When watching a live eSports event, one role that is sometimes overlooked is that of the observer. Not to be confused with the cloaked protoss unit in the game, observers are eSports camera operators who frame the action for the audience as well as the casters who are then free to concentrate on commentating the match. You’ll often find them behind the stage, in the dark, hovering over a PC, completely absorbed in the match, concentrating on ensuring that viewers never miss any of the action. In this blog series, we’ll be chatting with some of the best observers around the world.
Phil ‘inFeZa’ Bertino is not based in Europe, North America, or Korea. He’s from Australia, yet he is one the most highly regarded observers in StarCraft II. Dan ‘Artosis’ Stemkoski described inFeZa’s observing as “Nothing less than stellar.” We recently sat down with Phil and asked him a few questions.
Question: How did you start observing?
Answer: I started observing after ACL Gold Coast. I had been a big fan of a local caster, Maynarde, who was casting at the time but he was missing out on drops and other things, which are hard to do while trying to cast at the same time. After the event I asked him if I could be his eyes while he sits back and delivers a quality cast. We did some online casts together, such as IEM qualifiers, before the next live event which had gone really well. It must have gone well since I was asked to observe many events thereafter , including WCS Australia, WCS Oceania with Tasteless, Artosis and Painuser, HDStarcraft, and most recently, IEM Singapore with Artosis, Kaelaris, Jorosar and Hasuobs.
Question: How would you describe what an observer does?
Answer: My definition of an observer is the silent caster or even a caster for the deaf. You can’t actually talk if you spot something that the casters may have missed so it is your job to bring that information from the game to the audience. An observer must be smooth in his actions so the camera isn't stuttering across the screen or zoom around too fast like the casters may do without noticing. Having an observer in a tournament really helps casters to be free to cast and also gives the audience the best possible experience when watching the game.
Question: How do you train?
Answer: That's the hard part for observers. It's very hard to train or practice without actually doing a live casted game. I do make sure my hotkeys and settings are all correct before I jump into the game, but other than that my only practice is actually observing while in game. That's when I learn the most. Watching other casts and your own VODs will also help. I also play a lot of games on the ladder; you have to keep up with the current strategies and also know the game inside out. As with shoutcasting you can't really just be a caster and not play the game.
Question: What tips do you have for new observers?
Answer: Get out there and do it. There's no better way than to just help out your local casters. I'm sure they'd love an observer so they can sit back and relax. Watch GOMTV and other casts with well known observers for tips and tricks. Set up your own hotkeys and start with some pro replays.
Question: What features are you looking forward to in Heart of the Swarm?
Answer: I'm really looking forward to all of the new strategies which will arise with the new dynamic units for each race. Every patch just gets better and I can't wait until the official release. As for the observer functions, I really love the new tabs and that they're clickable so you can find buildings and units really easily now!
Question: What was your most memorable game that you observed?
Answer: That would be a tough call between KnighT.LighT vs. Nv.mOOnGLaDe from WCS Oceania with its many, many nukes, or Grubby vs. Slivko from IEM Singapore. Both games were absolutely insane and were a challenge to observe, but still really fun. I had a chance to watch the VODs for both a few times, so if you haven’t caught either, you should check them out.
Question: How did you get your StarCraft handle ‘inFeZa’?
Answer: I started with Infernus, and that somehow became Infernuz, which became Infeza. People were soon pronouncing it: “in-fen-zer” or “in-fee-za” and not the proper way, so I capitalized the F and Z, but people still pronounce it wrong.
Question: Who is your favorite observer and why?
Answer: That's hard. There aren't many to choose from, but each have their own style, so I’m a fan of them all. Heavendom is great when we do get the chance to watch him (because he's always on the Korean GOMTV stream). He makes the game very exciting and really knows how to use his mouse as his voice. Startale.Legend is the most solid observer out there and knows the game so well. Adebisi is another great observer who also can interact with the casters which makes the connection between observing and casting even more powerful. I’m looking forward to working with some of them in the future to learn more as an observer as there is always more I can improve on.
Question: Thanks for sharing your insights, Phil. How can we follow you online?
Answer: Thank you very much! If you are interested in checking out more, follow my twitter account