Monday, March 28, 2016

It's an eSports World Ripe for Commentators

The Toronto Star jumped into the expanding realm of eSports commentators, and the rising fandom behind video game matches. While it can be fun, being a commentator for any sport is a lot of hard work, and paychecks can be inconsistent. Most people think of sports commentators as the team working for ESPN, but that's just one facet of the market. There are also the minor league teams, high school athletics, middle school athletics, little league baseball, just to name a few. To be a commentator of any kind requires lots of repetition, knowing every and all aspects of a game, and being incredibly flexible. You can start out with one train of thought to talk about action on the field, and then you have to switch it up on the fly when something happens. And because sports have seasons, in order to maintain those paychecks all year you have to be knowledgeable in multiple sports - football, baseball, and hockey will get you through the year.

A good commentator is not only about having vast knowledge of the game, but being able to relate the most complex components to an audience at large. Not everyone is going to understand football, but if you can make the content relate-able to them, they may stick around for a few more minutes and who knows! You could capture a new fan for life.

eSports commentators are no different. And in a rapidly growing field, they are in high demand for online videos, live tournaments, gaming expos, and the like. A number of movie theaters are getting in on the action by investing into gaming tournaments to fill up empty theater space - Cineplex Entertainment in Canada has invest $15 million into such a venture. Cinemark and iPic in the U.S. have been testing this out as well over the past year.

Whether it's League of Legends or Call of Duty, you have to approach each game differently. With the high action of League, you'll find that the commentators tend to focus more on game play, and less on off-beat, humerus commentary. CoD has lulls in the play that allow commentators to talk about the gamers, their history, and provide more insight. The universal truth, as with any sports, is that fans will call you out if you don't know your stuff. So it's important to not only comment, but play; be up to date on the newest patches and content. We've all seen how vitriol some gamers can be. Imagine that on your social media feed daily if you don't properly call a game.

It's a lot of work for very little reward. Most eSports commentators are not sponsored. They don't have a standard 9-5 job. They don't have a typical paycheck. You have to stretch all of your resources to get a gig, and it'll probably be very low pay for a while.

You'll find a number of the more well known eSports commentators are working constantly, alongside having an active YouTube Channel and Twitch stream. Your visual presence everywhere will keep you on the forefront of everyone's minds. It's just as important as knowing your stuff. You could be fantastic at calling CoD games, but if no one knows who you are, then it's moot.

TLDR: eSports commentating sounds fun, but it's just as rough as any sports commentator. Do it because you love it, because you're sure to hate it some days. And if you think it's all about riffing and making jokes, you better look again. The top commenters can sometimes reach 350 words per minute - focusing solely on the match. I bet they go through gallons of water daily.

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