This blog will recap my experiences and adventures casting Starcraft II around the globe. We'll begin our journey from the comfort of my own home and see where the wind takes us from there -- from novice to pro, I will recap my feelings and reflections on everything.
The mission and goal: have fun, do our best, and figure out the riddle that is Starcraft II.
The GamersAbyss.com $100 Showmatch Series Event featuring LzGaMeR and HasHe turned out to be a really special event for me -- it marks the first event where I was actually independently sought out and contracted to cast! Woohoo!! I didn’t ever expect such a thing to occur, but fortunately the dates and times worked out and we ended up far exceeding everyone’s expectations.
Going into this event I was a bit nervous about the potential turnout, and I wasn’t the only one - Lz and HasHe aren’t the most well known pro-gamers in today’s scene, the marketing for the event was a bit all over the place, and to be frank: no one has ever heard of me! One reddit poster, in response to the tournament organizer’s announcement of the event, even went so far as to say,
“in 3 hours, player with no results vs player with no results casted by unknown_caster and hosted by unknown_organization GOOD JOB, THIS WILL DEFINITELY GET VIEWERS”
Well, allow me to be the first to officially let this asshole know that we averaged around 120 viewers for over three hours of total broadcast time and had over 800 unique visitors tune in to watch. These aren’t the most stellar numbers by any means, but it’s certainly a start, and we far exceeded any personal goals I had set for the broadcast beforehand.
With that being said, allow me to recap the event and give you all the juicy details of what was happening in my brain
Close your eyes, deep breath, exhale...
Open your eyes, 6:30pm -- Everything is ready. I spent the entire morning and afternoon perfecting the overlays, setting up the broadcast scenes, and preparing myself for my debut to the world. This event was different -- it wasn’t mine to own, but I felt like I needed to own it to make a solid impression. No one knows who I am - so there’s no pressure, right? Wait, maybe I’m wrong, maybe because they don’t know me, I actually have to make sure I do everything right - What if I miss drops? What if I can’t make a call on the zerg’s build? What if I just suck? Whoa, maybe there is a lot of pressure on me here...
Wait, we’ve been down this road before - there is no need to panic. You’ve casted three professional tournaments DOOM, this is ONE SHOWMATCH - you got this!! YOU GOT THIS!!
You got this, right?
Beer -- you like beer, right? You need to take the edge off my man, and you’ve got some time... let’s go!
Never close your eyes while driving...
6:45 -- I headed to my local liquor store to grab a 6 pack to celebrate my success after the cast - after all, visualizing success is one of the best ways to make it a reality.
One 6 pack of Brooklyn Summer Ale and 15 minutes later I was back home, still a bit shakey, but generally ready to go.
I decided to crack a bottle open and calm my nerves -- BK Summer Ale is only 5% in alcohol, damn delicious, and generally puts me in a great mood (I worked at SNL as an intern back in my college days, so for entertainers to have a beer or six before a performance is really no big deal to me -- sorry if this offends anyone, but it isn’t heavy machinery I’m operating here :D).
This moment in time was no exception -- as the minutes and my happiness began to speed up we were getting closer and closer to the LIVE broadcast.
Close your eyes, deep breath, exhale...
Open your eyes, 7:45pm -- for the first moment in my broadcasting life I felt incredibly calm -- I had done my homework on both players the entire week before, the broadcast scenes looked fantastic, and all staff were doing their job to get everyone in place to start the show.
Man, not being an admin has it’s perks! After rushing around to sort out tournament issues and account for players not showing up, this was like a walk in the park. Both players were on time, we were in the lobby, and there were 5 minutes to go until the first match.
7:58... 7:59... 8:00. “Ladies and Gentlemen - LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!! WELCOME TO!!”
We were live! Holy crap, WE WERE LIVE!
Fortunately, the entire morning consisted of fantastic Starcraft II action -- I had a lot to talk about to start the cast off and felt out my flow very, very quickly. I got a great opportunity to plug GamersAbyss’ talking points and from there we transitioned right into the countdown for our first match!
This was a pretty insane first game to cast -- as I mentioned before, I didn’t know what to expect at all from these two players, despite watching both of their streams frequently throughout the week (Was one going to be grossly better than the other? Was one going to cheese while the other macro’d?). Lucky for me, they both stuck to their typical styles (Lz is a solid, patient, macro player and Hashe is a solid, aggressive, macro player) and we were in for fireworks right from the start.
Pretty much every base is taken in this game and my multitasking is put to task IMMEDIATELY -- HasHe’s relentless harass and drops keep him in the game with swarm-style bio play and Lz takes base after base after base in an attempt to outlast his opponent and create his ultimate unit composition.
I was really excited to start this cast off and I think that is well-reflected in my voice throughout battles -- I feel like I do a solid job in this cast of feeling out each players play-style and defining how they each approach the matchup in general. Very happy with my camera work as well.
If you aren’t familiar with either of these players I highly suggest watching each part of the first game and reading on from there.
The first game actually took a lot out of me -- If you’ve got a keen eye you’ll notice I’m a little rattled at the start of the second game because I’m not used to changing all of the overlays, but more than anything else I was dumbfounded by the quality of the first game. Apparently no one thought these guys were going to be able to produce good games, but the first match of the series ended up being one of the best Starcraft II games I’d seen in a long, long time. HasHe’s style is so unique, and Lz’s ability to deal with such a rare playstyle is seriously reflected in his patience - we were watching some smart Starcraft, and I really wanted to make that known to all of the viewers on stream...
...the problem was: I couldn’t figure out what HasHe was trying to do! (apparently he was drunk, which now makes sense and is actually impressive as well!)
I resorted to talking about the features of the map and play-by-play to convey the emotion of the events that were occurring - Lz playing completely standard was a godsend, and the fact he was playing so well vs such a wild playstyle allowed me to figure out what was going on right alongside the viewer. HasHe gave us a lead, Lz would respond, and we had another great series of logical decisions and events.
This match is a nailbiter till the end -- a seriously good game and the ending may not be the one you expect!
Tied series, lightning and thunder in the background - this showmatch was getting wilder and wilder by the minute.
At 5:17 in the video, a bolt of lightning hits right outside, and this is where I first start to get worried that the stream may get killed at any point. I also begin to notice my tendency to nervously click around the map -- it isn’t as pronounced as it is in later games (as you will see), probably because the actual storm hadn’t ramped up to it’s full potential yet...
...and speaking of full potential, this game takes a much needed change of pace and we are treated to the first shakeup of the match!
My energy level seems to peak right at the start of this game, and as we begin to approach the mid game I start to fade a little bit - this may be due to the fact that Hashe started off with the same build for the fourth game in a row, and I noticed when you lead into the midgame the same way for a fourth game it starts to get a little tough to be original and keep everyone engaged.
I start to talk about some features of the map to fill space, and I think that is a good go to when stalling for time, but this is really where I need to start working on some fresh, entertaining methods of engaging with the audience.
Some patterns also begin to emerge with this game, and I think I make some pretty good calls. I do end up missing a crucial worker kill, but I’m still not really sure how!
I start to interact with the chat a bit in between this and Game 4, and that raises my spirits up - everyone was being so positive and enjoying the games, it was unexpected and awesome!!
My greatest fears are realized in this game though as you can see at the end of part 1 and the start of part 2 - all of the power in my house goes out and then everything comes back up. I only have a power strip keeping my PC up, so I still really have no idea how it stayed on, but I’ll be eternally thankful to whoever kept it alive for me for the rest of my life.
The sickest part about this is that right as the stream comes back up, ALL OF THE VIEWERS COME BACK -- such sweet confirmation of an enjoyable experience on the other end.
And really, seeing every come back really gets me hyped -- I start to dive into the game, and HasHe FINALLY switches up his opener.
The snowball effect hits huge in this game - we get some great action on a crappy map and the show goes on :D
At this point in the showmatch I’m riding on sheer adrenaline - the fact HasHe keeps it alive is pretty much the best thing that could happen - the fans were digging the games, the players were finding their grooves, and no one was ready to go home yet.
Additionally, the next map was: Metropolis!
Such a great game 6 map for these players considering it’s a macro-oriented map that allows for super epic stuff to occur -- these guys had already brought the epicness and we were already familiar with what they could bring to the table, so now was the point in the series where each of them had to prove to the audience that they could adapt to their opponent and crush face.
HasHe goes into beast mode, and the second best thing ever occurs at the end of the game!
Holy crap, talk about full potential - 6 sick games, over 150 people tuned into the stream, and nothing but positivity flowing from the chat.
We were going to a game 7 and it was time to see who was the best.
I thought this was the best game of the series, and the word “nuke” should be enough to get you to watch this game, but just in case that isn't enough I'll just go ahead and let you know this match has about 1,200 views right now on the sc2links.com twitch channel: http://www.twitch.tv/sc2links/b/326622399 I CAN CONFIRM -- this game is ridiculous.
I’ll refrain from my own comments here and add the analysis of one redditor who was kind enough to give me feedback:
“Couple of pointers: That constant camera movement at the beginning is very distracting. You're constantly bouncing back and forth between the two player's bases and boxing workers. If you want to select workers, just double click on them, it's less obtrusive to the audience than boxing them. I don't mind all of the predictions that you were calling, but some people might be put off when you're listing off every single possible build that the players may be going for. It's usually better to just point out what they are doing, and what it does for the player. For example, Hashe was going for reactored Hellions. It's a very common build, but why is it good? It's fast, gets you that map control because he knows that LzGamer doesn't have Zergling speed yet. Thus, it forces Zerg to play a lot more defensively than you normally would. What does this force the Zerg to do? Turtle even more? Risk trying to tech? He knows that Terran has map control and can easily expand. Try to convey that kind of feeling and tension between the players. As a caster, it's really less important what the build the players are using, but the in game decision making that influences these builds. We can't 'feel' the in-game tension, and we're counting on you to show us why it's so important. Overall, most of the cast was just a talk about what was going on. It's a decent cast, you've got a good voice and don't really trip up over any of the lines. And as a plus, you've got a good sense of humor that you toss in now and then. I'd like to see more of that in-game tension being translated through your cast, the "whys" of the players' decision because that's what gets me on the edge of my seat. As for the biggest improvement, it's most likely in terms of mini-map awareness. There were a couple of times when either players would scout something important, a 4th base, tech structures, or denying things (like the Hellions denying creep spread for soooo long until the Speedlings come out to chase them away). (As for specifics, I was wondering why you didn't really touch on the unit compositions. I, for one, was very confused why Broodlords kept coming into play with so many Vikings out. A transition to Ultralisks would have been perfect since so many of Terran's supply was in Vikings.)”
I agree with his assessment, and if you have any other comments feel free to let me know!
The full gauntlet of my casting capabilities were on display here. This was my favorite event to cast to date, and I’m proud to announce that GamersAbyss has asked me to cast all of their showmatch series events from now on!
Showmatches are definitely way easier to manage than tournaments, and it’s great to finally have one under my belt. This was a huge success and as I mentioned before, exceeded all expectations. It's also worth it to note that I don't have an attack of the 'ums' the entire broadcast (YAY)! I got a lot of positive feedback and enough constructive criticism to re-assess my casting strategy and hopefully my next event will be even stronger than this one.
As always, let me know what you thought of the games, the blog, and everything on your mind! Hope you all enjoyed the broadcast, and I’ll see you again at the next GG.
Tuned in for game 7 live and it did not disappoint. I don't have a lot of feedback for the actual casting, but it wasn't annoying, so you were doing something right. You smoothly plugged the sponsors/organizers as well, which came off as professional.
Why didn't LZ think to camp the production of T after the nuke? His strategy worked, but it seemed riskier to try to play whack-an-expo with broodlord/infestor while T remaxed, than simply pushing in and gutting the main with his vastly superior army. More broad strategic analysis might help, especially in lategame play like that. Spend more time explaining how players are trying to establish dominance, how well they're countering the opponent, identifying key locations or engagement tactics, and so on.