With the PGL Antwerp Major talent announcement, sparks are flying on Twitter about who’s in and who’s out. This always seemed to be the case in our game, where we could pack three different top-tier tournaments with elite casters at the same time, and it’s precisely the cause of all this kerfuffle.
The recent announcement of the Antwerp Major’s talent pool has confirmed what we’ve been expecting for a while. The Stockholm Major served as the send-off for the first generation of elite talent we’ve had in the CS:GO scene (and one last opportunity for them to experience what it’s like to perform the role of human duct tape in the middle of a catastrophically organized event), with the idea that we’d see a line change the next time around basically becoming the community’s prediction as soon as it’s been revealed that PGL somehow ended up with back-to-back Major hosting responsibilities.
Anyone who’s taken a gander at any other major esport’s tier 1 event broadcasts has immediately realized just how incredibly strong the talent pool is in the scene. Just from a technical point of things, the breadth and depth of excellence means that it’d be easily possible to organize three simultaneous top-tier CS:GO tournaments with an entirely different lineup (perhaps with the exception of observers), and that doesn’t even factor in the people who colonized other FPS scenes with the same sort of talent that saw them excel on Counter-Strike broadcasts.
This inevitably leads to a game of musical chairs when it comes to Major, and with that, an unavoidable does of drama, because the people who got this good at casting will inevitably have the sort of personality that doesn’t mesh well with these situations. These are strong personalities who weren’t afraid to push the boundaries of the traditional commentary role, facing down all the headwinds of this young industry and acing every test where others have fallen by the wayside.
With no Riot-like corporate entity to straitjacket them, we get memorable moments like Sadokist calling the Grand Slam-winning Astralis team “the best team of all fucking time” live on air, or, to look at the other side of the coin, James Bardolph’s “old boys’ club” sign-off after his last match at Stockholm. It was an unfortunate extension of the commentary he provided the game, most of these moments are illuminated by what’s going behind the scenes, the green room conversations we can never be truly privy to, and perhaps should therefore just ignore altogether.
This is also a part of why so many, especially the previous generation of top-tier casters, have established or ended up with the sort of persona that is getting more and more jarring with every passing day. Yes, persona, not personality: let’s not be naïve and pretend that the face reflected from the silver screen is the same they see when they look in the mirror. The broadcast talent’s job is to fit the role, to enhance the content, to, essentially, play a part. Their job is to get us to pay attention, and no one can get away with being vanilla in the ice cream factory that is the entertainment industry.
No, it’s the things they do when they think no one is watching, that reveal more, moments we rarely get to see and shouldn’t expect to. Like Sadokist’s blurted slur on a stream, that’s the real representation of the headstrong and assertive attitudes, the single-minded focus that blunts their takes on other aspects of the world that got these people to the top of their profession, with all the rough edges it brings.
Right now, it’s Semmler who cranked up the passive-aggressive dial on his reaction to the announcement of his absence: there have been others in the past and there will be others in the future.
Remember when stunna randomly decided to reveal… this?
Can you imagine this in any other industry? Sliding into DMs for a job offer, then tweeting out a lack of response later down the line, expecting… what?
That’s why it’s pointless to dislike people for a parade of hot takes on Twitter: it is the way they fulfill their role on the punditry side of things. Luckily, we can pick and choose what to engage with. It’s possible to watch Thorin’s videos and ignore his Twitter feed, to read Richard Lewis’ investigative exposés and not follow the rest of his output. For casters, it’s their casts that we love them for – the magic they bring to the broadcast. They are great enough at what they do for us to tune out the rest, politics and musical chairs included.