What Does an Esports Analyst Actually Do? We Asked Valorant Legend aEvilcat
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As the esports industry grows, so does the amount — and variety — of jobs within it. But unless you’re already heavily invested in the scene, it can be tricky to tell who does what in a broadcast, and one of the lesser known jobs is an esports analyst.
Compared to hosts, who run the events, and casters, who commentate the games in real-time, analysts unpack the important moments of a game to help everyone watching gain a better understand. They handle the who, what, when, where and why of esports tournaments, if you will. It’s an essential job, especially for major tournaments, and potentially one of the most rewarding for people who want to get into the industry.
To learn more about what it’s like being an esports analyst and how to get into it, we spoke to aEvilcat, a Valorant analyst who’s a familiar face to anyone who watches the tournaments. She told us what analysts actually do, what separates the good ones from the great ones and what barriers women in the industry tend to face.
POPSUGAR Australia: Hello! You’re an esports broadcaster and Valorant analyst. Can you tell us a bit about what an analyst does in esports and how you got into it?
aEvilcat: There are two types of analysts: those who work for a team and those who work for the broadcast. Analysts who work for teams are more about figuring out an opponent’s tendencies, analysing gameplay to find the best possible way for the team to win and helping the coach in that regard.
I do stuff for the broadcast, which is more so breaking down stuff for viewers at home — finding a balance between telling the story of matches and players, helping people at home get to know them and also breaking down concepts within the game so that it’s more understandable.
PS: What’s the difference between an analyst and a caster?
E: Analysts work between matches — like post-maps or halftime — to break down what you saw and get you ready for the next game.
Casters are more about adding to the live experience. There are two types of casters: there are play-by-play casters and colour casters. Play-by-play is more like describing the current action and getting you excited about it, and colour casters kind of provide the live analysis. So they’re more similar to a desk analyst in that way, but analysts that are on the desk are more about providing a recap and basically keeping people engaged during the downtime between matches.
PS: What separates a good analyst from a great one?
E: I think the biggest thing between being good and great is finding a balance between the different aspects of analysis. I think most people assume analysts should provide a micro breakdown of every particular thing that happened — and that can be really compelling. But I think what makes someone great is being able to combine the analysis of what happens with storytelling and background on the players.
The segments that we work with, particularly in Valorant, are very short. So I think what makes someone great is being able to find the absolute most important thing to talk about, and deliver that in a way that is both compelling and concise.
PS: It sounds like a lot of the job of an analyst is just keeping up with the scene and watching games even when you’re not working them.
E: I think that’s honestly where most of the workload comes from. You have to be over prepared pretty much all the time. And that means putting in work behind the scenes, figuring out teams, what maps they play, what compositions they play, what defines their style, what’s the story of the team, what history they have with other teams and other players, what’s interesting about each individual player.
I would say it’s probably a 70/30 split of prep work and what you actually do during an event.
PS: It sounds like a job that someone who lives and breaths and game will excel at.
E: Passion is an absolute must! If it’s not something that you’re super interested in and you’re not willing to put the time in, it’s hard to maintain. Because you’re not really getting paid for the time that you’re working on your own and figuring that stuff out, so it has to be something that actually compels you.
PS: What kind of things do analysts have to watch for in a game?
E: You have to come in with an idea of what you think will happen and what you think will be important. So, say, in the pre-match analyst segment you’ll probably set some expectations, like “We think this team is going to do this with this composition,” or “We’ve been hero building this player and we think they’re gonna perform really well.” Then you see if teams match that, better or if they maybe fall flat.
In terms of the specifics of what you’re watching for, there are a few big things. Player tendencies and performance: how well they’re doing, how they’re playing, what their reactions are, their emotions when you can see their face in the player camera. Also team strategies: what composition is this team running, does it seem like they’re adapting to what their opponents have shown them. And then also just generally, like how teams match up against one another: how is this game going, what is the flow, is it back and forth, is one team looking dominant or is it more of an even affair?
It’s keeping track of a lot of little things and seeing if things match your expectations or change them, and then being able to reevaluate.
PS: If someone reading this wanted to become an esports analyst, what’s the first piece of advice you’d give them?
E: I think the biggest thing to you can do is build your own brand and build yourself up. And because everything is online, I think the best way to do that is by building a presence on Twitter or YouTube doing analysis. A lot of people look back at games and provide information – either in YouTube VOD reviews or informative Twitter posts with graphics – about how pro teams, players or a specific meta plays out.
Once you build up a portfolio, you can go to a tournament organiser or a team and be like, “Hey, I’ve done all this, I can work for you and help you do better — and I have proof that I’ve been able to do this before.”
Like any career, it’s all about networking and getting to know people. Find pro players, coaches and analysts who are willing to talk to you and learn from them.
PS: Do you need to be able to play a game at a professional level to be a good analyst?
E: It’ll never hurt. A lot of the great analysts are people who used to play professionally, but there are also great analysts who haven’t played at a high level.
I think the biggest thing you get from competing or from having played games at a high level is the mental aspect. You can be a student of the game and learn everything there is to know on a fundamental level, but knowing what it’s like to actually be in the server is a lot harder to get if you haven’t played.
But on the flip side, there are lots of people who may not be able to translate their experience playing a game into an ability to analyse it. So it’s not the be-all and end-all, but it doesn’t hurt to have that experience.
PS: How much does an esports analyst make, and how many different sources of income do analysts typically have?
E: On the broadcast side of things, it tends to be paid in day rates and there’s a pretty big range. When you’re starting out, you’re probably gonna be taking gigs that aren’t paid at all or it’s $10 or $20. Once you start working at a more professional level with bigger tournament organisers, I would say that generally it starts with day rates of around $500, and that could go anywhere up to like $2000 or more per day.
At the top, the people who are working professionally probably make anywhere between $1000 and $2000 per day when they’re doing shows. And if you’re getting a lot of work then it ends up being pretty good money and it’s something you can live off. But getting to that stage can be quite difficult.
A lot of people balance a second job on top of doing this stuff freelance. Esports is normally evenings or nighttime so you can generally work around both.
PS: What do you think about women’s tournaments — are they necessary or performative?
E: I think it depends on the intention. I would say generally they’re a pretty necessary step to be able to build towards a future where women are more involved. But I think it will always, and should always, just be a stepping stone towards getting women into tier one teams and into mixed gender teams.
Valorant is a good example. A lot of women play, and a lot of women are involved. My first first big break was casting the first Game Changers event, and that kind of went with me — I continued to do those events and they provided me a great opportunity to learn and grow. It’s been that way for a lot of other people.
It’s a means to an end that isn’t perfect, but is the best we have.
PS: What’s stopping these female players and teams from being in the top tier tournaments?
E: I think generally the biggest thing is a lack of access. A lot of male players start playing shooter games when they’re kids, and for girls that’s less common. And I think that’s probably why we’re at a point where it’s almost entirely men playing at the top level. But I think that’s slowly changing. You’re seeing a lot of really young women, like teenagers, who are competing in Game Changers tournaments and in some open circuit tournaments. In Valorant we have Cloud9 White — a team that’s been together since pretty much the dawn of the game — and they’re always just a step away from qualifying for the main VCT circuit.
PS: What barriers do women in esports face?
E: I think again, it comes down to access and being encouraged to get involved from a young age.
There’s also still a lot of discrimination in esports, and a lot of people who really push women away, which can discourage women from getting to a higher level. But it’s certainly improving and it’s better than it was five years ago, and it’s certainly better than it was 10 years ago.
I think also when women start to get to a higher level of competition, there’s an extra eye on them. If you’re a female player who’s approaching that level, or if you’re a woman involved in esports in any way, once you get to that level it’s like people start asking, “Why are you here?” You get that extra attention and pressure to be excellent. You can’t be mediocre if you’re a woman in esports.
I think that’s changing. At least for me on my journey, outside of garbage people in games who have personally been rude to me, all of my peers have always been super encouraging. And all of the companies I’ve worked with have always been very good to me and haven’t treated me differently than my male peers. So I’ve never had an issue there, but I know a big part of that is because there are people who came before me who went through a lot of bullshit to get to the point that they’re at.