Welcome to another interview at ESN CS:GO. Today, I interview Mamoon “TeaTime” Sabri, a 21-year-old Esports shoutcaster from Pakistan. He works with ESL, here is his Twitter. Let’s get into the interview!
What inspired you to start casting?
Nothing honestly. There was just a Pakistani DOTA tournament going on and this person just asked out in the chat about if anyone wanted to cast with him. I casted, it was fun and I enjoyed it. I’ve always liked public speaking and have had decent enough English to do it so I just did it more and more and it became this thing I really liked to do.
Living in Pakistan, has the lack of proper, organised esports in your native country been a hindrance to your career? If so, how much?
Well, it’s been a huge hindrance and continues to be. To put it into context, I think the easiest way to describe it for me is that I’m the best caster you’ll never see. By that I mean I’ll never be on an on-camera role because there just aren’t any on-camera roles going around over here. The best of the best tournaments will just have a shaky stuttering stream of the game that no-one really cares about and that’s that.
There’s no way to get myself exposure, no way to showcase the advantageous charisma I think I have compared to a lot of the amateur casters (I do a lot of hosting for non-esports events that have helped me) and no way to build up that little step in the portfolio to push myself forward. So if I want to get invited to a tournament there’s no pyramid I can climb to earn that invite. I need to straight up be invited to a random Starladder LAN or Copenhagen Games or something, and that’s so unlikely because flying me over from Pakistan is expensive and visa issues are a big stopping point. I think there’s still a way to succeed, I mean look at Bleh, but it takes absolute graft to the point where content becomes stale.
Also, a lot of esports is about rubbing shoulders with the right people. You can’t do that when there’s no events and stuff to attend so you can network. Also, it kinda sucks for my journalism which I dabble in, as it narrows what I can write about.
Have you ever considered moving abroad to solve these issues?
I can’t do that because countries don’t want a Pakistani immigrating over or staying for extended amounts of time on a work permit unless he gets a job, so the only way that happens is if I get recruited to either do Pro League, ECS or get employed at ESL, Dreamhack or FACEIT for my business degree that’s in the works along with work on casting on the side. As a Pakistani, I can’t fly to Europe and work there on a random visa. I need a specific class of visa that makes me eligible to earn money there. It’s much harder to get, and even visitor visas are hard enough to obtain.
What casters and people in esports inspire you to do what you do?
I dabble in journalism due to being inspired by Thorin, but besides that nobody, I do what I do because I love casting.
Well, who do you look up to?
I look up to Thorin, who is the greatest showman I’ve ever seen. I don’t think people understand how incredible Thorin is. The man is the epitome of creating a narrative, and there are just layers upon layers of detail that he throws into his work like it’s nothing. I think after that comes Richard Lewis, Semmler, Pansy, Montecristo and Doa. ODPixel is a great guy too.
What do you think is the best casting duo, not including yourself, of all time in CS:GO?
Anders/Semmler. No contest.
Pansy and Moses.
What sets them apart from the rest?
I think this is more just a technical fetish I have. Pansy’s so good at pacing, and Moses offsets her perfectly with his knowledge bombs. I think if Moses could be a little bit more like Henry in certain areas such as how Henry masters how to build up a moment to make it crystal clear that this is the pivotal point of the game…then this duo would be even more clear-cut as the best in the business. I just personally really enjoy Pansy’s casting because of her pacing. As a caster, listening to that just makes me continually drop my jaw like goddamn I wish I could do that. Moses, well he’s just a fantastic man.
Are there any up-and-coming casters, again not including yourself, that you tip for a big career in the esports business?
There’s someone who coaches MDL teams called Ruin, @CoachRuin on Twitter. He has casted with me a few times and that’s about it. But I think he could be a tier one analyst on the desk. He’s an incredibly knowledgeable guy and since he’s old, mature and educated, he is able to say his thoughts in a detailed yet concise manner. It’s never that easy to make it to the desk but I think he could be really big if he gave it a proper shot.
In terms of casters, that’s a tough one. Eight months ago I’d have said JustHarry, but he’s stagnated so much in my opinion, no offence to him. I love the lad but he just doesn’t have the same flair and charisma that I was really hoping he’d develop. I honestly don’t know anyone that I could predict to make it to tier one. The last step to making tier one, honestly, is having strife in your life and learning from it; that moulds you into the person that you need to be to reach the top. That and just reading more, acquiring more knowledge and getting to know more about the world in general.
Look at Richard Lewis and Thorin, you can tell that they’ve been through such a harsh life themselves and that’s what has put them to the top. I feel like all the casters at my level up to tier two are just too zoned in on esports and don’t understand that life must be lived too for this job. I think that’s something I do actually have to bring to the table but I’m also a bit out of touch with the Western lifestyle, which sucks for me.
Anything to say to anyone reading? Also, thank you very much for the interview!
Shoutout to F3enz for always tuning in even when it’s just me playing. You have no idea how much I love you for that. I really do. If any tournament organizer is reading this, hire Ruin (@CoachRuin on Twitter) for your analyst desk. Take my word for it, the dude’s a goddamn G. Shoutout to ESL, they’ve actually been helping me a lot recently and I was about to quit casting till they came through with some much-needed support. Also, I think that the Asia Minor should have had some APAC talent.