The Long-Distance Duo

Being a caster was never a planned career move, it was more like: “Oh. Okay, I guess this is the thing I’m doing now.”

My journey started by chance one day when I went to play in a local tournament.

I’d taken the day off from the cafe I worked at to play in this League of Legends tournament that had been organized within the Oceanic community. Sadly, from my team, only I and our sub showed up, meaning I was left with no teammates and nothing to do.

At the time, an acquaintance of mine was streaming the games at the event and asked if I wanted to cast them. “Sure? Why not.”

I commentated from the support POV, on stream, for ten straight hours straight, casting the entire tournament. Of course, it was incredibly janky, we had no production or replays and I was casting most of the action based on what I could see on the minimap.

Thankfully, I was spectating the support player, so at least he looked around a lot; I could at least see what was happening… sort of.

I commentated that whole day, and at the end of the event, someone from the venue came up to me and said: “That was really great. We’d like to hear you cast more!”

So I started casting more and more local tournaments. There was a local ladder that had hundreds of teams active at any one time. They hosted their tournaments online and, even though the community was small, there was always content to cast because everyone was very passionate about the game.

I basically cast anything I could, and eventually, one of the tournament organizers told me that there was a casting organization called Gamestah that I should look into. I sent in an application, and once spectator mode was released, I was casting online ladder games 3-5 days a week.

After work at the video store, I went home and cast whatever games happened to be on at that time. I did that for about six months, collaborating with whatever League of Legends colour commentator was available at the time to do the games with me.

After almost a year of casting whatever I could lay my hands, some guy reached out to me on Skype. I knew who he was from my time competing within the Oceanic community, back then he was the jungler on the second best team in Australia.

He said that he was getting older and wasn’t really into playing competitively anymore, but that he was really getting into esports casting and wanted to try commentating alongside me. So we jumped into a game together and started blind commentating.

He was really good. His game knowledge was really high and he was very eloquent and intelligent, a well-spoken caster who cared deeply about the game.

From that moment onwards, I committed to being a casting duo with my new friend, PapaSmithy.

At the time I had what was basically a full-time job, and the hours weren’t always set. I usually worked weekends, but they were flexible enough that I could move things around for specific games or events.

PapaSmithy also had a full-time job on the other side of the continent, so we just had to make it work however we could.

We moved on from GameStar to a different organization called ESGN, and then later to ESL Australia. We started gaining recognition for the amount of work we were doing in our region, and Papa and I were eventually contacted by ESL Asia.

They explained that there were a bunch of Korean and Chinese tournaments on the open circuit – this was before the establishment of domestic leagues, and Australia was only an hour difference from each in time zones – so we started casting those regions, too: IEM qualifiers, B streams, anything that came our way.

At this point, we’d built up enough of a profile that we actually started getting noticed. PAX Australia was our first LAN together and was the first time Papa and I met in person, so it was a very special event for us.

After the event, Riot reached out to both of us and complimented us on our work, explaining that they were looking for more casters to join their team.

I had always loved the NA LCS.

I had started watching competitive League of Legends primarily by watching North American and European players. I knew all the competitors and all of the casters who worked the events.

By contrast, Papa always saw the LCK as what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go, given that it was the region with the cleanest strategic play.

By the end of that year, it was clear to both of us that casting was now a legitimate career option. We had no idea if it was going to work out, but we wanted to go esports full time if we could.

My eyes were set on North America, while Papasmithy was making forays into South Korea and the LCK.

Sure, PapaSmithy and I see each other a lot less now, but we do get chances to catch up on our respective journeys at international events like the Mid-Season Invitational and the World Championship.

To this day, our friendship is still more or less built around League of Legends, so I guess it’s not entirely surprising that nothing ever changes between us.

Even if we’re now working on different continents most of the year, we can always pick up right where we left off in Australia.

Image Credit: Riot Games

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