This 26-year-old watches videogames and ‘shouts’ about it for a living
Eugene Eu has been a shoutcaster for games like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and Free Fire for the past eight years.
There are plenty of elements from an esports game that can get one excited, such as watching players pull off a risky play successfully that turns the tide of the game, or going on a rampage killing spree.
But nothing is comparable to hearing a commentator conveying the excitement in a match, usually at the top of their voices as they scream their lungs out. It is why they are named shoutcasters instead of commentators, and are known as the voices of esport matches.
Followers of the games Free Fire and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) will find Eugene Eu’s voice familiar. Known as Abstract in the world of gaming, the 26-year-old is a regular shoutcaster at competitions such as the Free Fire World Series and the Mobile Legends Professional League (MPL).
Blessed with a booming voice, one may have thought that being a shoutcaster came natural to Eugene. But the Temasek Polytechnic graduate’s initial goal was to be a professional esports athlete.
“I wanted to be a pro esports player at first. I went for my first competition and failed badly, but I really liked the atmosphere within the event. I wanted to get into the esports space, and the best way I found besides playing was shoutcasting,” he shares with Youthopia.
That was back in 2014, when Eugene was 18 years old.
After facing initial rejections, he was handed his big break by Garena, to cast for the game Heroes of Newerth.
“I took things slow, shoutcasted myself, uploaded my clips to justin.tv (which later merged with Twitch) and had people look at my clips to help me improve,” explains Eugene on how he taught himself to shoutcast. “I was a moderator in Heroes of Newerth as well, which is what I think put me on their radar when they were looking for a shoutcaster in the Southeast Asia region.”
He also thanked his mentors in the community, naming fellow caster Breakycpk as one of his role models. Interestingly enough, Eugene’s signature phrase “allllright!” was derived from Breakycpk’s speech patterns.
“I will always learn a lot from different commentators and make some of it my own- in that way, my style is kind of a tribute to every single caster who I look up to,” he shares.
Eugene is beloved in the esports community, having been awarded the title of MPL’s best caster in October of 2021. Despite this, his growth has not been as quick as some of his peers’.
“Honestly, I was very young when I started. I only started to be more serious about three or four years ago, when my mentors came in. I consider myself a pioneer but I had the slowest growth and that didn’t bode well with me. So I put a lot more effort into it and now it’s come to fruition,” he said.
Eugene casts for all types of games, though he prefers multiplayer online battle arena (MOBAs) and shooting games. Because of this, he maintains a wide knowledge of the games he casts for.
But, interestingly, Eugene does not actually play the games as much as one might have thought.
“I cast a lot of Mobile Legends, and I still play every now and then, but it’s not my main game,” he states. “I play games to have fun and right now the game that’s really fun for me isn’t even an esports industry title.”
Titles such as NARAKA: BLADEPOINT and Diablo 2: Resurrected brings him the most enjoyment, as he is able to play with his friends and girlfriend.
On the occasions that he does play the games that he shoutcasts, it’s for a peculiar – and fun – reason.
“There is a ritual between me and the other casters. Whenever we cast a game like Valorant, we’ll go home and play Valorant. If we cast Mobile Legends then after the match we’ll play the game. It makes you feel inspired and want to try what (the professional players) did, only to completely fail,” he laughs.
A full-time shoutcaster now, Eugene says his choice to “follow his dreams” was made despite the instability of the job. Prior to National Service, he only had gigs on the odd occasions, even once going three months without a shoutcasting job. But he also knew that if he worked a full-time job and still pursued shoutcasting on weekends, it would burn him out quickly.
Thankfully, it has all worked out for him.
But the challenge he faces now is the uncertainty of the Singapore esports scene. With a lack of viewership, there’s always the risk that he may find himself out of a job if esports teams and organisations start pulling out of the Singapore market.
“We still need viewership, Singaporean esports are unfortunately not something a lot of people watch. I have friends that tell me they watch international tournaments but not local ones and I don’t see the point if you can’t follow the storyline of your own Singaporean teams,” he shares.
In Eugene’s eyes, supporting local esports players and casters is crucial for Singaporean talents to reach an international stage.
Another issue is Singlish, in his opinion.
“If I use my Singaporean accent, I’d likely miss out on up to 70 per cent of my current paycheck because I work with the European region a lot. Unfortunately, if you want to be a successful caster you might need to find a way to break or hide your Singlish,” he admits.
“My biggest issue starting out was my English and enunciation. If your accent isn’t well polished it seems like you’re faking it, which is cringey to a lot of people. But for me there was no choice.”
It took quite some time for Eugene to “polish” his shoutcasting. In the process of doing so, he learnt a valuable lesson as well.
“What’s most important as a caster is to not be afraid to find what works for you and work on it,” he explains. .
He also encouraged aspiring casters to look up the meta (the current state and strategy) of the game they want to cast for, in order to provide insight and analysis to viewers.
He shares: “Just do your homework and keep at it, and you’ll be fine.”