Overwatch

Pushing the amateur scene forward: Broadcast.gg’s fight for relevancy

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When I first attended IGEC 2018 and spoke with MonteCristo, he told me that Broadcast.gg was the best resource for getting into Overwatch commentary. A quick visit to the website shows podcasts filled with critical advice from casters like ZP, hexagrams, and Uber.  On top of that, Broadcast.gg is directly involved with Overwatch's growth, particularly within their "Path to Pro" programs, as they have created more exposure for Open Division matches, Contenders South America and China with their talents in casters, observers, organizers and admins.

Alex MooshuBeef” Chan is the founder of Broadcast.gg and I got connected with him to learn more about their history, their relationship with Blizzard, future projects, and their thoughts on Contenders South America.

 

What's the history behind Broadcast.gg?  Who are the founders and what's the story of how it came to be? 

Once I moved to San Francisco in 2015 I began my shoutcasting career at the RazerStore in San Francisco learning everything I knew from @chhopsky. From there I was obsessed with improving at casting League of Legends and Overwatch. Eventually I worked my way to my first paid gig at E3 for DXRacer for their Overwatch 3v3. I met the veteran casters there also with gigs and, in my obsession with learning, asked how they all learned and if there were any casting communities. There were none. So I started it.

I knew that I needed a really good reason in order to get people to join another Discord server. My first 50 people in my discord I pretty much pitched all using this google document - a manifesto of sorts. Back then the site was also really janky and just a wiki page. @chhopsky was a big part of the growth early on too though he wasn’t officially a founder in some way as he was busy with chhopsky.tv, now provinggrounds.tv.

I knew the only way for me to build this community was to start creating this content even as someone who was basically just starting. I knew I could still offer something valuable for those who weren’t as skilled as I was, and then get feedback on it from those ahead of me. So I seeded content by doing written pieces on others’ casting while improving my own. Then got into interviews like this one with the pros like Uber.

Meanwhile the end of 2017 saw the decline of many 3rd party tournaments, Overwatch University League being the one I was closest to and where I began to get my 6v6 casting experience. As that org was reworking, a good number of those members came to join Broadcast.gg especially as we discovered we could avoid the red tape of a running a league by working with teams to cast their scrims so casters and producers could get practice. This would eventually become our “Scrim Nights” project and have produced over 200 broadcasts to date.

At this point I was posting in scrim finding channels every day trying to find more teams who would be down. In the process other casters who were hungry to find their place in Overwatch esports broadcast knew that this was the best spot to get practice. We found casting partners and kept grinding.

Open Division Season 1 Playoffs in EU & NA was our first broadcast in the Overwatch Path to Pro. Our Scrim Nights tested casters, analysts, hosts, and producer/observers were ready for it and we produced the only English broadcast for both regions.

Since then it has been about cultivating a relationship with folks in Blizzard to show we’re serious about putting out a quality product and we’ve been fortunate to work on Contenders Trials S2 in EU, then Contenders South America and China for Season 2. We’re back now with Open Division S3 in EU & NA.

 

Does Broadcast.gg get direct support from Blizzard and/or their affiliated Overwatch commentators? 

I’ve been absolutely blown away by how much the OWL talent have been supportive of our community publicly. We aren’t officially endorsed or affiliated with the OWL talent or Blizzard so it’s all out of good will that they name drop us so often. Uber, hexagrams, ZP, and Sideshow all have been extremely helpful in VOD reviewing, giving feedback on content, and/or answering questions in our discord. In person they’re all cordial and warm folks, especially the national treasures, Goldenboy and Puckett.

 

"I ran into two separate groups of people that mentioned they were Team Brazil fans and bought jerseys because they saw our English broadcast of Contenders SA."


On the Open Call, the deadline for Season 3 openings closed on August 9th.  Did everything get filled out? Or are there certain positions that can still be applied for?

We’re set for now on the positions! But people with ideas for what we should offer as a community should be DM-ing me with ideas!


Is there a concern about teams being casted on Open Division having a disadvantage since they can be scouted by other teams?
We totally understand that this is a concern for teams and one we respect 100% - nothing is held against them. Our goal is to improve our broadcast so the value that teams get out of the experience is greater than the disadvantage of having strategies shown. One interesting thing is that several T2 coaches and managers we’ve connected with feel that teams with this mindset won’t have success outside of T3 anyways, so it’s best to adopt the mentality early on and leverage the exposure, especially since T2 is entirely on broadcast.

For the teams that are concerned, I’d like to let them know that the goal of our broadcast is to push the amateur scene forward as much as possible. This means showcasing teams and players in their best light so more people can have a reason to become fans of the talent here, even if it’s 2 levels below OWL.

 

Are there projects on the horizon beyond Open Division and SA Contenders?

Yes! Announced is the AHGL x SF Shock Corporate Clash kicked off on September 8th. In addition we are covering / will cover Korea Open Division Season 3 playoffs in collaboration with WDG, the folks that run Open Division in the region. This is happening from September 14th-17th for our broadcast day.

Overall we want to help create a sustainable ecosystem by making it easier to be a fan of players and teams across the different levels and regions of the Path to Pro. People need to see both the skill and human side of the game to become fans. We’re in it for the long haul and want to see Overwatch esports be a success for years to come.


Which terminology is preferred: Commentator or caster?  Or is it equally interchangeable when it comes to Overwatch?

They’re honestly interchangeable. I say commentator personally if I’m talking to someone outside of esports since it’s a word anyone would get. If it’s someone who is in esports, shoutcaster or caster is what I’d say (also interchangeably). As long as you capitalize esports correctly there won’t be any problems!

 

Do you have any additional thoughts about Contenders SA?

What is already promising for South America is that they are top 3 in terms of peak viewership and total hours watched in the two seasons this year due to its local audience. The next challenge for South America (as well as other regions not NA, EU, and KR) is having more reasons why a viewer outside of the region could care about the teams and players. The average level of play is unfortunately below that of the more popular Contenders regions and OWL so interest in top teams, style of the region, and human stories need to be more visible and consumable. We’re hoping our efforts with the English broadcast, focus on the three factors above, and the impressive World Cup performance from Team Brazil helps more folks become invested in South America.

As a side note at the OWWC LA stage I ran into two separate groups of people that mentioned they were Team Brazil fans and bought jerseys because they saw our English broadcast of Contenders SA. That felt really special, and we hope to make even more fans yet!

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