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League of Legends Caster Spotlight - North America

By Max 'Rehlyt' Cranston
Nov 2, 2012 22:08


ImageThis is a quick look at the various casters abound during 2012 in North America's League of Legends scene.

As Season 2 draws to a close, I would like to go over a Caster Spotlight. Casters don't get much attention. I'm here to give casters some much needed loving (and maybe to slightly berate a couple of them). Our loving casters bring us the play-by-plays in every major (and minor) tournament match. Whether we love or hate them, they are integral to the ongoing popularity and overall understanding of professional LoL gameplay. Casters are essential for bringing new viewers up to speed and into the realm of watching (and understanding) high-level gameplay. Many viewers know which characters have certain abilities (stuns, knockups, snares, etc) and which have terribly powerful ultimates already; but for new viewers these explanations are crucial in order for them to properly appreciate the ongoing combat situations our players find themselves in.

I will outline five major traits that I believe casters should have:

1. Game knowledge: In both mechanics and in simplifying complex concepts.
2. Speech: Speaking quickly, but enunciating clearly and pronouncing properly.
3. Personable: Are they pleasant and enjoyable to listen to? ie. Would you actually enjoy having a beer with this person?
4. Sense of humour: Making jokes - some can do it and some can't.
5. Composure: Can work well under pressure or off the top of their head when things get CRAZY! (dealing with problems, pauses, disconnects, etc)

I have built a rather comprehensive list of LoL casters. These casters have been prominent throughout the year 2012 and Season 2. They each have weaknesses and advantages, I believe, and I would like to breakdown each caster to the basics. I would like to note, that there is no specific order for the casters listed and that the ones I have been selected are here because of their presence in North American LoL tournaments. I will provide a bit of their backstory and provide a link to their twitter below their column. All of this is personal opinion, feel free to add your own opinions in the comments below.

Deman

Leigh "Deman" Smith has been shoutcasting for a number of years. He shoutcasted some of the LoL Season 2 World Championships alongside Jatt. A moderate to high amount of LoL knowledge, it doesn't hinder his casting if he is unsure of something. He definitely enunciates well, but has slip ups at times.

Here is a humorous video from user CptSpectacularShow:

"Off the back of" complilation

He is fairly comical -- he makes jokes and not all of them are good, but some are. In my opinion he is the best shoutcaster under pressure. He really showed us his mettle during the Season 2 World Championship playoff delays. His next gig is at the MLG Fall Championship in Dallas, Nov 2-4. Deman is generally full of energy and the matches he casts are only augmented by his work.

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@qvDeman

Jatt

Joshua "Jatt" Leesman is a former pro, but as shoutcaster he is rather new. He is a former Guild Wars player and knows streamer Guardsman Bob. Currently he works for Riot as an Associate Game Analyst and it shows in his immaculate dissection of plays. His knowledge is superb and nearly unrivaled. Jatt speaks clearly, and I don't have any complaints from what I've seen from him casting. He is very personable, I'm sure most people would agree. Riot put him alongside Deman for the Season 2 World Championship for good reason. I'm not sure if Jatt has a sense of humour, it is a rare beast if it does exist. Jatt performs well under pressure, and he doesn't let it show if he is nervous. Jatt joins the casting crew at MLG Dallas this coming weekend.

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@RiotJatt

Jaws

Steve "Jaws" Jaworski is another Riot employee, he's a College Community Coordinator who occasionally casts as well. I can't say he has the best game knowledge of all the casters, but he is definitely capable. Jaws started working for Riot in the summer of 2012 and has cast a few events so far. His pronunciation and clarity is definitely above average and he is bilingual (French) so I'll give him props for that. He has a pretty good sense of humour which earns him some extra points. His comfortableness on stream is evident, and his demeanour makes his casts very enjoyable. I haven't seen him put in any positions which require him to scramble in a pressure situation, but I'm sure he could pull it off. He can stray off on a tangent from time to time.

Example: Oddone the sickest "counterjungle in his own jungle" NA.

Oddone counterjungles himself?

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@RiotJaws

Kobe24

Sam "Kobe24" Hartman-Kenzler is another former Pro and current caster. His game knowledge is very in-depth as he draws from his experience as CLG's jungler. He is well known for his Amumu, which gained him a reputation for both hitting/missing smites and making big plays.

A famous video from WCG 2010 can be found here:

Kobe WCG 2010

He often casts alongside Wombat and their compatibility makes their casts some of the best I've seen. Kobe speaks quickly yet very clearly and brings a lot of his knowledge to the forefront to educate the listener. He has a good sense of humour, and generally plays off of Wombat's wacky ramblings(often). He is cool and collected in any random situation, his experience in the spotlight of the professional scene has paid dividends. He knows many of the pro players personally and can associate with them, which makes him a strong choice for a caster.

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@LegendaryKobe24

Wombat

Randall "Wombat" Fitzgerald is a former competitive fighting game player, comics writer, Starcraft 2 caster, and MOBA manager for Quantic gaming. His experience in the field of esports is unquestionable, although he does not have the most in-depth LoL knowledge. That being said, it doesn't detract from his energetic and enthusiastic casting. Wombat was born to talk and he does so (a lot) throughout his casts. His enunciation and vocabulary are both noteworthy and salient. This is definitely his forte, as he spouts random nonsense in a humorous, mirthful and often majestic way. His personality shines through and it is evident that he really enjoys his job. I haven't seen many situations where he's been under a lot of pressure, but I believe he'd be able to deal with anything that was thrown at him... because he's a manly man. (I can hear Wombat saying that last part himself.)

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@digiwombat

Malfusx

Alex "Malfusx" Manley is a caster who often works with both Kobe and Wombat. He lives in Mexico and plays a trombone (he's a tromboner, then... right?). He doesn't have the most in-game knowledge, which can detract from his casting but he makes up for it by being really personable. His humour can be very witty at times, which earns him some points in my book. He is casual yet professional at the same time and handles himself well in any scenario. Plus, he plays a mean ARAM on proving grounds.

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@malfusX

Phreak

David "Phreak" Turley works at Riot as a Web Content Specialist and is frequently a caster for major LoL tournaments. He is experienced and hails from the competitive Warcraft 3 scene. His LoL game mechanics knowledge is superb and practically indomitable. He is well-known (at least his voice/catchphrases) from his Champion Spotlight videos. Phreak tends to favour critical analysis during his casts and he speaks extremely quickly yet clearly. His humour is ever-present, but it's often very cheesy (which isn't always a bad thing). He is extremely personable and is deeply entwined in the community. He handles any scenario professionally -- he is cool, calm and collected in any circumstance. It was recently revealed that Phreak will be on hand to deliver us TONS of commentary at MLG Dallas.

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@RiotPhreak

Pluto

Brad "Pluto" Ramey entered the LoL scene in 2011 with a podcast called "LoLpod" and secured himself a position within the Curse organization after casting the Reign of Gaming International Invitational. His in-game knowledge is average and he does not always have the most insightful comments. Pluto is very comfortable doing interviews with LoL players and shows that he can quickly build a rapport with almost anyone. He does tell jokes, but they are hit or miss. He speaks clearly most of the time, but can get tripped up when he tries to go too quickly. He might start to sweat under pressure but is a reliable caster in general. He lives in the Curse house and is a key figure in the media for Team Curse.

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@CrsPluto


Red Baron

James "Red Baron" Reilman is a caster for IGN Proleague tournaments(IPL). He has a degree in Bioengineering and is a fairly smart dude. His analysis of games is definitely above average and he focuses on the strategic aspects of any scenario. He isn't the most eloquent speaker at times, but he works frequently with Hatperson who makes him sound better by comparison. He makes jokes and they are generally in good humour. His demeanor is laid back (IPL prides themselves on casual professionalism) and he is reliably a good caster.

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@Baroncast

HatPerson

AJ "HatPerson" Mazur is the second part to the IPL casting duo. He was a contestant on WCG Ultimate Gamer and is allegedly a really big nerd(not saying that's a bad thing at all). In general he is not the most knowledgeable caster, but he tends to analyze major plays accurately. I often see people complaining about his casts. That being said, he can be tripped up by words at times, which is a downfall. I personally find his jokes (although sometimes not very funny) to be humorous in a strange way. He definitely has his own unique personality and is not afraid to be himself -- whether people like that or not is their own choice. He is a jovial fellow and that shows through. Hatperson also focuses his gameplay analysis on lane matchups and breaking down champions in a simplistic manner. This can certainly be good for new or inexperienced viewers and is definitely his strong point. In a high-pressure situation, I could see him folding. Luckily, his co-caster RedBaron generally covers his weaknesses and they are definitely an effective duo.

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@HatPerson

Rivington

Rivington "RivingtonThe3rd" Bisland III is a Player Behaviour Specialist for Riot games. He is fairly experienced, having commentated since early 2000 for games such as Counterstrike, Gears of War and Starcraft. He is frequently seen beside Phreak and the duo immediately bring an energetic nature to the forefront of their casts. Rivington can talk nearly as quickly as Phreak and that is a strong point for both of them. Rivington has an average amount of game knowledge and he lets Phreak handle the really complicated mechanical aspects. I don't consider either caster a successful comedian and Rivington definitely should not consider standup. Though, on the plus side his personality shines through and makes his casts enjoyable to sit through. He can deal with pressure and spontaneity well, he is a clutch and consistent caster when he is called upon.

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@RivingtonThe3rd

Studio

Chris "Studio" Grant is the host of Studio Daily. He is an experienced solo queue player and has quickly transitioned from the role of playing into analyzing gameplay in 2012. I don't want to say Studio isn't knowledgeable, but I find that he can struggle in simplifying concepts (thus possibly alienating new/inexperienced viewers). He has a rather quiet demeanor, he certainly doesn't put the SHOUT in shoutcaster. His speech and enunciation are both great, which is a major plus as a caster. He isn't the speediest talker, but he gets main points across and doesn't detract from the gameplay as he's doing so. He is calm at all times, and I think he'd be able to handle most any situation that arises.

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@LeagueOfStudio

MonteCristo

Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles is the owner of ggChronicle and has been an esports caster since Warcraft 3. He managed Verge Gaming in his Warcraft 3 days and draws on his experience to fulfill his current role. The first casts I saw with MonteCristo were a bit awkward and he didn't analyze the games extremely well, but he has been strongly improving since that point. He was selected as one of the casters for the Fall Championships at MLG Dallas, so we can see how his analysis has improved since the Summer Championships. He definitely speaks clearly and that is his saving grace. He takes his job seriously and seems to take setbacks in stride. He is not a comedian, but he doesn't generally try cracking jokes (probably a good choice). I'm not confident in his ability to hold onto a problematic cast (especially by himself) but he will have backup in any circumstance.

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@ggCMonteCristo

OptimusTom

Tom "OptimusTom" Searfoss is an experienced DotA player who transitioned to LoL during its beta stage. He has worked together with MonteCristo on shows for ggChronicle and is a contributor to the Trinityforce podcast. He definitely shows his expertise when he is casting by providing consistently good analysis across the board. OptimusTom generally speaks clearly and well, but not at a really rapid rate. He doesn't tell many jokes, so I'm not sure how to judge his comedic potential. He is rather personable and his experience on radio shows is evident in his dapper presence. He is a reliable caster and would be fully capable if put in a high-pressure situation. He was invited to shoutcast at MLG Dallas and will be joining the rest of the casting crew this weekend.

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@OptimusTom

Joe Miller

Joseph “Joe Miller” Miller has been in competitive gaming since Battlefield 1942. He started as a player and moved into casting. He has most recently cast the 2012 MLG Spring Championship in Anaheim for his North American casts. Joe mainly deals with the European scene, in which he has been a mainstay. I wouldn't consider Joe the most knowledgeable LoL caster and his ingame knowledge could improve a modicum. On the plus side, his experience in general allows for fluid analysis of gameplay which is a major asset for him. In terms of enunciation and clarity, he is on top of his game most of the time and can shoutcast as quickly as any caster out there. Joe is extremely personable, and his light-hearted nature allows his casts to quickly capture and retain attention spans. Although Miller can crack the odd funny joke, many are left with awkward chuckles and pauses. I have not seen him in a pressure situation but I’m sure he would draw on past experience and be able to succeed in any scenario.

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@Joe_Miller

I look forward to seeing the casters at MLG Dallas this weekend. If anyone can think of other casters this year who I may have missed, leave a comment below -- I can certainly add to this list. (For instance Dan Dinh, does he still cast or just do post-game analysis?)

If you have any major disagreements or disputes, let me hear it! Also, I fully intend to not offend anyone. This is a subjective view!



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