Interview: Jamada on climbing the ranks as a UK LoL caster, his EU Masters experience and his upcoming LEC debut

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European League of Legends has seen an uplift in interest at the regional league level, with the EU Masters establishing itself as a solid tournament showcasing rising talent from various countries. Aside from players and teams, this has also resulted in further opportunities for broadcast talent, with the LEC recently inviting up-and-coming analysts and shoutcasters – including several from the UK – to join its Summer 2021 broadcast.

The UK’s Adrian ‘Jamada’ Wharlton-Thorne is one colour caster that’s been called up to the LEC, having cast in the UKEL, UKLC and NLC and worked as a coach. He sat down with Meg Kay for a deep dive into his casting journey so far.

Esports is all about progression. From climbing the ranks in solo queue to climbing divisions in the competitive scene, every game is an opportunity for growth. With last year’s streamlining of the UK League of Legends scene into distinct divisions, including the tier 3 UKEL as an official link to the UKLC, opportunities for promotion and progression are becoming more and more frequent in the world of British esports. 

Those opportunities aren’t just for the players. The talent pipeline in the UK scene has fostered the meteoric rise of some of the most iconic casters in League esports – with LEC, LPL and EU Masters playing host to some of the UK’s best and brightest in the broadcast world. For example, in the LEC we have Medic and Vedius, the LPL has Munchables, the LCK has Chronicler who previously cast in the UK scene to name a few.

This year, EUM’s impressive roster of UK casters was joined by Adrian ‘Jamada’ Wharlton-Thorne, a familiar face in the UK scene whose rapid rise in the casting world is a testament to the talent pipelines that UK League is beginning to lay out.

From playing, to coaching, to broadcast, he’s seen it all when it comes to UK League and been present for the progression of the UK scene from relative obscurity to having two UK players in EU Masters finals. But he didn’t stop at EU Masters. He will now be guest casting the LEC, along with other ERL broadcasters. Of these fresh faces, Jamada is by far the newest to the world of casting – but he’s not going to let that stop him. 

From UK scene to LEC: the journey so far

Beginning his life in the League esports ecosystem as a coach for MNM Gaming, Jamada describes his progression as a caster as “pretty blessed”.

“At the start of 2019, no-one in the UK scene really knew who I was,” he explains, “and then in my first split as a coach I ended up on probably one of the most reputable UK organisations.”

MNM, one of the UK’s most storied brands, has been consistently praised by the community for its contributions to the growth of the UK scene. Just last year, MNM chose to give away their second UKLC spot for free rather than selling it after relegation from the NLC in order to “give UKEL teams a fair chance to qualify.”

MNM are an industry leader in UK esports when it comes to content creation, and it was perhaps this working environment that led Jamada to consider on-camera broadcast roles alongside his duties as a coach. Alongside his role as head coach for MNM’s UKLC team, he moonlighted as a caster for the UKEL throughout 2020, and was offered the opportunity to cast the UKLC’s Summer Relegation series alongside fellow UK caster Will ‘Viperoon’ Whittingham.

Jamada also has a small claim as a player, having technically filled some games for one of Bulldog Esports’ Forge of Champions runs in 2018, and he also has coaching experience with LionsCreed.

All in all, it’s been nothing but upward movement for Jamada, who now casts the highest tier of UK competition in the NLC, as well as appearing on the EU Masters broadcast for Spring 2021 – and now the LEC.

Jamada is living proof that, however underdeveloped it may be, a talent pipeline does exist in the UK League scene. If utilized correctly, and combined with its own fair share of hard work, it can provide opportunities for both players and casters to accomplish greatness.

However, such a quick climb through the ranks of UK broadcasts did not come without its own detrimental side effects.

“I’m normally not one to feel like imposter syndrome affects me,” explains Jamada, “but I think this is one area where I do think, am I really good enough to be here?”

Camaraderie, caster synergy and finding your voice as a rookie

For Jamada, a key step to overcoming this impostor syndrome and becoming more comfortable on broadcast has been his colleagues. The NLC casting team hosts multiple talented UK representatives, and he cites these experienced mainstays of the UK scene as the people who have truly allowed him to flourish as a caster.

“Being able to work alongside these super experienced casters like Aux and Hiprain, who’ve all been there for years, was such an insane learning experience,” he says, explaining that the camaraderie between the NLC team was one of the most enjoyable parts of working in the region. 

“I said to the NLC guys during the split, that it just felt like every day that I hopped into the Discord green room, it was like I was seeing my second family. They’re genuinely the sweetest bunch of people, and we all have such good banter together that I feel like comes across really well on cast.”

“I think if I’d tripped up at any point in this journey things would’ve been a lot different. But whether it be through sheer will, determination, whatever you want to call it, I think I’ve smashed every opportunity I’ve had out of the park.”

For Jamada, working alongside talent of this level proved that outside the technicalities of casting, it’s personality and attitude that truly matter when it comes to creating an engaging broadcast.

“You can’t go wrong with being nice”, he says of his learnings from his time with the NLC, “and even though I wasn’t really sure how to present myself going into it, I quickly worked out that the best thing to do would just be to be myself.”

And being himself has clearly served him well, with the LEC now approaching just a year after his NLC debut.

Some examples of Jamada on stream, colour casting with play-by-play caster Hiprain (top) in the UKLC Spring 2021 finals and on the desk with Excoundrel and Foxdrop (bottom):

The sky truly is the limit for Jamada, and he’s already got some dreams about who he’d love to cast alongside in the future.

“I think Captain Flowers is one of the top candidates – everyone’s going to say they’d love to cast with Flowers because he’s just that good,” Jamada says.

Also at the top of the list is fellow LEC Brit, Medic – a dream that may well come to pass sooner rather than later. Jamada explains that his favourite style of play-by-play casting is “where you can tell that the play-by-play also has enough knowledge to colour cast”, a gift which he also thinks NA play-by-play Phreak has in spades. 

For now, though, Jamada’s just getting to grips with casting at the European level. It’s been a “mind-boggling” progression over the past year, but he’s confident that he’s taken everything in his stride.

“I think if I’d tripped up at any point in this journey things would’ve been a lot different,” he says, “but whether it be through sheer will, determination, whatever you want to call it, I think I’ve smashed every opportunity I’ve had out of the park.”

“Since I started playing League seven years ago, reaching the LEC has been a dream I never thought I’d achieve. And I feel so blessed to have this opportunity so early in my career.”

This chance to appear on the LEC broadcast is the culmination of a dream years in the making. From picking up League of Legends to landing his first spot as a coach, to casting the UKEL, to making it to the NLC–everything has led up to this moment.

“Since I started playing League seven years ago, this has been a dream I never thought I’d achieve,” he explains. “And I feel so blessed to have this opportunity so early in my career.”

Although he will, in a sense, be representing the UK League community up on that stage, he will also be representing young broadcast talent across the world waiting for their chance to break into the big leagues of competitive esports. Jamada is proof that with talent, hard work, and a bit of luck, a dream can become a reality in as little as two years. 

You can follow Jamada on Twitter here. He’ll soon be appearing on an LEC broadcast – which take place on Fridays and Saturdays from 4pm BST each week.

Further reading: Exclusive interview with NLC caster Guldborg on getting called up to the LEC and why swearing at Quickshot is on his bucket list
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