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Diamonds in the Rough: Broadcast.gg’s Nathanael “BeatDownBlvd” Birhane on the process of growing as an Overwatch caster and analyst

Broadcast.gg Interview

Any tier 1 league, whether in esports or traditional sports, is only as good as its tier 2 and tier 3 scenes. Without the support and hard work coming from the bottom, we cannot enjoy the highest level of play happening at the top. For the Overwatch League, this is otherwise known as “Path to Pro.”

So, what is “Path to Pro?”

Broadcast.gg Interview
Image Courtesy of the Overwatch League

Path to Pro isn’t an entity of its own. More so, it is an idea that encapsulates the journey from solo queueing on the competitive ladder, through trails and contenders, all the way to the Overwatch League. However, this encompasses more than just players. Coaches, broadcast talent and even writers like myself are on our own Path to Pro journey – all with the dream of one day being on the biggest stage.

Often times, not enough attention is given to those grinding through the Path to Pro process. They are often forgotten or ignored; overlooked by the bigger, more flashy talent in the Overwatch League scene. But, just as the London Spitfire said of recent addition, “Krillin,” there are many diamonds in the rough.

This is the very sentiment that sparked my interest to better tell the stories of those in the T2 and T3 scenes. If we can locate and tell the stories of more of the up-and-coming talent, we can help chart out a brighter future for the Overwatch League.

So, the series that unofficially began last week, with the interviews of Circci and Fischer, now officially begins. A series I’d like to call “Diamonds in the Rough.”

The first Diamond in the Rough I was able to speak with is Broadcast.gg analyst and caster, Nathanael “BeatDownBlvd” Birhane. In our interview, Nathanael tells his story of getting into broadcast journalism, gives advice for those looking to enter into the field and so much more.

Thanks for taking the time to speak to me! To get a bit of background on where you’re coming from, would you mind sharing about your childhood and early life? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Mississauga, Ontario. Childhood was hit and miss, before school I had a lot of family members visit often, so my aunt likes to say I was raised by all of them. *laughs* Elementary school was pretty garbage, whether it was teachers or other students. But despite my parents both working full-time, they did everything they could to be there for me, especially when it got tough, which was a great help. High school was really fun. That’s where I met most of the friends I have today. I also had a lot of great teachers that taught me a lot – Even more than just school subjects and whatnot.

When in that process did you find video games/esports and what were some of the first games you got into? When did Overwatch come into the mix?

Broadcast.gg Interview
Image Courtesy of Nathanael “BeatDownBlvd” Birhane’s Twitter

As far back as I remember. *laughs* I had a NES with Super Mario Brothers, and since then I was hooked to gaming of all kinds. Mostly leaned towards JRPG’s and shooters. Esports wise, I only knew a little about LoL and Halo. I heard about Overwatch before it came out, but didn’t play the beta. It seemed really awesome so I got it at launch, and my friend lent me his laptop for a few weeks. After I gave it back, I knew I had to build my own computer – so I did. It wasn’t until early this year, during my first trip to Burbank to watch the OWL Stage 1 finals, did I think “This, I wanna be a part of this.” So, I got the idea of casting and a friend told me about Broadcast.gg, and that was in March. Been casting from then until now.

I feel like that’s how a lot of us got started with Overwatch. Didn’t know much about it and then got absolutely hooked. What has your experience at Broadcast.gg been? Can you speak more to what you do there and how you got started?

Broadcast.gg Interview
Image Courtesy of Broadcast.gg

I agree, it’s definitely a story I’ve heard a lot! *laughs* Well, once I joined, I told them I wanted to start casting and they told me to get some practice. Shortly after, I threw up a VOD for some feedback and then I quickly got into doing scrim nights. There’s also a lot of event opportunities going on that people will post for other community leagues. So I’ve done, and still do, a few different leagues and Broadcast.gg’s scrim nights ever since joining the team. I even got to work with them on Open Division season 3 for NA, EU and AU. Didn’t get to join them on Contenders Trials, but hopefully, I can keep working with them on future projects. All in all, I’ve had a good time here working on something I enjoy.

That’s a common theme from people who have worked with Broadcast.gg: A great experience. Is there anyone currently at Broadcast.gg, or elsewhere in the industry, that you especially look up to? Who, in your mind, sets the standard for great casting?

Broadcast.gg Interview
Image Courtesy of Dexerto

Two people, I suppose. One’s MonteCristo, he’s easily my favorite caster to watch and the one who inspired me to try and make it as a caster. I enjoy whatever content he puts out because it’s always really informative and his mind for the game is one of the best. The other is Mooshubeef, the one who started broadcast gg. It’s pretty wild what he’s started if you think about it. Before, Open Division wasn’t even broadcasted at all, but because of Mooshu and Broadcast.gg, I got to cast it this past season. He gave me and a lot of others the opportunity to improve greatly as casters, as well as other areas of esports work. Even if none of it works out for me in the end, I’m forever grateful I at least got to try.

Mooshu and Monte are two greats in Overwatch right now, great choices! Kind of looking the other way, towards those wanting to get into casting themselves, what advice can you offer them? What quality is most important as an up-and-coming caster, in your opinion?

Broadcast.gg Interview
Image Courtesy of Overwatch Path to Pro’s Twitter

Well for starters, just do it – however you can. Cast over VODs if you have to, and join Broadcast.gg. Honestly, it’s such a good resource, and it can connect you to so many other communities that are always looking for casters. Even now, they’d all love to have you, I promise! The most important quality, to me, is something that applies to anything you pursue out of passion – dedication. Because, like most things, it takes work, being receptive to feedback, and finding ways to grow as best you can and as efficiently as you can.

That’s great advice. I hope more people continue to find Broadcast.gg in the future! As we wrap things up, what is the one thing you want people to know about you? What makes you stand out in the Overwatch scene?

Still trying to figure out how I stand out right now. But, I’ve really enjoyed casting ever since I started, over six months ago, and plan to continue improving to become even better! So, be on the lookout for me, *laughs* one day I may be casting your favorite Overwatch matches!

 

Thank you to Nathanael “BeatDownBlvd” Birhane for taking the time to participate in the interview. If you, or someone you know, is a Diamond in the Rough waiting to be discovered, don’t hesitate to reach out to The Game Haus and let us tell your story.

 

 

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Featured Image Courtesy of Nathanael “BeatDownBlvd” Birhane’s Twitter

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