback. Don’t handhold people. If you don’t like what they are doing, tell them. If I don’t see your feedback in Twitch chat or wherever, tweet at me, DM me on twitch anything. Just make sure if you have some honest feedback get it out there,” he said.
“… because at the end of the day we casters do it for you, the viewer,” Fluke added.
The combined hard work of players, talents, organizers, and all stakeholders have established a steady growth for the general esports scene in Australia. Hidden gems are being discovered thanks to grassroots tournaments, while the best of the bests continue to represent the Land Down Under in the grandest stages. What we’re left to do with should be the simpler things—recognizing those efforts and giving credit where credit is due.
You can catch Fluke, DareDevilDan, Doglet, and a whole bunch of aspiring Dota 2 casters in action live at Oceanic Esports League’s Twitch channel from Monday to Saturday starting at 16:00 AEST.