Dignitas.net got a chance to catch up with ESLś caster Ubershouts Ubershouts has become one of the prominent casters in Overwatch and its a pleasure to hear him cast the game. He was a caster at the ESL Atlantic Showdown.Here is the interview that Team Dignitas website has done with Ubershouts.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, when did your love of video games begin?
UberShouts: Hi, I’m Mitch – I am a 24 year old Australian ex-pat living in Cologne, Germany! I am a bass player and a fitness nut with an Aerospace Engineering degree that I have no intention of using! My first game as a child was Pokemon Blue, released when I was 5. That, along with the old Dragon Warrior games, had me hooked. I didn’t start playing competitive FPS until I was 15, with UT ‘99.
How did you get started as a Professional ESL Caster and Commentator?
UberShouts: When I graduated high school, I was (somehow) putting about 40 hours per week into Call of Duty 4, taking the game quite seriously in the competitive sense. As university loomed however, I realized that I wouldn’t have time to juggle the two, so I decided to jump into some radio casting for COD4 for a couple of hours on weeknights. Before long this became regular and I branched into other games and other roles, namely as a stage host. Whilst working on a World of Tanks show at a gaming expo in Melbourne, I was noticed by an ESL employee who then had me travelling every few months to Europe to host the Wargaming League finals. Eventually, ESL asked me to relocate and since being here, I have cast about 6 different games and hosted numerous different shows ranging from fan festivals to Esports tournaments.
ESL has already orchestrated some fantastic professional Overwatch tournaments, such as the Atlantic Showdown. What have been some of your favorite Overwatch matches to cast thus far?
UberShouts: There have been a few classic matches for me already in Overwatch, but to date, the Semifinal between Rogue and EnVyUs at the Atlantic Showdown will go down for me as a perpetual favorite. Envy were 57-0 in official matches or something silly like that and Rogue took them to 5 maps, finally upsetting the previous titans with a clutch victory. Another favorite match for mine would be Fnatic vs Cloud9 in the Atlantic Showdown Qualifiers. Fnatic started off winning the first two maps but the determination that C9 showed to drag the match to a reverse sweep is the stuff that champions are made of. Some incredible mechanics were on show!
How do you prepare before casting?
UberShouts: Extensively. I definitely consider myself a preparation-heavy caster. A lot of my job centers around developing and reinforcing storylines, so I want to know all of the details, right down to what the players ate for breakfast on match day. I handwrite multiple pages of notes, talking points, and stats in the leadup to an event, and then transcribe the important details over onto a separate ‘spotting board’ for clarity. I do my best to spend time with players when I can, just to have a general conversation about them. Getting them off camera over a beverage or just a relaxed moment, gives a commentator so much more insight and ammunition than hearing the same standard Esports interview answers that players give. Forging a strong relationship with players is important to me. We are all working together, and I want people to see and to know why these are remarkable individuals. This is easier to do if I know them myself.
Because my style takes quite a toll on the vocal cords, I am often fairly quiet and reserved before big games. My three internal buzzwords as a caster are focus, clarity and passion.
When you are casting a live event, what are some important aspects to focus on while you are analyzing a match?
UberShouts: While analysis isn’t my main role, I will try and weave in as much conversational storytelling and observational humor as possible. I will generally let my analyst (usually Jason [Kaplan]) talk about the nitty gritty because during the fights I am usually kept busy keeping a good flow to my commentary and making sure I catch the important actions that occur.
At a live event, I play off of the crowd to a great degree. Often I commentate TO them, and not just yell at a screen if I don’t have to watch it. This helps me personalize the experience, make what I am saying more relatable, and constantly locate myself in the room amongst the intense action happening in game.
How has your experience been with the professional Overwatch scene so far?
UberShouts: So far, it has been a pretty good scene to be a part of. Most of the players have been around competitive gaming for quite some time, so they generally know how to conduct themselves. If you spend any time in the pro Overwatch discord channels, you will learn very quickly that OW pros collectively share a wicked sense of humour, and are also not afraid to make their voices heard if they are not satisfied with how anything is being run or communicated. Generally, I have enjoyed getting to know a lot of pro players especially in Europe. The TakeOver tournament was a fantastic chance to get to know some top players and I have already been lucky enough to forge some strong friendships.
What do you think makes professional gaming so enthralling for a viewer, and what makes Overwatch especially exciting?
UberShouts: The attraction of professional gaming to gamers is not dissimilar to that of traditional sports to the sports fanatic. Everyone loves a good story and Esports personalities have very strong platforms to express themelves and build brands and [a] following. As a result, a lot of people tend to follow individual teams and players even more than the game in general, which is why many gamers enjoy watching many different Esports.
Overwatch as a game is high-octane, unpredictable and at the top level, filled with skillful nuances that are often not visible to the untrained eye. It is a game that will keep you on the edge of your seat with excitement… if you can follow what is going on. Our biggest challenge right now is to work on making pro-level Overwatch matches accessible and relatable to the casual player, as it can often be very frenetic and chaotic.
As a professional Caster, what pro Overwatch team has stood out to you the most and why?
UberShouts: Rogue. They have no regard for the ‘order of things’ – frankly they just don’t give a sh*t. No one really pegged them as a genuine contender at Gamescom given previous online struggles, but they weren’t afraid to take EnvyUs out of their comfort zone and looked a cut above Reunited in the Final. Despite being underdogs, despite criticism from the community, Rogue walked in without a care in the world and secured the second ever LAN title in Europe, already having won the first in Krefeld earlier in the year. The players are easy to talk to and always willing to help a caster who wants to learn more about them. They don’t take themselves too seriously, but know what is required of themselves in the important matches. Top lads.
Being so familiar with the pro Overwatch scene, if a pro team is considered an underdog, what are some game elements that they can use in their favor?
UberShouts: When we see underdog teams pull out victories, these usually come from unpredictable factors. For example, Rogue picked two Assault maps against Envy at Gamescom, knowing that the all-star NA lineup had been spending most of their time on the more standard Payload and King of The Hill maps. Also, upsets can originate from key individual performances. Fnatic Buds had a breakout performance at Gamescom, enabling Fnatic to dispatch EU’s #1 team, Misfits, on two separate occasions.
From a Caster’s perspective, when a pro team is in map selection, what are some key elements to take into consideration?
UberShouts: The history of the players is important, or at least it was early on in Overwatch. Teams like ANOX (before picking up 3 ex-TF2 players) were predominantly from Quake, where we conjectured that this would cause them to favor King of the Hill maps. We were generally right, but now we often refer to a team’s past results on a particular map. For example, Reunited are one of the few teams who pick Numbani and (previously) Route 66, so we often refer to their specific preference towards these maps. For Rogue, it is Assault maps. For Fnatic, we always look at Dorado as a strong map for them. If you do your homework, you will be able to spot some trends to refer to during map selection.
When you see that a pro team is struggling on a particular map, what do you think factors into this?
UberShouts: There are a few reasons that we see top teams struggle on some maps. For some, it is simply a lack of practice. For some teams, they are encountering unexpected tactics from their opponents and are having issues coming up with a way to counter this. Overwatch is a game of adaptation and it is important to be prepared to change team composition or general approach to accomodate for changes in gamestate. Some teams struggle with this fact purely due to stubbornness or overconfidence, although this case is becoming increasingly rare.
How will new maps, such as Eichenwalde, affect the pro scene?
UberShouts: Generally speaking, Pro players have a tendency to get right down to business when stratting new maps. This diagram is more of a joke from Reinforce, but still shows that Rogue wasted no time in putting the new map under the microscope. However, it usually takes some time before we see these maps picked, as playing them can be a risk for teams who are not completely well drilled on them. We will see newer maps surface a few weeks at least after inception, chosen by particularly astute teams (Reunited as an example) who want a new pocket pick to take opponents by surprise.
How, from your perspective, has the pro Overwatch scene grown?
UberShouts: Quicker than many other scenes, given the clear potential that the game had on release. This has been a curious process as the scene quickly became saturated by tournaments from companies looking to get in early. This has resulted in some less than ideal tournament organization, but the players have been patient and forthcoming with feedback, helping the scene develop in a robust manner despite the blistering pace.
What are some of the most vital hero choices in the pro scene right now?
UberShouts: Zenyatta’s Transcendence is essential in nullifying the combo potential of opponents while his discord orb helps keep tanks honest. Zarya is a vital component of the aforementioned combo, and Reinhardt’s ability to allow teams to advance through poke damage is essential. That being said, we are witnessing a meta that is highly map dependent and also quite diverse. The triple tank, triple support combo is currently the strongest composition and teams are still trying to figure how to get around this Ana-powered ball of death.
And finally, who is your personal favorite hero and why?
UberShouts: I love McCree – even when his Fan The Hammer was ridiculously overpowered, I took great satisfaction in honing my accuracy for devastating left-click potential. He is immensely satisfying to play from both short and medium range, and nothing makes me happier than headshot-killing a stunned Tracer or Genji.