Jason "moses" O'Toole is a staple in esports and the professional scene in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. He has casted at the best events in the game's history with other casters like Anders Blume and current Overwatch League caster, Auguste "Semmler" Massonnat. moses spoke with Inven Global to share his thoughts on the history of Counter-Strike, where he would love to cast, and his thoughts on where CS:GO can go from here.
Past and Present
What are your thoughts on the history and growth of Counter-Strike?
I think it's been phenomenal. You can take it in a number of different ways — I was playing and competing in CS in 2003, where filling up an arena was a literal pipe dream. Now, it is actually being accomplished. When you consider all the different parts that have to get it right — the developers in terms of fixing the game from where it was at in 2012, the way that the broadcasts have increased professionalism and tools to use, and the way the players have approached the game. I think there's been such cool growth and so many regards that are setting us up for a very nice future.
What do you think Valve has done right handling the esports side of Counter-Strike?
The big thing is anyone who played the game in 2012 knows it was in a terrible state — it was an unplayable game. For them to even fix that disaster to what we have two years later down the road, I think that's incredible. The biggest thing Valve has done is largely ignored some of the public outcry for changes, even the player and caster criticism of the game. They've done their own thing. In a lot of situations looking back on some of the changes, I personally thought would be a detriment turned out to be a massive positive.
What's your opinion on the current state of the game?
I think it's a great story this year. It looks like this year could be our most competitive year yet. ENCE look like they're able to win tournaments, Astralis who are like the consensus greatest CS team of all time, Liquid is now winning events, and you still have Na'Vi who can be dangerous. You have all these teams actually getting better.
It felt like last year was setting a stage with all these teams going through some changes and really struggling to close out last year. Everyone is seemingly coming into 2019 taking more time off to improve and to reset themselves. That seems to make this the most competitive landscape we've had coming into the next major cycle.
Moments to Never Forget
What are your favorite moments in your casting career so far?
One of them would be ESL One Cologne 2015. That's always a big prominent memory of walking into the sold-out Lanxess Arena in front of 14,000 people there to watch CS. That was a very surreal moment for me. That was also the year that Anders, Semmler, and I had our first tri-cast. That was the event that started it. That was a very cool feature for me and commentary.
The next one would be Dubai. I think there was something very weird about being 60 floors up in a Dubai hotel looking over the marina, all thanks to CS and esports. Even doing an event inside the Dubai marina was really one of those moments that made you feel like you turned the corner. Like it was something you could make a living off of. Other than that, there is special moments that you get to commentate once in a while like huge games.
I think the VP/SK game in EPICENTER in 2017 that I got to cast the grand finals always stands out to me. After those cool locations or the early arena events, it is the moments you get to cast like the last gasp of Virtus Pro and everything. That was fun.
Is there any city that you would love to cast in that you haven't been to yet?
Most of that is kind of selfish. I would love to do an event in Italy, mostly because I haven't been to Italy. I've always wanted to go.
I would love to see IEM Chicago turn into a really big popular stop for CS. Last year, we kind of struggled with the crowd and not as much attendance as we probably would have liked. If Chicago can get unlocked as a cool regional tournament once a year, I think that would be phenomenal. Chicago is an amazing city.
Can you name one time in your career where you thought everything felt like it wasn't organized or a mess? What did you learn from that experience?
Obviously, when I first started it felt like things were a mess. CS at the time was leaning on guys like ddk and Bardolph, and then Anders and Semmler. It really required you to be a duo. Early on in my career, I was supposed to pair up with Sadokist to be like the North American Anders and Semmler.
But, Sadokist went off to Romania to cast PGL then Henry met up with him later, while I stayed back in North America and I was just rotated through all these commentators who some were coming from different games and some were not as good as we're used to utilizing at actual events. It felt like at that point I was trying to keep my head above water because there was this rotation of commentators who I was trying to help teach the game and teach how to commentate the game.
It wasn't getting anywhere. You weren't getting publicity and you weren't getting any excitement or hype built up about your commentary. It all made me better — it forced me to do a little play-by-play when they were weaker at it. Now, I can incorporate that into my own style. Eventually, it all worked out.
The interesting ones are the production mistakes. In MLG Columbus, where I got hot mic'd into an entire arena of 10,000 people saying "motherfucker". I had my mom, aunt, and my two cousins in the crowd. That was a bit of an awkward moment.
Thoughts on Casting Other Games
If there is anyone you want to cast with whether it is someone in CS:GO or any other esport, who would it be?
Obviously, Anders is one that's super easy. We've already talked about commentating different games. I think the fun thing about us CS commentators is I've been casting with the same group of about 8 guys for 4 years now all over the world. You can throw any of those guys with each other, go to another game and another show, and at least make it entertaining even if we're not the most knowledgeable about another game, we would make it fun.
Now that you mention commentating another game, what game would you like to cast in?
Anders and I would really like to cast Clash Royale because we play that a lot traveling on the phone. We watched a couple of the broadcasts and think there are some improvements you can make with the show. We would love to go do that.
I casted Blackout at TwitchCon, the Call of Duty battle royale game. I thought that was pretty fun. I think BR in terms of how it's being produced and shown to the public can be improved upon. I'm not a BR gamer to begin with but that was fun to do.
FPS games, for the most part, you can transition into. If you know how to hype up one FPS, you can hype up another one. It's like the color commentary and the details where you're obviously lacking. Most people in CS would be open to casting another game if it were a weekend here and there. Nothing is ever going to take away CS as the first priority for us.
Where do you think CS:GO can go from here moving forward?
That's a real interesting question because of the scene and the schedule is in upheaval. At the moment, we have a big conversation swirling about the schedule. I think we need to fix that, it should be the number one priority — schedule with the team, commentators, and players. Whatever it may be, it is insanity.
CS made great steps. We have the first fully functioning player's association that was led by Scoots, which is a huge thing to have that other game don't. Oddly enough I think what we have to benefit is that we don't have this huge monetary support of our developer who is also controlling the league. Decisions that are made by leagues and tournament organizers are all made on if it is actually viable economically.
No one's artificially pumping millions of dollars into this and hoping the results meet the expectations. I think from here, the next step is obviously to start getting the best teams in the world all sign to play on to some kind of similar structure and circuit throughout the year instead of everyone being all over the place.
Do you have anything to say to the fans?
Not really, I get to talk to them every week basically. Just keep watching Counter-Strike, keep getting me paid.
Writer @InvenGlobal | Freelanced at @overwatchscore @vpesports @GinxTV @Upcomer | Former CLICKON Media and Echo Fox.