(Image Credit: ESL)There’s a moment in everyone’s life where they know what they want. When did you know that commentating was your jam? At school I had always loved public speaking. I loved giving speeches in English class and having debates, I really enjoyed speaking and performing in front of people. I was good at it and I guess as a kid or young teen you really love the things you’re good at. I always loved the talent side of the CS:GO broadcasts. I idolized Anders, HenryG, Sadokist, and James Bardolph when I was 15-16 and I thought I would try casting a demo one day in 2017 and I loved it. I realized I loved talking about CSGO. I messaged a local university league in Northern Ireland, “One Tap Lan” and asked them if they needed any casters. They said, “Yes, we would really appreciate that.” I streamed online and it was terrible; my pc began to lag, the stream started to break and I was embarrassed in front of the Irish CS:GO scene. I decided then I wouldn’t cast again, but then I received a tweet from one of the players “Ivan0ff” complimenting my casting and that honestly is the moment that started my casting career. I believed in myself again after that. I’ll try and keep this next bit short, but it’s funny thinking about this looking back. In the summer of 2017 I was 16 years old and wanted to attend the ECS Season 3 Finals in London, but I was too young to be unsupervised by an adult and I would have to fly to London and the only person that was willing to go with me was my mother. She paid for the flights and the tickets and brought me to London to watch the ECS Season 3 Finals. I was so excited that I was going to see the players I had watched through my whole teenage life and the broadcast talent like Thorin, Bardolph, Anders, HenryG etc. I arrived in London a night before the playoffs started and I started walking around the outside of the arena in the evening with my mother watching out for any CS:GO pros. I remember spotting Pala walking down the road and thought I would play it cool and just smile. Then I spotted "shroud" coming out of the arena and I believe there were rumours about that Cloud9 team breaking up around that time and shroud going into full time streaming, so I thought, “Ah, screw it; I’m gonna go over and ask for a photo. I may never get the chance again,” so I went over and spoke to him for a moment and asked if I could take a quick photo. He was super nice and agreed. He was laughing because I was taking the selfie on a DSLR camera because my phone was dead. We spoke about the match just played against Astralis where Cloud9 pulled the upset and then he continued to his hotel. I realized then that weekend was going to be amazing. The next day the playoffs started and the atmosphere was amazing. I kept telling my mum how I was going to work in this industry in the future and she said, “You’ll be working here next year.” I laughed at her naivety of the industry but lo and behold, one year later in London 2018 I was commentating in the Wembley Arena in front of thousands of people at ECS Season 5, after winning the ECS Community Caster Challenge with Hawka. Funnily enough we opened the tournament with the group stage match I had spoken to shroud about only a year ago, c9 vs Astralis. My accent did get a few laughs that event with the phrase “Cloid Noine” being repeated throughout Twitch chat and Twitter. It was after that event that I realized I can have a career in casting if I really worked hard. You’ve been getting a decent amount of work recently and the credit definitely goes to the hard work that you’ve put in. However, I’m more interested in knowing the uncomfortable situations that you had to face or the circumstances that you had to go through to get to where you are today. In short, take us through the journey that has gotten you so far to this level. 2020 was been packed with events back-to-back and that has been great for work! In terms of uncomfortable situations or circumstances I’ve encountered, I don’t really think I had many. The main problem—and every member of talent, bar the very top will experience this—is just wondering what the next gig is. The question you ask yourself is, “Is this it? Is this the event I stop getting work after?” You quickly realize that worrying often ends up being pointless. Another event always came along, whether it be small or large, it didn’t stop, but I think that's a mind set we all have to have. We have to have drive and personal ambition to continue moving forward - to continue to improve and work your way up. I remember the feeling of disappointment after ECS Season 5 Finals after I didn’t receive many work offers. I thought I’d end up casting DreamHack Opens and ESL Qualifiers in the studios, but I didn’t really get any of that. So I went from this high of working a tier 1 CS:GO event to then realizing I’m back on the grind of terrible matches. Luckily James Bardolph invited Hawka and I back to work the minors in London and that really helped boost our careers, we weren't just competition winners after that, we had been hired to work the minors for Faceit. I think just understanding the politics of the industry and trying to steer clear of drama and just constantly remind myself that I’m just here talking about video games with my friends [sic]. I want that to remain ingrained in my head for my whole commentary career. Although my ambition to reach the top has always kept me going. I don’t just want esports fame, I want to add to the history of Counter-Strike. Everyone has their own unique qualities that make people admire them. In terms of commentating, what is that unique element which you bring to table that sets you apart from your peers? That unique quality for which TO’s should hire you? Hm, it’s an interesting question. I think I have a good voice for it for a start, my accent is very unique in esports as you don’t really hear many Northern Irish commentators out there, but I also feel like I have a few things going for me. I’m young, having just turned 20, and have plenty of years to learn from the best and have longevity. I feel like I’m easy to work with and can be slotted in with anyone. I also have a great work ethic and no fear to try something new. I feel like I can be thrown in anywhere and deliver to a good standard. Every event I’m improving as I sit down and religiously watch back the VODs nitpicking on how my inflection could have been better in this sentence or how my pacing could have been better to build this moment up or how I handed off to my co-caster in a bad spot. I feel like I’m finally becoming confident in my ability to be a strong asset to the broadcast instead of having imposter syndrome. I think when you come into the industry so young you feel like you’re that annoying kid asking questions, but now I’m able to just be myself and a part of the CS:GO world! From where do you derive your inspiration while commentating? Anyone particular in the scene whom you admire or has been guiding you? James Bardolph was obviously a huge influence on the success of my career. He gave Hawka and I our first taste at a tier 1 event and brought us back for the minors. He gave us good advice and put us on the right path. I learnt a lot from those events. I have to also shout out Hugo and Harry for being amazing friends starting in this industry. I always felt comfortable messaging Hugo about how to approach TO’s, asking about rates and general questions I had about the casting scene in general. I felt I could relate to them because they kind of came up in a similar time period as Hawka and I. The tier 1 talent were already locked in - the game was already huge, so getting advice from the guys at the top was outdated. I really love their commentary and synergy they have on broadcast; they have fun and that’s something I’ve always aspired to do. In terms of commentary duos, HenryG and Sadokist are the “Best of all F*cking time” to quote Sadokist directly! They are the most refined I’ve ever heard and I had the pleasure of working with them both a few times and getting some advice from them. Sadokist gave me some great advice. James Banks has also been an incredible friend in this industry and has helped me with some hard truths and advice when starting my career. I believe you truly shined as a commentator at DreamHack Masters Winter 2020: Europe. How was the overall experience commentating at the event, and what are the key lessons that you learned that’ll help you improve yourself personally as well as professionally? First of all, thank you! I really felt like Bleh and I did a really solid job at this event. Obviously there is still a lot to improve on and we had a good discussion about this during and after the event. The event was incredibly fun to work. It’s a Masters, so obviously it’s a huge deal. On our stream we had to do the pre-show, prematch, cast the game and post match which included winners and losers interviews, alongside closing out the show! This was a lot more than I had been used to doing but I feel like I took to it well. Bleh is obviously an incredible analyst, which made it easy as a host. At this event I really found my confidence to take initiative when it comes to the broadcast. I would give my ideas to the producer or tell him how I wanted this next segment and this was something I really became comfortable with. I feel like being confident on the broadcast not just on camera but off of it with production is something I definitely enjoyed that event and I feel like that’ll stick by me forever now. Let’s move on to another topic. What is your view on the current state of the competitive British CS:GO scene? I mean, the country has passionate fans (as evident from ESL One Birmingham), but the amount of pro players making it to the very top are few. What’s stopping the scene from blossoming? Well, I agree with you that there is definitely a passionate esports fan base in the UK as evident by ESL One Birmingham as you say, but also the Faceit Major in London that event was packed out by passionate fans. I feel like the biggest problem in the scene right now is the attitude. For a long time in the UK it’s seen as uncool to be passionate or work hard. This leads to mixed teams and no real growth from the scene at all. Maybe this stems from them not actually believing it’s possible for them to go and do great things in esports. I definitely feel like it is getting so much better now, though. We have a far better infrastructure in the UK thanks to ESL and the pro tour where teams can qualify for DreamHack Opens via the national championship, “The ESL UK premiership.” With the likes of Smooya and Mezzi along with the Endpoint boys out there killing it, I believe the young UK players are starting to move away from that “It’s cool to not try” mentality and are now realizing there are real careers out there for you if you actually put the work in. Also a shout out to the Valorant guys killing it out in Liquid and G2! Interesting. Going ahead, especially into the new year, what is your aim or goal that you want to achieve in terms of your career? Going into the new year my goal is to just consistently work near the top in CS:GO. I want to work as many tier 1 events as possible and I’m going to work hard to get there. I want to continue to have fun with my friends in this industry, but I want to realize my ambitions going into next year. Continuing to work closely with DreamHack and working with some of the other Major TOs next year on a consistent basis would be great. Hawka is out there killing it at Flashpoint in the colour caster role and I would love to be involved with that team in any capacity next year. Alongside, Blast and ESL who I’ve always wanted to work with. Alright mate, that’s a wrap. Feel free to go ham on shameless plugs here! I just want to thank PGL and DreamHack for consistently hiring me this past year. It’s been a wild year and these TO’s have been absolutely fantastic — true model professionals on how they deal with talent.