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Interview

ZP on Overwatch's growth and his own casting improvements.

By Josh Lee
Oct 19, 2017
OW Caster, Andrew "ZP" Rush, speaks on his growth as a caster and the development of Overwatch Esports from closed beta to today.

What were some challenges when you started casting the Gosugamers weeklies during closed beta?

Overwatch was the first game I casted. So, I sort of had to go all-in with the ideas. You have one of the hardest games to cast ever, I think, because there's so much going on and you have to be a very good guardian of information to make sure you're getting the right information to the viewer. You have to be the ultimate filter and process all the crazy things that Overwatch throws at you.

And then, on the personal end, I had to learn what it was to be a broadcaster. The only thing I went in with with Overwatch was the idea that I had a reasonable idea of how to use my voice. Definitely not perfect. And I had reasonably higher-level game knowledge from previous FPS games I'd played.

But, broadcasting is an art and it takes a long time to nail the finer points to be entertaining and concise and still make sure you're delivering a good message to the viewers. And then of course chemistry with a co-caster. So me and hex were learning all these things on the fly. We were learning the game, we were learning how to be broadcasters, we were learning how to work well with each other.

And then of course the way early tournaments worked, we also had to be observers as well where the early tournaments we also had to observe and cast at the same time. So, it was just a crash course in pretty much everything in the beginning.

What was it like having a dedicated partner in hexagrams when you first got started?

It was interesting.

I mean, I don't think either of us sort of realized what we are in for in the beginning. The way it began was that I had a reasonable following with my stream and Victor from GosuGamers reached out and said, "Hey, I was asking around for anyone to do casting of our weeklies and you were recommended by a friend of mine. Would you like to do so?" I was like, "Sure, I would love to do so." And he goes. "Also we have this guy who's been doing writing for GosuGamers, hex. We're gonna put him as your co-caster". And that's just how it went.

We never actually ended up doing other pairings or otherwise for the weeklies because we got along pretty well. And really I mean again it took a while to just learn how to broadcast well. Hex and I - we have a lot of common ground. We're both similar in age, we're both from the upper Midwest, so there's common ground both regionally and intellectually where we come from but it was just a learning experience as time went on.

How did the OW tournaments during closed beta influence OW esports as it stands today?

I mean, the most you can say about it is that the dev team is very active with Overwatch. They really pay close attention to anything cool that's going on which includes the esports scene. I'm sure there are probably instances where they would see one thing going crazy in the early weekly tournaments and go, "So yeah we're going to rein that in." I also think that there's a possibility that the fact that we played on no hero limit for so long over the course of various different patches and metas that sort of helped to make the decision to finally go one-hero limit because you had such a large dataset of where that was leading competitively where you kept getting into metas where you're running 2-2-2's and the most powerful hero tended to be doubled up on.

So I think in that respect it's very possible that the fact that we did sort of experiment with the earlier versions of Overwatch where there was no one-hero limit actually might have helped to get that into the game. But, it's hard to say.

I mean from the outside you'd never quite know the developer intent you just know that there's really good intentions behind it and they're always paying attention to the community.

What makes your play-by-play casting unique compared to others?

OK, let's go through the different play by play casters.

Certainly, DoA, has his own style which is very much he has full control of the game at all times and really is a master of humor. Like the chemistry between Monte and Doa is excellent and it's a different style of broadcasting the game than I think where Uber and I come in from. I think we're very similar in terms of play-by-play style how we go about things you know more of a focus on higher energy and shifting gears quickly. And sometimes I think, in that, we tend to lose some of the banter or at times depending on the game. But these are all just different styles of broadcasting where I think it's good to have your different flavors where one pairing is bringing Dynamic A and another pairing is bringing dynamic B. You need that variety in the broadcast space, I feel.

What improvements in your casting are you most proud of?

More than anything else, I would say I'm generally more fluid in my casting where there's less stuttering, there's less thinking on the fly, where you have more confidence in what you're saying. Everything else, I would say I've really learned from the best as time has gone on.

People like Monte and DoA have been absolutely great and pushing people like Hex and I to do more banter. Be more entertaining. If you compare a cast that we do today versus a cast that we might have done way in the past, we're a lot more relaxed.

We make more jokes. We find times entertain the audience in-between. It's not always 100 percent business. I think striking the balance between information and calling the game as it is but also showing your personality and being entertaining - I think it's a hard one to strike and I would probably say that's the absolute biggest difference in my casting going from the very beginning to now.

What's the biggest obstacle that OWL faces as it starts its first season?

The biggest obstacle...

It's an interesting one because I think there's still a lot of variables that are yet to be seen. I think that would be easier to answer after we see Week One.

I know there's common complaints about watching Overwatch, right? Stuff like, "Oh you need more spectator features." Or, "How can you explain this better to people?" I think all of those are clearly getting worked on over time and we'll see where they go.

I think there's going to be a pretty big difference in viewability of the game between now and when OWL eventually launches. So I guess, for me, it'll depend on the state of the game for Week 1. And then you'd be able to give a more solid answer there because I think a lot of the complaints that people sometimes have about Overwatch will very much be addressed between now and then.

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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