Seth “Achilios” King is a professional. A competitive eSports announcer, a.k.a. shoutcaster, he works mainly with League of Legends and Overwatch . You’ve heard his voice if you’ve watched LCK games over the last year or tuned in for IEM Gyeonggi for ESL.You may remember him from his hour and a half long cast with Montecristo, where the duo played hangman and did a live AMA on stream.
We spoke with Achilios about how you can break into the industry and eventually call yourself a professional shoutcaster.
You Never Know Where Your Start Will Be
Achilios got his start in shoutcasting in an unconventional way. Back in 2012, he took a car ride with five other people to PAX East in Boston. Sitting next to him was Andrew, also known as Zyori, who was a professional caster for Heroes Of Newerth , a MOBA that died out when League of Legends grew in popularity.
“(Zyrori) said ‘you have a good voice for broadcasting, have you ever considered shoutcasting since you are really into League of Legends ?’ Obviously the dream was me going pro, but that wasn’t going to happen since I was a Gold player,” Achilios said. “I had never put much thought into being a shoutcaster, but after talking with someone who was making his living shoutcasting, I realized it could be a realistic option.”
Zyori and Achilios started casting together for a tournament on OWN3D.TV (which no longer exists) called RaidCall To Arms. After his first professional cast, Achilios was hooked and wanted even more.
Take Any Chance To Shoutcast
If you want to be a professional shoutcaster, you are going to put in a ton of work. Taking every opportunity to practice is the only way to make it in this industry, Achilios explained. You can’t just cast once a month; it needs to be a serious dedication. If you want to be a professional you need to think professionally.
“Every time I would find a LoL tournament online, I would reach out and say ‘hey, this is what I’ve done, I’m really interested’ and then I would do it. That led me to getting my first paid gig, then to some higher profile work and ended up getting the LMS Seasonal Summer Finals in Taiwan and then Montecristo had seen that and when OGN needed a caster, he reached out to me.”
You Are Going To Need Some Luck
Achilios’ life changed after a fateful encounter with League of Legends and Overwatch shoutcaster, Montecristo. “I met Monte in Paris at the League of Legends World Championship two years ago,” Achilios said.” We talked very much in-depth, not about me joining OGN, but just about casting in general.” Achilios was working for TL who had contracted him out to work for Cloud9 at Worlds.
Achilios wouldn’t have been working for TL, if he hadn’t gone to the NA LCS as a fan and met Damien Estrada, Team Curses’ head of production. When Curse changed their name to TL and needed an extra hand on their video team, Estrada offered Achilios a job.
On a random night off from the TL video team, Achilios “went to this local karaoke bar where all the Rioters would hang out at in Santa Monica, about a mile away from their offices, to see if any of the guys were around. I was just sitting at the bar and I see that I have a DM from Montecristo that said ‘would you be interested in moving to Korea to start casting for OGN?’”
So if Achilios hadn’t gone to the NA LCS and joined TL’s video team, which brought him to Paris, which gave him an opportunity to talk to Montecristo, who saw him at a random karaoke bar in Santa Monica, he would never have been a professional caster. If you want to make it in showbiz, eSports or otherwise, you are going to need a lot of luck.
Game Knowledge Isn’t Everything
If you want to be a shoutcaster, you don’t need to be amazing at the games you talk about. “That’s a common misconception a lot of people have,” Achilios said. “It does depend on your role, if you are trying to be a color or play-by-play caster.” A play-by-play caster deconstructs the game: “and can just identify little micro interactions, like how someone is trading or gaining lane dominance, and can generalize about team compositions about what team compositions beats another.”
A color caster, who focuses less on the actual plays and more on the overall game, might need a bit more knowledge. Still, “as long as you study the game and have an analytical mind, you can understand the intricacies and understand them at the highest level, without being able to perform at the highest level,” Achilios said.
Speak Clearly And Make Sure You Can Be Understood
A shoutcaster is only as good as his or her voice. If nobody can understand you, how are they going to know what’s happening in the game? Achilios takes a more radio-style approach to shout casting, so if someone isn’t watching the games, they can understand what’s happening.
“You just have to be able to speak clearly and enunciate properly and be able to explain what’s happening, in a way that the viewers would understand,” Achilios said. ‘Your cadence, your vocal control, is extremely important. If your voice is cracking and it’s all over the place, then people can’t understand you. “
Controlling your voice over the progression of a 30- to 40-minute game can be hard, but it’s integral to being a good shoutcaster. “There needs to be a steady progression, a ramp up in your voice,” Achilios said. “Some people go zero to 100 in half a second and it’s over a very minor play. Or, a team fight starts that could go on for 15 to 40 seconds and they start off at 100, rather than gradually building up, letting the damage and the kills come through. If they popped a Zhonya’s or a teleport is coming in from the backline, your voice has to come in and match it.”
Since you can’t control the flow of the game you must control the viewer’s perception of what’s happening on screen. “Some people just want to go straight to the highest pitch and then if there’s a disengage and the viewer is left wondering why that was supposed to be exciting,” Achilios said. “You have to know the pacing of these fights, you can’t just dive into high-octane mode.”
Get Feedback From Career Casters
In order to become a professional shoutcaster, you are going to need more than just a good voice and ability names memorized. “If you want this to be a career, it’s really something you have to work on and you have to ask others for help,” Achilios said. “One thing I always did was, I’d go out of my way to ask people higher up on the food chain for feedback.” Achilios is pretty open about offering feedback for those that ask, “if they are dedicated to shoutcasting.”
Try doing a few VOD reviews of previously broadcast games, which you can find here, and apply your own commentary. “There are so many good career casters that can work for years, if there is going to be new talent coming in and break into the scene, they have to talk to the people that are already there,” he said. “Those are the people that have set the stage for what casting is in eSports, people know what they want to hear.”