26 Oct 2021
Esports has become a worldwide phenomenon in recent years. Just how big is the industry? Analysts project esports revenue to surpass USD1 billion in 2021, which is more than a 14% growth from last year’s USD947.1 million revenue.
When Jenny, who goes by the handle “Reirachu” online, first told her family and friends that she was pursuing a career in esports shoutcasting, everyone thought she was crazy. Seven years later, she’s still standing strong and has made a name for herself in the esports scene.
Just like any sports commentating role, there is a lot of prep work that goes into being the voice of the match. What you see and hear on-screen is just a fraction of what’s required for the job — you also need to have skills, flair and wits to be at the top of your game.
Performing at her best — making sure her next broadcast is better than the last — is what drives Jenny in her unconventional career, a trait she shares with Audi’s concept of Living Progress which entails having the spirit to push boundaries.
She shares her journey with us, how she has progressed in her career and some tips on how to always bring your A-game.
I got a degree in architecture and was working as a trainee architect in a local firm but a tailbone injury left me bedridden for two months. During that time, I watched a lot of esports games and became really interested in what was then a much smaller esports scene.
When I recovered, I booked a one-way ticket to Korea where I ended up staying for two months watching esports games live and meeting industry people.
When I returned to Singapore, I wanted to make a career in esports, so I applied to be a shoutcaster with Garena, a homegrown online game and social platform, and made it through all the audition rounds. I started shoutcasting the Southeast Asian League of Legends Circuit (Garena Premier League), and a few years later also started hosting esports events. I gave myself two years to make it in esports. I was very fortunate to get picked up by big names like Garena and LGD Gaming early in my career and I haven’t looked back since.
When I started in 2014, the advice from my seniors in the industry was to use traditional sports commentating as reference. The only difference is we’re doing it over professional esports games.
My pre-game research includes watching the teams’ or players’ recent matches, checking their latest ranked game history, and reading up on new game patch and meta changes. All these help me craft storylines and narratives during the broadcast.
Most shoutcasters also play a lot of the games we cast, especially when new maps or characters are released, so we understand the mechanics — I’ve been playing League of Legends for about eight years.
You need to have a strong command of English and you also have to be quick on your feet to come up with jokes and to adapt to what’s happening during a game. I also think being entertaining is key. A lot of people start out just “talking” about the game, instead of presenting what’s going on in an entertaining way.
For example, saying “He’s hiding in the bush, he uses his flash, he follows up with the kick, and that’s the kill!” is boring, but saying “Ooh, he’s been in that bush a long time, is it going to pay off? WAIT! WHAT WAS THAT FLASH?? He lands the kick, gets the stun and that’s an easy kill in the bag!” is what will keep people watching.
In esports, I’d say that most players and talents have the ultimate goal of qualifying for that year’s World Championships and winning, and shoutcasters want to be invited to the World’s broadcast.
But this idea of wanting to be the best at your job also means that you’re always comparing yourself to your peers. I use this to drive and push myself to get better with every broadcast, and never counting on just my reputation or past body of work to get hired. I do a lot of prep work, and also watch a lot of my past broadcasts to review what I could have done better.
I’ve taken part in a few all-female gaming tournaments and show matches in the past. I’ve also gotten to know a lot of pro players across various game titles and genres — the thing they all have in common is that they practice a lot.
But as with all sports, you can’t just train your way to the Olympics, you need the necessary skills and talent to get you to the top. In esports, it’s important to have fast reflexes, good split-second decision-making skills, and a good mentality of not blaming your team after a loss.
That esports is mostly just fun and games, and that those in the field just play or watch games for a living. Pro gamers are professionals too, and it’s not uncommon for them to practice 12 to 15 hours a day almost every day.
There’s definitely a lot more support now. We’ve moved away from small tournaments in LAN cafes where the prizes were mousepads to larger-scaled competitions with bigger prize pools. There’s also support from various organisations like *SCAPE, SCOGA, and even the National Youth Council has run esports talent development programmes with the aim of nurturing the next wave of talent.
I also mentor aspiring shoutcasters, and every year the level of talent just goes up. It’s incredible. Soon, I’ll be out of a job!
There are a lot more opportunities nowadays in terms of front-of-camera esports jobs and female leagues and tournaments to compete in. There’s been a rise of female game streamers in recent years, with the top female streamer “Pokimane” having about 8 million followers on Twitch. There’s also the FSL Circuit, a Southeast Asian female league run by a Singapore-based organisation, and GIRL GAMER Esports Festival, the largest female gaming festival, that has been held in Singapore, Spain, Australia, South Korea, Brazil, and Dubai.
Work hard, become good, get a showreel together, network with people in the scene and don’t give up. To an extent, esports is an entertainment industry and shoutcasting is an entertainment job. Having some recognition and visibility makes it easier to get hired. For shoutcasters, you don’t just get hired when you’re good, you get hired when your reputation catches up with your skills — but first you need to become good at it.
It means I am a work in progress. As a shoutcaster, my product is myself, and I’m always trying to get better at what I do. As long as I never feel like I’ve plateaued, then I can keep on chasing my best.