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Interview

OW Caster Jamerson on his early career and CS:GO casting influences.

By Josh Lee
Oct 10, 2017
Overwatch Commentator, James "Jamerson" Lee, shares some memories from his early career and his greatest shoutcasting influences.

You used to work at a coffee shop near Blizzard HQ. What was that like?

This was during my time while I was still in school finishing out my last two years of school and I worked at a coffee shop.

It was the Coffee Bean that was three-four blocks away from the main Blizzard HQ. And so we had a lot of regulars come in and it was just a regular 9 to 5. Everyone hates retail jobs. I don't have to like hark on that but it was made so much easier because, well you know, every single rush - my morning rush, my lunch rush, and then my mid-afternoon rush. Well, I knew Blizzard employees were going to come in.

We can talk about Starcraft. Hell, some of them would talk to me about League of Legends. We would talk about LCS. You know, how Cloud9 and TSM were doing. It was just it was great getting to just be able to interact with them and then also just see what people who are in careers that are their passion, right, are actually like. And seeing them pursue their passion in their career made me want to actually do that myself.

At one point, when Overwatch was released that's when I was like these guys have like have made their passion their career and they've produced this great video game. I want to do something similar. What is my passion? It's esports! And so by working there, by working around all Blizzard people that I got to talk to esports about, it really was the kick in the ass that I needed to get out of there and get into esports.

Can you share a bit about your illustrious career on Rise Nation?

[Laughing] My illustrious career on Rise Nation.

So, it lasted all of about four weeks where I was scrimming with this team. It was Winky Face who had competed at Agents Rising. And so the star of that team was Dyrus. TSM's Dyrus, their former top laner. They had competed at Agents Rising and then the other members - they wanted to stick together after that. And they were getting offers just because this was one of the first LANs.

It was actually my buddy, Nibbs, who was going to play... I forget which role. I want to say DPS... secondary DPS who asked me "Hey, I've seen you play Lucio. I know you've got good movement. You have your head on about this game. You've been playing since day zero." And he kept hounding me. It took a good maybe three or four weeks before I finally gave in and I was like, “Yeah, sure.”

At that time I was concentrating on my casting career and I was working very heavily doing early Korean tournaments. But, you know, like most pros they see their shot and they take it. And I didn't wanna wake up five years from now and kick myself in the behind for not taking my shot, right? You just have to go for it. I mean that's that's kind of the point of the entire esports industry. You see an opportunity, you go for it. And so I did.

But, long story short - Four weeks of scrimming and then three hours before we were supposed to sign, I got booted and replaced by Soex - who's still a great player.

So, congratulations Soex. He played with them for about a month before they got dropped for xRetzi and everyone else.

You’ve casted many long days at Esports Arena. What did you learn from that?

Oh boy. So yeah. Esports Arena, you talk about long casting days. This was...starting January of last year 2016. I mean it did start 2015, really, but there was a long gap inbetween.

[Pause]

It was difficult.

It was hard.

But honestly, it was the passion that fuels you and to this day a lot of people say, "Oh, why are you always so happy?"

Actually Uber asks me that a lot. "You always seem to be happy and you love everything!"

And, well, I'm thinking to myself: I'm enjoying the journey. I'm learning a lot as I come along. I get to see everyone else work hard around me. And so, I learn to appreciate all the hard work that's put into me looking decent at least on camera on broadcast everything.

That's the biggest lesson, the biggest takeaway I've gotten away from those long days and especially on days like today where we had a pretty long broadcast. It was a six hour broadcast, but we came in two hours before and then you know there's going to be two hour meetings afterwards. It's just appreciating the fact that you know there's a team of 10, 20, hundreds behind this that are probably suffering harder than I am so a long day really doesn't mean much.

You’ve casted a variety of titles. Which game do you draw the most influence from?

You say a variety of titles but really I only did Counter-Strike before this. I tried my hand at League of Legends, but Counter-Strike definitely was the biggest influence. And especially because the casters from Counter-Strike have just such a long history that they've been able to develop their craft, work with each other, develop their banter - everything. They fine-tuned it and so most of my idols, actually, most of my influences come from Counter-Strike.

So, you have Sadokist. You know, he sounds like he's singing. He's got this cadence to it that I try my best to bring in. And then you've also got Uber who's just a rock star right now in the Overwatch scene. But he did do a lot of Counter-Strike and when I saw him work with Pansy, that's when I knew he was like the absolute real deal. She's also the real deal, by the way, but the two of just working together, seeing that - that's what I strive for.

That's what I want to do. Like I don't have a duo partner myself when I cast. I don't have a dedicated duo partner like a lot of other casters do. And that's what I'm going to be striving for when I move forward. And it's all really built off the back of their Counter-Strike history.

Interview
Josh Lee profile
Josh Lee
Josh is the lead Overwatch Producer at Blitz Esports. He's also been spotted casting a few Overwatch and League of Legends tournaments.
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