The Esports Commentator Guide
Esports commentary is a “new fad” of the 21st century, developed from classic sports such as soccer, tennis, rugby and many other world-wide sports.
In essence, a gamer-nerd will sit at his/her desk shouting about scenarios being played in a virtual reality, in front of a live audience. Sounds great, right?
But for any of you out there that don’t understand what an “Esports commentator” is, how to become one, and the advantages/disadvantages of being one are, all of that will be explained in this article.
As I said, an Esports commentator is essentially very similar to a sports commentator, however in my opinion, there is a lot more shouting involved as the personality is destined with the task of “hyping up” the chat or crowd, which gives such a better atmosphere to the game.
To any budding Esports fans out there, it’s really not too difficult to start commentating in any video game, whether that be Counter-Stike, League of Legends and even PLAYERUNKNOWN’S Battlegrounds, which is starting to become massively popular in the tournament scene.
Production value and first impressions
If you want to make the right impression whilst commentating, you need your live-stream to look good, both on and offline. Your graphics need to be subtle but eye-catching and your production quality needs to be crisp, but doesn’t need to be over-the-top and crammed with replays and LAN cameras. Leave that to the bigger events.
Computers & Equipment
The most essential part of commentating for me is being able to provide the best quality, and to do so, you need a good computer and a good microphone. Here is a PC build I constructed that would be great for live-streaming Counter-Strike:
i7–7700K CPU (http://amzn.to/2vdCpjf)
16GB DDR4 HyperX RAM @ 2400MHz (http://amzn.to/2vdWTZw)
MSI Z270 Pro Motherboard (LGA1151) (http://amzn.to/2uaC6sG)
MSI GTX 1060 Graphics Card (6GB DDR5 Memory) (http://amzn.to/2tJraBz)
Corsair 750W Power Supply (http://amzn.to/2tfDaai)
Any Full ATX PC Case
Any SSD combined with a HDD
Water Cooling is a personal choice
That PC build will give you enough power to live-stream your game and get a good frame-rate to stream at 60fps.
As well as a good computer, you also need a good microphone. A simple USB, plug and play option is the Blue Yeti.
Once you have your equipment raring to go, you’re going to need a streaming software. OBS Studio is the easiest to set up, and it’s also free! There are lots of in-depth tutorials online, showing you the best settings to use, although I may release a guide on the best settings later this week.
Your working options and where to stream
Now that you’ve set your stream up, you need to decide whether you want to work for a company and take commentating seriously, or whether you just want to do it casually. If the first is your option, you need to gather a decent portfolio to send to the company you want to work for, or if you’re just casually commentating, then you can set up your own Twitch channel to do so. It’s very easy to get your livestream listed on HLTV.org, all you have to do is contact one of the site admins and they will assist you in setting up your livestream on their site.
Commentary & Different Situations
Now let’s dive in to some of the more intricate aspects of commentating. As a commentator, your job is to provide knowledge to the audience regarding the scenarios taking place in the game. It is essential, in my opinion, for you to have a thorough understanding of the game you are commentating, as without it, you may not be able to provide important information that could be vital. Not to mention it just sounds awkward.
The atmosphere is a big part of the show. If your voice isn’t animated and you’r not sounded excited yourself, you’re going to send the chat into a deep sleep. Literally. Now I’m not saying SHOUT ALL THE TIME, IN EVERY SITUATION, but learn when to raise your voice and when to keep it quiet. For example, the world’s best CS:GO player is in the middle of pulling off a 1vs5 clutch. This is a good time to RAISE YOUR VOICE. However for casual commentary, at the start of rounds and during standard plays, just talk in your regular volume.
Distractions & Solutions
One thing that can distract a commentator, when working for events that have sponsors, is trying to manage the livestream, the commentary and the sponsorship adverts that are required to be played during the breaks and pauses of a match. I, myself, have been in situations where I have completely forgotten to run adverts. I suggest potentially investing into the new “Elgato Stream Deck” that has a lot of hotkeys that can be assigned to perform any task. This would be good for mapping out your sponsor videos, or even anything else, including muting and unmuting your microphone.
Knowing How To Improve
Being a commentator is one thing, but becoming the best in the industry is completely different. To be one of the best commentators in the Esports industry you need to know how to improve. There’s no benefit in commentating in one same style throughout your whole career if you don’t impress those who could potentially hire you, and you don’t put on a good show for the audience.
“Putting on a good show” can be done in many different ways. Personally, I like to be a more “chatty” commentator, and involve the chat, however others may not like this. That is absolutely fine. In the early stages of commentating, you get a feel for you own style.
However your own style can always be improved. For example, if you’re commentating on a Twitch channel, a few days after that livestream, go and watch the video back, with a pen and a notepad, and write down the things you’re not happy with, and how you can look to improve these aspects. If you know how to improve yourself, you’ll spot those mistakes mid-stream and know how to change them quicker.
Events & Signings
One of the things I noticed about commentating as a personality, and not a freelancer, is the amount of attention I was receiving from agencies who wanted to get me on board and work for them. Within a week of being listed on HLTV, I was receiving emails, Twitter DMs and Skype messages from CEOs and Talent Managers asking for me to work for them. I was truly amazed. No, this is not a bragging session. I’m telling you how simple it is to be recognized in the industry.
However you do need to be cautious when accepting events and working for other companies. One aspect of working as a freelancer is being paid. I suggest setting up a dedicated PayPal account, away from your personal spending activity, in which all of your payments from agencies go into when you’ve worked for them. This alleviates any issue of missed payments, wrong amounts and other payment issues.
As well as this, you need to make sure you don’t cram your workload. Don’t accept 3 or 4 events that run at the same time as each other, as you’ll find yourself burning out very quickly, or worse — not being able to stream one event as you’re already live with another.
I always ask for a complete schedule before considering an online event.
However if it is a LAN invitation that you have received, make sure to check the Visa rules regarding that country, and ensure you check each and every single detail of the trip, including your hotel, travel, food and money, as you could be left stranded in a foreign country with no idea what you’re doing.
If there is anything I have missed out, I will most likely write a follow-up article to this one. If there is anything you would specifically like me to write about, feel free to let me know on Twitter — https://www.twitter.com/KieranTheCaster.
Thank you for reading.