Esports Job Spotlight: Caster / Host
Commentators and hosts are a key part of esports – they can really bring matches and events to life. We look at the roles and speak to respected British hosts Ceirnan ‘Excoundrel’ Lowe, Frankie Ward and more for their advice…
What is a caster?
A shoutcaster (aka caster) is another name for a commentator, who will speak over the action to engage, inform and entertain the viewer.
Casters will need good knowledge of the game and teams they are casting, to offer personality and bring a match to life.
There are typically two types of casters: play-by-play casters (who provide running on-the-fly commentary) and colour casters (who provide supplementary information or comment, usually following a noteworthy moment in a game).
What about hosts?
Hosts act as the main presenter of a tournament or event. They will usually take the stage, hype the audience up, introduce teams and may be required to interview players and other experts, like a TV presenter.
There can be crossover between casters and hosts, and different tournaments may utilise different formats. Some hosts also work as casters.
Both casters and hosts will need to have great communication skills and be able to use their voice to keep the audience engaged. They will also need to keep the show going and be able to cope with any technical problems that occur mid-broadcast. For that reason they will work closely with the production team.
Esports can be intense and broadcasts can go on for many hours, so having energy and being able to pace yourself are important aspects to consider too.
How to become a caster or host
With broadcasting platforms like Twitch and YouTube, and plenty of grassroots event providers around nowadays, it’s easier than ever to start casting.
You can create your own channel online, reach out to tournament providers to pick up some experience, or start casting over existing matches and produce showreels to show off your casting online.
Picking up experience is key. That will allow you to produce more work, which could catch the eye of other game publishers and tournament providers in the future, getting you more work and growing your reputation too.
Esports casters and hosts will need skills similar to TV presenters or radio hosts, so studying a course in presenting or broadcasting can help boost your skills relevant to these roles.
Should you get a permanent contract or go freelance?
Having a contract for a permanent role will mean a more secure, regular wage coming in each month, but going freelance may give you greater freedom and a higher potential salary. However, while it’s not easy going freelance, as work may be sporadic, many event organisers in esports will pay to hire a caster/host for a daily or per-event basis.
Getting paid on time can also be a challenge as a freelancer, some invoice payment terms from companies can be several months. Not knowing when the next paycheque is coming in can be difficult to manage.
Ultimately it’s a balance you have to weigh up. There aren’t many full-time roles around and it’s a competitive space, so carve your niche to set yourself apart.
Tips and advice from professionals
In these four videos, Medic, Frankie Ward, Ceirnan ‘Excoundrel’ Lowe and FastAnne offer their tips and talk about how they got into casting and hosting:
What can you expect to earn?
Some of the starting wages can be around to £20,000 or 25,000 to 30,000 euros a year.
Some of the top-end casters may receive between 55,000 to 60,000 euros a year or higher. At the very top-end, freelancers can earn six figures a year.
Pay varies – top freelancer rates are around €1,000 per day, though this can be considerably more. Smaller organisers may pay £150-200+ per caster, per day.
What are the hours like?
Casting and hosting are demanding roles. Globally successful casters and hosts may be required to fly from city to city, and country to country, and be on the road for months at a time, depending on which tournaments are running and when.
Because of this, hours can vary greatly. There may be some weeks of downtime and other periods where you’ll be constantly working. The busiest week-long events might be 80 hours (including travel), while quieter weeks or long weekends might consist of 25 hours or so. It can vary from game to tournament.