In League of Legends esports, new storylines are developed every day. From new metas to new players that rise to the throne, the competitive field is an ever-changing landscape. And for years, Daniel "Drakos" Drakos has been narrating the story. The American caster has become inseparable from the European League of Legends scene. Though while we all know what happens on-screen, we rarely get a glimpse of a caster's life behind the curtains of the LEC broadcast. During week seven of the LEC, Drakos told us how the league comes up with its iconic segments, and shared what the lives of talent looks like when the cameras are switched off.
I want to talk about a caster's life when they're not doing what we know and love them for on-screen. During the week the team has meetings about how to approach the next broadcast—can you share what those meetings look like?
So, on Tuesday people will pitch their new, crazy ideas. Things like the cooking show, the DnD thing we did, that all gets cooked up on Tuesdays. But most of the work happens on Wednesday. We sit together in a room with our producer and talk about the segments we'll be doing, who will appear when and so on. We'll say what we want to talk about—for example when you're on an analyst desk—and they ask what they can do to help us with it. Whether it's pulling up replays, graphics... Basically: how can we make the coolest sh*it possible?
If you're casting, you'll sit in the room with whoever you're going to cast with and someone from our stats team. You'll make graphics and talk about story points. You could think a storyline could be: "This player ints all the time!" But then they pull up the stats that say differently, and you're like "...dammit." *laughs*
Or you find out something you didn't know! One of the things we looked at recently was how good Alphari is. One thing people don't see is that everyone gets fewer resources when they're up against Alphari. The average for CS [Creep Score] in the league is somewhere around 75, at ten minutes played. When playing against Alphari, the opponent's average is 70 CS. That's a big deal! It doesn't sound like a lot, but it means that either Alphari is so good at controlling waves or he is just in your face so much, that the opponent can't kill creeps. Things like that are small, but really cool when you want to talk about what makes a player so good at a game.
Anyway, during those meetings, people take their own ideas and try to bring them to life with a ton of help from everyone in the production team.
"When we can, we'll invite people to go out for dinner, hang out together, and party together. It's a very close group."
We've seen some of the crazy sketches like Machine's audition, or the Metal Gear Solid sketch. How much of that is done by the talent itself?
I would say that it's mostly talent-driven. We're definitely the kind of team where we encourage everyone to pitch ideas. A lot of our best ideas have come from people who aren't talent, for sure. But mostly for those segments to start the week—we call them 'cold opens'—it's the talent's input. And we have a ton of those segments! *laughs* There is a big backlog of things that we wanted to do but weren't able to do.
But yeah things like the cooking show, the DnD thing... The DnD sketch was something Medic came up with on his own. Once he pitched it, the script was written by basically the entire team. Everybody had an idea for jokes they wanted to be included. I think it's cool that we have a team where everyone can pitch ideas, but I think for the most part it's casters who come up with them.
On broadcast, you all are professional and the atmosphere seems great. Do you guys hang out a lot during offtime as well?
Sure! I would say that we all get along. The thing about casting is: you don't have to be best friends, but you do need a good work relationship. You definitely have to be closer than just being colleagues. I would like to think that we're all friends, definitely. You know, some people hang out more with each other than others. For example, Frosk and Vedius live in the same house, so they spend a lot of time together. I see Ender a decent amount of time. But I think pretty much everyone is always down to hang out.
Once or twice a Split we have a night where everybody gets together. We had one night where we got together at Quickshot's house and all watched the LCS. It's a really tight team. Everyone has their own stuff going on, there's a lot of freelancers on the team, so people will do their own thing. When we can, we'll invite people to go out for dinner, hang out together, and party together. It's a very close group.
I think it's a lot like the situations some pro players are in. When they get older they're less interested in living in a gaming house, but would rather just live on their own and have their own life. Like, Quickshot is married, he has a dog... he just doesn't have a lot of free time. I'm in a long term relationship and also don't have a lot of free time. When I do have free time I love to play games with my colleagues. I love to do things with them. But everyone has their own life, certainly.
Has that always been the case?
It has changed a bit. When I first came to Berlin, being an American moving here, I had no idea what to do. So when people went out, I went out with them. When someone said "let's play games," I was like "hell yes, get me out of my apartment!" Now, as I have settled in and I have a life here, I have more responsibilities. I have an apartment that I have to clean now. Surprisingly, when you're no longer living a bachelor's life, people have a certain standard of cleanliness that you have to read. *laughs*
So yeah, that's kind of how it has shifted. I have a life here now. I have friends outside of work that I spend time with. When I first moved here, it was esports all the time. There was nothing else.
How was that when you were still living in America, when you were living there?
It was pretty weird. I worked 35, 40 hours a week at a coffee place while doing esports on the side. All my esports friends were online. We'd play together, Skype together and make content together, but I didn't see those people. Esports was work, and it was a grind. Anytime I wasn't working on esports or working in the coffee shop, I was hanging out with friends. It was a very different pace. Also, it was the city I grew up in, so the friends you have there are a bit different. You grew up with them, and here in Berlin I've met people as an adult.
Alright, to switch it up I'm gonna ask you three questions about your colleagues so we get to know them behind the scenes a bit more too. Are you ready?
Sure, let's do it!
Of the other talent, who is the funniest?
Oh man... who is the funniest person? People would assume Vedius. And Vedius has really great jokes sometimes, but I'm trying to think of who the most consistently funny person is. It might be Yamato—he's very dry. On-air Yamato is very serious, he's very analytical. He's got that respect and he wants to keep that respect. But off-air, every caster goes from "I think this was a big mistake from team X" to "What the hell is this guy doing?!" On cast you have to be disciplined, you have to be respectful. But the second you're behind the scene you let go and say "this guy is an idiot, what is he doing?" Anyway, back to the question. I suppose Vedius wins, but by a slim margin. I'd say it's pretty close.
Next one: who do you like casting with most?
Ooh, that's hard! It depends. Right now Frosk and I are clicking super well, so it's been fun. But honestly, it's a cycle. I enjoy casting with everyone. Some days, though, you show up and it just works. It's almost effortless. That's how it's been for the last few weeks with Frosk, and it has been really nice. Even when I made mistakes, she stepped up in a big way. But I've had those moments with everyone.
The first three weeks, when I was casting with Ender, it was really solid. Vedius and I almost never cast anymore, which is really weird. Every time I step behind the desk with him it's like we're back in Challenger Series, where we both started. It's really nostalgic. But nowadays I almost never cast with him anymore.
Of the other casters, who is the best in League of Legends?
Ender. That's so easy. He is, like, the only good League player on our team. There are a bunch of people who are in low Diamond. I'm trash. Froskurinn is a hard grinder and she goes from really good to really bad, depending on how tilted she is. Quickshot is full old man status at this point. He plays ARAMs but doesn't take Snowball, for some reason. He plays a lot of TFT too—he does his own thing, shoutout to him. Medic is good, Yamato is good, Vedius is good. But Ender is definitely the best.
Ender is the only person of the team who could probably play at a collegiate or formerly Challengers level, if he quit his job and just grinded. He's an exceptionally good League of Legends player. He's a dirty Karthus abuser and I hate him for that, and he ints in my games all the time. But he's still definitely the best player of us.
Normally I close an interview by asking a player if they have anything to say to the fans. But I'd like to ask you if you have any words for your colleagues, your fellow on-air talent.
I'd like to think that I'm the kind of person that tells them directly how much I appreciate them. But again: I'm very fortunate to work on what I think is the best team in esports. I think we have the best broadcast team in the world for any esport, and I'm not just talking about casters. I think we're absolutely killing it, and it's because the people on this team just live and die for esports. Not in a way that it's unhealthy or anything like that. I mean in a way that everyone is super creative, cool, and we don't take ourselves too seriously. I'm very grateful to be surrounded by these excellent, creative, awesome people. Thanks to them, and a shout-out to the LEC. Woo!
Storyteller by heart. If something is competitive, I am interested in it.