Good Approaches For Commentary In Tactical FPS

The following will be some of the approaches, ideas, and limits I think constitute good commentary in VALORANT. It is worth noting that everything here is also true for CS:GO. (The major difference in CS:GO is that there is more space and time to work with between plays.)

Commentating VALORANT is the most challenging game I have encountered in my eight-year career as a professional commentator. I’ve covered the pro level in: Quakeworld, Quakelive, Quake Champions, Apex Legends, Overwatch and CS:GO.

The pacing, tactical exchange, and action of VALORANT all occur at a much faster pace than CS:GO. Keeping track of and selecting the most important things to talk about is overwhelming, especially when everything seems important and there is significantly less time.

Commentary is about the philosophy of each individual commentator. We each have different beliefs as to what will sound best, suit our skills best, or which tools we should use to tell the story best. This is one reason I believe that creating pairings that stick together is important, as it allows two individuals, who share casting philosophy, to grow together.

When casters are constantly swapped, it’s challenging to develop both the rapport and shared expertise necessary to best serve the pros and their fans. This isn’t to say that differing philosophies among casters isn’t okay — it is! I simply mean that two casters with conflicting commentary methodology should not be paired together. For newer commentators reading this, I urge you and your partner to commit to growth as individuals and also as a pair. Study the craft and engage in open dialogue with one another. Help each other, both in your understanding of the game and your approach. Stay on the same page when you can, and get back on the same page if and when you inadvertently stray from one another (which you will!).

Here is a list of things that I think are extremely important in the pursuit of the best commentary in tactical FPS and VALORANT specifically:

  1. Stay connected to the action. There is a disconnect viewers will experience as soon as you are not talking about what they are seeing on the screen. As such, you have to be extremely careful about the moments you choose to depart from the action on the screen. If you create a dissonance between what the viewers see and what they are hearing, it will be dysphoric and disengaging. We want to complement what the viewer sees. There are clear moments where talking about past and future makes sense and it is usually when there is nothing on screen that will be important in the scope of a round outcome. I’ve seen, quite often, commentators not honor the start of a new round and not follow the action but instead jump into that round after a lot has happened — at this point, it doesn’t feel like you are dialed into the game. This is a mistake that is easy to make, especially as we need to talk while simultaneously keeping an eye on the action and mini-map as it will give us an idea as to how long we have to talk, or whether we need to cut ourselves short.

Closing thoughts

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! We’ve covered some of the basic fundamentals and pillars of commentary, including some of my personal philosophy in commentating Tactical FPS and VALORANT specifically. Commentating is a highly specialized skill that requires a constant and consistent commitment to improvement. There are so many areas to be good and talented at and there are so many areas where weakness is unavoidable until the hard work is done. The consequence is that no duo, commentator or approach is the same. Becoming a truly great commentator takes extreme effort and endless experience. Just like the players on the server, you can only do so much in practice and study — nothing substitutes the environment of live performance.

And always remember: So long as you honor the game and the professionals playing it while honoring the audience with an engaging broadcast, you’re doing it right!

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