Friday, 2 December 2011

In Defense of Commentators

Any regular readers of my blog will automatically assume from this title that i'm about to embark on a sarcastic rant about how shitty esports casters are.  Well, sorry to disappoint you...

It's true, i do think that the vast, vast majoriy of esports commentators are overrated, talentless and noisy, but more and more i've realised that a lot of my disdain is based on things that aren't really their fault.  Watching the Casting Archon fall to pieces from exhaustion at Dreamhack made me almost feel sorry for people paid to talk about computer games for a living.  No, but seriously, 14 hours a day is as close to hard work as esports can be and I do have some sympathy.

More than that, though, I've realised that leagues just leave these guys out to dry all too often.  These guys aren't raconteurs, and they sure as hell aren't stand-up comedians, but MLG and GSL in particular just leave them to fill in the gaps between matches.  It's not really any surprise that their their pre/post-game banter is so infuriatingly tedious - as fascinating as Starcraft is, there is only so much you can say about an average game.

The opening ten minutes of the NASL finals (ignoring the HoN, because, really...) brought this home in the perfect way.  Gretorp is erm... (I'm trying to be generous to casters here, help me out) but watching him and Orb do Gollum impressions to fill the dead air was probably the nadir of esports commentary, and that's among some really stiff competition.  I couldn't believe what I was watching, and sure, you'd hope they could come up with something better, but the blame surely lies with NASL for putting them out there with no help.

NASL isn't the only league that puts its commentators in such a difficult position, it was merely the most recent and most horrific example.  These organisations have come on leaps and bounds in the past 18 months, but in terms of production value, they really need to step up their game.  Filling the between-game void is a problem that only IPL has really addressed.  GSL has tried in the past with the player bios they used to air, but more need to follow and improve upon IGN's lead.  Hearing about Catspajamas' gaming history - however highly I rate him as a caster - really only exacerbates the problem.  Still, it's better than nothing, and alongside the Top 10 countdowns, it's a decent platform for leagues to build on.

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