Casting and the importance of storytelling

I tend to use my status as a Korean to listen to Korean casting of League of Legends and Starcraft 2. It’s not that I don’t find casting in English to be wrong. I actually tend to watch every game in the League Championship Series that has Deficio on the casting desk because he is a precious cinnamon roll with a voice of gold.

But there are some things that I find rather interesting in the casting style of Korea across all forms of professional gaming. First and foremost is the energy of casting. I’m not just talking about people who are interested and excited to be part of a casting desk. I’m talking about the sheer amount of energy that is reflected in the volume of the casters’ voices whenever something exciting happens.

Korean casting actually became a meme itself, with the various videos on Youtube where people say “Korean Casters React to Pentakill,” and the now famous Dota 2 Korean casters during The International 3 with the 100-minute game between IG and DK. We all know that Korean casters are akin to the very famous casting style of Latin American soccer casters who are also well-known for their investment in volume.

The most interesting and best part of Korean casting, though, isn’t the hilariously loud voices, but something you have to understand Korean to really appreciate: An increased sense of dramatization and deep storytelling. Seriously, you guys don’t know what you’re missing out on.

The most recent example I can think of is the finals of the GSL 2016 Code S Grand Final between ByuN and sOs. The dramatic story of ByuN’s return from a self imposed exile for two and a half years to win the finals of the GSL out of nowhere is very well known to anyone who follows Starcraft 2, but the casters in Korea painted a whole different picture:

sOs had claimed dominance over the land by upsetting the established order with his own aggressive and unpredictable Protoss play. Just as sOs seemed to have proven once more that he was indeed the sole power over Korean Starcraft, a ray of light. From the east came a man. A man that no one expected. A man who has been all but forgotten by all those who play Starcraft 2. A man with the instincts and strategy of Terran that no other pro was able to wield.

ByuN was his name.

Over the past two and half years of his absence, he was deep in the mountains, training. Waiting for the perfect moment to strike. People have only heard of his legendary play until he charged into the GSL, challenging sOs. The world laughed but as time passed he put down opponent after opponent, showcasing strategy that none have ever seen, thus shocking many and turning even more to his side. Soon he was the final hope for all Terrans in Korea, and the fight came down to the dark king of Protoss against the unexpected wild man of Terran.

Imagine listening to the picture they are painting while watching a video game tournament between two people. There is a sense of fairy tale grandeur to even those of us who don’t really watch the GSL, and that’s the hidden spice of Korean casting. It’s not just stats and game mechanics (though they both feature heavily) but its also these moments of story telling that puts the game over the top.

This is part if the human drama of any sport. It doesn’t have to be this insane at all, but there needs to be some narrative for it to really resonate with people. Now people in Korea are more invested than ever in Blizzcon just to see what ByuN has in store for all the foreign players, and we have brilliant casting to thank for it.

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