Esports is growing worldwide, and besides producing multiple athletes, it has also thrown light over other opportunities within the field.
One such talent is Nikhil "Sieh" Bhansali, an analytical caster, currently known for casting and analyzing top tier Valorant in India. His ability to indulge the esports fanatics with his energy and passion has made Sieh one of the most celebrated casters in the country within a short span of time.
Originally a League of Legends caster, Sieh gained incredible fame during The Esports Club Valorant Challenger Series. In an exclusive interview with Satyaki Das of Sportskeeda Esports, Sieh opened up about his esports journey, his love for competitive gaming, and his passion for public speaking.
Here is an excerpt of the conversation.
Q. So first of all, I would like you to introduce yourself to the readers. Who is Nikhil ‘Sieh’ Bhansali?
Sieh: Hey y’all! My name is Nikhil, but all of you know me as Sieh.
I’m a math nerd turned esports geek who strives to bring his passion and share his energy with the fans.
Q. How did you get into gaming? How young were you and which games did you start with?
Sieh: Unlike most people, I did not play any multiplayer games as a highschool kid. I was first introduced to esports with League of Legends when I was 18. I played a bit of Overwatch, but mostly it was just League of Legends.
Q. Over the years, you must have developed a strong bond with competitive esports titles. What made your interest grow towards the competitive side of gaming?
Sieh: I have always been an extremely ambitious and competitive person by nature. I’ve always participated in competitive public speaking (I remember doing a play in Lower Kindergarten), so once I fell in love with the idea of esports, getting involved in it directly was always just a question of when rather than if.
Q. Where did your casting career in esports start? Did it start smooth or did you face hardships during the initial phase?
Sieh: It all started when I first started analysing for my League of Legends team in Canada. In doing so, I discovered and developed an ability to translate statistical knowledge to simple terms. I was having a watch party with my friends and as a purely spontaneous thing, they asked me to cast one of the NA LCS games we were watching.
I realized that I really enjoyed it and I started working on transitioning to it. In India specifically, it has definitely not been easy but I am very thankful to The Esports Club for believing in me and giving me my first break here.
It has been a boon in helping me get to where I am today. The journey wasn’t exactly smooth as there were a lot of things to learn - but I have really enjoyed it and I am slowly building my confidence, pushing myself to become the very best.
Q. Tell me about your esports journey and how you ended up being one of the most celebrated casters in the Indian Esports Scene currently.
Sieh: I am just a normal guy. Everything I have achieved is solely because of my passion and belief in myself, and I don't think I have reached the heights that I want, just yet. Imagine me as a player who just got into an org. It’s like this is merely a step, the end goal will always be making it international, getting to cast at a world tournament.
Actually, one of my favourite songs properly describes this. RISE (LoL 2018 Worlds Song) is a story of Kang ‘Ambition’ Chan-yong who has to climb a mountain, trying to become the best. I think I have just started to approach that mountain, and I am really going to enjoy the climb.
Q. Currently you’re solely casting Valorant. Which esport do you absolutely love to cast and why?
Sieh: As I mentioned earlier, LoL was my first love and it will always occupy a special place in my heart. I love Valorant, but which game I cast solely depends on the audience, because above all, I love casting and sharing my energy.
Right now, I see myself doing LoL and any other of the upcoming Riot-based games. I have started foraying into mobile games though, especially Wild Rift and the popular battle royales, so with the right opportunity, I would definitely consider bringing my energy to the mobile gaming sector.
Q. Over the years, you must have spent a great deal of time expanding your vocabulary and exercising your pronunciation. How did you manage to do so? What were the key things that helped you build these skills which you ultimately implemented in esports?
Sieh: Public speaking & reading have been with me for as far as I can remember. The vocabulary and pronunciation came through from the ideology of being perfect. As the number of debates and events I did grew, the audience I spoke for grew with it and therein kicked in my drive to keep improving my speaking skills. The latest touch to it was going abroad, where I got to spend time and live with native english speakers.
Q. Along with the casting talent, you are also gifted, or rather, have developed a skill for analysing esports piece-by-piece. How did you manage to become a confident analyst?
Sieh: I have been doing extra math classes since I was 6. My love for the subject has grown exponentially, taking me to national and international olympiads. I went abroad to study math. When I found esports, transitioning this love and merging it with a combination of puzzle solving to games was relatively simple.
The getting confident part came with practice. I have spent a lot of hours just watching games, listening to podcasts and learning from different styles of analysis to develop my own. The aspect which I have really enjoyed applying as I get more confident is that of the psychology behind the calls, because with it I get an opportunity to really rely on my gut, my instinct, as compared to purely logical reasoning.
Q. While casting is mostly a vocal task, you must have multiple simultaneous thoughts going around in your mind. What are some of those things that you keep in mind while casting/analyzing an esport?
Sieh: I’m a very restless person by nature. I pretty much always find myself trying to multitask, and that’s when I feel most comfortable.
As a caster, I think the most important thing to keep in mind is, what am I delivering to the audience and how can I tailor it better? As an analyst, it’s extremely important to lend emphasis to the key points to ensure that the audience catches and understands what you’re saying, while maintaining the hype.
Q. You have recently been hired as the Analyst for the dominant Team Mahi. How do you see yourself contributing to the esport team?
Sieh: For almost every team that has done well internationally, in any esports, there lies an extensive system of support staff that exist to help supplement the resources available to a team and help them gain that extra edge.
To Team Mahi, I see myself contributing the same. The idea is to help in the path to them becoming one of the best esports teams in all of Asia, and then perhaps the World. As an analyst, my primary responsibility would lie in trying to set the team up for success before the match even begins.
Given the fast paced nature of Valorant, pre-match preparation can tilt a significant portion of the map in your favour and force the opposition on the back foot where they are being reactive rather than proactive.
Q. Being an avid caster and analyst of esports, you must have gained your inspirations from others which have made you who you are today. Who are these inspirations?
Sieh: I don’t really have one favourite caster, rather I mostly just combined the parts I liked from the many I do like. Having said that, League of Legends casters, especially the ones working in Europe, are the casters I first started looking at and learning from, and working in European esports will always be a dream as a result.
In general, my parents and friends are very supportive and this has allowed me to keep pushing, working and reach where I have.
Q. What are your future plans? Do you wish to stick to Valorant and pursue casting and analyzing in esports as your main career?
Sieh: You are definitely going to see a lot more casting from me this year (hopefully), as I am pursuing it as my primary career. I have always looked at myself as an analytical caster, and that will never change. But, over the past 5 months I have slowly adapted myself to play by play casting and hosting esports, and it’s something that I really enjoy.
So, I’ll adapt myself as the opportunity requires. I really like Valo, and will likely stick to it. Having said that, I am always willing to adapt to any changes or new opportunities!
Q. Every gamer has a story behind their gaming nick. What’s yours? Where did ‘Sieh’ originate from?
Sieh: Sieh comes from a book series called ‘The Inheritance Trilogy’, by NK Jemisin. He’s one of 3 oldest gods in the series, but by nature he’s a child and trickster god. So, he’s an enigma of sorts.
I’m not really a person to easily get attached to book characters, but Sieh always stuck with me because the way he thought was strikingly similar to me. You can learn more about him here.
Q. Besides, casting and analyzing in esports, do you see yourself consistently continuing with your YouTube content?
Sieh: I’m always having new ideas, and converting those to videos is something that I have always loved. With my channel, I try to offer a unique perspective from my experience in esports and help people grow in general. So, yeah, definitely a lot more content to come over the next few months. This includes chats with players about themselves, educational content where I analyze interesting facts and more podcasts where we tackle the conversations that everybody has in their minds, but nobody really talks about.
If there’s anything particular you would like to see, or if you would like to give me feedback, don’t hesitate to reach out! Lots of stuff coming soon, so do subscribe to my YouTube channel (Sieh Casts)!
Q. What are some of the things you would like to advise the young lads looking up to you and expecting a career in the esports sector as an analyst or a caster?
Sieh: I get asked this a lot, especially in my Insta DMs.The advice is the same to everyone. Don’t be scared to make mistakes. My concern has always been with who I can be, not who I was or who I am. Don’t chase it for fame or glory, or because it’s the trend or because your friends are doing it.
Passion is extremely important, do it only if you are 100% sure you want to do esports-related casting for the rest of your life. Without the right motivation, you will just get burned out early and not be able to give it your absolute best.Published 06 Jan 2021, 22:08 IST