In Inven Global's interview with Barento "Raz" Mohammed, the caster discusses his evolving approach to esports broadcasting, emphasizing creativity and audience engagement. He reflects on the unique challenges and narratives each year brings, including unexpected team consistencies at the Worlds and the growth of teams with stable rosters.
Discussing the LCS's future, Raz applauds the broadcast improvements and anticipates significant roster changes. He underscores the importance of new talent and the potential of teams like NRG, though he refrains from making definitive predictions due to the ever-changing nature of the league.
Congratulations again on being part of the Worlds broadcast. What’s been different about this year compared to the past?
Every year is different, the pathway to Worlds is different. You're covering different teams, focusing on different things in your craft. For me, telestrator segments were a big focus coming into this event. The LCS changed quite a bit, becoming more creative, making the desk more fun and enjoyable. That was another angle I wanted to work on more.
For example, in the Worlds Qualifying Series, I had a lot of time because there was a month between the LCS ending and Worlds starting due to the Asian Games. So, I started planning and thinking of skits and ideas. The first thing was an eagle costume, a big one for me. If Golden Guardians were going, I wanted to find props. I had the usher, the Golden Guardians jersey, ready during the series. I had the eagle costume ready, but the series ended very quickly, so that sucked.
Every year is different because your goals as a broadcaster are going to be separate. The teams you're covering, the players you're covering, are going to be different. The people you're working with at times are different. I've been working a lot more closely with Guldborg, for example, this year, and he's been incredibly fun to work with. It's been natural working with him and Quickshot.
What are your thoughts of the Worlds storylines this year? There was such a grandiose but also personal angle with what we saw at Worlds last year. What stands out the most to you this time around?
From Play-Ins, it's surprising we're seeing a lot of the same teams, which is good. I used to coach back in 2015-2016, for instance with Chiefs Esports Club, an Oceanic team. They were always going to events, but at that time, it was different. They weren't qualifying for Worlds, it was IWCQ, but they were separate from the other team. Every other region felt like they would learn from international events and come back stronger, but those teams would return with a different roster or be a completely different team. This time, teams are coming back from MSI and last Worlds with the same roster, or pretty similar, improving quite tremendously. That's a big change in storytelling for those teams.
Another one is dominance when we go into the main stage. JDG is a team everyone expects to win, so with Ruler, that story is going to be more frightening. Then I look at Gen.G, who felt like they took over as the king of the LCK. I want to see if Chovy has a chance to win Worlds. Those are big stories that haven't started yet.
At least for the LCS side, I'm excited for a team like NRG with a lot of new faces that have never been to this stage before and don't really have a name brand. In the past, you'd see the same big names at major events, but this time, there's a new guard for the LCS. I'm excited to see how they perform and if they can use that momentum for years to come. Every team has a different story.
You’re obviously an expert on the LPL, you’ve been creating content on it for the better part of a decade. I want to talk about JDG — when you consider it compared with all the other great Chinese teams throughout history (WE, EDG, IG, etc.) — besides just having strong players, what makes JDG so special to you?
The one thing that hits for me is how well they are on the same page, and that goes into coaching as well, with coach Homme. A good example is 369 who, when I first saw him come in, was the type of player that had that nickname of 369 — like what dice are you going to roll? Is he going to come out 1v9ing and carrying, or is he going to come in flat? But he has been an extremely solid weakside player, consistently playing at a high level. He completely shed that nickname, for me at least. It's fun, that's why it kind of sticks around, but it's not true. He's the most consistent player that I've seen, and he's the best top laner in the world in my eyes.
So, it's not one of those historic LPL teams that it feels like they're all good individually but there's going to be holes in how they play as a team. This is a team that I think is not only just dominant in lane but understands the role that they have for the bigger picture. That's why I use 369 as an example because usually, for a player that is known for playing carries, not known for playing tanks in the past, it's hard for him to come into a team like this and accept this role.
It reminds me of OMG when they brought on Uzi, and how disastrous that idea was. That happens with a lot of super teams, in fact. Vitality is a great example, and FlyQuest is a great example. Whenever you have a super team like this, you need to have players who understand and accept the role that they are given, and I feel like JDG is able to do that with amazing players.
It depends on the fashion they do so in, but if JDG were to win it, where would you personally put JDG in the greatest teams in history? Would it compare to Worlds?
They need more time. It's hard to say right now because longevity matters a lot to me. They were great last year, that's true, and I'm expecting them to win this year. No LPL team has achieved that golden road, something RNG chased for so long, and now it feels like JDG is on the brink. If JDG accomplishes that, it puts them in the conversation. If they return next year with another strong showing — they don't need to win every event, as I'm insinuating — but a strong year would solidly position them as the best LPL team ever.
People might step back and mention EDG or RNG because of their domestic success. But dominating both domestically and internationally? That's an accolade I'd reserve for JDG. So, if they complete this golden road, they earn the title of the best LPL team. The historically best team in the world will still be T1 for me. For the kind of longevity I value, they need more years [JDG].
There’s obviously still a lot of the offseason, but what are your general thoughts on the state of the LCS and the LCS broadcast for next year?
The state of the LCS broadcast, at least from a content perspective, is constantly improving. This year, we received a lot of positive sentiment, especially regarding the analyst desk and its evolution to be more informative yet still a lot more fun. With some of the best casters we have, like Azael, Flowers, and Kobe, and a consistent analyst desk, I'm quite proud of the product we've had. Working with Emily, Mark, and Jatt has been a blessing throughout the year.
From the broadcast perspective, I'm really optimistic if we can maintain this momentum into the next year. For the LCS as a whole, it's uncertain because I'm eager to see some of the same players. A lot of roster changes need to happen before I can draw a conclusion. I'm a bit saddened by Santorin's retirement, given what an amazing role model he was. I hope someone can step in and fill that gap, though it's a tough act to follow. However, this could mean more room for fresh faces for the fans.
From a team perspective, I don't have an answer to that question because we need to see how the roster changes pan out. But if there are new fresh faces, if young players are coming up from NACL, and if there are players who've been there from the year before — for instance, I just talked about NRG with Palafox, Dhokla winning a championship, FBI, IgNar, and Contractz — they just won a championship. I want to see if they can perform at a high level again next year, just play better.
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.