Esports tournaments have been around for over 40 years. The first-ever esports tournament was held at Stanford University in October 1972. With prize pools up to the millions, tension can get high, making for thrilling gameplay for the fans. But is the success of tournaments due to the games alone? A “good” caster can change the whole esports experience for viewers.
Casting for Viewer
Traditional sports and esports casting are quite similar in what casters bring to the table each match. There are two types of casting that viewers notice: Color and play-by-play casting.
Color casters talk more about the analytics and strategies in the match. These casters focus on how the teams playing have faired against each other, play differently from each other or how they may perform due to outside forces (roster changes, in-game patches, etc). Color casters may also focus on individual players and how they perform on certain characters.
Play-by-play casters, on the other hand, focus on the actual gameplay on the screen. As the name implies, they look to explain the action play-by-play in order for viewers to see the small things that someone without vetern knowledge would most likely miss.
Credit: Cheddar video
In a recent Interview Esportz Network, Gears of War caster Colin “Crow ” Clarke, explained that he believes there are really three categories of casting. This explanation better fits the role of casting for esports vs traditional sports.
“I look at each caster and their ability to fill one of the three main categories of people who are more likely to tune into a broadcast. These three groups consist of the veteran viewer, the new viewer and the developer or sponsor team. [Casters] will most likely never fill all three.”
Clarke described that most casters should fill two of these roles and that viewers should be able to understand the game. “Casters who fulfill the role of vetern player experience can call the shots, plays and almost sound like geniuses because they know the game on a microscopic level,” Clarke said.
Casters that hone in on the new player aspect of the match will “break it down to a laymen and can simplify it for the new viewer.” This gives an audience who just found the game or are watching it for the first time a chance to be entertained and taught. In the first viewings of a tournament, a new viewer may not understand all of the nuances of high-level professional play. Fluidity between the new player and veteran player is essential for an entertaining viewer experience.
“The third type pleases the dev team and sponsors”. Clarke explained. They are great at representing the product and putting forth an image and a personal charisma or prowess that gravitates the viewers to stay and thus pleases the sponsors/devs. They may never call out the next play, they may not be able to break it down to the new viewer, but they sound good.” Clarke continued, mentioning that the “dev team” caster will look and sound good. These casters will also bring a feeling of importance to the small things. Goldenboy, MonteCristo and Benson are three casters Clarke pointed to as the rarest type of caster, which mixes the three types mentioned.
Outside the game
Although the in-game casting viewers listen to, casters also take on the tasks to help entertain the viewers through commentary. They also participate in interviewing players and coaches after matches. Interviews are an integral part of understanding teams and players. These small snippets out of the game give a bigger insight to viewers on what was just played or insight into the coming matches. Just like in traditional sports, interviewing players can help humanize and bring an audience closer to the game and teams.
Tournaments also hold some matches that include casters mixed in with professional players. This adds a bit of fun into a long tournament day, and even helps to grow a fan-base for the casters that they may not have had with just their charisma alone. It also can show their game knowledge off, but never truly marks them as professionals despite their vast knowledge. In recent years, Riot Games have added a few of these caster matches in Worlds and other tournaments for entertainment and fun.
All-in-all, casters can truly change the game for esports tournaments. From new viewers to old and everything in between, casters prove that esports tournaments are all-inclusive and can show off the games, giving hype and impressive commentary every time.