interview

In the off season where the casters are not in high demand, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to extract some advice and learn about their humble beginnings.

Tom ‘Trìdd’ Underwood, Play-by-play Caster

How did you get into casting?

It was something I was always interested in doing. Back when I met Derry (Dezachu) who was the chairman of the De Montfort League of Legends Society we decided we were going to a varsity match between Leicester and De Montfort. We had the university production teams stream the event. Myself and Derry casted the game. That was the first game I ever casted. At that point I knew I wanted to get myself further into the scene so I contacted the NUEL and they took me on. At this point I think I have about twelve games under my belt so I’m fairly inexperienced.

I have been following League of Legends since the Season Two world championship. At the time I had quite a few friends saying that I should try watching and playing League so I watched the world championships. After that I was hooked.

Have you got a favourite game from the Summer Tournament?

In the Summer Wildcard Tournament the team ‘Droolio and the Gang’ ran a five man teleport team. Myself and Dezachu assumed they were trolling but at the twenty minute mark they all did a sneaky play where they all used teleport on a ward in Baron pit placed by the jungler to get a twenty minute baron. Watching them do it had me cracking up. It was definitely a standout game from the tournament.

What are you favourite champions to cast?

There are two types of champions I like to cast. There are ones with high impact ultimates which can have a game changing effect like an Orianna or Annie. The other type is high mobility champions, champions with lots of dashes. I like this because as a Caster I enjoy trying to keep up with them and explain what they are doing.

What advice would you give to an aspiring play-by-play caster?

It can be very daunting when starting off to do a solo cast. I personally dislike doing solo casts as a game consists of more than just play-by-play. So what I would recommend is that they should grab a friend who can fill as a colour caster, which would also be great practise for them, and just cast over a high elo game to ease yourself into it. In the past I have done a lot of customer facing jobs and have been using my voice a lot. Being well spoken is very important and will help a great deal.

Do you ever cast your own games?

I don’t think I am at the point where I can play a game and cast it at the same time, but when I die and I’m playing with friends I will cast the rest of the team fight as a joke. They really enjoy that.

What is the origin of your IGN?

Long story, but i’ll give it a shot.
So when I played other games with friends, we played SWAT4. We decided to wanted our names to have a military rank and then add something else. Mine was Lt Riddler. Which was a dig at one of our friends who would get mad and ask really obscure questions. We then started using teamspeak and the text-to-speech pronounced the name as ‘El Triddler’. That sounded spanish so my name became ‘El Triddlador’. It then got shortened to ‘Tridd’, ‘Tridd’ was taken so it became the accented ‘ì’ instead.


Elie ‘Scaredcrow’ Besse, Colour caster

How did you get into casting?

It was around last years worlds. I had just begun to get into the League of Legends scene, more specifically the esports scene and it was also during a time period where I was trying to figure out what it was that I wanted to do with my life. I’d always had this side dream of being an entertainer and utilise my ability to talk for a long time. I thought casting seemed like an interesting opportunity because I could help people learn and be an entertainer. So I thought, ‘People seem to really enjoy casting, maybe I will’. I then did a lot of solo casting of some of challenger games for the promotion tournaments. I had a lot of fun and I realised that I was really getting into it so I decided to take it further so I joined the NUEL. I would love to do casting as a job, not just for League of Legends, because it’s something I can really connect with and something I can really get into.

As a colour caster, what preparations do you do before the game?

I’ll put almost an hour per team into looking up their league profiles, what champions they have been playing and compositions they have been running. I also try to find out the things that you can’t find on OP.GG like their record against past teams. The other part of preparation is knowledge of the meta. That involves reading and watching everyday, keeping track of what’s being played and why it is being played. Knowing what people are playing is far less important than the knowledge of why it’s being played. Sometimes I get this knowledge from scouring Reddit but mostly it’s from websites like Oracle’s Elixir who do in-depth articles on elements of the game. An example would be an article they did on Teleport in the mid lane which provides me with the knowledge to explain to the audience why Teleport would be run in the mid lane. Often I put together a document about the teams we will cast for myself and the other casters that shows the information I have gathered.

What are your favourite champions to cast?

As an analyst I do rant a lot about vision. It may be super tedious, but it is super important and it’s a part of the game I really enjoy. Once a player has vision the play making around is very entertaining. Personally I like Thresh because he has the ability to really utilise vision. A really good Thresh isn’t just impressive in lane, using vision he can put a lot of pressure on the enemy team all over the map. The champions that I really enjoy watching are ones that have very precise positioning who really need to setup their own cc chains and peel for their carries. Kits that have a lot of decision making in them. Jungle and Support, the main shot calling roles, tend to be the champions I enjoy talking over.

Does a large knowledge base as a caster translate to success in game?

To some extent yes. Mechanically I have never been a top player due to not playing the game a huge amount. There are a few champions which I have good mechanical skill on but my decision making skills which I learned from commentating are wasted when you don’t have a team to follow up on them. In solo queue it’s not something that can help you climb anymore than raw mechanics, which are better for climbing, but in a 5 v 5 ranked match where I am the shot caller it helps a lot because people back up my calls.

What advice would you give to an aspiring colour caster?

When you want to get into colour casting you will have to solo cast for a while; get the knowledge down; know what you need to talk about; how to analyse the actual game. The next step is to take it to a duo level where you need to find a partner. I think working on this is a big step to becoming a good caster. If you only have the knowledge but don’t say it in the cast it’s not worth anything. So working on that I think is very important. More often than not the best way to improve is practise. Sometimes just watching a game and really listening to the casting, not just the words but the way they are talking as well.

What is the origin of your IGN?

It comes from people associating my old nicknames as a Pumpkin (I liked Orange, Cosplayed as Pumpkin Jack) and me seeing the Halloween Fiddlesticks skin prior to anything, which got me the name Scarecrow + a few changes to make it available.


Derry ‘Dezachu’ Holt, Flex Caster

How did you get into casting?

I got into casting off a whim really. The NUEL were looking for more casters so I sent in an application and was accepted. There was another guy called Synygy in the NUEL and at the same time he jumped over to casting so we ended up casting most of the games together. When I joined university in the first year I had just gotten into playing league. When I was leaving one of my lectures me and my friends were talking about league and a guy behind us said “Oh are you talking about league, what rank are you?” I said I was Silver V which I was dead proud of at the time, so asked what rank he was and he said “I’m Diamond III” and I was like “Oh…”. He then told us that he was competing in the NUEL and explained what it was. From then on we tried to field a few teams for the NUEL, which at the time only had 16-17 teams. We did pretty well with our team staying in the Super 8 (top 8 teams) for a while. Since then I have managed to get myself up to a Diamond/Platinum level and I have been around since the NUEL started growing. Looking back I find it strange that I only knew about the NUEL due to a chance meeting after a lecture.

Do you have any highlights from the Summer Tournament?

There was one game where it was a really one sided affair. There was a Tristana on the team that was getting stomped, the scoreline was something like 17-4 in kills. Then miraculously there was a teamfight where the Tristana got a Penta Kill which was really hype. That was probably one of the most amazing moments to be sat casting over.

What are your favourite champions to cast?

Generally ones that can make really flashy plays. When doing play-by-play anyone who can pull off something really unexpected or something really mechanically complex is great to cast. Arguably the two greatest moments in League of Legends history, xPeke’s backdoor and the Faker Zed vs Ryu Zed outplay, are both on champions that have a high skill cap. When someone is successful in a huge outplay that turns the game, those are the moments I remember, that really stick out for me.

What advice would you give to an aspiring caster?

I think it’s really easy to watch casters and think ‘All they’re really doing is explaining what’s going on on the screen, I can’t be that hard’. But if you pull anyone into a casting scenario and tell them to cast they will probably not be able to get into it immediately. You need a few hours to get used to being in the position. It’s a lot harder than it looks. Grab a friend, give each other feedback, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Also looking at other casters and seeing what you like and dislike about their casting is important. Then try to incorporate that into your own casting. When you are ready just make a VOD, stick it on reddit and ask for feedback. You will find people are more than ready to give feedback. Casting certainly didn’t come naturally to me . At the start I was a bit rough around the edges. As I have had the chance to cast most Sunday’s it has definitely improved over time.

What is the origin of your IGN?

Well ‘Dez’ is a common nickname for people called Derry which I thought was pretty cool. One of my dad’s friends saw me playing Pokemon Yellow when I was about 7 and said “Oh whatcha doin’ Dezachu?” (Connecting Dez with Pikachu, the starter Pokemon from the Yellow). From there I thought it was actually quite a cool and unique username. When my dad told him that from then on I had been using it as my online name he couldn’t believe it.