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Over the past two weeks, we’ve been treated to a fantastic array of casting talent. Between IPL3 and MLG Orlando, we’ve had over 15 talented men in the caster’s chair. Some of the men sitting in the casting chair were SC2 community icons such as Sean “Day9” Plott or Marcus “djWheat” Graham who commanded the MLG Orlando Red and Blue Streams like a boss. Other casters were up-and-coming casting talent such as Toby “Tumba” Nuvo who was one of the MLG Orlando community casters featured on the Black and White streams. While the player flavor of the week changes as often as tournaments come and go, casters are pillars of the community, ever stable and ever popular.
As the community continues to grow, there are more opportunities for SC2 casters than ever. Since the beta, it has been simple for any individual to try his hand at casting by downloading a replay, casting it and uploading the finished product to YouTube. A number of casters from Alex “HD” Do to Mike “Husky” Lamond started right there. Not only do both these casters have a number of fans, they have both been able to build the start of fantastic eSports careers from their YouTube beginnings. While anyone can cast a SC2 game, the ability to cast well is an entirely different ball game. With more opportunities for casters, more individuals are trying their hand at it.
What makes a good commentator? It could be “the sauce,” as Day9 calls it: the smooth, confident voice, full of eSports wisdom and knowledge. Perhaps it’s the entertainment value the caster adds to the game. Many fans attribute in-game skill and perfect, flawless SC2 knowledge to the most important ingredients of a great caster, but when it comes down to it, those features aren’t always required.
There are two main “types” of casters in a SC2 duo. You have a play-by-play commentator, and you an analysis commentator. These roles serve very different purposes, and the talents required can be quite different whilst interestingly being very similar.
A play-by-play commentator needs skill in explaining situations, possible future interactions, and of course a solid foundation of game knowledge. They do not require a library of information about the game, nor perfect skill inside the actual game. Take Nick “Tasteless” Plott for example. Back in his hayday (and to a small extent now) he was a fantastic player of our beloved Starcraft, however you wouldn’t consider him a high level professional with top 3 control by today’s standards. He is still a fantastic play-by-play commentator because of his knowledge, smooth voice, and great skill in creating a picture. There was a famous commentator in Australia who once said “Pretend you’re a blind man who has never seen a game of football. Create the picture with words so you can understand what is happening”. This does not mean a play-by-play needs to describe every single thing that has just happened – just the broad strokes, giving detail of what tactics, unit movement and other types of player management is occurring.
Analysis commentators require deep knowledge of the game, and an ability to explain situations from a strategic point of view. The skillful part of this role comes from explaining things without boring people to death. Sean “Day9” Plott, Dan “Artosis” Stemkoski and Shaun “Apollo” Clark come to mind when thinking of some of the top analysis commentators currently in the scene. These commentators have a great knack of explaining why, how and detailed reasoning behind player decision making in a match, giving the audience a feel of “what a pro is thinking” without needing to simplify the matter too much.
While top tournaments ensure that there are two casters on hand for events, not all commentating teams require a duo. Sometimes you can find quality solo casters who can pull off both roles equally, however the majority of the time high level commentating requires “banter” and some “back and forth” to keep slow parts of the game interesting. There are few casters who can bring exceptional entertainment quality on their own like Husky or Day9.
If you’re interested in being a caster, there’s no better time like the present! That being said, the eSports community needs more than casters so take the time to figure out which roles you can fit into. With the number of both big and small tournaments popping up left and right, there are more and more places to get experience and get exposure as a caster. While it’s not an easy task to cast a SC2 game, it is a valuable learning experience for any SC2 fan. There’s no better way to appreciate what someone does than to walk a mile in their shoes. Take the time to learn the game, work on your voice and jokes, and perhaps you could be the next Painuser or CatsPajamas.
After years of playing World of Warcraft, a friend introduced Jacqueline to Starcraft early last year. Jacqueline’s relationship with Starcraft started out slowly: a handful of casual dates, a little bit of flirting but nothing serious. She took her relationship with the game to the next level after BlizzCon 2010 where she experienced eSports magic first-hand and realized that Starcraft was the one. Despite being a mediocre player, she has been clambering the ladder at a glacial pace and has spent more time watching Starcraft online than she’d like to admit. In March, Jacqueline made the leap from eSports fan to eSports professional when she was hired by the Handsome Nerd as their Art Director, combining her design skills with her love of Starcraft. Since its start in April, Jacqueline has been a contributing writer for the North American Star League, writing coverage for Division 1. Offline, Jacqueline is a bookworm, a runner, a freeride snowboarder and has a Human Ecology degree with a Clothing and Textiles major.