Aidan “Zirene” Moon has emerged as a talented color caster with the North American LCS broadcast team, in large part due to an endless pursuit of perfecting his art. He has been a caster at just about every level in League of Legends that you can think of, and still aims to further define his style and niche. We sat down with Zirene during the NA LCS finals in Toronto where he gave us insight on how aspiring casters can realize their dreams.
What were your first steps as you moved into the casting, hosting, and analyst world?
My first actual introduction to casting was when I was at the University of California, Irvine and my former Midlaner that I was playing with in a previous tournament was casting the next season [of it]. I just saw him doing it and I was like “that might be fun”, so he pulled me into the call. I just started commentating after Season Two Worlds and took inspiration from that. Then it was a ladder where I just kept making connections and going up – from UCI, to High School StarLeague, CSL, IvyLoL, WellPlayed, and then I applied to Riot
How did you identify the passion there, beyond just simple enjoyment? Was there a turning point for you?
I had always loved video games, and I was studying acting and psychology. Being an analyst really put all three of those things together. I love breaking things down and getting to the psychology behind players of why they do things – their intricacies and their tendencies. Then on top of that just the acting, which is probably my least favorite portion sometimes, but I just have such a passion for the game that being on camera doesn’t bother me.
Does that interest in the psychology of players serve as the basis of your analysis then?
A lot of the time. I’m a pretty big fanboy of Weldon and all the Esports psychologists in the scene, and that’s usually the way I approach things. These best-of-5 series are really taxing. Why did a person not want to make that move this time, when they had made it before? Because they’re scarred from what happened previously. You don’t want to lose the last game in a best-of-5 by messing up right? Some teams overcome that by having really aggressive players. I look at player tendency; when they are put under pressure; when they are actually put into a series, whether at the beginning or the end – that’s what I love.
Many commentators in other sports have mentioned their own tricks for honing their art. Are there any specific exercises you perform to help with your casting?
Commentating and practice, but always do it with a partner. Never do it by yourself because it builds bad habits learning both play-by-play and color [at the same time].With play-by-play, when you’re done with the fight, cut off. Don’t keep going. A lot of times you’ll want to break it down because you have solo casting tendencies, so you want to cast with a partner. Go out there and find people who are also passionate about casting that will elevate and lift you up.
In terms of special things that I do, I set a goal for myself every single cast that I want to accomplish. If I accomplish it in that cast it’s awesome, but then let’s keep doing it until I can’t get it wrong. I don’t do it until I get it right, I do it until I can’t get it wrong. You can watch a game and “thinkcast”, where you think about what you wanted to say and formulate it in the best possible way that you could, changing words in it, pausing – going back and thinking “what would be a really good thing to say here. What word would be really good?”
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Given the fairly outstanding personalities amongst your casting colleagues, how have you managed to carve your own identity and brand?
It’s always an interesting question because it’s one that I’ve had to ask myself as I entered Riot. I wasn’t sure where I stood because I’m around such great minds who have already carved out a niche for themselves: like Phreak was the funny guy; Riv was the hype guy; Kobe’s the guy who’s got that energy that’s electric. He’s really happy and exciting; and Jatt’s there and he’s got the knowledge. Where would I really fit? I just brought myself to it.
In terms of my brand, I think I’m a little bit of a jack-of-all-trades. Sometimes that’s bad, and sometimes it’s good. It’s bad sometimes because maybe I’m not somebody’s flavor on that day, or maybe I’m too hype or not enough hype. I have a lot of variance to me so I’m still trying to nail down where I am. But that’s really where I think I stand – do[ing] a little bit of everything. I just need to figure out what I want to hold on to.
Lastly, are there any tips and tricks that you would like to give to any aspiring casters?
- Find a partner. Find somebody who’s passionate just like you are! There are communities where you can seek them out.
- Take NA LCS VODs of teams that you know – cast over them, then go back and listen to your recording and compare parts that you didn’t really like to what the professional casters said in that VOD. See what they saw and see what you are missing.
- I’m gonna say right off the bat: most amateur casters will lack synergy with their partner (knowing how to handoff) and they will also lack narrative, because they don’t always have the luxury of casting a league. We know these players, we’ve seen these players. We’ve seen them play hundreds of games, and we know their personalities – you don’t get that in online tournament. So narrative is big.