Achilios on his breakout in casting, OWL & VCT Korea

Aashir Ahmed 2021-08-30 08:00:27
  Seth "Achilios" King is a professional esports play-by-play caster. Throughout his 9 years of commentary,  Achilios has primarily worked on League of Legends, Overwatch, and Valorant, but has covered other titles like PUBG (both PC and Mobile), Point Blank, Clash Royale, and Honor of Kings. Achilios is currently the play-by-play commentator paired with AVRL in the OWL. Achilios sat down with Esports Heaven to discuss his career's breakout moment, his co-caster AVRL, and the current OWL. Later in the interview, he shared his opinion on potential transfer to casting Valorant, the casting industry as a whole and Achilios finally concluded the interview by sharing viable advice to upcoming casters. Thank you for taking the time to give us an interview, Achilios. To start, could you tell us about the breakout moment of your career? After casting for numerous years as nothing more than a hobby, I started getting some paid online work, which eventually turned into an opportunity to go cast the LMS Summer Finals & Regional qualifiers in Taipei. I jumped at the chance, told my then-employer Team Liquid that I needed some time off, and immediately filed to get my passport. I had never traveled internationally before, so it was certainly a bit intimidating, but I was welcomed warmly by the Twitch Taiwan staff and they made me and Drakos (my co-caster for the event) very comfortable. After casting that event, I was noticed by Montecristo and eventually, it led to me being asked to join the OGN LCK broadcast.  Apart from casting, you find time to stream as well. How do you find the time to balance streaming and analyzing VODs for casting? I would say that I am terrible at time management. As someone with a job that allows for a lot of free time to stream and enjoy other aspects of life, I often lack the motivation to turn the camera on. Streaming is certainly something I’m planning on doing more of in the future, I just need to get past the mental barriers that are holding me back. You have been paired with AVRL for a while now. What are your thoughts on your commentary duo and its performance so far? When I found out that Wolf wasn’t going to receive an offer for the 2021 season, I was gutted and it made me question my involvement for a while. I love OW as a game and as an esport, so I ultimately decided (with Wolf’s blessing) to continue on, because someone needed to tell the Korean players’ stories. Fortunately, I was offered AVRL as a casting partner and he is absolutely the closest to Wolf’s style and has a large knowledge base/emphasis on player history. It was a no-brainer decision to move forward together, and I think we’ve had an overall strong impact in our commentary. There were very few bumps initially; it always feels great when you can fall into a style and flow with a newscaster right away. We’re very grateful for the warm welcome and feedback we’ve seen from the viewers and are always hungry to get back in front of the camera for more matches.  Is there any particular team in the OWL that has drawn your attention? I think out of all of them, I would have to settle on the Atlanta Reign. They have a “bad boy of the League” attitude around them, but their players are also extremely chill. They play the heel role very well. Aside from the personality traits, I’m mostly enraptured by the level of play they’ve shown. I definitely slept on them as a heavy-hitting team this year, due to being distracted by others like Washington, Dallas, and Shanghai. It’s a pleasant surprise to see an off-radar team come in so strongly.  Have you ever considered a coaching position in the Overwatch League? Is it something you think you can do? Not really, I don’t think I would ever entertain the idea of coaching. While I have a solid grasp of the game and what teams are doing at the moment, I don’t think I would excel in a position where I’m telling others how and what to play. If I wanted to move out of commentary (which I don’t) I would potentially look for something more in line with a GM role, but hopefully, I’ll still be casting when I’m over 60 years old.  Achilios, what is your most favorite OW match cast ever? This gets asked a lot, and I don’t have a single answer. Kongdoo Panthera vs Lunatic Hai in S3 APEX Finals, Runaway vs Kongdoo Panthera in Contenders S2 2018, and Shanghai vs Boston Uprising in S2 of OWL all come to mind and are equally cherished in my mind.  Moving onto the Valorant side of things, you have not cast VCT in stage three? Do you plan on returning? I cast 10 days in Valorant Stage 3, but only the first day of the Quarterfinals in the playoffs. I would love to cast more, but due to scheduling constraints, I was not able to. When you have a job as a caster, and you love casting, it’s tough to ever feel satisfied; you’re always hungry for more casting days! If you do, will it be difficult keeping up with the Overwatch League and VCT simultaneously? Coming from a background where I cast League of Legends and Overwatch simultaneously, I don’t see myself having issues with VCT and OWL, should this happen again next year. Valorant is immensely more approachable than League of Legends as far as what you need to follow in terms of the number of matches, characters, and meta changes so it will be pretty easy in my opinion! Do you ever plan on permanently leaving the Overwatch scene and transitioning to the Valorant scene? All good things come to an end eventually, but so long as there is Overwatch to be cast and I’m hired, I will continue to be a part of OW. I think it would take a lot for me to willingly leave the scene when there’s an opportunity for me. The same goes for Valorant.  Is there a particular level you would like Valorant’s competitive scene to be at to make this transition? I think if I were to hypothetically commit to Valorant over OW, it would need to have a similar level of success relative to League of Legends in Korea. The viewership is growing, but stability for teams is still a work in progress, and I’m excited to see what Riot does to further incentivize more talent and viewership growth in Korea. That being said, I’d much prefer to cover both games, as long as that is feasible.  For those not aware of the Korean scene, which teams are currently dominating in the VCT? At the time of writing, we’ve yet to see Vision Strikers vs F4Q establish the #1 seed from Korea. I believe Vision Strikers are at an all-time peak in performance with their recent roster changes leading into Stage 3, and they still have a high ceiling for development. F4Q are wacky and wild, and you never really know what they’re going to do round over round in a series. I think that for the sake of both strategic depth and entertainment at Berlin, we sent the perfect two teams.  Which team are you specifically rooting for in the upcoming Masters in Berlin? I will forever shill both Korean teams at Berlin. If one drops out of the tournament, then the other will have my full backing support until the very end. I think Vision Strikers have a very significant chance of making a deep run though, so if I was betting, my money would be on them. Achilios, do you think the Valorant competitive scene could rival Overwatch in the near future? It's hard to say, as they are very different games and have overall different audiences, in my opinion. While there is certainly cross-pollination in the fanbase, I think people approach each game for very different reasons. So even if Valorant climbs to be similar to OW with large organizations and cash invested, I think that the OW scene will still live on, so long as they keep receiving a product that they love.  What's the most important feature Valorant is missing? An in-game replay viewer/clip editor for observers would be nice. In Korea we are recording every player's POV simultaneously, so we can pull a replay quickly if we missed the live-action. Other regions don’t have the same resources, so enabling the observers/replay teams to be able to pull clips on the fly and weave them into the downtime during a broadcast would be a significant gain for the scene overall. That and freecam replays to make some truly cinematic slow-mo shots on the fly would be amazing.  How would you describe the Overwatch casting scene to be? What separates a caster from the pack? I think it's a tough game to break into. A lot of the casters have now been around since the very beginning, so it can be intimidating to try and make your mark. Anyone with their own flair that resonates with viewers can find success and build an audience that will back them as a caster. You can’t stagnate or phone it in really with Overwatch. It keeps you on your toes, and you need to be ready to react and evolve.  Is there any advice you can pass onto upcoming casters in the scene? Reach out and ask for reviews. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone that straight-up refuses to help an up-and-coming caster; if you don't see a response from someone, it's likely that they’ve just simply missed your message. If you’re trying to get started, record yourself casting a match with the caster audio muted; watch it back and find things to improve upon. Then listen to the caster audio and compare/contrast what you did compared to the pros. This helps in figuring out a mental flowchart of what is important and should be discussed in a given moment. So many budding casters often ask “How do you know what to talk about at each moment?” and honestly it’s an ever-evolving checklist and that you mentally make up on the fly. Practicing, comparing, and practicing some more is the best way to develop that, so it becomes second nature.  Achilios, thank you once again for the interview. The floor is yours! Is there anything you would like to add, give a shoutout, etc.  If you guys like Korean esports, get excited after listening to people ramble about movies and tv shows during downtime, then check out my commentary! I’m proud of what I’ve put together this year with AVRL, as well as with Paperthin/Artosis/Chobra on the Valorant side of things, and hopefully, you’ll enjoy it. Embrace your Korean overlords now and watch APAC/VCT KR, because if you start as a fan of NA/EU, you’re only going to be disappointed when KR takes over :) 
Feature Image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment Kindly support us by following Esports Heaven on Twitter and keep tabs on our website for more interesting content. If you enjoyed this interview of Achilios, follow the author for more Valorant content at @AashirAhmed155.

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