Interview with Shogun: “You have to be up in everyone’s faces”

February 9, 2018 - 19:25
Rocketeers / Interviews / Spotlight /

He is one of the faces and most certainly one of the voices of the Rocket League scene: Callum Keir, better known as Mega Shogun. Or sometimes just Shogun. The 22-year-old from England is one of the most busy Rocket League casters. He commentates the RLCS as well as tournaments such as Dreamhack Leipzig.

Rocketeers.gg, your magazine all about Rocket League esports, spoke with Shogun about how he became a caster and which team we should look out for in the upcoming months of RLCS.

Shogun, nobody wakes up one day and says that his career path will be that of a Rocket League caster. How did you get into it?

I originally played the prequel game, Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle Cars. I was pretty good at that one. Not top-top tier, but good enough to play in tournaments. The thing is: I took that game way too seriously. I wasn’t enjoying it. So when I came to Rocket League I decided: Look, there are a lot of new players here. I will try to get enjoyment out of this, not push too far. So I looked towards the entertainment side with YouTube, Twitch and eventually commentary. I still played a couple of competitive games and did pretty well. I asked myself: Well, how can I become a part of the scene that isn’t involving me playing. CloudFuel approached me about casting RLC and from there on I kept going, built a reputation until I was invited to cast RLCS.

Have you been a commentator before? 

On my YouTube channel there is actually a video that was my first attempt at commentating. It is called “Ultimate Annihilation”. It’s a League of Legends 1 vs. 1 series where I commentate. It is absolutely atrocious, but apparently something in the back of my head wanted to do this for a while.

You said that you’ve been a pretty good player of the prequel. How good of a Rocket League player are you these days?

It depends on how much time I get. I have been Grand Champ every season so far. I need to chase that up this season, because I haven’t had much time.

Do you have to be a good Rocket League player in order to be a good caster? Because this is where esports and traditional sports are often quite different from each other. In soccer you don’t see only former pro players behind the commentator’s desk, but in esports this somehow seems mandatory.

There’s going to be a split between the color and the play-by-play. The play-by-play is going to be more people with broadcasting experience. The color is going to end up being former pro players. I personally don’t think that you need to have a major background in playing. However: Usually it comes down to what the viewers believe. They have to believe you and make the decision that they want to listen to you. As a caster you have to give them a reason to.

But you could obviously be a good Rocket League analyst and know what you’re talking about without having the mechanical skills of a pro-player, right?

Analysis of Rocket League is kind of weird. It is not like League of Legends where we are dealing with multiple builds or an ever-changing meta. It is not like Street Fighter where each person commentating needs data on each individual character or specific matchups. Rocket League as a game has not changed in two years, so the idea that someone cannot get behind it is weird. If you have learned the skills required for Rocket League once, then you can learn them again.

People often seem to lash out on the casters. You’ve been on the receiving end of some toxicity from the community. How do you deal with that?

It’s going to sound arrogant, but there are people’s opinions that you listen to and there are people’s opinions that you don’t listen to.

Interview Mega Shogun Rocket League esports caster

Shogun where he’s best: In the spotlight. | Credit: RLCS / Psyonix

How do you figure out which is which?

Pro players and other broadcasters are the ones I listen to. There are people that say I should listen to everybody online, but if I listen to hundreds of voices I’m not going to get the improvement that they want. For every 3 people that say I should do this, there are another 3 people that say I should do the exact opposite. It’s not that I don’t WANT to listen to them, it is that I CAN’T.

Did you have to learn that lesson the hard way? Nowadays you sure have the expertise to have sorted out how to deal with negative comments. But I could easily imagine you after your first broadcasts checking out what the community says. I know I would…

Yes! It’s definitely something that you have to realize and learn. I made this mistake when I was brought on. There was initially a very positive reaction towards me. People back then already told me I shouldn’t listen too much to what the people online say, and I was like: “Why not? Whatever! They are nice to me!” Then the honeymoon period ended and people saw the flaws that I have, which I thankfully started to clear up at this point. So there’s a turn and that is what every broadcaster has to realize: That their standing in the community can turn pretty quickly. Once the people get over what they like on you, they will start focussing on the things that they dislike. You just have to make sure that you’re aware of your flaws and that you’re aware of the things you’re good at and just keep working on those.

What are your flaws and what are your strengths?

I would say in terms of strengths I believe that my delivery style is very unique in terms of being very visceral and intense. For some reason I am also good with B-roll, nabbing that sentence that needs to be used for future marketing. For improvements I would say: I have recently developed a bit of a stutter which annoys me to no end. It’s never been there before. It might be down to how long the event goes. Maybe this is my version of losing my voice, my version of fatigue.

Is that something that you could work on with a vocal coach?

I have to test my theories as to why it’s happening, because I believe it is fatigue. It’s not something that happens during everyday’s speech. I could look into a vocal coach. We’ll see. I will have sorted it out before RLCS starts. As for other things I need to improve: general image.

What do you mean by image?

Just making sure that I am presentable in front of the camera. I am not atrocious at the moment, but it can always be better. I have a massive head.

“I have a massive head”

Doesn’t that also translate into massive brains?

(laughs in a way only a British gentleman laughs) Let’s go for that, shall we?

You mentioned RLCS. Guide us through your daily routine during a typical RLCS match day. How much preparation is necessary and how much just comes naturally after years of Rocket League?

I am usually out in the US for the entire season which can be a little frustrating because you’re living of a hotel room. I am basically eating of a microwave for six weeks, but there are ways for me to fix that moving forward. A typical week for me is just checking over last weeks VODs, making sure I’m up to date on stats, but you don’t want to rely on stats too much, I rather just focus on what’s happening there and then. Usually you just turn up, chill out, we are all good to go, we know our stuff. Get ready to sort it all out. It is a relaxed environment.

Have you considered moving to the States permanently?

Impossible at this point.

Because?

Immigration laws. Unless they’re going to hire me full-time it is not a possibility for me.

Rocket League is exploding as an esports. What kind of challenges does the scene and the game have to face in order to attract even more viewers?

First we need bigger orgs involved. We are definitely getting in the right direction there. Then we have to continue with good rewards. It is just a fact at this point that they build a bigger viewer base for us.

In my eyes the stability of teams is a problem, not only in Rocket League, but in esports in general. Teams form and disband quite rapidly. It is hard to attract more partners and sponsors if a team changes roster all the time. Is this unavoidable in your opinion or do you see rosters becoming more stable?

Unless you move to a franchising system that is just unavoidable in general. Teams want the best results and they are not patient enough to see whether or not sticking with the same roster is a good idea. Especially with the way Rocket League is right now. We’re only getting to a point where we’re able to sustain a decent amount of people as full-time players. If you are in one of those bubble teams or in a team that is still looking for major results then you’re not going to stick around with a team that isn’t performing. You need to get results quickly in order to earn a paycheck. It is certainly not ideal. The recent rule change where you have to retain 66% of the original roster to keep the spot is needed for the time being. As the esports grows we will get a little bit more stability.

Right now the hottest topic of the scene is which org Paschy, Freakii and Fairy Peak will end up with. Bold question: Any inside info that you want to share?

I am not sharing it. But you will like it.

“When I am not on broadcast I go a little bit insane”

What is your team to watch out for during the next RLCS. Any insider’s tip?

I am going with exceL for this one. They are major underperformers ever since league play finished, but now Markydooda is now around. I just got a chance to talk to him and he is very motivated. Another important fact ist that they are playing in the Gfinity Elite Series which gives them weekly LAN experience, which is the thing that really pushed Method to the next level. They are going to be so busy that when RLCS comes around they have no choice than be good. Marky is good when he gets to practice, he just never lets himself practice.

You’re currently doing this full-time. How do you spend your weeks when there are no major tournaments?

When I am not on broadcast I go a little bit insane. I have realized that since I took this job I’ve become bit of a workaholic. So I resorted to creating my own projects, my Twitch and my YouTube. I got my own analysis series, I did the Shogie Awards, I’ve got my own 1 vs. 1 series which is called the Rocket Arena. I like to keep myself busy, because doing nothing bores me so much. Outside of that I do the typical analysis things: stay up to date on all the latest VODs and this is a note to all tournament organizers out there: Give us the replays, for the love of god, I need to get my hands on these more often. I get some analysis done and stay up to date on the current relevant teams.

You are one of the key figures of the Rocket League scene and with esports becoming more and more of a career option: What is your advice for young Rocket League enthusiasts that want to become casters?

In order to get your name out there, there is always a bit of luck involved but you do create your own luck. So for those of you who want to seriously get noticed for RLCS or any other Rocket League event, it’s up to you to ensure not only that you’re talented. You have to be out there doing tournaments with 20 viewers. You have to be up in everyone’s faces if you want to be recognized. You have to be front and center of every major event, no matter how you do it. Make sure you’re sending out clips to people like me, asking how you can get better. You don’t even have to be willing to become better, you might just want to show off how good you are, guess what: I respect that, because you are getting yourself out there instead of waiting and saying: “It will happen eventually.” Because it won’t.

If Rocket League would all of a sudden vanish: What would be your other choice for a game that you’d like to cast professionally?

I am a huge fighting game fan but that requires a lot of knowledge, so I am going for professional Ghost Master. If you don’t know what it is go search for it, because that game was my childhood.

Dorian discovered Rocket League when it first came to PS4. He stopped playing after he saw the RLCS for the first time and became discouraged from trying any more miserable Aerials. As a journalist with more than a decade of experience working for many of the biggest German media companies he now lives out his Rocket League passion as Head Editor for Rocketeers.gg