I am the best
I never started out wanting to do commentary. In my humble beginnings entering the FGC, I was what you would call, a Lurker, standing behind, watching the players play and slowly picking up the game at lesser known arcades. I was keen on becoming a great player and trained really hard. I slowly integrated into the scene by getting to know some wonderful people who shared my interest in American comics, Japanese culture like Fashion, Anime/Manga as well as some random Doods who just gelled with me like Chemistry (Teamchemist).
It was only at the first-ever Round1.sg Chalet back in... '09? That I stood behind what I believe was Spore having an MvC2 match with Berwyn and started throwing out random shouts and jeers. Somewhere in that crowd, somebody told me,
"You should definitely try doing commentary."
"You should definitely try doing commentary."
I got my first big break when VIN-TEH-GEE SOUL organized the first Beginner's tournament. That was what... my first real show, coincidentally, that was also the first time I ever shared the mic with Vx, of which we would later go on to create this place known as Team Xialan.
(You kids have it lucky coming in and making your debuts on bigger shows!)
I was nervous as hell. My jaws were chattering, you couldn't see it because the Arcade was and still is, too dark.
Vx and I would go on to do many a great things
Moving on, I've gone from strength to strength, always improving myself and doing better at every show. I became a staple voice in an FGC event that provided both high-level gameplay (From the best players in the business in Singapore) equipped with electrifying commentary from myself, often paired with Vx, my number 1 commentary partner of choice, or various folks in the scene. I have also gone solo (In recent times) and have no qualms about it.
Since coming full circle and doing this for close to almost 3 years, I definitely have much to share with you, if you're aspiring to take the mic and take on a gig.
Never let your friends down
You can't do commentary if you don't know what you're talking about. Only Vx and I can do something like that. But I definitely did my time by studying Frame Data, remembering move names, player names and matches from various tournaments that help to highlight my commentary when the space in between matches call for a little dialogue.
To a person who knows nothing about the game, he or she would probably just get excited when a player links his or her Ultra. It is your job to provide the viewer the theories of HOW and WHY the player sets up his or her moves. It adds dimension to the commentary.
One of the reasons why people like VIN-TEH-GEE SOUL, Xian and Gellon are such great commentators despite not often doing shows is that they have so much knowledge on the game they're talking about, it feels as though you're at the coffee shop with them having coffee.
I thoroughly enjoyed doing commentary with the likes of VIN-TEH-GEE SOUL and Xian.
Much like how a player reviews his game after a tournament to see what he can improve on and do better, I too, do the same. I re-watch matches that feature my commentary and always take mental notes as to what I can improve or what I shouldn't say. How I could phrase things better... Stuff like that.
I actually take the time to go on Youtube and watch videos of great Frontmen in bands (Phil Anselmo/Pantera) give interviews or speechs, watch Wrestling promos (The Rock is a favourite and big inspiration when it comes to this for both Vx and I) to learn from them.
Your opinion does not matter unless you are somebody in this scene. Or else, people won't take your word for it. If you're starting out, try to leave out personal opinions and just concentrate on watching the match and telling the viewer what is going on on screen.
Sliding a random picture in here because it's inappropriate
People like colourful commentary filled with bashing and jokes, but not everybody is ready for it as I've learned over the years. The people from the scene may be used to the style of commentary you produce but not the general folks who do not understand the culture or the nature of the game. Some people don't realise, they're not very humourous by nature and yet try to be funny on Stream. That often turns out bad. It's ok to not entertain your crowd, it is more important to fulfill your role as a commentator, watching and reporting on the match, then to be a clown. Unless you are like Vx or I, we do great at mashing the both. That's only because we have a great sense of humour and welcome people taking the shit out on us, as we do to them.
Circa AFA '10
Commentary isn't for everyone and if it's just not your thing, then it really isn't. If you want to get better, take into account all the tips I have written down as they come from personal experiences and mistakes. Knowledge is very important, study your subject.
It works for me because I used to have a fear of speaking in public or to crowds but like the Batman, I use the commentary shows to overcome my stage fright and now I totally embrace it. I enjoy it.
It's not to say I don't get nervous at all, I still do, not on Stream at least, but being infront of people. The biggest stage I ever stood upon was at TGX '11, for the AE Grand Finals and if you had seen me at that show, I spent the first 20 minutes pacing around the stage, totally unapproachable. In my mind, I could only think of my opening speech, my closing speech, my lines, what lines I could use, are the people ready for me, will I sound too loud, will I sound too boring, will I entertain them... There was simply too much going on in my head.
The entire thing lasted what... half an hour? 40 minutes? But as I recall doing it, it felt like 5 minutes to me. My mind was blank and I was just going at it. When I got off stage I remembered someone telling me it was great but I wasn't convinced. I even went up to Jasper to ask him if I did ok and he reassured me it was perfect.
What I'm trying to say is, I may seem obnoxious and full of confidence when I'm doing these things and it may seem like I'm just speaking my mind and going really natural but it comes from lots and lots of hard work and practise.
Without sounding too xialan, I would like to just close it by saying, you don't get to where I am by doing what you do. You work hard, you earn the respect of your peers and in return, you earn the right to stand before them. You're not doing anything for yourself, or to prove this to anyone who watches you, you are providing a service to the people, first and foremost, and if you think you are coming in here for the glory and to show the world "Hey I'm a made man." chances are, you're not going to stay alive in this scene.