It’s been more than five years since Andrew "Vedius" Day originally joined the Riot broadcast and after casting last year’s English broadcast for Worlds’ Finals, he hasn’t slowed down for a second. He’s been helping bring the new LEC talent up to speed and done work in the VALORANT Champions Tour.
Inven Global had the opportunity to speak with Vedius, to speak with him on his role as a veteran broadcaster with the LEC, the differences between working in VALORANT and League of Legends, and how the LCS can increase viewership.
Congratulations on passing five years as a caster! What’s been different about this year compared to past?
This has been a little rough as we transition in new talent. The LEC has a pretty good core, but as new talent comes in, you have to invest a lot in helping them get settled and develop their fundamentals, while also being able to still do your job at a high level. So it's been not as easy. I'm not trying to blame any of the new castes, it's just a process. It takes some time to get comfortable. We've had some really great content from them already, and they're fitting in really nicely and doing a good job.
So as a caster, it's been a little tougher, because not everything is like a well-oiled machine yet. But it's getting better, and it's good. And now with playoffs coming around, it will be smooth sailing. I think we've got the best possible playoffs we can ask for — really good teams, really interesting matchups, and interesting history.
"VALORANT is a very different game to study and analyze. League has a benchmark for what good is and is so figured out that there's almost a correct answer."
What has your process has been in training up some of the younger members of the broadcast?
I do take a pretty heavy hand in terms of feedback. As a full-time employee, we've created a structure where I write feedback reviews every week and do one at some point for every caster. I try to give as much feedback as I can, mainly to our new color casters, and try to help them in terms of structure and core expectations for what I think a color caster should be trying to bring: being a talent and making sure the audience has all of the information they need to follow the game. Sometimes a lot of new color casters have fine knowledge, but it takes them a while to get used to understanding the difference between good League of Legends, and super high-level pro League.
The core thing is making sure they have more structure in their cast. Often, a lot of new casters will talk about whatever is on their mind — the cast can lack direction, which can make it harder to follow. You get pockets of information rather than a full cast. So I try to help them understand that structure more, how to better work with their partner, and then also helping them find how they want to brand themselves. Branding is really important as a talent. You don't just want to be another talking head.
Obviously, it's not just me. Quickshot gives a lot of feedback. We also have a lot of staff behind the scenes that also contribute to feedback. But that's what I do as an individual. It's up to them if they want to listen to it. [laughs]
You got to spend some time working on the VALORANT broadcast. What would be some differences you’ve noticed between working in VALORANT and League?
I think that the broadcast is still in a developmental phase. The structure that has existed and developed in the LEC over many years just isn't quite there for in VALORANT, but will come in time. Which makes it harder to push the boundaries, do something slightly different, or create your own identity. And I think VALORANT finds itself still in a growing phase. Which is fine. It's what you'd expect considering how fresh the esport is.
In terms of prep, it was very unique. VALORANT is a very different game to study and analyze. League has a benchmark for what good is and is so figured out that there's almost a correct answer. In VALORANT, individual skill is such a massive variable, that's harder to utilize in League of Legends.
"But the skill quality isn't necessarily what makes [a league] boring. I think it's actually a lot to do with the storylines: who is succeeding, who isn't."
In League, sometimes it doesn't matter how good you are — a certain comp or champion can limit what you do. In VALORANT, everyone has the same guns. There's so much variance in VALORANT, that sometimes rounds are won because one guy really popped off. It's less about, "Oh, he made the correct execution." It's a much more complex and harder game to analyze.
It was fun. It was definitely a novel experience learning a lot more about how the game works and how the system works. [...] I invested a huge amount of time — watching VODs for hours with VALORANT to try and get up to scratch. And I still don't think that I'm at the level I would like to be, but that would require a lot of time invested. And right now, the LEC just takes up too much time.
But I think VALORANT is on its way to being a really great thing. I know that VALORANT will want to try and become the best esport in the world. It will want to try and overtake League of Legends. It will want to try and overtake CS:GO. It's still got a ways to go, but I know that in the foreseeable future, VALORANT will be an esport that's willing to compete with the top ones.
The circuit system of VALORANT is really interesting. Some have complained that lack of competitiveness from some bottom teams have made parts of the LEC boring. Is that a concern to you at all?
No. Regardless of who is in the league, you're always gonna have some bad teams. We've had splits where everyone can beat everyone, and people have said that if there's no clear-cut favorite, then teams are bad. And then I've also heard while there's a very clear top side and bottom side — that also makes the league boring. That's always going to be a problem depending on what you prefer from your league.
Regardless of what format we use, there are always going to be bad teams. Someone has to lose, right? So the challenge is making those teams worth watching, but it's always going to be difficult. Because my counter-argument to that is: let's say Astralis have the best split in their history. Astralis were in first, and G2 was in last. I think that because of the perception around G2 and who they are as an organization, you're still more interested in the G2 games than you are in the Astralis games — even if they're in first.
That's an interesting thing to think about. I don't know if that's objectively true, but the branding of teams is what makes a league competitive and interesting. If every team in the league had a super-strong brand and was incredibly interesting for one reason or another — would that suddenly make the league more interesting? The answer is probably yes. But the skill quality isn't necessarily what makes it boring. I think it's actually a lot to do with the storylines: who is succeeding, who isn't.
You can use NA this year. TSM sitting at the bottom is a really compelling storyline, and people watch the TSM games because a very well-known organization is struggling. Whereas FlyQuest had a really good start to the split, and I don't know if people are suddenly really interested in FlyQuest.
It's an interesting topic, because I don't think always that high-quality games are what makes content compelling. The storylines and the branding is actually what more often than not makes the league more compelling. What we as a broadcast try to do is give you reasons to be interested in the teams that don't have the same brand quality, and sometimes that's a very difficult thing to do. Because I can't force you to love Astralis. I can do my best to try and convince you that Astralis are interesting.
And winning, of course, is a part of that. If Astralis won four splits back-to-back, maybe then we have more fans for Astralis. Success will always breed more fandom as MAD Lions demonstrated. But it's a complex thing. I'm not worried about it — there are always strengths and weaknesses with having weak teams and strong teams, but I think it's just a matter of perspective on what you like. You can't make everyone happy. The best thing we can do as broadcast is give you as many reasons as possible to try and watch these teams. But ultimately, it's up to the teams themselves and the players and everything to try and convince fans to be fans.
"The aftermath of these playoffs will breed so many great storylines for summer."
What have been your impressions of the LEC storylines? Last year it was interesting because it was sort of the fall for Fnatic and G2. What do you think of having so many teams without a clear top team?
I love it. I started this by saying that I think playoffs is super interesting this year. And I think a large part of that is because there are so many interesting storylines. Excel making the very first ever playoffs — a lot of people are gonna tune in just for the memeability. Imagine Excel make their first playoffs and then they get 3-0'd. That would be such an insane story, and imagine if Excel's whole brand for the next split ends up becoming "not only have you struggled to make playoffs, but for the first time you do you don't even win a game." That's super cool.
The collapse potentially of the super team with Perkz and Alphari — everyone wants to know if this team is actually going to say what it promised: be a good best-of-5 team. People want to know if Rogue are gonna choke in playoffs again — if they lose, people are going to brand them as chokers, so Rogue want to do a good job of shifting that perspective.
You've got G2 versus Fnatic — that speaks for itself. Misfits probably have the least sellable story behind it. But I think that so many people have become Vetheo fans because of how insanely talented this young player is, that will naturally draw a lot of viewership. We've got so many really interesting storylines for playoffs. Regardless of the skill level, the aftermath of this playoffs will breed so many great storylines for summer.
When you see the talent of the League right now, how optimistic are you about the LEC’s chances at MSI, and even Worlds?
I haven't watched much LPL, but I would say the LEC is probably around the same place that it normally is: that three-four position. Playoffs will be a big indicator. When I prep for international events, I usually ignore the regular season because of patches. On top of that, the best-of-5s are a better indication of like how a team plays and like their strengths and weaknesses. I think I can give you a better answer in a few more weeks. But right now, Europe is in that three-four position.
I know some people would argue that NA will be able to beat EU. The problem is what normally happens in most international events is NA and EU meet in the group stage, they go 1-1, Europe normally wins the tiebreaker and then Europe finds itself as the #3 seed, NA finds itse as the #4 seed. And then they don't play against each other. So it's a tough one to call, which is why I'm quite content being like, "If you want to say that Europe and NA are about the same, that's fine. Right now our international tournament structure doesn't really allow us to best figure out who the third-fourth is. It's just like who's the best, and who's a close second."
I think that Europe right now still sits fine but that might change for playoffs. Maybe Vitality become the best team we've literally ever seen in our lives. What makes me laugh about international events is teams look really good in playoffs, but because patches have such a dramatic effect on the game, you go from having like a teamfight-focused meta that T1 are excellent at. Then all of a sudden, MSI comes round — dragons have been nerved. Barons are way more effective. Split push is super OP. And now 1-3-1 comps are the meta. The preconceived tournament favorites then end up looking weaker, because their playstyle just isn't as good.
T1 rewrote history, going 18-0 in the 2022 LCK Spring Split
In line with NA and EU being similar in quality: despite having a similar record to the LEC at Worlds last year, the viewership has still been very low in the LCS — lower than CBLOL in some cases. What can the LCS learn from the LEC that’s not being done right now?
The LCS took a lot of great measures this year to create something more consistent. Now, they just need time. A lot of people right now are looking at the immediate, short term. But it's important to remember that the LEC's growth did not happen immediately. Back in 2016 and 2017, we had terrible viewership. We started making changes in like 2018. And then we progressively made more changes year after year. That gives you slightly more incremental growth over time.
Right now, what the LCS has is a solid foundation for them to build off of. And I think the worst thing they could do is panic, and try to change something to try and get short-term gains. They need to just keep doing what they're doing and build off of what they've got. Because in terms of their show: they're solid. They just need to kind of "rebuild" that trust with the fans, almost. I don't even know if trust is the right word. [...]
The thing is, there was a period of time in Europe where the branding was that Europe doesn't have any interesting personalities. And obviously, Europe got a little lucky in that we won MSI. [laughs] We had G2 who did really well internationally. And then a lot of people became interested, and a lot of people started knowing G2. And then as a result of that, we passively gained a lot more viewers. And international success is always going to help you — it just will. If NA was to get semifinals at Worlds this year, I guarantee you that next year, they would probably passively get more viewers.
But also, storylines take time to build. You can't just make someone a fan immediately. You have to keep exposing the fans to certain players, introducing them to new characters, and keep building upon those narratives that just take time. Vetheo was effectively a no-one last year. People recognized him as being pretty good, but he didn't stand out as much as he did this year. But we've been planting the seed over and over. "Vetheo is the main carry for Misfits." "Vetheo is a superstar." "Vetheo is the player you need to keep your eyes on." We've just been building and building, and then Vetheo paid off. He was that person that did end up stepping up and becoming that person — it helped that he succeeded.
And that's what the broadcast needs to keep doing. Which — to be fair to them — they're already doing a really good job. They are trying to build these players. I think Fudge is a really great example of that, where they just keep doubling down on Fudge. They just need the rosters to stay a little bit more consistent. I think of Team Liquid now. It's such a new team, right? Think of how different Team Liquid are now to what they were last year. To be able to build that fandom with all these European players especially — imagine all the NA fans that don't even know who Han sama is, that don't know Bwipo. That stuff takes time. So I think the broadcast needs to keep doing what they're doing, trust in the core that they currently have, and keep building upon that good foundation.
To clarify: if their interest is building the league, do you think teams might benefit from not seeking unfamiliar players to form the most competitive roster, but use what they can that still resonates with fans?
Yeah! I think that definitely helps. And again, I'll use the Vetheo example: Misfits have changed over the last two years. They changed a lot, but Vetheo is still there. And Vetheo is a player that we can keep building on, and fans can keep being engaged with. Because if they're a fan of Vetheo, they're a fan of Misfits, right? And it helps us that that Misfits is investing in Vetheo, and then they'll keep building pieces on top of that. And I think Europe has been very fortunate that this system exists in Europe that you kind of get that core player that we as a broadcast can keep building stories on, and then teams can then keep adding pieces. And it's just easy.
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.