Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles began his Overwatch commentating career in 2016 with APEX Season 1. Two years later, he has become one of Overwatch's most well-known voices casting at its largest tournament.
Monte did not come to Overwatch lacking experience. By his own count, Overwatch is the seventh game he has casted. His long-time casting partner, Erik "DoA" Lonnquist, also came with experience from other games. In fact, the two were a casting pair in League of Legends well before they transitioned to Overwatch.
Monte was interviewed by several on press day. Image credit: Snivy
"[DoA and I] have synergy, so you don't have to really develop that. Obviously our style had to change moving into Overwatch," MonteCristo said. "But for the most part it's easy because we know each other so well and we have a very good relationship."
Just because MonteCristo finds it easy to cast with DoA doesn't mean he finds the game itself easy to cast, however.
"It's definitely the hardest game I've ever casted," Monte said. "I would say it is the hardest game to cast just because of the speed and as a caster you can never really get everything." He described the limited amount of time he has to figure out which aspect of the game to focus on and which storylines are the most important of the moment.
"You can't possibly analyze everything that happens with how fast the game is -- which is very different from League of Legends or [a real time strategy] game where it is possible to do more in-depth analysis," he said. "In Overwatch, you're lucky if you can catch 10 percent of what's going on."
From left to right: Malik, MonteCristo, and Uber. Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment
To better adapt to the speed of Overwatch, Monte looked outside of the game for help. In fact, he looked outside of FPS titles entirely.
"When DoA and I were starting to cast we took a lot of inspiration from fighting game casters because there is constant action but you can't just yell over everything that's happening," MonteCristo said. "We also realized that sometimes the best way to cast a fight is if we know a team has already won and it's a six-versus-three on the point, you simply don't play-by-play the rest of the fight, he'll throw to me and I'll start doing the analysis as the fight is ending." In the unlikely event the losing team turns around such a fight, Monte said it would be hype regardless of the casting and he and DoA can hype it up after, anyway.
MonteCristo's preparation for casting matches goes beyond listening to the style of fighting game casters, however. He says he watches a lot of film, including top-down VODs, to get a better sense of teams' positioning and tendencies and sometimes he'll even watch VOD reviews from other people, citing Aero as an example.
Beyond watching VODs, Monte takes a lot of notes and will meet with the Overwatch League stats producer, CaptainPlanet, to pull stats he thinks he may need for the broadcast. He also meets with production and suggests clips he wants to use to talk about a match on-air. Not included in MonteCristo's preparation is playing Overwatch himself.
"I play exactly zero hours of Overwatch because, just like in any other game I've casted, if I have an hour of time my choices are to watch professional players play the game and understand their strategies or play in competitive which bares no resemblance to the professional game whatsoever," he said. "So kind of a waste of time if you're prepping to spend a lot of time playing."
The casters' setup for the Overwatch League Grand Finals. Image credit: Scrubasaurus
Maybe part of the reason, however, is that sometimes he's just too tired to play.
"[After casting two matches in one day] you just feel mentally drained. You just feel fried, like I just feel exhausted because the amount of concentration you have to have is like basically equivalent to the players," he said. "Because the players are playing the game and talking to each other and trying to do strategy -- I'm watching a very fast-paced game, trying to figure out what the most important thing is to talk about, while simultaneously listening to DoA so I can have a reasonable conversation with him that doesn't sound like I haven't been listening to the last 10 things he said, while simultaneously talking to production, and looking at like four different monitors. So, yeah, it's pretty taxing."
Fortunately for him and DoA, the London Spitfire closed out their series with the Philadelphia Fusion in just one match on Saturday, the day MonteCristo and DoA were casting.