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UNT student finds passion in esports commentating

UNT student finds passion in esports commentating

UNT student finds passion in esports commentating
October 25
22:06 2018

Reginald “Bozz” Rutledge and a friend were watching one of their favorite players perform at the 2GG Championship Series for Super Smash Bros. when he discovered his potential for commentating.

“The whole time the tournament was happening, I was telling my friend all the stats about certain players, who they had to beat, why they were so good, why people recognized them and stuff [like that],” Rutledge said. “He looked at me in a weird way, and he was like, ‘This is like your version of football.’ In a way, it made a lot of sense to me, and I thought if there’s definitely an opportunity for me to have my voice heard — it’s through that.”

“Super Smash Bros.,” commonly called “Smash,” is a platform fighting game first published by Nintendo in 1999 that features iconic video game characters, like Mario from “Super Mario Bros.” and Link from the “Legend of Zelda.”

Rutledge later discovered a tournament held in Denton by a local business called Source Gaming Lounge and traveled from Irving.

Now, Rutledge, a broadcast journalism senior and varsity caster for UNT esports, provides his live commentary for their Tuesday Red Line tournament on Twitch.

Rutledge has also commentated at Kumite, Kamehacon 2018, Freaks and Geeks in Denton, Shockwave and GGEA Rushdown Week at Versus Gameplay Arcade in Plano and Smash Fight Club in Houston. He has commentated at more than 50 tournaments and has over 300 hours of experience.

“Commentating for [Dallas-Fort Worth] has been one of the greatest, most enriching experiences I’ve had as a person,” Rutledge said. “It’s given me a greater sense of belonging than I’ve had in the years before.”

Esports commentating for “Smash” has many similarities to traditional sports commentating. For Smash there is the usual pair of commentators, a play-by-play color caster that commentates on live play and an analysis commentator who examines and breaks down gameplay.

“It’s usually the best kind of duo you want just because they give you a good balance of both aspects of casting,” Rutledge said.

For esports, this also means being able to adapt to popular new games.

Broadcast journalism senior Reggie Rutledge is an esports commentator. Sara Carpenter

“Nothing can [equate to] just playing the game and knowing the subtleties of the game itself,” Rutledge said. “I’ve definitely been the most seasoned with Smash.”

Tyler “Prince” Williams is another commentator in Dallas-Fort Worth who participates at Source Gaming tournaments, such as End of the Line, Source’s first regional “Smash Bros.” for Wii U tournament. He has also commentated for Low Tier City, a Texas tournament that was held in Irving in July.

“Learning to observe the game and its breakneck interactions move-by-move has always been the first prerequisite to quality commentary,” Williams said. “The seasoned players are unforgiving for an incorrect observation and are often disappointed when a commentator doesn’t duly appreciate a well-deserving play or a player’s skill.”

Terminology is vital in esports as new techniques are created or discovered by players. In “Super Smash Bros.,” some of these include terms like mix-ups, set-ups, directional input (DI) and pratfalling, Rutledge said.

“[Their] definitions can change consistently as well,” Rutledge said.

Rutledge has started a documentary series called “On the Rise” on his YouTube channel Bozz Tv. Its first iteration was released on Sept. 12 and featured two local “Super Smash Bros.” players. The video is described as “dedicated to finding local talent making tremendous come ups on a local/and national level,” according to the video description.

“We see a trend of people investing a lot of money in Texas,” Rutledge said. “I see commentating being much more impactful on a local level in the next five years. There’s going to be so much more opportunities once all these new video games start to come out.”

Richard “Goldenvoice” Fernandez, a broadcast journalism senior, is another varsity caster for UNT’s esports team who had a similar experience.

“Becoming an esports caster was sort of an unexpected opportunity,” Fernandez said. “I have almost no experience in commentary aside from watching others do it at major esports events, so this is a learning opportunity for me as well.”

Even though esports is in an offeseason for fighting games, Rutledge said there’s still plenty to do.

“It’s still a good time to get interested and invested in the scene,” Rutledge said.

The latest Smash games — “Super Smash Bros.” for 3DS and “Super Smash Bros.” for Wii U — have sold more than 9.30 million units and 5.34 million units, respectively, since their releases in 2014, according to a Nintendo website. “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” is currently a bestseller on Amazon and will be released this winter on Dec. 7 for the Nintendo Switch.

“You never know what’s going to get big next,” Rutledge said. “There are so many communities that are starting to pop up.”

After getting into a car wreck, Rutledge recently received an outpouring of support from the local Smash community after he started a GoFundMe page with a $500 goal.

Rutledge plans to attend King of the Sticks, a tournament that will be held this month from Oct. 27-29 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“When you’re in [the Smash scene], you’re in it for life,” Rutledge said. “It’s baffling just how much you feel loved and appreciated when things are really at stake. And honestly, I wouldn’t trade being a part of this scene for the world. I think the gaming community as a whole is something that’s worth being a part of.”

Featured Image: Broadcast journalism senior Reggie Rutledge plays a game on a computer in The Nest. In addition to being a student, Rutledge is also an esports commentator. Sara Carpenter

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Sarah Matthew

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