Let’s put this in to perspective: There is an Esports competition currently under way offering a R1 million prize pool (thanks Samsung). By the time I publish this, or at least shortly after, there will be another one with the same prize pool and a well known name attached (three letters, first one is E. I asked them to confirm it last night but they haven’t responded which is why I’m not dropping the name). That is just for CSGO. I’ve been following the scene for some time but started dipping my toes into the broadcast teams last year.
Esports hosting is a whole new world unlike any I’ve experienced. I have been very lucky in that I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some incredibly talented people along the way. I was chatting to one of those people, Nick from ACGL, a few weeks ago, and we spoke about knowledge sharing between Esports broadcasters in South Africa. It is something we’ll eventually get off the ground when we both get our heads up from our computers.
It also got me thinking about some of the lessons I’ve learnt in the last few months. I’ve actually not done that many Esports competitions. I did interviews for the Telkom Dota Masters, hosted the Evetech Champion’s League, Co-hosted the Telkom Masters Final at rAge and now host the Forge (analytics desk) for the Samsung Galaxy CSGO Championship on Mettlestate. Not all the much really. However, I’ve learnt some important lessons along the way. These aren’t technical things but just musings I’ve been wanting to word vomit for some time. So I figured I’d do just that today.
3 life lessons I learnt from Esports broadcasting:
You’re never bigger than the team
No matter who you are, what you do or how many followers you have on twitter (Spoiler: no one cares). You are never bigger or more important than anyone else in the broadcast team. You’re there, as a team, to put on a good show. That needs to be your primary goal. If you’re jumping on a panel and trying to appear knowledgable, believing a show would fail without you or that you’re better than anyone there – you’re doing it wrong. The moment it becomes about you and not the show you’re going to fail. Are you more knowledgable than the person next to you on the panel? Help them off camera, give them tips and feed them information. It makes the show better. Do you believe you’re better than everyone else there? Work on making sure everyone is better than you, because that makes the show look good.
If the team fails – you fail. I think this lesson hit me the hardest at the rAge Masters Finals, when we were told to be in for a sound check at some ridiculously early time. Paul ‘ReDeYe’ Chaloner, being ReDeYe, got told he could come in later. He pitched up early despite that because, in his words “we’re a team”. Vudulew, a shoutcaster I work with at Mettlestate (and a friend) had a Whats App status recently which rang true:
Ego kills talent
You’ll ruin the show if you let your ego get in the way. Look, there’s that first life lesson I was talking about.
Get ready to work hard
There is a considerable difference between hosting an Esports competition/show/event versus most other stuff. I’ve done MC work for big corporates, I did hosting gigs when I was still doing my radio stuff and you know what? It is nothing like that. You work ridiculously long hours. Most LAN events require that the broadcast team be there at 7:30am for sound checks before go lives at 9am. We keep that stream going till 9/10 at night (if not later). You need to be on the ball, always. Watching games and ensuring you know what is happening while also listening to the production staff running around pulling you in all different directions. On top of that, the truth is, in South Africa right now we don’t have the Esports fans watching the local content. So very often you need to go over and above to try get it seen by a small audience. It can be emotionally destroying to work so hard on something and just not see the eyeballs on screen or bums in the seats. It physically exhausts you and shatters you mentally. But, you just keep going. It gets better and it will get bigger (go read that first paragraph again and let that sink in).
You need to put your head down and grind. Not work smarter or faster or all that millennial BS they throw at you. Work harder. Bottom line.
Sometimes people aren’t going to like you and you’ll never understand why
People you have to work with. Industry peers. People watching the streams. Players. Team managers. Whatever. Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone is going to agree with you. Not everyone is going to understand what it is you do or why you do it. I’ve heard some horrific stuff said about me and that wasn’t even on streams but by people I’d worked with, people I considered ‘mates’. I’ve been ripped to shreds on a stream before. It happens. I’ve actually chatted about this in depth in a video I did with Axtremes where he asked me about all of this. Its long but I’m embedding it here any way. If you haven’t watched yet:
The truth is we can’t like everyone. The world would be boring. Does it suck when someone is mean to you for no apparent reason? Yes. Does it suck when people talk rubbish about you or try and remove opportunities for you? Yes. Does it suck when you get hate on the stream chats? Yes.
I’m pretty sure there is a life lesson in all of that but I’m actually not sure what it is yet. If you’re passionate about Esports (or whatever it is you do) put your head down and go back to step 2. That’s the best advice I have.
Bit of a soppy one for you. I’m not sure why I felt the need to write this. If you found it useful let me know in the comments below please? Might write more of these. Or not. I’m undecided.