A Welsh caster that has had quite the journey starting as an aspiring professional gamer to becoming a broadcaster, Benjamin "esioLoL" Doughty shares with us the path he's taken to get where he is now.
Interview conducted by Kary
Hello Benjamin. How are you doing? Kindly introduce yourself to our readers.
Hey! I’m doing well. Where to start? My name’s Benjamin, also known as Esio to most in these parts, and I’m a Welsh individual who has had a history within playing, casting, analysing, and now working production at most of the biggest events in recent times!
First thing’s first, why do you prefix “Lord” ahead of your name? *Laughs*
This is a fun one - so the Lord prefix comes from working Gfinity Elite Series back in 2017, our last show of the season was right before Christmas and we had a Secret Santa segment. One of the other members of talent got me a Lordship from Sealand
, and I’ve stuck with that in my name ever since!
You are into doing stats for CS:GO. What piqued your curiosity into doing stats for events, and how did it all get started? Take us through your journey in detail.
It was a somewhat easy transition, if I’m perfectly honest. I stopped playing competitively in mid 2017 and moved immediately into doing analyst & commentary work alongside my university studies, and in my studies I’m doing a combined open degree involving accounting, analytics, business, and stats - so I figured, why not use my education in my work? Since then, it’s been ever-so helpful and I find myself being one of the few individuals who considers themselves to be involved in stats in CS:GO at this level.
According to you, how are stats useful to teams, players as well as the community and audience? In which ways can stats be put to use especially in CS:GO?
Stats are an interesting thing to talk about. For each specific situation, there is a use, but identifying it is the real issue rather than relying on stats solely. For example, in a team they’ll have somebody who might point out stats such as “when we go B on Inferno with 30s left, we win 75% of the time!” and they may use that information incorrectly and start trying to go there sooner than 30s left on the clock, and not realise that those hits were going better in that filtered timeframe due to them having normally wasted utility on the opponent’s side.
Context is absolutely key, as well as knowing the causation behind the statistic in mind as well. For teams using stats more is definitely the future, but as I said, it needs to be used correctly and not solely relied upon. For players, it’s tough to manage, as some individuals look at their own personal stats too much - which is an issue that plagues a lot of upcomers as they feel they need to perform to go further. On a player level they should be using stats more to enhance their game, rather than solely base [it on], “will I get picked up if my rating goes up 0.1?”
CS:GO is a wonderful game for stats to be explored upon more. As an avid NBA fan, I’ve always compared it to CS due to there being a lot of similarities that can be crossed over, and I always see how many advanced analytics are being used over there and think, “Why do we not have all of this? We’re playing a game where the data is there, why are we not extracting all of this and showing it?”, and that’s where I want to come in. I want to have all of this data visible, I want everybody to see how successful they are when they survive to the last 45s of a round, I want everyone to be able to find this stuff themselves rather than have to manually do the coding themselves - the game could
be so much better.
You create storylines for events. While creating a storyline on a particular subject, which areas do you tend to focus more on and why? What’s the narrative behind creating a storyline that you want the audience to see?
When it comes to the storylines, there’s actually so many in every given event that it’s sometimes hard to give attention to each one, so we tend to choose based on matchups, form, etc. An example recently would be the IEM Beijing finals, we had the classic head to head matchup between ZywOo and s1mple, we had Natus Vincere reaching their 3rd top level final this year - would they take the win like they did at Katowice? Or would they bomb out and lose like they did during EPL S12?
We had Team Vitality making their 5th grand final this year and the question on everybody’s mind was if they’d win one finally or would they tragically lose a 5th final in a row? So many different stories to follow, yet that’s just ones that rise to the surface immediately when you look at the matchup at hand.
When trying to tell these stories we need context. Context is hugely important within this role especially, as without context I could throw stats at the wall and none of it would stick - “shox’s rating this event is 1.05” - without context I don’t think many people know what to do with this - “shox’s rating this event is 1.05 - he’s averaged 1.03 so far this year” - a simple tiny bit of context makes the viewer understand the storyline we’re trying to push immediately, that shox is performing above his average performance for the year.
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Many are unaware of the fact that you also handle the ticker for ESL events. Tell us, what exactly is your job profile when it comes to ticker?
The collective role within the ticker is CG Editorial
- this essentially means I control a lot of the text that goes into a lot of the graphics, such as the ticker. Personally I find the ticker to be incredibly useful and very similar to what most sports channels have running whilst there’s a desk segment on, or if there’s an interview - it gives viewers some additional information to look at if the main piece isn’t as key to them. It’s a pretty constant amount of work. I think the heaviest workload will have been during the ESL One Road to Rio; we had four streams running at once during that event and I was having to update the scores/storylines from all of those matches at once through it!
Besides all of the above, you dabble as an analyst and commentator as well. Multi-talented much, eh? How does being a stats man as well as creating storylines contribute to your personality of being an analyst/commentator?
I think the main key was being a professional player beforehand - I was a player for Team Endpoint for under a year (congratulations to them as well, they just got a spot in the next season of ESL Pro League) - and that allowed me to contribute so much more as an analyst, commentator, and now as a stats man, too. Being able to provide the colour commentary, or provide more information as to why a player did this, or why the team decided to do that, is such good context to the broadcast and can allow for others to learn about the game as well - that’s the main drive for me a lot of the time. I want to show the information that I have at my fingertips and spread it so everybody can understand the game and appreciate it more as well.
Due to your versatility, you’re also in a position to give an insight into other elements of a broadcast that are often overlooked by the community. Can you give us some detailed insight on a few such things that a novice like myself may not be familiar with?
Can I say the whole production? The amount of work that goes into a production for an event like ESL One or an IEM event is unreal. Typically the production staff do the entire day - which is usually 12-14 hours each day, including dress rehearsals, tech rehearsals, etc. It’s such an underappreciated side of everything as they’re the ones that make the show possible in the first place… and then obviously the talent turns that show into a masterpiece effectively.
Let’s talk about the gaming landscape for a moment. How would you describe the present gaming scene during the COVID pandemic, and post pandemic? What important lessons came to the fore that everyone—players, team orgs, TO’s, talents, etc.—should be aware of?
I’d say the competitive gaming scene has been able to thrive and show that it deserves to be where it currently is. Whilst mainstream sports had to be put on hold, we were able to carry on and essentially return to what we did years ago - play online!
Teams & Players had to return to the life that was mainly known upwards of 6+ years ago, returning to playing from home, not getting to hear the crowd roar as they make a sick play - ultimately it’s a situation where this... this really isn’t that
bad. They still get to play the game all the same, they still get to participate, it’s just different to what they’re used to.
From a TO’s perspective it’s been an ever-developing change - marketing teams having to change the way they sell their products, relying purely on the players/teams rather than the destinations or arenas, productions having to adapt to the COVID world of living with adequate distancing - they’ve had to change a lot of things, but I think we’ve hit the point where everybody is now used to it, and are developing even more cool ideas to make the shows better, just like they were doing before everything shut down.
On the talent front it’s been unusual. A lot of talent had to adapt and turn their homes into studios with lighting that works to a similar level of a broadcast studio, getting microphones that don’t have a constant buzzing noise, making sure that their webcams can produce in 1080p, a bit of everything - but for some they’ve had to really put a lot of their lives on hold. Talent having to create their own bubbles to have work exist in a studio format, and more.
Of course this wasn’t ideal for a lot of people, but the main question is - would you rather have online games be played, or have none at all? Because that was the situation for most sports, they had to wait months upon months before seeing anymore.
If you’re to summarize yourself in terms of the value that you provide or bring to the table, how would you do it?
Now that’s a tough question… as a summary, I think it’s simple: I don’t care for the limelight or having my name on anything, I just want to make the broadcast better - I want it to be as good as it can be. And that alone, is infinitely valuable - rather than trying to get myself clout or trying to gain followers or whatever, I simply want to be able to improve the show, make it be an incredible broadcast and I know I can do that by simply being a part of the production - whether that’s through doing CG Editorial stuff like I have been, or through helping produce content, building storylines each day, recaps, anything.
Before we end the interview, I would like to know more about your work with Richard Lewis in the past. You dabbled in writing articles/questions with him and that must have helped you in some way or the other over the course of your career. How was it like working with Richard? What did you end up learning from him?
Honestly, working with Richard was fantastic. He deserves so much more respect as an individual in our industry, and he really doesn’t get enough gratitude in regards to what he’s done for esports in general as a whole. He helped me get a better footing in the industry, as well as being there whenever I had any questions or queries - always helpful to those who need it. Overall he’s such a good individual to have in the industry and it would be a really big shame if he decided to leave, but I wouldn’t blame him after the way he’s been treated by the general community in the past.
Alright, that’s a wrap. Anything you’d like to say before we sign off?
Thanks for the interview. :)
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