In a perfect world, every CS:GO player would reach his skill ceiling and play just under it constantly. In a perfect world, shoutcasters would be completely objective, politically correct, and, somehow, hilarious to listen to without offending anybody. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Players’ form ebbs and flows, casters have their opinions, sometimes make gaffes and go too far when trying to make the broadcast entertaining for the viewer. What brought this on? During the Northern Arena tournament, casters repeatedly made fun of G2 Esports’ AWPer, Edouard “SmithZz” Dubordeaux.
On Sunday night, SK Gaming’s Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo went to twitter, calling out the, in his opinion, appalling behavior of the casters at the tournament, saying: “It’s only me who think its extremely disrespectful to see casters/tournament jokes making fun of players abilities during tournaments? What people are doing to SmithZz is UNREAL. Criticizing is fine but mocking him live? Disrespectful in so many levels.”
Bad English aside, for FalleN is Brazilian, this tweet brought up a discussion about caster’s responsibility in a broadcast. Are they free to say whatever is the most likely to make the broadcast entertaining for the viewer, regardless if it could insult someone? Or should casters sugarcoat things so that players don’t feel bad? It’s difficult to answer this question, but let’s try.
To figure it out, we must first decide what is the first responsibility of a caster and a player in an eSports match. As somewhat stated above, the job of the caster is to inform and entertain the viewers. They are supposed to tell the fans what is happening at the moment, who is performing well, who is… shitting the bed, and making the whole experience as entertaining as possible. What is NOT the caster’s responsibility is holding a player by the hand. Of course, it can be pushed too far sometimes. In that case, the caster should apologize and try to not cross the line again. The line dividing funny banter and true criticism from verbal abuse and bullying is way too faint, however. The only one who can decide that is the viewer himself.
On the other hand, the player’s job in an eSports match is to perform to the best of his abilities. When a professional player whiffs six shots in a row and then dies, he is not performing to the best of his abilities, unless he’s playing in some amateur tournament full of “les noobs”. At that point, his shortcomings should be criticised. If everybody ignored bad play and the player didn’t get called out by anyone, he would have no reason to improve. If he can’t deal with criticism, he can always get off social media for a couple of days until it blows over.
Another interesting thing: a couple of months ago, SmithZz posted something on vakarm.net. The French message started with the phrase “Yo les noobs”. It has to be noted that SmithZz himself hasn’t joined in on the discussion started by FalleN, but, when a player calls others noobs and then misses six shots when he had two months or so to get better… he’s obviously fine with banter, right?
Finally, the last thing. FalleN is a famous figure in CS:GO. If he just kept silent about it, expressing his sentiments to SmithZz in person instead of writing something for the whole world to see, nobody would be talking about this by now. Instead, he tweeted about it and made it a Big. Thing, possibly causing SmithZz even more distress.
All in all, the casters could have toned some of it down while still performing their duties, however, most of the criticism addressed to SmithZz was deserved. Even FalleN had a point, though he chose a wrong way to go about getting his opinion known. In this case, there are no objectively right answers. Every CS:GO fan has to decide where he stands on the matter personally.