When we think of esports, the image of teenage boys sitting at their computers pop into mind. At esports competitions, the fast-moving virtual games are shown on the big screen. Games play out like animated action stories, except they happen in real time with live commentary. The matches and the players always take centrestage.

But esports has never been just about playing the games. 

There are many other interrelated roles,  functions and elements within the ecosystem that are essential. The League of Legends SHINE x *SCAPE Talent Development Programme recognised the importance of providing esports mentees with an all-rounded experience. Besides the opportunity to learn from successful homegrown esports professionals Ho ‘Xian’ Kun-Xian and Wong ‘Chawy’ Xing Lei first-hand, mentees also spent the last few weeks apprising themselves on streaming, computer hardware, shoutcasting (commentary), marketing, and health by various experts in these fields.

If no one is watching, pretend people are watching,” advised Andrew ‘Sombrero’ Philippou to anyone who might be interested to start streaming. He is the current Product Development Manager at Razer and one of the top PUBG streamers on Twitch from Singapore. Streaming started as a unique aspect of gaming industry, where most pro-gamers broadcast their gameplay live and interact with fans.

Inspired by Sombrero, mentee Haziq ‘Vengeance’ Asyraaf bin Hamzah confessed, “I would be lying if I said I’m not interested in streaming. There are so many factors to consider though, like how I can engage viewers and attract them. Maybe someday I would give it a try!”

Basic streaming can be done on a computer that an average person games on. For a more advanced setup, that’s where hardware upgrades come in. At Aftershock’s hardware workshop, mentees witnessed firsthand how to assemble a PC from scratch. Upgrading parts allows delivery of quality streams and facilitate smooth gameplay. Every gamer can certainly appreciate installing a better graphics card every few years.

More public aspects of gaming were touched on in the shoutcasting and marketing workshops. Shoutcasting refers to live game commentary, much like the commentators we hear during live sporting events. As many players tend to transit into casters and analysts due to their prior knowledge of the game, being aware of what it takes to be one was relevant to player mentees.

According to seasoned shoutcasters Jenny ‘Reira’ Lee and Lim ‘Lysander Xonora’ Lyn-Feng, the commentators job is to take what is happening on screen in a game, and translate that into emotions that the audience can appreciate and comprehend. How knowledge and emotions are conveyed vary from shoutcaster to shoutcaster. As such, criticism is part of the job.

As the first Singaporean to cast at The International – the largest Dota event of the year – Lysander had to deal with his fair share of negative feedback. “You need to recognise that the people criticizing are a small number compared to those who are actually watching…That said, accept feedback and you’ll grow faster.”

Whether as a player, streamer or shoutcasting, being in esports means putting oneself out there. Personal branding is paramount to success. In the Marketing and Etiquette workshop by well-known local gamer and influencer Tammy ‘Furryfish*’ Tang, participants learned about building their image from ground up.

“It is better to make an impression than no impression,” she advised. “Ask for honest feedback and always learn.” A solid personal brand after all, can lead to more esports opportunities. When brands see the positive impact an individual has in the gaming community, they may invite gamers to be a part of product endorsements and special event appearances.

The final session that stood out – literally, because it made participants jump out of their seats – was the Health and Fitness Workshop by the National Youth Sports Institute. Everyone got a good stretch from head to toe. “I personally don’t really exercise, but I learned a lot regarding esports injuries. This is something I can take home. We also learned about the importance of sleep how it can boost our gaming focus!” shared Haziq.

Tying it up, perhaps the most important lesson that echoed throughout the workshops by all the speakers is that no matter what, ‘be authentic’. Esports is about being true to oneself in every role we play, whether as a teammate, streamer, commentator or brand ambassador – especially when it comes down to taking care of our own personal well-being.