The Hearthstone Championship Tour hit Sydney over the weekend, bringing pro players and commentators along for the ride. We had a chat to two of the latter about what that entails, but mainly because we were so curious as to how the hell you score that kind of gig in the first place.
Hearthstone is a free-to-play competitive card video game based on the Warcraft universe. It’s got a healthy fan base and a hearty esports following, allowing it to hit the road and bring tournaments to fans all around the world.
Of course, the idea of an esports commentator isn’t exactly farfetched when we’re talking about an event that’s broadcasted globally. Sometimes called shoutcasters, they help viewers understand exactly what’s going on in the game just as a regular sports commentator would.
US commentator, Dan ‘Frodan‘ Chou, got his start all the way back in 2010 with one of the first major competitive titles, StarCraft 2.
“I got into esports broadcasting through my local university esports club,” he told PEDESTRIAN.TV. “Back then, casting was still relatively new as a career path. I was only doing it because I loved StarCraft 2 and the community! The first ever team practice I casted got almost 100 viewers. That blew my mind!!”
“It went from casting my university team practices to clan wars to random small online cups to small daily tournaments to offline 100 player LANs to online leagues to a regular broadcast studio to finally the big stage,” he continued. “It was years in the making and every step of the way I am incredibly grateful to those who believed in me and supported my dream!”
While Chou says providing standard commentary for a match is easy, learning the intricacies of a game can be a challenge. “Doing basic commentary of a game is not that difficult if you come from a gaming background,” he said. “However, delivering top-notch commentary is incredibly difficult.”
“Because of how nuanced many esports have become, there is a strong demand these days for specialists as opposed to generalists who know cursory information about the game.”
He says his Hearthstone commentary has progressed by “leaps and bounds” over time, but admits there’s still room to grow. In this extremely unique gig, Chou loves to put on a good show above all else.
“There’s no science to great commentary,” he said. “It’s entirely subjective and thus becomes an art. Putting on a great show is extremely satisfying.”
For Filipino commentator, Jacinta ‘Jia‘ Dee, it was a great performance seen by the right people that got her the gig.
“I started by playing in local fireside gatherings,” she told PEDESTRIAN.TV. “Then the owner of the board game café where usually held them wanted to have a bigger tournament and stream it, so that was my first gig, but it had probably 12 viewers and the stream cut off every 5 minutes cause of horrible internet.”
“From there, someone from ESL SEA saw me and asked me to do a bigger event; from that event, they recommended me to Blizzard SEA. And then I got more and more stuff and now we’re here.”
Incredibly, Dee is also juggling a degree in molecular biology at the same time, which she says can be quite difficult, but as far as work on the side goes, it’s a pretty sweet deal.
“Going to events itself is fine because they’re usually on the weekends, but finding the time to devote to Hearthstone and keeping up with the meta so I give a good cast is the real challenge,” she said. “My major is very time-consuming because of the long experiments we perform in lab, but I usually still find time for HS.”
“I think it’s because Hearthstone is a hobby I enjoy anyway—I don’t think of it as work.”
Her goal at this stage is to continue her study abroad, but hopes to continue with esports on the side. “For now, esports work isn’t my main priority, but I hope to keep casting for as long as I can,” she said. “The new location might open up new opportunities for me too.”
It’s all about getting involved in the community, folks. If you have a keen interest in esports and a flair for presenting, there’s no reason you can’t give it a whirl yourself.
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