Interview with UK caster Richard ‘TheSimms’ Simms: ‘I don’t think PUBG was ready for pro leagues, but we’ve created an ecosystem and it excites me because the only way is up’

richard simms pubg interview

Jamie Wootton recently attended the 2019 PUBG Global Championship (PGC) Grand Finals on behalf of Esports News UK. He wrote a PGC 2019 tournament recap that covered the weekend’s events, interviewed TSM’s UK PUBG players and more.

He also had the opportunity to interview Richard ‘TheSimms’ Simms – a prominent UK caster known for commentating PUBG and Halo events.

To offer a little more context, this interview took place during the fourth game of the first day. Here’s what Richard had to say.

Jamie Wootton, Esports News UK: You cast both Halo and PUBG at the highest levels. How do you manage to juggle both games and keep up to date with what goes on in both esports?

Richard Simms: It’s not too bad, it’s worked out quite well this year because Halo hasn’t really had anything. I’ve done one Halo event this year because it’s currently building up to its new game, which is unknown when it’s going to be released.

With PUBG we had a full roadmap for this year so it has actually been surprisingly easy. I have never been able to do it before in all four years of working in this game.

It is normally difficult to keep track of everything but this year the stars have aligned. From Halo not doing anything to PUBG giving me a year’s worth of work – so this year is spot on. Life has been good, it has been nice to focus on something.

It’s actually nice to, for the first time, have so much work I can just say that I know what I’m doing and when. It has helped family life because I have had a kid this year so it has been easier to work it around that.

With the PGC being a huge event that sees teams from regions all across the world take part,  how do broadcast talent prepare for such an event?

For something like this on an international scale, it comes down to watching other regions, looking at VoDs, looking at communities, trying to dip into different Discords and see what the feel is around them.

“I like to try and find out what the banter levels are like, how far you can push things on broadcast, how the players are, who is the strongest… and if there are any internal memes you can bring out!”

Richard ‘TheSimms’ Simms

If you can dip into internal memes and bring them across, that’s a really good way to connect with the audience. It just comes down to watching VoDs though and finding out who is good, looking at the statistics, what their road to the event is, what do they like to play as, what is their role within the team, and what have they done on an international level.

It’s really just about trying to deconstruct a team player by player, trying to find their road to this event and how you think they’ll perform.

We can only see how they perform on the day and that’s what we get paid for, but being able to get a leg up on how things unfold, strengths, weaknesses and so on, it’s always good to know.

Primarily it involves lots of reading, lots of research through Liquipedia, Twitch, YouTube – almost 95% on the computer.

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TSM, the only team at PCG with UK players, have been slowly rising through the ranks since the inaugural phase of PEL in April. With this sort of consistent growth, what do you think they need to do to become the best team in Europe or the wider world?

Ironically they just won a game whilst we’re in this interview so that’s pretty good. One thing we have noticed is that, at this event, they seem to be playing a different game. They seem to be playing more aggressive.

I don’t know what figure second place get, but when PGC started it was $1 million [for first place] and $300,000 [for second place] so the drop off is insanity. Because of that you’d expect a slower pace and a more passive, wary lobby.

“In my personal opinion, I don’t think PUBG was ready for pro leagues – not within its first year. We’ve now created an ecosystem and now it’s a matter of where we go from there. It excites me because the only way is up, in my opinion.”

Richard ‘TheSimms’ Simms

Considering there’s a couple of young lads on TSM, it surprises me how confident they are. I speak to Michael ‘mykLe’ Wake quite a lot on a personal level and for a 19 year old he is very confident. I don’t know if that is because of where he has grown up, his background or whatever but very individual, not scared to talk to anybody.

Gustavv ‘GustavvQQ’ Blond is a fantastic IGL, you see him on the bike all the time finding a location for them and getting Ömer ‘Iroh’ Çakıldeveli was by far the greatest puzzle-piece find to date.

My best advice would be to play aggressive, stick to a game plan and don’t get cocky. On the last day of OGN they got cocky and it showed, they got slapped by Faze. Don’t do that here, you don’t have the games to get cocky. You go out early a couple of times – hell look at this competition here, Gen.G might have already won it three games in. As we are speaking Gen.G have 43 points and the next team have 29 – it’s bonkers.

(Editor’s note – Richard called it: Gen.G went on to win the event!)

In recent years, the UK seems to have been somewhat lacking a wide range of talent in the FPS genre. With this in mind, do you think we’ll see more UK PUBG players or teams in the near-future?

I don’t think it is bleak at all. When you look towards the [ESL] UK & Ireland Premiership and other initiatives that are breeding UK esports, [they are] giving people a platform to work from, giving players more opportunities and chances to be brought up and out to the world to put them on display and show what they’re made of.

That said, it is also on the players to get involved, get their asses in gear. I always say to people ‘make a brand for yourself’, because when this is done you need something to fall back on, so building a brand, making yourself known, being socially aware and understanding social responsibilities is important.

I think the future of UK esports is bright so long as companies are willing to put the time and effort in. Grassroot UK esports initiatives are important but it’s also important that people and players don’t get lazy and that they take advantage of those opportunities that are given to them, don’t just think it’s a given. Don’t think a win is a given. Put the time in, put the effort in and work your ass off.”

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With the introduction of regional leagues and countless premier tournaments, what do you think about the development of PUBG esports from 2018 to 2019?

I think it has been a bit too rapid. I think there has also been a little bit of a downfall of it when you look at the viewership. 96 games of PEL was, even from a casting perspective, a lot. You can feel yourself becoming lethargic and lazy, same with the players some of them got sloppy.

I think that is part of the reason we [Europe/PEL] didn’t get more teams through like G2 for example. People just became predictable, reliant and redundant on those games just carrying on.

In my personal opinion, I don’t think PUBG was ready for pro leagues – not within its first year. It should have stayed in an open system, open roadmap with open events. Maybe something could have been in place to give structure but it’s always difficult diving into a pro league so early. 

“It’s important that people and players take advantage of opportunities that are given to them. Don’t just think it’s a given; don’t think a win is a given. Put the time in, put the effort in and work your ass off.”

Richard ‘TheSimms’ Simms

We’ve now created an ecosystem and now it’s a matter of where we go from there. No one knows what’s happening next and that’s what I’m excited to see. They [PUBG] said it’s going to be a five year plan, they plan on getting bigger and better. You’ve got all these leagues in place, what do you do next? You have to find a way to make it better and that is an exciting possibility. 

They have to take a minute to look at their ecosystem, see what it needs and see how they can improve. There are certain regions that are falling behind, certain regions that need nurturing and bringing up and LATAM is one of them. I think there are some stunning players, some nasty little rosters in LATAM that they need to give more opportunities to. Maybe even combining regions like LATAM and NA for example.

It excites me because the only way is up in my opinion. So for PUBG esports, if this is its first real year, it has not done bad. Everyone memes about it being a dead game but it’s still always top three on Steam for players, it’s always up there pulling 600k players on a daily basis. The numbers are there. The thing I want to see is cross-pollination. Get the casual audience involved by giving them ways to be able to watch it, learn it, understand it, get a player inside the game, get Twitch embedded.

You can follow Richard Simms on Twitter here.

Stay tuned on Esports News UK for more content from PGC 2019, including an interview with fellow British PUBG caster Lauren ‘Pansy’ Scott.

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