The industry might or might not be up-to the mark in terms of core membership or an optimistic vision, but sometimes professionals make their way through, without complaining about problems and hurdles, with sheer dedication, and a perception of changing the goal post.
We have with us today, the diary of the very famous and talented man from the Indian Esports industry, Sudhen Bleh Wahengbam, who has a moderate presence considered by his unalloyed and worthiest shoutcasts. We sat down with him and asked questions about his personal and professional life. Preserving sleek transparency, Bleh also shared his views on how can we contribute towards a developing Esports ecosystem in India and why are we lacking in terms of exposures even though with all the resources available. Bleh directly looks after the Broadcasting and Production affairs at SoStronk HQ, Bangalore. You can connect with bleh on both twitter and facebook.
We know nothing about your family and personal life, would you allow us to sneak-into it a little to know more about you? Where are you from?
I’m usually quite private about my life and never let my work leak into my personal space. But that being said, I was born in Bangalore but raised in Manipur where I did most of my schooling, after which I got into Engineering and also spent a year or so in the US pursuing my Masters. I come from a very academic background family wise, and I guess I was lucky to be able to balance my gaming addiction with my studies.
Amidst of 1.6 and CSGO era, how did you manage to step-up as a caster?
I’ve been following eSports since around 2001 watching broadcasts of Starcraft and Quake 3 on TV shows, giving me a glimpse into eSports. I can say I started playing CS with v1.3, but never really thought of pursuing it competitively (although I had a sick AWP then :P) as I saw no feasible potential for me as an actual profession but the game always remained a passion.
After 1.6 died, I was looking forward to CS:GO when it was announced. I was sorely disappointed with how utterly shit it was when it first came out, but was happy with how it became more competitively viable as some time passed. Since, I was working a boring job at that time (circa 2012) and had time to kill, I picked up CS:GO with a zeal to try and compete at a high level; something I never bothered with in 1.6.
Got a really good internet connection soon after (thanks ACT!) and started streaming for the heck of it, and well, one thing led to another, and here we are.
Were you a speaker by Hobby even before you started casting CSGO?
Funnily enough I used to have immense stage fright and stutter a lot in school. I guess it helped that I got into a lot of Rock/Metal music and even performed on stage as a vocalist a few times during my high school and college days, which helped me be confidence in front of an audience.
Casting for me was a joke I used to pull of in MatchMaking games or PUGs when I used to give a joke/faux cast when my teammate was alone in a clutch, trying to imitate an Anders or a Semmler. Until someone said, ‘Hey you should actually do this for real tournaments’ and I thought why not?
Did you even think of pursuing this as your primary career?
This is actually my primary career at the moment. As the head of SoStronk’s broadcasting and Production one major aspect of my job is casting/analyzing games and getting paid for it. Not to mention, being a part of any major Asian CS:GO event as a caster/analyst.
Would I have thought this would be a potential career a couple of years ago? Hell no. But I’m glad I had the balls to stand up for myself and decide to take the leap of faith into something that almost everyone and their parents said was a stupid idea.
You are a core asset to the Indian esports Industry and have contributed a lot in a very short time-span, even if the circumstances don’t allow you, would you still be a part of the industry?
That’s very hard to answer. I’m lucky in many ways to be where I am right now, but at the same time, I did make the effort to carve out my own niche in this nascent industry. I would always go back to the time when I used to cast random ESEA games for a grand total of 1 viewer for hours altogether. From 1 viewer to 20000+ viewers don’t happen just because of circumstances, it also boils down a lot on your work and how you mentally approach this industry.
No, I mean the circumstances as in, god-forbid if things don’t go right way with SoStronk or whatever the planning is about?
Even if circumstances change, I still am going to remain in the scene, as I feel eSports is just starting off and I have much to give to the scene. The opportunities are enormous, not just for the players, but for others like me who cater to other aspects of eSports. Given the right mental fortitude and drive, there is no dearth of opportunities.
What is your take on the current Esports scenario in India? Talking about players, individuals, organizations, what are you suggestions to the newcomers? Should people focus more on setting up organizations? or focus on the gameplay?
eSports in India is still very fledgling and not helped by the fact that so many so called ‘eSports organizers’ are hosting atrocities called ‘eSports events’ just to make a quick buck while setting back the entire scene by quite a few years by their myopic, selfish actions.
Players need to be more mature, and have that will-to-win-no-matter-what mentality. eSports people need to rise above daily soap operas and look at the bigger picture to take things forward.
I feel we need eSports organizations set up preferably by ex-players who have a vision, not those who are still getting hard-ons over their past achievements and stuck in the past. And the players should only focus on playing, not be involved with the politics and running of the organization. This segregation is very important at this juncture.
Have you been following any caster to impersonate prior to yourself taking on the charge?
I have never tried to impersonate any caster as such, but yes I used to be huge fans of Joe Miller, Paul ‘ReDeYe’ Chaloner and Stuart ‘Tosspot’ Saw and have learnt a lot from them w.r.t what casting entails. And ofcourse the work ethic of Anders in particular.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My inspiration? I don’t have any inspiration in particular from eSports, I guess I draw it from heavy metal. Something about this type of music gets me to go all out and do what I want to do, and screw whoever says I can’t.
Tell us a little about your experience at ESL Taipei.
IEM Taipei was simply put, fucking incredible. Casting, analyzing and most importantly, getting drunk with the likes of Anders, Semmler, Moses, Pansy, Vendetta and DDK was absolutely amazing. To talk to these guys about CS in general and of course just hanging out with the royalty of CS casting was definitely something I can tick off my bucket list.
Also just to see how an IEM is conducted and managed puts into stark contrast how abysmal and backwards the events in India are.
You are India’s one of the innovative and credible Esports organization, SoStronk, what are your further plans with SoStronk?
SoStronk is on the cusp of breaking out as one of the 3rd party platforms for CS:GO. The team is extremely qualified, dedicated and talented. They genuinely love eSports and have the know-how and drive to make their crazy dreams a reality. I’m really glad to be a part of the team because they are doing things which no one in India, or anywhere on the planet are doing right now.
I plan to continue my work with them, primarily because they share my vision of eSports and I see big things in the horizon for SoStronk. Ask anyone of our users, they know SoStronk is synonymous with quality and competence; something which is non-existent when it comes to so many other eSports organizers in the country.
What is the best advice you’d give to the fresh talents and the junior casters?
Firstly, do your preparation. If you want to be taken seriously, you have to be competent and prepared. You’re going to be compared with the likes of an Anders or a DDK, and unless you bring something new or unique to the table, you’re heading for a dead end.
I would really recommend new casters to read ReDeYe’s guide to eSports broadcasting, work on your delivery, understand the game extremely in depth, be open to criticism and build a solid knowledge base and don’t get disheartened easily. There are no shortcuts, you need to persevere like in any other field; but with the right approach and work ethic it’s possible to get somewhere. And most importantly, don’t forget to have fun!
Thanks for being very frank and transparent all-throughout. Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Shoutout to all the guys who used to tune in when I just started casting and gave me that initial encouragement to keep continuing. Also, a huge shoutout to the brilliant nutcases in SoStronk who make me continue to do. what I love.
And of course to everyone who want to make it in eSports, don’t let anyone get you down. Just persevere and always keep your head up. GLHF!