Jamie “EternalJay” Martin is a caster that you’ve almost certainly heard of. Heralded as a Jesus impersonator by some, and a heavy metal enthusiast by others, many can agree on him being one of the brightest and best casters in the CS:GO scene right now. EternalJay sat down with Freddie “GrimyRannarr” Pritchard to chat about the Pinnacle Cup Championships, his first event in front of a crowd, but to also chat about his gradual rise to success, and the state of the UK Counter-Strike scene.
Firstly looking at this event, how are you finding this so far?
It has been great, everyone has been so accommodating to us, the staff has made it a really smooth time. A few technical hiccups here and there but nothing that has affected my job specifically. From a casting perspective, it has worked so well, the stage looks brilliant, sad that the audience hasn’t been filled out, but not every event will. We still have a very passionate crowd here and I cannot complain overall. I have some good matches, and I cannot be happier with my first arena LAN.
The people you have around you at this event are very experienced, have they been helpful to you?
The whole talent team has been super accommodated. There is a description of a lot of Counter-strike talent that the camaraderie is dead because the old guard has moved on, but I do not feel that here. Harry and Hugo have been wonderful, I have known Hugo for years and it is my first time meeting JustHarry. Someone like ExWarrior is alongside us as he is experiencing his first event in front of a crowd too, so we have been going through the motions together. All of these guys have made a solid sort of unit that is friendly and we all know what we are doing, we share advice when we see appropriate.
I haven’t been asking specifically for advice in that sense, they trust me to do our thing. There was one drunken moment over the course of the week where we all congratulated each other but the good nature of these guys do come out naturally and it is one of my ideal talent teams honestly.
Looking at yourself now, how did you even get into casting?
So I started playing League of Legends in 2012, I was no good at it but even before that I was playing Counter-Strike: Source in 2009. I wasn’t really a competitor but I did have a gaming background. I was not fully aware of the esports scene but I knew there was competition. LCS was the first big esports event I found, I sucked at League of Legends so I just thought that esports was not the thing for me.
I then realised that LCS was not the only esports and in 2015 I found CS:GO through ESL One Cologne, I was going to university at the time, and I figured out why not try casting as a hobby. A lot of my work didn’t start till the end of the education year. So I used that as an opportunity to fill up my Thursday evenings, I signed up for a couple of different volunteer roles back in the day, the old UKCSGO recaps and the country cups which I am still waiting to return.
But then from there, I did more things. I got recognised and I took the opportunities as they came. I eventually had an opportunity to work with ECS when I won their caster challenge, then I went on to go full-time, and here I am today, seven years down the pipeline and I am doing my first crowd event.
I am guessing then that you never expected this to happen?
Not that I didn’t expect it, it was more the case that I was cautiously optimistic. I was already studying broadcasting, I already knew what I was doing to an extent. I was normally on the production side of it, and not the one on camera, but I always understood the concept and what I was doing. I applied that and used that, it was tough and I always knew it wasn’t going to be a breeze, I thought it was possible, but as cliché as it sounds, I always thought there was a chance, even though it was slim.
Was there ever a time when everything hit you like “wow this is happening”?
Towards the beginning of my career, I was doing Rocket League as well as Counter-Strike. I was able to go to Switzerland a couple of times working with a company called TCS. They were super accommodating, granted a small project, but it’s more the fact I am in Switzerland because of esports, doing what I love, and being able to travel places because of commentating. It was one of those moments when I realised it was legit and in a sense an eye opener for mostly the people around me more than myself. I always believed in esports, the first time I came across it I knew that this was going to be a big deal even if I am not part of it. If I get the chance to be a part of it then lovely, regardless, it is always going to be a solid industry. That realisation that I am a part of it didn’t come after a number of years but then it hit me, I realised how real this was.
Looking at the UK scene, are there any teams or players we could see at events such as this?
JamieG should be on OG Academy, that is all I am going to say, that Kid is nuts. When I first saw him in the EPIC.LAN I knew he was going to be a player to be reckoned with. I feel like he has a massive amount of room to develop and is the guy I look at to keep a look at. Discounting the recent call-ups to these academy rosters and other international rosters, looking at domestic leagues only, JamieG is my guy.
Would you see then JamieG making it within a UK team or do you think he has to go international?
There are some circumstances that I have heard but I do not want to talk about because I am not sure if it is true, but this does inform my opinion to a certain extent as I know what is going on behind closed doors, I do feel like he is a guy that can reach those heights, he can be winning ESL Premierships, he can definitely be winning Insomnia depending on what his dexterity is like playing at BYOC. He has a lot of talent and I cannot wait to see what he can do.
Do you think within the UK we have a problem with developing teams and players?
How do you feel like this can be dealt with?
That is a very loaded question. It is really tough because I feel like everyone is in it for themselves, this is no disrespect to anyone out there, there are some people that might be tilted as something like this but this is true. Everyone wants a ticket to a LAN so they can go to the bar. Everyone wants to play in leagues or tournaments so they can feel good about themselves, and don’t want to go further. There are some people that want to make it pro, but they don’t have the discipline to go through the practice regiments, stick with a consistent team and do the things that you have to do to make it pro.
The veterans that were around in Counter-Strike: Source were not there to give the younger guys the knowledge and that for me has been a massive problem over the course of the years. It felt like it would get better, but it has only gotten worse since that point. We are back to being a bit of a joke in the international scene, our best team Endpoint do not even field full UK rosters during international events. During ESL Premiership they field UK rosters, but when they go to big EU events they field EU players, what does that say about our scene? That I think in its own right says it all, the talent is not there, the disciple is a joke at some times even for some of the top-end teams. This is a deep-rooted problem that has been around for years, and unfortunately, I do not think there is a solution. As a famous journalist once said, you have to nuke the scene from orbit and start again, and It is easier said than done.
Do you think a problem is the money situation and a lack of orgs?
FAMBIT in particular, the money is a case of are we deserving of the money. I am not saying that FAMBIT are not, it would be nice if every team had a home. But this is the reality of business, is it worth it? [This interview was conducted before it was announced that EKO Esports signed FAMBIT]
The level I have seen from UK Counter-Strike and then look at the salaries that pro players get these days if I was an org owner I would not want to splash out for these guys.
The answer then to your question, is no. There is a bigger passion behind this, we have pro players making 20 grand a month. They see that money to be a compensation for their time and to have the understanding that when your career is over you are going to be okay. The real driving force for a lot of players is the trophy and the win, this is something I do not think UK players have, we do not have players like this.
Do you see room for development, you mentioned there were glimpses and to get back to that level what do we need to do?
Honestly a question beyond my knowledge, there are so many problems and they are all so deep-rooted. I am not certain there is an easy answer to that, it is a long-term thing that everyone has to go to work on, tournament organisers, sponsors, players, orgs, and talent even. We all have to do something to change the scene, it is going to take a long time.
Talking about talent, looking at the UK, do you think there is a reason why we produce so many talents but not players?
From a broadcasting perspective, we need a lot of English-speaking people because we run a lot of English broadcasts across the whole of esports, and as a result, the best people to go to for the EU tournament organisers is the British. It is our mother tongue, we can do word play and they are super impressed by this, someone who does not speak English as a first language will find this more difficult. There are naturally exceptions, look at CS. We have Anders, Maniac, and yNk, all as English as a second language, they are still incredible at what they do. They have that opportunity as they are not proficient at English but just simply good at their job. For casters alone, it is really easy to get an English person to do some casting because they know the language so well, and therefore we have an advantage.
So looking at this English talent, who do you see as the big up-and-coming talents?
That is a loaded question, Freddie it is you (laughs).
The problem is, I am not certain how some talent will react to this, a lot of people get bruised egos very quickly in the talent space. I do not want to be that guy, I am going to plead the fifth. What I will say is that there is some real potential there, the reason why I stopped doing Counter-strike at EPIC.LAN was to give more room for someone else to rise up the ranks and do what I did five or six years ago. To then join me in this space, there are some people I have been very impressed with, those people you will have your time and moment, for now, the door is open, you have the baby of EPIC.LAN broadcast, take it, and run with it. Basically, just fucking kill it.