Looking into the ReDeYe
Paul “ReDeYe” Chaloner is one of the most respected and widely known characters in eSports today; the 36 year old has made eSports shout casting his own and appeared live at events around the world and lately on your television screens. We had a chance to sit down with him and find out what makes him tick.
ReDeYe has been the public face of the Championship Gaming Series for the past two seasons, heading up the television trio appearing on sets around the world. He has also been the lead man in a host of events including PC Gamer Showdown, i34 and many more.
ReDeYe closely follows the Counter-Strike: Source scene in both Europe and America and is also a keen player himself, to no great success might I add. In the past he has been at the peak of Europe in Unreal Tournament leading the British national team to victories in the Clanbase Nations Cup.
In this interview he reveals much about the events of the past few months and years, enjoy.
ReDeYe together with CGS co-caster Marcus "Dj Wheat" Graham. Photo: Max Silver/Cadred.org
Hey Paul, let's start off with this weekend's action, you've just come back from PC Gamer where you presented all three finals, what did you think of the event?
I have to admit, I had my reservations before heading there, but it was actually a good event. Well run in the main, no real major problems and some fantastic matches (which is why we go to tournaments in any case)
Going into the CSS side of the tournament, did anything surprise you or did everything go as you expected?
Actually Birmingham surprised me a lot, mainly because they just haven’t had time to practice and I didn’t expect them to win the whole thing this time, let alone do it in the way they did (without losing a game). But yeah, in the main things went pretty much according to form and predictions, there were nearly a few shocks though, if only Farley could have held his head a bit longer ;)
Do you think anyone can stop Birmingham Salvo right now?
I thought the only people that could stop Salvo this year would be themselves and yet, here they are facing that very enemy (in the form of no practice for weeks on end) and they still win a tournament. It’s hard to imagine how they can be beaten right now, but they will lose eventually, all great teams do. It’s just how they come back from that, that will mark them out as being special, much like the fnatic team of 06/07 that dominated.
London Mint placed behind Salvo and Reason for the second successive LAN, can they improve enough to overtake Salvo without any roster changes?
As much as I really like the entire line up, I do think it’s time for a line up shuffle. It’s not like they haven’t had time to gel and practice together for an extended period of time. These 5 have now been together for almost the entire year in 2008 and haven’t achieved what their potential says they can. Having said that, it’s not up to me and Ben is an astute manager who will know when to change things up. The bottom line is, they have tried new things (like url calling this time) and swapping positions and strat changes, but none of that has worked for them.
Ok, I think that's PCGS covered! You're the founder and owner of QuadV, the leading provider of online video and audio online for gaming. QuadV has changed the way we view online streaming and become a leader in its field. Did you envision this much success upon the creation?
If I am honest, no, but we always planned to be successful, there would be little point in doing anything unless you are striving for success. There are plenty of other stations out there and some do some things better than us, so we have plenty of room still to improve, but I am satisfied with how far we have come in a short amount of time.
You cover a wide variety of games ranging from Counter-Strike: Source to Call of Duty 4, which game is the most successful for drawing in the viewers?
Right now COD4 is easily our most watched game that we broadcast. It doesn’t matter which tournament we go to either or whether CS or CS:S is on at the same time, it’s always COD4 that gets the most viewers. It’s not simply that the game is very popular (which of course it is), it has more to do with having no TV client for spectators, so we became (along with other broadcasters) the only way to watch the matches in COD4.
QuadV recently expanded into North America, how has the reception been across the pond?
We just completed our second play off evening with CEVO in the USA and it went well again. We have two fantastic casters (Corey Dunn and Griffin "Shaguar" Benger) and a fantastic director out there looking after things in Alex Garfield. It’s been a slow start; but that how we planned it and I couldn’t be happier with how it has started.
So where does QuadV go from here?
Onwards, upwards, works harder, smarter and improves in all areas. Brings in new casters for online, foreign commentators, picks up more of the big leagues like WCG and ESWC as their media partner for online TV and in general offers more programming in the way of live tournament coverage and special shows for the people who tune.
We have plans for the future and despite already having achieved many of them far earlier than we predicted, we still have a long way to go to be where I want us to be in 3 to 5 years from now. Ultimately, we want to be recognised as the premier place for live eSports coverage.
Bolt Cutters were later required to prise Paul's death grip on the Dew Trophy. Photo: Max Silver/Cadred.org
You used to be an awesome player in your own right, captaining the UK National team in Unreal Tournament, what would it take to tempt you back to playing?
I wouldn’t rule out a few lans for CS:S though in the quiet times perhaps just with friends in a mix, but the last game I played properly was the EuroCup Final in 2005, which we won and I don’t think I will be coming back at that kind of level.
You've been one of the Championship Gaming Series staunchest advocates, what is it that makes you believe so strongly in the league?
I wouldn’t say I have been a staunch supporter so much as someone who has tried to explain some of the things the league has tried to do, but perhaps not communicated very well in the past. But certainly, over the 18 months of my involvement with the league, I have seen and met some powerful people who believe in video gaming and want it to grow and want to help grow it.
I don’t think that kind of enthusiasm has always gone hand in hand with great ideas, but the basic concept of a professional, live broadcasted on TV global league is something I think everyone who wants gaming to succeed should be supporting, even if they don’t always like the games used or the rule sets.
Do you think the CGS has done what it set out to do in its first two seasons?
I think it’s achieved an awful lot. From scratch, setting up the league around the world holding all the qualifiers, adding all those teams and players and GM's and not to mention the staff behind the scenes and getting the whole thing up and running and making it work on live TV are all things the league can be really proud of.
I don’t think it has achieved everything it could have though and its now down to a new CEO to make changes and take the league forward.
Where does the CGS go from here, more teams? More games?
I would hope that the things that have been raised time and time again over the last two seasons get addressed first, things like a regular season for Europe and UK teams and not just a single playoff match each but a proper season, aired over the internet if TV is too expensive. I think more teams would be great too and again in Europe it really does need at least 2 more teams if not more.
As for games, that’s a little trickier, but yes I would like to see at least one new game added and ideally a 1v1 FPS, but I think the current balance and format is pretty good right now.
You seem to be one of very few people involved in the CGS from Europe, how much input do you have into what happens in the region?
Well that’s changed since the season ended at the end of July. In the past I had a great relationship with those running and influencing the league such as Andy Reif and Mike Burks and my input was often asked for on a broad range of subjects from rule changes (I persuaded them to use 4-2-1 for racing for example) to discipline issues and the direction of the league and games used.
I haven’t really had any input since the new CEO took over although we have had a brief telephone conversation about what needs to change and what kind of things she is looking to alter going forward.
I sense you aren’t as happy with CGS as you were earlier in the year, what's caused this?
You could say that. I think you have to understand my position with the CGS has changed with the introduction of a new set of staff and whilst I respect those who have come in to the organisation recently, I don’t know them. I had close relationships with the people that ran the league in the past and they involved me heavily in the running of it and I really enjoyed that.
I think I gave 110% to the CGS whenever I worked for them and often times outside of that with some of the community support I offered and I also staked a lot of my own reputation on what they were doing and whilst it’s still too early to tell what direction they go in next, I am fairly sure it won’t be the direction they were headed before. My frustration I guess is that I am as in the dark about it as everyone else right now and probably wouldn’t have been in the past.
I feel that CGS has also missed a golden opportunity of expansion and growth and marketing in Europe and the UK on the back of the Birmingham Salvo world championship and I am frustrated and disappointed by that.
Having said all of this, I haven’t suddenly begun to dislike the CGS, far from it, but I am very frustrated about the mistakes it continues to make and I am worried about is future going forward. I think if I am honest, I got far deeper involved with CGS than I did with any other league and I think in hindsight I perhaps should have stuck to the same principles I had with other leagues in the past.
Do you think the new CEO, Dale Hopkins, is good for the league?
I can’t really answer that at this point in time as I really don’t know her well enough to make that kind of judgement, but all the signs are good as far as the TV side of things goes. She has a huge wealth of experience in gaming after her setup years with G4 and I would be shocked if she didn’t help bring more programming to the league, even if it’s via the web rather than on TV.
She doesn’t have a sports background however and that does worry me a little, after all this isn’t just about entertainment it’s supposed to be a sports league too. But as I said, it’s too early to make that call right now, I think we have to give her time to exert her influence on the league and how it looks going forward and then look at what she has achieved.
The CGS is on Eurosport all this week, can you explain what you'll be doing for this?
That’s a good question. It’s going to be a little different to what you might expect actually as I will be travelling to the Eurosport studios every afternoon and setting up in a sound booth. We then get the direct feed that you guys will get on your TV and we will be expected to commentate on it as it goes out live over the air. The issue of course is that I already know the results and I will need to be on my game to ensure that the commentary is realistic for those who haven’t seen it before.
It will however seem a little odd to those of you who have watched it already on sky and elsewhere.
Do you think the CGS doesn't value Europe nearly as much as they should? Is this "global" league really just a North American league with vague interest around the world?
I think they rightly concentrated on North America in year one, but perhaps under estimated the cost of doing what they did and that hurt the expansion of other regions. I have no idea if CGS values Europe more or less than they should but actions speak louder than words.
Will we still be seeing you as the front of the televised CGS next year?
My contract ended in August with CGS and DirecTV/Sky so as of now I won’t be doing any further commentating or presenting for them, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t or wont in the future. I would love to work with Mike Burks and his team again on the show, but that’s up to CGS, not me.
If you were put in the position of CEO right now, what would you do for the league?
The first thing I would do is expand Europe, give it a full season and add more teams, probably allowing teams like fnatic, SK, MYM and so on to enter and compete for a place in the world finals. I would be looking at ways of making money for the league and its teams and opening up the ability of the talented GM's to seek their own deals for the teams too.
There is a lot more that I would do too but most of it would be about empowering the GM's to run their teams as professional managers, which after all is why they were chosen in the first place.
There are so many other markets and areas that CGS could be in too like expanding in to India, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and other parts of Europe too, there is a huge scope of interest in CGS and in eSports in general that the league could capitalise on.
Corin Cole and Paul having a friendly cuddle at a recent event. Photo: Max Silver/Cadred.org
Do you think any of the G7 Teams would accept a CGS spot, given their non-approval so far?
That’s difficult to tell and to be honest whilst publicly many of the G7 teams have admitted to a dislike of the CGS I truly believe the main reason is that lack of inclusion rather than any deeply held belief that they are trying to destroy eSports. I would be prepared to hold out an olive branch though and see if there were ways in which that divide could be bridged.
Ultimately, given a chance at $500,000 any team would be foolish to turn down the chance wouldn’t they?
Do you think the CGS and traditional eSports have a future together?
It does, yes as they are both in their own way growing video gaming and the competitive side of it. As long as the CGS doesn’t lose sight of why it was setup in the first place, it will still have a place amongst fans of more traditional eSports and it will have those who don’t like it, but if it moves more towards entertainment and becomes even less about the competition, then I think it would be shunned by the eSports community all together.
So what's next for ReDeYe in eSports?
Continue working on everything I have right now including TV work, taking QuadV further, securing more tournaments for coverage and helping eSports grow in whatever way I can, be that with players or teams or leagues. Who knows, I might get a few mixes in too!
What has been the favourite match you've ever shout casted?
I get asked this a lot and I think I’ve always said something different! That should tell you that I don’t really have a favourite, but I enjoyed a lot of games down the years. I think I would say anything me and WHEAT did at Eurocup in Denmark in 2006 for COD2 was pretty awesome to shoutcast and frankly it doesn’t get much better than Covlan in 2006. That was a 4Kings versus Dignitas final in Quake 4 TDM that had double overtime. It was just insane.
I also have fond memories of WCG Finals in 2005 in Singapore where I shout casted CS:S. There was a game in the last 16 between Canada and Australia, where this guy knifed Shaguar in the opening round on inferno, which sent the 4000 crowd in to a state of rapture, it was awesome casting that.
You mentioned Dj Wheat in your last answer, who has been your favourite commentator to work with?
I would have to say WHEAT and TosspoT by far although I’ve pretty much enjoyed casting with whoever I’ve casted. I’ve had some great TF2 moments with Deman for example, but really the ones I really enjoyed like ESWC and WCG finals have been with Wheat and Toss and they taught me so much and although it sounds kind of corny, I really don’t think I would be doing this job, if it weren’t for the influence of those two people.
Would you ever abandon shout casting to go into a different role in eSports, something more business orientated or team management perhaps?
Tempting, and I’ve had a lot of different offers, even coming close to a full time role with CGS in the past, but it would have to be something I could really get my teeth in to and that would challenge me. There was a time that CGS and I discussed a GM role too and whilst I really wanted to take the role, it wouldn’t have been the right move for me and I knew that in my heart; even if my competitive head really wanted to take it. I don’t know is the honest answer, id consider anything put in front of me, but managing a team again would appeal to me in the right conditions.
If you could add any game to the CGS what would it be and why?
I would probably add 1v1 Quake 3 or Quake Live, but under the current system, the game would have to be played under a rocket arena style. But I would love to see the likes of Cooller, Vo0, Zero4, Cypher and Av3k competing for teams across the world as their Quake player.
Which do you prefer more; shout casting an I-series final or presenting a CGS match live on television?
Each has its own merits and enjoyment really. I really do enjoy working with a crowd on a live stage but likewise working on a live TV show going out to millions of people is a real buzz too, so I know this may seem like a cop out, but it’s true, I love doing both equally.
ESports by nature has a young (15-27) crowd; at 36 do you ever feel “I'm too old for this”?
Not really, I don’t think it has an age limit, young or old. I think it helps that I played games and had consoles and pc's from a young age and for me that was back in the early 80's, so this is something I have been involved in for longer than most people playing games have been alive now and that’s because I love gaming.
I think that’s one of the really great things about it, no one knows yet when the right time to retire is, whether as a shout caster or a player because we haven’t had enough time in video gaming yet.
Thank you kindly for your time.