Esports, commentary and moving forward

I mentioned Wednesday night casual events there’s plenty of them at a much slow pace so those that are new can get accustomed to how fighting games are played. We can’t make anybody like what we do they have to make the effort to understand it on their own. That’s why I still believe they’re gonna have to look some shit up because if they can’t understand what the hell is going on after watching a few streams, fighting games just aren’t for them.

you have the crowd noise to get people emotionally involved… streams should start putting a mic out just to capture the audience noise. usually you get it bleeding through the commentator’s mics which is alright but I think real top shelf streams should do more to get the real roar when something awesome happens.

It is the commentators job to explain WHY people are making noise. When something happens and everyone is going nuts (including the commentators) there is a distinct possibility that half the stream audience has no idea what happened, whether it was due to a stuttering or otherwise low quality stream or some finer point of the game that not many people would pick up on.

IMO if the commentator takes that time to go “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHH” instead of “jozhear won that match because he used j.fp! loufy didn’t use soul throw for some reason, so he was forced to use a normal anti-air. Vega’s j.fp has a lot of vertical reach so an early jumping fierce can actually force trades with Rose’s c.fp or sometimes even stuff it outright depending on the timing each player used” they are not adding value

I don’t know whats so hard to understand about watching a fighting game. For example if you have played SF4 and you are at least a low to mid level player who understands the basic system of the game you will have no problem in understanding whats going on the screen of an MK9 match. Sure the first couple of matches some people may be confused because of the game specific systems but that’s easy and fast to explain to yourself by watching or with the help of the commentators. All fighting games share a lot of similar concepts that make up most of the basic gameplay like spacing,zoning,footsies,cross-up,resets etc.

Also explaining frame data while a match is played is stupid it will only confuse casual players more. Frame data can be seen on the screen or gained with experience so I think wasting time explaining numbers instead of building hype is not necessary.

As for people that are only there to watch and have never touched a fighting game whats there to understand? Just watch the screen, see how someone uses his char to mash in his opponent’s head and enjoy. Its really the same in starcraft there are people who are there just to watch movement of armies and blood gushing out of marines, they don’t understand the timing attacks and pushes, even if someone explains it until they give some effort and try it they won’t understand it.

Just because you’ve played one game doesn’t mean I know shit about another one. Sure I know what Mortal Kombat looks like, and can tell he’s doing punches and kicks… but WHY is he doing punches and kicks? Why is he doing target combo 1 instead of target combo 3 or something? What moves are baitable, and what do baits look like when people do them? What is somebody’s motivation for zoning rather than using their teleport or something? etc. There is always tons of stuff you can explain at any time.

Why they picked that normal, what kind of timing they are using (“he’s doing really fast, tight frame traps because he knows Chun Li likes do to at the earliest opportunity” or “he has picked up on his opponent’s rhythm and is doing seriously delayed, loose frame traps to catch the late tech. Chun Li can exploit that though by switching to early techs and could possibly convert that into a combo”), hell you can even explain why someone is walking the way they do.

It is not the commentator’s job to build hype. If the match sucks, there is nothing a commentator can do to make it exciting. The job of building hype belongs to the tournament organizer. Its up to them to run a tournament that gets out top talent so you have no shortage of high level matches to be played, and then its up to the guys in charge of brackets to make sure there is a steady flow of high level players on stream.

are you serious? there are people who go watch 45 minute matches of Starcraft just to see little mans get blown up? I have a hard time believing that. if Starcraft commentary was so unimportant why do they have commentators who get flown around in basically the manner top FG players do?

What do you mean if you don’t care about fighting games, what is there to understand? The commentators job is to tell the audience just how good the people playing are, the level of their perceptiveness, their reaction time, their mind games. This is stuff that anybody can appreciate hearing about and most people don’t even pick up on

If you know Street Fighters and you can’t pick up BASIC concepts of other fighting games you’re a dumbass im sorry. Plus what you want is too in depth for mid set banter for casuals to catch on to. Only those that play FG’s already would know this and wouldn’t really want to hear it overlapping in a new match or set.

Matches are fast, what you want is more or less post game reviews and tactical recaps shit that casuals won’t really care unless they’re already playing said game and want to level up.

A commentator’s job IS to build hype if you watched Pro Wrestling, MMA or Boxing you’ll know this.

In 45min you can explain anything which is something fighting games can’t really do live unless its dedicated to teaching. If tried with fighting game till waste time for those that know whats going on already. commentary is a two way street and when it comes to any kind of fighting it has to be FAST and to the point.

This isn’t StarCraft its a fighting game shit goes down way too fast to talk about all of this plus with new players that commentators haven’t seen play it’s basically impossible. This is something more for a YT recap of the events that gone down not during middle of a set.

There’s nothing wrong with just watching a stream and learning by watching picking up knowledge here and there. Then research on your own time. If you can’t follow fighting games after all that it’s just not for that person.

No kidding you can pick up basic concepts. But there is always finer points of strategy that you can’t pick up by watching a stream. At Evo I watched the MK grand finals and didn’t understand a fuckin thing and I actually played the game back then. Why did the blockstring into low hat look so free? Why was the guy not crouch guarding the hat, is the hat advantage on block? If you block the hat, can you interrupt any attempt at continued pressure? These are questions you can’t figure out just by watching the game. That is when you need a guy like Tom Brady breaking things down for you.

Matches are not that fast… speaking from experience SF and MK are both slow enough it is easy to point out a lot of things while the match is underway. The only game that actually is too fast to go decent commentary on is Marvel, and that is when you stick to bigger strategic opinions rather than the fine details.

Hmm gee in hockey, football, basketball, baseball, soccer, rugby, cricket and motor racing the commentator’s job is to explain what’s going on. Same in MMA… Joe Rogan builds hype but the other guy actually talks about what the fighters are doing. I don’t watch boxing. Don’t ever mention pro wrestling again.

So what is a FG commentator supposed to say then? “SWAG SWAG SWAG SWAG FUCK SO SWAG”

again you evidently have zero commentating experience, I do. this isn’t even an argument.

On your first point I don’t think you understood my post. All the things you said are self explanatory. When you see them and have experience from another fighting game. Block stun, hit speed, frame traps all these things can be seen with your eyes. And on top of that most commentators are explaining these things or at least saying that a player did a frame trap etc.

Explaining to people that have never touched a fighting game about how good these players are won’t mean jack **** to them. They haven’t touched an arcade stick, they don’t know how to even do a special move. You have to explain the hundreds of details to them and on top of that you have to do it in the middle of a match, what happens then? Instead of adding emotion and hype to the game you are explaining stuff that 90% of the people already understand.

Korean starcraft commentators get flown around because they can build hype, they can talk fast and their intonation is great. Oh and the thing about the marine getting blown up was a joke, its still nice to see tough. The army movement wasn’t.

You aren’t getting what I’m saying at all. You don’t say he DID a frame trap you say WHY he did a frame trap. No shit they can see it, it is blatantly obvious. You see it happen. You say WHY it worked or WHY it didn’t or WHY they still have advantage or WHY momentum has shifted back the other way

and that is why you focus on the WHY

most people don’t understand WHY things are done the way they are at the high level. You can’t add emotion or hype to the game. Either the match sucks, in which case the commentator’s best option is to play it for knowledge and explain more low level things he doesn’t get an opportunity to in high level matches. Or the match is great, in which case it is emotional and hype on its own merits. There is jack shit a commentator can do to make a match more or less hype. That is all up to the players. Where the fuck did this idea even come from?

I didn’t know all you needed to be a top level commentator was the ability to talk fast. The real truth - the better a commentator is, the less fast you have to talk. Game knowledge doesn’t count for anything? good christ
I wasn’t talking about Korean commentators, either. There are a bunch of American and European commentators who actually do get paid to commentate, they are so good and desirable to have on your stream.

My phone has eaten 3 replies today so I’ll short version this one.

  1. No one is suggesting doing this stuff during matches it is for between matches and down time.
  2. Even if you enjoy the match you can’t see an option select by its very nature but you can make a visual to help explain what an option select is much easier
  3. The reason wednesday night casuals have less viewer is because these people don’t watch them.

Putting this information on wednesday nights is like running ads for children’s toys at 3:00am and wondering why no one is buying.

Not in the esports debate way of these people just being revenue, these people have the potential to be solid contributing pieces of the communityif we
A) take the time during the stream to show them what we see when we watch the stream and
B) do this at the time when they are already watching aka hype events and not require them to show up on wednesday night just to learn.

I have believed that this has been the single largest missed opportunity for growth in this community for the last 10 years.

  1. The discussion of hype versus explanation in commentary or Chen v. Yipes as I call it, it actually a different topic than the one at the start of the thread.

But if you can see it and you are not an idiot you can explain it to yourself no? Learning how to play a fighting game nowdays is piss easy there is easy to understand tutorial videos and information everywhere. If you want to learn make an effort. But I guess most people aren’t satisfied with being fed with a spoon they want others to chew their food for them…

Shit il try and explain it in the simplest matter possible so you can understand because you are arguing for the sake of arguing atm. If you are a casual gamer would you rather hear stuff like this [media=youtube]msSvZPZXwJU[/media] and some information mixed in like it is nowdays, or would you rather listen to 2 minutes of a guy speaking about numbers in a monotone voice?

what you guys are not understanding is that commentary is essential for people who DONT know whats going on, it helps them understand what they are seeing. calling people “fucking dumbasses” for not knowing the technicalities of fighting games is beyond elitist. not everyone who enjoys fighting games knows everything about them. for people who dont even enjoy them yet they sure as fuck dont know whats going on.

fans of other genres think that fighting games are shallow and boring - because they dont know what the fuck is going on. just because you know whats going on(because you play fighting games), doesnt mean they do.

“adding emotion” is not the play by play commentators job, thats what the color is for. it’s not the person explaining whats going on’s job to generate hype, it should be hype because its hype. as for play by play, it should be that, play by play. if you listen to sports on the radio they get hype, but they get hype explaining whats going on. i bet you if an nhl announcer spent the whole time going: “OH SHIT SICK HIT IN CENTER ICE, THAT DUDE WAS SO PRINGLES WITH HIS HEAD DOWN” instead of explaining whats going on, he’d be fired. we need to be held to the same standard to let laymen understand what is going on

also, if you know so much and dont need to hear the commentators explain everything you already know, turn the sound off? you dont have to listen, especially if getting hype comes from the matches, you shouldnt need to hear someone go OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH to know crazy shit happened

I can’t watch youtube vids at work. doesn’t matter I’m just facepalming right now anyway

if fighting games are so easy, why do so many people suck at them? why is there only the same two, three dozen guys finishing tops tourney after tourney? why are a dozen of those guys tops in more than one game?

No one is talking about speaking about numbers, streams are a visual media you can use replays and visual examples to explain concepts its much more engaging and intersting.

Also whether you explain that someone did a frame trap or why someone did a frame trap its all jibberish if the person listening doesn’t know what a frame trap is. Take the image I posted before and think of how much easier a frame trap could be explained visually than with words alone.

No one said information is useless. If you start explaining everything in depth that a player does you won’t be able to do a play by play let alone throw in some emotion. And I am repeating myself for the 3rd time but if commentators try to explain frame traps to casual players they will need a lot of time and casuals won’t understand it, if they explain it to someone that has already done it in another game or was on the receiving end it would be useless because they already understand it.

Bottom line is fighting games are too fast for in depth commentary during matches, you need to have a balance of information and emotion which I think commentators are already doing a good job of achieving.

Edit: BlackShinobi I think what you are saying can be useful as long as it doesn’t stall the tournament.


I said learning to play a fighting game is easy, playing it against someone is a different story.
There are a lot of reasons why there are only a handful of guys at the top listing them all will take a page or two but some of them are: fast hand to eye coordination, experience from other games, mental stability, strong nerves, psychology and concentration, all these things and more play a huge role in why a pro player is at the top.

Bottom line is you don’t have the slightest idea what you are talking about

some commentators. James Chen & UltraDavid have it figured out. Knowledge first and foremost, hype second and only on special occasions. Dacidbro also good. Ryan Hunter too much knowledge, too dry to listen to. Basically 100% of the east coast commentators? All manufactured hype, they lean heavy on their in-jokes and scene lingo, and while they know something about the games they definitely don’t do shit to pass that along to the viewer

One just to go over this again I am not talking about in match commentary, be hype during the match and then use the time in between matches to make sure people understand.

Combined with the right visuals you could get someone to understand what a frame trap is in under two minutes.

I still think what you two are arguing about could all be solved in the same scenario. I prefer yipes over james chen by far, but my friend who doesn’t understand tournament level fighting game play prefers james chen by far because he learns more. Its not either or though you can provide hype and information in the same broadcast.


fuck MLG

You can watch TY vids at home OMG REALLY. Seriously though if the casuals watching really wanted to learn more about fighting games an how they work you wouldn’t wait for a tourny stream to break it down you’ll check YT or some Forums. Better yet they’ll get the game.

Fighting games are easy to pick up yet hard to master. It’s the mastery curve that turns people off. Also the same people finish in tourneys because they’re the ones putting in the work to be the best. If more people unknowns has the cash to move around like the pros do they’ll be big names as well. Plus its the issue of the Big Two SF4 and MVC3 everybody plays them and more Americans are familiar with Capcom then SNK, Namco, Tecmo when it comes to fighting games.

Case in point, another fine example would be Combofiend’s remarkable match at Final Round XIV against Marn, in which not only did he solidify his name as a player, he brought a great deal of interest into the character Spencer. Before that, the general consensus on the character was that it was a low tier, low end character. If UltraDavid and Noel Brown weren’t emotionally involved into what seemed to be each perfectly landed, well timed Bionic Lancer, people would have not put research on how to apply these tactics to the character for some time, leaving Spencer to be hidden still.


Ironically, the current top comment on the YouTube Page, which has 12 votes, reads as such:

“Because of Combofiend, I’ve been doing this to Sentinel users ever since Spencer’s joined my team.”

and a few other posts:

“THIS is why spencer should not be underestimated. He is that freaking good and hardly anyone uses him. Goes to show ya how many people see potential with him.”

“This shit was so amazing to watch. I’m glad spencer got shown off finally, feel like so many people were sleeping on his potential.”

"More people need to rock Spencer. Seriously. I’m gonna come off as a fanboy, but this wasn’t even Spencer at his best and he still raped Sentinel in the face. He has so much going for him: Corner shenanigans, fastest hyper in the game (I might be wrong, but I’ve been able to punish everything with Bionic Arm), crazy damage output, and just freaking MURDERS most keep away tactics.
Cheers to Combofiend and Spencer! :D"

To be honest, if Spencer wasn’t the way he was as a character, it wouldn’t have had such a powerful or lasting effect. The simple fact that Bionic Lancer is a one hit hyper lends to the emotional involvement of Combofiend landing each and every Lancer, at crucial moments where it counted for the win. It was the reason why UltraDavid and Noel Brown flipped the fuck out. It was the reason why the crowd flipped the fuck out. It’s probably the reason why you flipped out too if you watched, even if you didn’t consciously think about it at the time. If it was a multihit beam hyper, yeah it might have still been hype, not NOTHING like landing 3 well timed, one hit hypers for a win. Not only that, but the stars were simply well aligned for that perfect moment in time. Noel Brown had just been swapped in as an announcer too IIRC.

Emotional involvement is definitely very important.**

I think one huge oversight is - what is our target audience. How much of the stream viewership really know what’s going on? As of now, I have yet to see any hard numbers. Any maybe that’s the problem. Maybe commentary in MVC3 or SSFIV or whatever - don’t really know. I think there’s a huge assumption on what the viewers know and don’t. I have my own ideas on what the viewership is like, but it’s anything from the far truth I’m sure.

You can ramble on and on about how commentary should proceed, but without some demographic data - I think some of the arguments here are unnecessary at this juncture. Coulda-woulda’s.

If there’s anything that I can criticize about the current state of commentary in the FGC, it’s when the just try -way too hard-. It’s equivalent to an awkward first date, where one rambles off about something unnecessary because there really isn’t anything to say.

Showmanship, building up hype - whatever you call it, is not something that just comes out of someone’s ass. They are clever and efficient tangents of content that viewers are watching live. The message is direct, obvious, and entertaining. I think some of the big names like UD and JC handle it very well. So well and entertaining my little 13 year old brother keeps watching.

Just my two cents.

-edit- Emotional involvement is important, but if you want the profession to mature - you definitely need to retain some form of moderation and not constant “OMG. He’s A BEAST! SHITS GOING DOWN!” Ever notice in the Starcraft commentary that they’re always incredibly calm in demeanor about the matches? And yet the audience remains glued to the wire?

-edit2- Given the many moments of excitement that manifest from the intensity of matches at times - I think it’s important that commentators self evaluate how they sound. Literally. Some would argue it’s trivial, but when you scream like a tween at a Britney Spears concert - you’re totally ruining the moment.

Work the crowd. Let them create the moment.