League of Legends

PiraTechnics: “Amateur casters have to bring more than just commentary”

Shortly after Worlds 2018, Devin “PiraTechnics” Younge announced his departure from the then European League of Legends Championship Series. Younge mentioned that he wanted to try his hand at freelancing and soon announced he’d be co-casting the Rules of Survival South East Asian Finals with Matthew “Fish” Stewart. Since then, PiraTechincs has announced he’ll be part of the Oceanic Pro League’s Spring 2019 Split.

Amanda Stevens caught up with PiraTechnics during the offseason to talk about leaving LEC, casting battle royale games, and the state of amateur esports commentary.

Credit: lolesports

You recently announced that you’ll be working with the Oceanic Pro League for the Spring 2019 Split. Why the change of scenery from Berlin and LEC to an emerging region?

I want to clear up the notion that I transferred regions. I left the League of Legends European Championship to try out other games and to generally go freelance. While doing so I was approached by the OPL as they had a need for on-air talent for 2019, and having worked with them over the previous summer (and enjoying it a lot) I decided to give one split over there a go.

I sort of left and returned to League pretty quickly. I am not planning on doing League casting forever, nor exclusively. But the OPL represented a good opportunity to do something that was both new and familiar. With regards to LEC, the possibility still exists for me to do some work with them in the future.

Speaking of trying new games – you recently shoutcasted the Rules of Survival South East Asia Finals with Matthew “Fish” Stewart. How did that happen and what was it like casting a battle royale mobile game?

Well, back when I was planning my move to freelance, I got word that Fish was working on Rules of Survival out in China. Being friends and former colleagues, we spoke a decent bit, and mutually discussed the possibility of my working with him on that league. I decided it would be a good first step and accepted an offer for a few months of work on the RoS global series.

Battle Royale games are super interesting. Prior to working on one, I didn’t know much about the genre other than the goofy Fortnite dances, but as I began researching the game and the esports around battle royales in general, I started to understand the appeal. 100 players, slowly whittled down in a non-stop barrage of outplays and misplays, until only the best are left in final, desperate shootouts. Multiple games that mean you need to be consistently putting out top performances to place highly. It’s a very different pace and different kind of excitement, but I’m loving it!

Where there any unique challenges to switching game genres as a commentator?

Pacing is the obvious one. Different types of games follow different patterns, and it was certainly a big change to unlearn the pacing I’d relied on for League. Understanding the game and it’s variables, important stats, that kind of thing, took some adjustment. But the pleasant surprise came in that Battle Royales are much more intuitive than MOBAs.

There’s a more obvious sense of what to look for, what is important in a moment, etc, as the genre is a bit closer to reality (similar to FPS games like CS:GO) than a fantasy-based MOBA like League. But I imagine it would be harder to switch titles as a colour commentator, vs a play-by-play like me. My job is still essentially the same: Get the audience excited for a match, and guide them through what happens. Whereas a colour commentator would need to provide a lot of in-depth analysis that comes from a much more careful study of the game and the scene.

After having commentated a game like Rules of Survival, do you have any interest in trying to get into Fortnite or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds?

Well, they are both especially intriguing titles, and both are enjoying a good amount of spotlight. So while I won’t say exactly what I’ve got planned right now, I won’t rule anything out either. But suffice it to say I’ve got an eye on each.

Credit: lolesports

The amateur casting scene, especially for League of Legends, has changed immensely from when you started. Do you worry about the next generation at all?

I think this industry will always be trying, and nothing is ever certain. While I fervently believe anyone can make it, everyone will not. Fact is, most people will fail, or not be able to do what needs to be done, or simply can’t keep up the hustle. I was very fortunate in that I had a decent fallback: I was already finished with school, had a degree, and some real-world experience. I think all three count for a lot, for trying to make any kind of big career shift.

Yes, the playing field has shifted in a lot of ways. In LoL specifically, there are fewer non-broadcasted leagues, and far less third-party tournaments than there used to be. To stand out, amateur casters have to bring more than just commentary. I think those that diversify their skillsets, learn some basic production, and craft a memorable overall experience in running an event stream will be rewarded by the community, and get the attention of tournament organisers. This is true of any esport, but it’s essential in LoL these days.

Do I worry about the next generation? Not especially, but I do acknowledge that in many ways, they have to do a lot more to break into the scene than I did. That’s the nature of this business, though; things change, and those who adapt best will reap the rewards. On the other hand, there are also a lot more tools and learning resources out there to do exactly the sort of things that are needed to stand out.

So essentially, it all boils down to the same basic premise as when I was coming up: put in enough effort, and work towards putting yourself into the right place long enough, that when the right time comes along, you’ll be ready to grab it.

You said you had interest in trying other games. We’ve touched on the battle royale genre, but do you have your eyes on any other scenes? Maybe Overwatch or fighting games, for example?

I definitely want to stretch out and see what other games I can find a space in. As far as Blizzard titles go, I’m actually super into Hearthstone and would love to do some work in that scene. Other games and genres that I could see myself doing in the future? I definitely like what Psyonix is doing with Rocket League at the moment, and I’d like to take some more time to check out up and comers like Brawlstars.

As for the FGC? To be honest it is kind of intimidating. So, I haven’t really taken too much time to think on that corner of esports.

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