As the ESL UK League of Legends Premiership gets back underway this weekend, we caught up with caster Joe "Munchables" Fenny at the ESL UK CSGO Season 2 final for his thoughts on the teams and the current standings, how he got into casting, what he thinks of UK eSports and how he got that nickname...
How did you get into casting?
I started casting almost three years ago. I basically just started uploading videos to YouTube, casting on my own and getting friends to cast with me.
I got picked up the National University Esports League (NUEL) and started doing their content regularly. That just sort of snowballed.
Then ESL put a job up and I thought: "Yeah I'll try that". I'd done some freelance stuff for them already, so I thought I'd give it a go - and here I am.
Where does the name Munchables come from?
My first World of Warcraft character was called Munchkinator - I don't know why, it was just a random name - and then it snowballed from there. Everyone at college called me Munchy because I always had a packet of crisps or a Kit Kat with me. I like food, I guess!
Did you have a lot of snacks with you on the casting desk today?
I didn't actually have many snacks, I had a lot of fizzy drinks though, which is very bad for you, but I did it anyway because I'm a total rebel.
What's it like being an ESL UK caster, what does your job involve?
My job title is caster/production assistant. It's more like caster/content creator, so I'm doing a lot of stuff with YouTube and social media.
I'm also doing statistics for the regular season of the Premiership and interviews with players, all that sort of thing.
I'm also helping organise other events and things. I have my hand in many honeypots, but mostly I try to focus as much as I can on the casting, and just improving my casting.
What's your weirdest or funniest casting memory?
I don't know if it counts as a memory, but it happened earlier today during the final game between United Estonia and Team Infused.
When United Estonia won, "Machine" (caster Alex Richardson) screamed "hooray!" and he screamed so loud that his mic broke! So we then had to do the analysis desk with two mics and was passing one of the headsets around, so that was pretty funny.
When something goes wrong, you just have to keep on going. Is it difficult to handle that?
It depends on what goes on, but it's kind of part of the job. You have to be able to go off the cuff and just make it up as you go along. 90% of the job is like making it up anyway (laughs).
What are your thoughts on the ESL UK Premiership right now - with four teams on 9 points and four on 0 points - as the second half of the season gets underway this weekend?
So far we've had the top four teams - that are kind of the expected top four - and they have only played against the bottom four teams. So you're going to get clean sweeps.
But going into the second half of the season, the games we've got remaining are the top teams against each other and the bottom four teams against each other. So we'll start to see the bottom four teams get some points on the board and which of the top four teams are up in that top spot.
You can check out Munchables casting in some of the League of Legends UK Premiership matches above
How do you strike that balance between covering a match objectively but also critiquing the players?
Personally, I have no issue with saying a player did something wrong, because I very much look at it objectively.
For example, in a game of League of Legends, I'm casting the 10 champions playing the game, not 10 personal players.
I've been flamed by many a player for saying things, but what I'm saying is true! I'm just going to say the truth, so that's how it is.
Do you have any pre-match rituals?
Not like doing scales or anything like that. I probably should, you're meant to do vocal warm ups and I'm looking into that! But I don't currently.
I usually make myself a cheat sheet with statistics and things on, so that I always have something. So if I'm struggling to think of something to say, then I always have a cheat sheet to look down at and I'm always ready with some info, a factoid or some statistic.
I guess that's good advice for other casters out there - what other advice would you offer?
Write yourself a list of priorities: What are the main things I want to talk about during a League of Legends cast? What do I value as a commentator? So if you think dragon is super important, put it at the top of your priority list.
Write a list, then you can't forget what to talk about - you can't run out of things to say.
For a play-by-play, you've got to get excited! Don't be embarrassed to get excited, because that is your entire purpose, that is the reason you are the heartbeat of the cast! You have to be emotionally invested in the game, otherwise you won't get excited and you won't put that across in the cast.
What do you think of the UK eSports scene?
UK eSports is inconsistent. It's volatile. I think it can go a long way if teams can stay together a little bit longer, but that's the biggest issue it has currently.
Players just don't stay in teams long enough, and therefore teams don't develop to the same extent. And when they do, you see some teams starting to get dominant, because they've played together for a quite a while. They've got that synergy and they've got those strategies down.
I think UK eSports is fantastic and it will just keep getting better, on the grounds that teams start to actually stay together and work as a unit better.