The first week of the European League and APAC North Division is now in the book, and while we have seen some incredible play during the first week, we have also seen some new on-screen talent join the scene's top tier.
One of the new casters is Geo "Geo" Collins, who has come a long way in a short period of time. Having recently covered both the ESL Premiership and European Challenger League, she is now casting games in the top flight of both regions and has shown that while she is one of the newer casters at this level, she brings a lot of insight to the broadcast.
Geo took the time to sit down and talk to SiegeGG about her current experience within the scene, how she felt the first week of competition has gone, and what she expects from both regions.
First of all, thank you for taking the time to talk to us and on becoming a caster for both the EUL and APAC North. For those that do not know who you are, can you introduce yourself and let us know your esport background?
Hey! I'm Geo! I got going in esports in late 2018 after I dropped out of my master's degree after having a pretty bad medical scare. I decided to try and take the leap into esports broadcasting and thus began my journey. The bulk of my experience has been in Overwatch, where I casted most notably the Chinese Contenders region. But I've also done work in games like Call of Duty, PUBG, Apex Legends and FIFA.
Considering you have only been in the esports casting scene for a few years, that's quite a resume of experience you have built up. What made you decide a move into Siege esports was the right one for you and how has your previous experience transferred over?
Well actually I'd been interested in Siege since the Operation Chimera era, but as I started to do more in Overwatch, it got put on the backburner. I always liked the idea of going into it, but when esports became my full-time job in 2019, I couldn't justify the time I'd need to spend studying the game when I had to be making money elsewhere.
At the end of the year, I fully committed to leaving Overwatch and focusing on Siege in 2020, and as scary as it was starting from the bottom again, I was glad I did it. I liked the community, the players, and was enthralled by the game. My experience mostly comes from the casting studying I had to do while in Overwatch; there were a lot of technical methods I had to work on that have set me up to be able to come to a new game. But I still have so much to learn.
Considering that while you had an interest in the game since Operation Chimera, it's great to see the amount of effort you have put in since the start of the year and how that hard work has been rewarded. You mentioned that it was scary to start from the bottom and work your way up was scary, but you did this well covering both the ESL Premiership and then Challenger League. How valuable an experience was casting both tournaments for you?
Casting those tournaments was invaluable to me -- they were my first real introductions into casting Siege. I think I did terribly, naturally, but I had to go through the very bumpy patch to even get a grip onto the pacing of the game, the types of things that are discussed and when. It's great doing the studying, but it's important you know how to apply that. You can only get that contextual knowledge once you start practising. I'm still in the learning stage, honestly. So I feel like I'm climbing the same hill.
While you say that you are still in the learning stage, you seemed comfortable on-screen during your first week. I am glad that you mentioned about the amount of studying you do for each game, as the notes you share over social media proves you put in a lot of work. What is it that you focus on when you're doing match preparation?
Well, I'm glad I looked comfortable because for that first play day I was TERRIFIED. I know I have a lot of flaws to improve upon in my Siege casting and I thought I would be torn to shreds. As for the work I do, I'm really glad people are interested in it!
For a Siege cast, I look at the stats of the players from the previous game and point out any notable ones. I look at the maps that were played, scorelines, and what their bands have looked like. And then I try to gather story notes: narratives that span months, or sometimes years, as well as more recent happenings that could set the team on a better - or worse - path. Who to look for, and who needs to show up better. Things like that.
The preparation you do started to show through as the week went on. With you casting both Europe and the APAC North regions. Have you found that your approach has changed and what is the biggest difference you have found between the two regions?
I wouldn't say my approach to preparation has changed, but my casting has probably already started to differ: I've got a better grasp of the structure and pacing of the game now and feel a lot more confident in what it is I'm talking about. There's still loads to improve upon but it's a good start.
As for the two regions -- Europe is obviously hailed as the best region in Siege (by most): everything is very meta and well-practised. In APAC, we see a lot more flavour and differing ideas in how they play. The love of red-dot suppressors has been a big talking point. The fact its many different sub-regions coming together for the first time, though, suggests that we will see a period of adaptation and innovation as they all acclimatise to one another's way of playing.
I agree it has been incredible seeing the variety that the APAC North region has shown through the first week, especially with the old school, red-dot suppressor meta they were running. While it is deemed as a weaker region currently, how are you expecting the region to progress and develop?
I think we'll have to start seeing some stronger defences; the APAC teams have made almost every map look attacker-sided right now. That really comes from a place of having a weaker grasp of the game and thus not being able to set up a sufficient defence to hold back the opponents.
People in APAC can certainly play aggressively, so oftentimes it's come down to brute force, or the exploitation of missteps from the defences, that allows an attacker to win out. There are twelve teams in APAC North and some of them are very close - if they don't improve their defensive prowess then they'll start to fall significantly in the standings.
Cloud9 were definitely interesting. They had started to slip somewhat in Korea and had a fire lit up their backsides with SCARZ winning the Korean Pro League in Season 11 and Talon Esports threatening them in the Korean Open and Korean Open Championships. But for me, the big surprise came from Electrify Esports -- a team from the Chinese Taipei [Taiwan] region. They're the dark horse we know little about, and it looked like SCARZ were going to stomp them on Clubhouse. But they took it to overtime and won the whole game. It was crazy.
Seeing Electrify Esports turn that game around when they looked down and out was one of the most interesting games of the week and they should be a team that everyone watches with interest. Now, to flip it over to Europe, which is obviously the more established region. The region had a few big roster moves this off-season prior to the start of the EUL. Which moves were both most surprising and intriguing for you?
I think intriguing has to be Fabian to Vitality, right? People didn't really know what to expect after his departure from G2, and Vitality was a big announcement. They were a team who had been having coordination issues previously, and so you'd expect such a dominating IGL to be a big change for them.
But, also one that would require a lot of getting used to. And we saw that possible volatility in the first playday, where they lost 7-1 to BDS. It's a team that could do great things, but we'll have to keep an eye on them.
I personally agree as Fabian to Vitality was one of my personal stories to look out for this year and it was not the smoothest of first weeks by any means. Two teams that you have previous experience in the European Challenger League are Tempra Esports and Team Secret, who were known as IziDream and OrgLess when you casted them last season. What are you expecting from them in the EUL?
Well, Tempra have had an interesting week, because they've shown some real skill, but haven't been able to pull out all the stops. The draw against Chaos could have been a win and the win against VP was unsurprising given how much the Russian squad have been struggling lately.
But, we did see some improvements between each day -- notably P4, who didn't have a great first day, but did much better on the second. He was someone we were specifically looking for. Team Secret have also looked great -- Prano especially had a fantastic game against Na'Vi. They looked like they would take it against Vitality, too, but Vitality pulled out the stops half way through. Disappointing, but by no means doing terribly.
It was good to see them both get results early and not be blown away and just seen as teams from Challenger League that might not be able to hang. Their development will be interesting to watch as we go along. With that said, who do you currently feel are the strongest teams in the region based on their moves in the off-season and week 1 performances?
I said before the season started that I thought the fight for the top spot would come down to Rogue and G2. Rogue had a disappointing first play day against G2, but they ran rings around Empire in a way that really took me aback. It looked like they had it together so much more than they did on that first day.
And this was sort of what I expected -- Rogue, especially with their onboarding of karzheka and LeonGids, and well as coaches rcuth and r0usty, look terrifying on paper. But, any team needs to have a period of synergising and that real-play experience together before they fully mesh. I hope this is a good upwards-trend for them because, damn they could be insane.
It was hard to deny just how good Rogue looked against Team Empire and the instant impact both karzheka and LeonGids big as players on top of rcuth and r0usty behind the scenes. Now, as you mentioned earlier, you have only been in the scene a short while but there have been some incredible games during that time. Which stands out as your favourite?
My favourite Siege game ever is G2 vs Fnatic at SI 2020. Not the typical favourite that people pick, but I just remember how I felt watching that game at home. I was mesmerised more than I have been for any other game. I've rewatched it so many times. I love it.
It's definitely not your typical pick but the fact that a game from SI 2020 piques your interest that much is amazing to see. Now, imagine you are a general manager and your able to pick two rosters from the EUL and APAC North, who would you select?
Oh my God -- pick up the teams for myself? That's a hard question. I'd probably pick Empire, just because it's no secret they're my favourite team and to be involved with them would be awesome. And then I guess also G2 so I could annoy Kanto all day, every day. As for APAC, definitely Talon Esports as the organisation as a whole has such a good attitude and lust for life. Then maybe someone like FAV Gaming, who are really hot on the tails of teams like Cyclops to cement themselves as one of Japan's top.
Definitely some strong picks there, though I do wonder how Kantoraketti would feel about that. Finally, with week one in the books and more to come do you have anything you would like to say to the fans?
Thank you so much to those who have been welcoming and encouraging to me! I've had messages from people telling me they're really enjoying my casting, some with points of constructive feedback, and some who have even said that they used to only like listening to one duo and have expanded their taste since EU League started. I want everyone to know I'm working really hard to improve every day, and I hope you will be patient with me as I do my best to get there. All I want to be is an amazing caster for you guys.
With both the EUL and APAC North seasons underway, not only are we going to get to see some incredible games in the two regions but some incredible casting from Geo and the rest of the onscreen talent. You will be able to watch Geo cast both regions Monday to Thursday each play week.