Shoutcasters play a big role in maintaining the quality of a tournament’s broadcast and keeping the audience hooked on the ongoing action. While their job might look easy on-screen, it’s a whole other ball game behind the microphones.
In an exclusive interaction with Sportskeeda Esports’ Abhishek Mallick, professional esports caster Piyush “Spero” Bathla talks about his journey in the industry as well as his experiences with Skyesports and the Valorant Red Bull Campus Clutch.
Here is an excerpt from the conversation.
Q. Despite being a celebrated shoutcaster in the Indian esports scene, not much is known about you outside the persona of Spero. Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself and what your journey in the video games industry has been like so far?
Spero: Piyush is a humble guy who likes to play cricket and badminton with his friends, loves to travel and taste different flavors of the world. Spero, on the other hand, is overzealous with his love for esports.
From watching Mortal's streams and buying an iPad just to play PUBG Mobile smoothly to realizing that an iPad alone would not help me play professionally, I started devising a better approach to enter into the esports scene. However, instead of me finding shoutcasting, it found me. From then on, it has been a roller-coaster ride for sure.
Q. So, how did the casting career take off? Tell us about some of your earliest casting gigs and the emotions that you felt at the time.
Spero: “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”
During a PUBG Mobile Customs session with my friends, the room got full and one of my friends did not get a slot to play. I don’t know what made me do it, but for some reason, I gave up my slot and swapped it with the guy sitting in the Observer area. As I was also streaming the game live on my YouTube channel, I started to casually comment on the game so that my friends can watch it later.
The next day, a guy who played in those scrims contacted me asking to stream and cast his Tier 2 scrim session on my own channel. I agreed to do it in my free time for channel promotions! From then onwards, I ended up working on multiple T2 scrim projects and got an opportunity to cast Hexagon T1 scrims, where Team Tamilas and other renowned teams used to participate.
A plan to show off to my friends their novice plays brought 700-1000 concurrent viewers to my YouTube channel. I couldn’t believe it for the first time. It brought me immense pleasure and joy to look at the positive response I received from the chat section. From there on, I knew this was it!
Q. Apart from casting, you are also an avid streamer and content creator. Which of the two do you enjoy the most?
Spero: Streaming for sure. I love playing games, especially with friends. From playing Mario and Contra on an NES Gaming Console to Clash of Clans and PUBG Mobile on an iPad, I never grew tired of it! PUBGM had me hooked for years!
Nowadays, I spend most of my free time playing Valorant with my friends. I usually stream my gameplay on YouTube, and the community has been receiving it in a very positive and entertaining manner. It feels like a dream come true!
Q. What’s life like for a professional esports caster? Talk to us about your day-to-day routine and responsibilities during match days.
Spero: Life feels really good when you wake up with the thought of entertaining the masses on a regular basis! My routine depends solely on the tournament schedule.
On a few occasions, I've committed to multiple tournaments in a single day, and my schedule gets so packed that I hardly get the time to eat. This is especially the case on important days (finals or guests on the show) as I have to do my homework regarding the match structuring, flow of the stream, Q&A for the guests, and other usual production happenings. Sometimes, I wonder if it is all just magic!
Q. During the Brawl Stars World Finals 2020, you received a special box for casters, which you teased on social media. However, you never got around to revealing what was in it. So what was inside the special box for casters?
Spero: What's funny is that I still have that box in my room as a souvenir! It has a Brawlstars-themed hoodie, a mousepad, a cup, and a pack of cute little badges!
Q. The Skyesports Valorant league was a very successful affair in terms of community engagement. Having a multi-lingual broadcast and keeping the audience entertained for 52 days without a break is no easy feat. Apart from casting yourself, you were also managing the rest of the casting team. What were some of the major challenges that you faced during the tournament, and how were you able to tackle them?
Spero: For me, the toughest challenge was to find the right flair for our tournament. I always believed in providing opportunities to young and talented individuals, something I learned the hard way from my very own prime casting days.
One evening, I received a message from Sanath Kumar on my Instagram handle asking me if he could be a caster. After going through his resume and liking it, I further asked for a sample cast to better judge his talent.
For a guy who never casted a single official esports tournament, his sample cast was very convincing. I immediately asked him to cast a couple of matches from the Indian Valorant Championship which we organized earlier this year.
We closely monitored and groomed him through the months and gave him the opportunity to be a co-host on our English casting deck, and boy, did he do well.
So, apart from “upskilling” and training new recruits, a major challenge for me was to constantly raise the bar and improve on my own casting. Even though I think we did a fine job, I still believe there is a lot of room for improvement, which I'm personally striving for!
Q. With Skyesports Championship 3.0 on the way, what unique elements can fans look forward to in terms of both production and broadcast?
Spero: Skyesports Championship 3.0 is a dream project for our entire Sky team, and we are going all-in on that. Be it production quality or broadcasting it in different languages across different games, we want to lead the charge and ascend esports to the next stage, where everyone could accept esports as a real competitive sport.
Q. The COVID-19 induced lockdown has made it quite difficult to host offline events for any video game title. For you personally, how has the transition been like from LAN to online? What were some of the difficulties that you faced during the process?
Spero: I believe obstacles do not block our path; they are our path. To be honest, the lockdown is what helped esports get to where it is now.
Doing things online was definitely a technical challenge, but my amazing team made things possible even though they were several million miles away.
After witnessing what my team is capable of, I so badly want LAN events to come back ASAP so that new and existing audiences get to experience the amazing feeling of our production and broadcast firsthand.
Q. The Valorant Red Bull Campus Clutch provided an incredible platform for young collegiates to step into the spotlight and show off their FPS skills. What were some of your more memorable experiences during the event?
Spero: Red Bull Campus Clutch provided a great platform for young collegiate players to showcase their skills and reach the world stage.
Personally, the performance of Player Bones from Team QQQ in the Quarterfinals was absolutely stunning. However, what baffled me throughout the tournament was the hard work of Skyesports’ production and management team.
They were sleepless handling two tournaments (Red Bull Campus Clutch and Skyesports League 2021) at the same time. But they managed to pull it off at the end of the day. That was a unique experience that I will cherish forever.
Q. With the announcement of the Valorant Conquerors Championship, the community is quite excited about the upcoming competition. What are some of your expectations from the tournament, and how well do you think Indian teams will fare against some of the best that the APAC has to offer?
Spero: The esports world needs dreamers and doers. But above all, the sports world needs dreamers who do, and I'm sure that the Indian teams will surprise everyone!
I have high expectations for our teams, even though I know that it won’t be easy at this point as we are still sharpening our skills and adapting to new starts. However, I can see the hunger in our teams and I believe we all should unite and support them!
Q. Valorant Mobile and Battlegrounds Mobile India are two mobile titles that have been announced for this year. Will Skyesports be looking to host events for these two titles later this year?
Spero: I can't wait to cast these events! I have started my career with PUBG Mobile, and it will always be close to my heart. Working on BGMI would be nostalgic.
I have really high expectations from Valorant Mobile as its PC version has been my newfound love. I want its mobile version to succeed as well!
As far as Skyesports is concerned, we have huge plans for both the games, and we will implement them once the games are launched.