eSports broadcaster Kevin “CatsPajamas” Knocke was kind enough to take some time out his day working at the IGN Pro League in San Francisco to answer a few questions I had about his career path, eSports, broadcasting, and, of course, Starcraft 2:
Me: How did you get started as a Starcraft 2 broadcaster? Did you have a background in broadcasting in college or was it an interest/hobby that grew into something you wanted to do professionally?
Cats: Right around launch, I purchased the game with the intention to play it casually and spend a lot of time in the UMS game scene. I make no apologies for the fact that I came to the game casually, and it captured my interest immediately. I started laddering several hours a day, pushing me to diamond pre-masters release. Quickly thereafter, I started watching streams, anything from players to tournaments.
What I quickly realized was that there were a lot of great and knowledgeable Starcraft people commentating, but not a lot of people that approached casting from a professional sports-style play by play perspective. I had previously spent about 3 years on the radio in college, but nothing too serious and certainly no professional training. But, even with that, I decided to fire up a stream and start broadcasting whatever I could get my hands on. Before I was picked up to do bigger tournaments, I was broadcasting 30-40 hours a week to a stream with (for the first few months) 10-20 viewers at a time and later 300-900.
Add on top of that I was updating my social media channels (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. in addition to video editing) about 20 hours a week, working a 20 hour a week job, and was a full time graduate student (oh, and I’m married :D ), and I didn’t have a lot of time for anything else. Before I was picked up for big tournaments, I seriously considered dropping everything to grow my Justin.tv channel into a full time job, estimating that I could make ends meet if I kept streaming for about 10 hours a day.
Well, needless to say, that would have been a risky future, but I knew that broadcasting was something I loved and wanted to pursue for a job.
Lucky for me, I paid my way to MLG Dallas to do a little networking. I ended up in the front row of the audience next to David Ting, our VP of R&D and General Manager of eSports here at IGN. Unfortunately, there was no commentary in the crowd as the players could hear the MLG commentators. However, that ended up being very fortunate for me as I basically ended up personally commentating Kiwikaki vs Idra to David. He liked it enough he gave me a job a few days later. :D
(Part 2 of the 3-part interview will be made available within the next few days)